Cure-all claims of CBD oil lack research

by John Benson

When it comes to cannabidiol (CBD) oil, we’re living in the non-regulated and wild, wild west world of the marijuana industry.

Also, keeping up with the 19th century theme is the notion of snake oil liniment providing a cure-all for anything and everything. Currently the cure and elimination of pain, anxiety, inflammation and aging wrinkles are just a few of the claims being made by manufacturers of CBD oil, gummies, coffee and you name it.

Hemp Business Journal estimates that the cannabidiol market will grow by 700 percent to reach a market value of $2.1 billion by 2020. In Ohio CBD oil is not legal. Still there’s a momentum or hype behind its magical use that has some folks desperate for medical cures taking leaps of faith with this marijuana derivative.

“Everyone is selling it, everyone is taking it and it’s really the best thing since sliced bread,” Cleveland Clinic Employee Health Services Medical Director Dr. Paul Terpeluk said of the hype. “Now, historically it’s been considered a schedule 1 substance, which means it’s in the same class as marijuana and there’s no medical use for it.

“Our position is that nothing has really changed with this particular drug in the way you’re seeing it marketed.”

The current CBD momentum can be attributed to the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in various states, according to Terpeluk.

“When those laws were passed, some of the states put in their laws that CBD oil could be manufactured too outside of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration [FDA] approval process, just like a medical marijuana,” he said.

“So that’s why you’re seeing them being co-marketed in areas where it’s not legalized to do that. And instead of saying take marijuana to get high, they say take CBD oil to cure every ill you’ve ever had. There’s no regulation whether or not what they’re saying is true.”

Last year, the FDA approved Epidiolex for treatment of seizures in two rare forms of severe childhood-onset epilepsy. It’s the first FDA-approved drug to contain a purified compound – CBD – derived from marijuana. Previously, the FDA had approved dronabinol and nabilone, both of which contain synthetic versions of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in marijuana that gives the “high” sensation, to treat chemotherapy-related nausea and to increase appetite in patients with AIDS.

“At the Cleveland Clinic, we only really approve of or prescribe drugs that have been FDA approved and are available through that process,” Terpeluk said. “We do not consider CBD oil and medical marijuana as legitimate drugs to be prescribed. So our position is we don’t because there’s not been serious research in and on those.

“This stuff they’re talking about hasn’t gone through that process, so they can make all of these claims where you watch on TV where if you take a certain supplement it’s going to cure your arthritis. There’s really not much behind it other than somebody saying it makes your pain go away.”

Further, Terpeluk said manufacturers can’t tell you exactly what’s in the CBD oil you’re taking.

“So we recommend to people, especially at the Cleveland Clinic where we do drug testing, not to take it because it actually could flip a positive marijuana in your drug test,” said Terpeluk, who noted that research of CBD is currently taking place in labs across the country.

What remains to be seen is whether those results will reveal medical benefits.

“We advise people not to take drugs that really we don’t know how and where they’re manufactured, essentially,” Terpeluk said. “It’s not a good thing to take things you don’t know you’re putting in your body.

“If you look at it a supplement, you may think it’s innocuous and take it. And it very well might be that, but beware because it may actually have marijuana in it. But CBD is not a panacea because it hasn’t been proven yet. I think the FDA and researchers are working on that and that takes time. In the meantime, everyone is trying to make a buck off CBD.”