A recent opinion piece in the Washington Post by Scott Gottlieb MD, former head of the Food and Drug Administration, expressed concern over the escalating use of CBD oil for a host of unrelated conditions. Is there supporting evidence for CBD’s effectiveness in all these situations? Apparently not. Also, he observes, CBD oil could carry risks of the type that a prospective customer should take into account — and probably isn’t.

The CBD craze is getting out of hand. The FDA needs to act.

Here’s a more general review of current science on the subject, from the Science-Based Medicine website: CBD Oil: The new miracle cure.

When it comes to cannabis, we’re short of good science. Right now is when someone usually pops up to complain that Federal restrictions on research have inhibited knowledge. No question about that. Still, when it comes to the value of cannabis as a medicine, there’s far too much we don’t know.

So why such a large and growing community of CBD oil users? Because of our old friend hype. That’s why Gottlieb refers to it as a “craze”.

How long will the CBD oil craze continue? Well, how long can the commercial interests behind it keep the flames going?

Note that I’m not saying CBD oil is without medicinal value whatsoever. As the SBM article makes clear, there are several serious conditions for which CBD has its uses. An example: Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that begins in infancy. But it’s most common use is for chronic pain, and there’s little evidence to support its effectiveness there. 

More recently, emphasis has shifted to the possible adverse effects of cannabis, including CBD, through interactions with a number of commonly prescribed medications. Drugs.Com provides a reference list.

There is also research to suggest an additive effect with alcohol or a benzodiazepine. That could prove informative, given how many people out there are using both. One described his daily pattern as follows: Begin smoking pot between 7-8 AM; continue every few hours throughout the workday; switch to alcohol after work– wine/ beer, followed by liquor after dinner; edible cannabis at 11PM, to aid sleep. 

Next morning, start over.

In a case like that, the two drugs are almost interchangeable. That makes me wonder about the therapists who recommend that their alcohol or opioid patients try adding cannabis to their daily regimen, as a way of reducing other drug use. Does that help? Or is it just fostering an illusion of progress?

I guess we’ll find out. Over time, as usual.

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