Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

Research shows CBD oil may have benefits

Posted: Thursday, August 9, 2018

There’s a new product on the market. The ads for Cannabidiol (CBD oil) are enticing and make positive claims for many common ailments. But can you believe what you’re hearing? If you’re going to spend your hard-earned money on a product, is there evidence to support its use and effectiveness?

Beau Links, DO, Parkview Physicians Group – Family Medicine, Huntington, is a self-described skeptic of gadgets and other products that are claimed to be “life-changing.” At first, he was inclined to lump CBD oil into the “snake oil” category, thinking it would make a lot of people money and then fade away when the results didn’t match expectations. Then he did his own investigation into the scientific trials and studies that are emerging on this new substance and what he found surprised him.

“Initially, I thought, ‘There’s no way a single product could help with the variety of symptoms sellers of CBD oil professed,’” says Dr. Links. “And I was hearing from patients who were excited about trying it for a variety of conditions. I wanted to get a better understanding of what is already known. So I dug into the studies, and now I’m singing a different tune. I’m not saying CBD oil is the end-all supplement, but for certain people, it may be helpful.”

Promising short-term results

Most of the research Links reviewed showed strong early evidence to support CBD oil’s use to treat generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, social anxiety and difficulty sleeping (insomnia). He also found evidence supporting its use in treating pain and spasticity in multiple sclerosis, improving some symptoms of schizophrenia, and helping chronic smokers reduce daily cigarette use. CBD oil also blocks several inflammatory markers and has shown some success in treating arthritis.

“Probably the most exciting, and unexpected, benefit of CBD oil was in its anti-tumor effects,” says Links. “CBD oil has been shown in small trials to reduce the ability of breast cancer and thyroid cancer cells to multiply and invade healthy tissues, in addition to reducing the multiplication capability of leukemia and lymphoma cells. Unfortunately, the dosing used to treat each of the ailments I mentioned was different in each study, so it’s important to discuss possible doses with your physician.”

The studies Links found were mostly short-term, covering three months at most, and involved healthy patients. Most common side effects of CBD oil included low blood pressure, dry mouth and sedation/ sleepiness. One study showed a decrease in testicular size and testosterone levels in mice. The long-term side effects of CBD oil remain unknown.

“If you’re thinking about trying CBD oil, please discuss its use with your physician to see if it would be a good choice for you,” says Links. “One of the most difficult things in medicine is recommending the right medication for each patient. There are so many to choose from, but a patient’s health and current medications must be considered before any recommendation can be made. CBD oil interacts with a lot of receptors in the body.”

Certain common prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications should be used with caution while taking CBD oil. Medications such as benzodiazepines and narcotics (like those for pain relief or inflammation) likely should not be taken with CBD oil due to increased risk of sedation. CBD oil should be used with caution in patients taking antidepressants (SSRIs, SNRIs and antipsychotics), nausea medications, muscle relaxers, and proton pump inhibitors used to treat heartburn. OTC allergy medications should be used with caution while taking CBD oil due to increased risk of side effects from these medications.

Living up to the hype, at least partially

“There are some potentially exciting uses for CBD oil,” says Links. “But again, I encourage people to discuss its use with their physician because interactions with other medications could have health consequences. Also, ensure you’re getting the oil from a reputable source; third-party testing is nice. More research is needed to support CBD oil’s long-term use.”

Although he can be a skeptic, Links admits sometimes a product that gains traction with the public really can deliver on at least some of the hype.

“I haven’t paid attention to many of those supposedly ‘life-changing’ ‘As Seen on TV’ products,” he says. “But I did buy one of those does-it-all convection, infrared countertop ovens. And it was actually worth the money.”

Beau Links, DO, practices with Parkview Physicians Group – Family Medicine, located in the John B. Kay Medical Office Building on the campus of Parkview Huntington Hospital.