In recent years cannabis products have undergone an image overhaul.
It has gone from being something your quirky uncle sneaks off to smoke before the family gathering, to the latest hot topic within the wellness market, with CBD seemingly sprouting up in a myriad different sectors.
Most cannabis-based wellness products contain Cannabidiol (CBD) which does not contain the same buzz as traditional marijuana because THC, the psychoactive component, is not present.
Sales and production of cannabis-based products have seen immense growth, boasting a current market worth of around $1.04 billion last reported in 2018, with industry analysts predicting the market to be worth an enormous $22bn by 2020. This evolution demonstrates an astonishing growth rate of 2,100% – beating several industries in becoming one of the fastest-growing sectors of all time.
Among all the hype, many people aren’t convinced that CBD is the new miracle cure some proclaim it to be. CBD seems to be stuck between two opposites, scientific usage and money hungry marketing schemes.
Science or hyped pseudoscience?
From Jennifer Aniston’s interview with US Weekly claiming “CBD helps with pain, stress and anxiety” to Tom Hanks teaming up with Cornell University’s study into CBD aiding patients with type 2 diabetes, it can seem that the hype around the compound just falls under another marketing scheme that celebrities all jump to for the next injection of cash.
The opinion that CBD is a false fad is somewhat supported by the overwhelming amount of seemingly novelty products currently offered. Many consumers serious about requiring the medical effects of the compound will most likely not be seeking it from ice creams and burgers. These kinds of claims can understandably derail the seriousness of CBD and cause it to lose the medicinal credibility in the everyday customer’s mind.
However, undermining the celebrity endorsements and shadowy marketing claims, there are plenty of inspiring stories of CBD aiding consumers – Billy Caldwell being a shining star amongst this, showing how he and plenty of other children plagued by debilitating epileptic seizures can suddenly become well again.
Many products touted with medicinal benefits on the high street and online have been found to be promoting watered-down products that may or may not contain CBD at all. The Centre of Medicinal Cannabis conducted a blind test of 30 major CBD products in the UK that can be purchased from the high street and online and confirmed that all products were “within 10% of the CBD content indicated on the label”.
This occurrence of trace amounts of beneficial extracts has become a regular occurrence within the nutritional supplement industry where minimal input from clinical researchers is considered and dosage amounts are lost in translation.
On the other hand, similar products within Europe containing THC have recently undergone testing. They have been found to have double the accepted limit of THC within the product, making them both illegal and untrue to branding as stated on the bottle.
These slip-ups highlight the importance of further testing and regulation of CBD products in the UK and elsewhere.
As with all nutritional supplements, the idea that more is always best is not necessarily the case with all vitamins and minerals. This includes the commonly-taken vitamins C, D, E and B3 that can have the potential for toxicity at higher than recommended doses. For example, high doses of commonly consumed Niacin (B3) can pose risks of liver damage.
Trials vs High Street
Many studies have been undertaken using high doses of the compound, higher than the current legal offerings within many products found online or in stores. In a recent scientific journal, chronic sufferers of migraines were found to have little effect from a 100mg dosage while a dose of 200mg administered during an attack decreased pain intensity by 55%.
However, the dose amount offered in one brand found in a high street store contained a mere 10mg in one capsule. Arguably the user is entitled to consume more than one capsule, though it is unknown how much a dose an individual person would need to medicate their specific ailments.
Online is mostly where consumers can find much higher grades of dosages with offerings of oil ranging from 100mg in strength to 5000mg.
As the CBD craze is relatively new, long term studies and tests have not had long enough to truly work out any serious side effects of taking CBD consistently.
All of the counter arguments seemingly point to a need for further research to be undertaken. The fact that many respected bodies and universities have taken it upon themselves to undertake such studies suggests the scientific claims behind the medicinal properties of CBD isn’t just a passing fad and is something to be taken seriously.
It’s hard for consumers to distinguish between what is a genuine medicinal product and one that is quick-to-market merchandise created by sellers who may not know what they’re doing.
While CBD is gaining acclaim in many medical fields as being a revolutionary new medicine, its skyrocketing popularity as the new on-trend compound creeping into everything and anything demonstrates that its reputation may be falling into uncertainty.
Perhaps once the fad products and trend driven sellers have moved onto the next hot topic, the science-backed products and real facts will be unshaded and move to the forefront of the huge CBD market.
This, coupled with responsible regulation of the industry, could be exactly what the CBD market needs to flourish. While the potential benefits of CBD are undeniable, irresponsible merchants need a regulatory body above them to ensure the legitimacy of products, which will ultimately safeguard consumers.
The FDA in the US is currently making strides to regulate CBD as an industry, but the Food Standards Agency in the UK is still lagging behind. In the UK CBD is currently considered a ‘novel food’ but none of the health benefits, or side effects, have been revealed.