Some CBD products may contain unwanted surprises. Forensic toxicologists at Virginia Commonwealth University examined nine e-liquids advertised as being 100 percent natural CBD extracts. They found one with dextromethorphan, or DXM, used in over-the counter cough medications and considered addictive when abused; and four with a synthetic cannabinoid, sometimes called Spice, that can cause anxiety, psychosis, tachycardia and death, according to a study last year in Forensic Science International.
Last year, the F.D.A. approved Epidiolex, a purified CBD extract, to treat rare seizure disorders in patients 2 years or older after three randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled clinical trials with 516 patients that showed the drug, taken along with other medications, helped to reduce seizures. These types of studies are the gold standard in medicine, in which participants are divided by chance, and neither the subject nor the investigator knows which group is taking the placebo or the medication.
But without clinical trials in humans, psychologists say CBD’s effect on depression is still a hypothesis, and not an evidence-based treatment.
More than 60 percent of CBD users were taking it for anxiety, according to a survey of 5,000 people. Does it help?
Is CBD harmful?
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By Dawn MacKeen
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A recent chart review of 72 psychiatric patients treated with CBD found that anxiety improved, but not sleep. “Over all, we did not find that it panned out as a useful treatment for sleep,” said Dr. Scott Shannon, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado, Denver and the lead author of the review in The Permanente Journal.
But he cautions that the side effects could have been because of an interaction with other medications the children were taking to control the seizures. So far, there hasn’t been a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial (the gold standard) on sleep disorders and CBD.
The object of the experiment was to verify whether cannabidiol (CBD) reduces the anxiety provoked by Δ 9 -TCH in normal volunteers, and whether this effect occurs by a general block of the action of Δ 9 -TCH or by a specific anxiolytic effect. Appropriate measurements and scales were utilized and the eight volunteers received, the following treatments in a double-blind procedure: 0.5 mg/kg Δ 9 -TCH, 1 mg/kg CBD, a mixture containing 0.5 mg/kg Δ 9 -TCH and 1 mg/kg CBD and placebo and diazepam (10 mg) as controls. Each volunteer received the treatments in a different sequence. It was verified that CBD blocks the anxiety provoked by Δ 9 -TCH, however this effect also extended to marihuanalike effects and to other subjective alterations induced by Δ 9 -TCH. This antagonism does not appear to be caused by a general block of Δ 9 -TCH effects, since no change was detected in the pulse-rate measurements. Several further effects were observed typical of CBD and of an opposite nature to those of Δ 9 -TCH.
These results suggest that the effects of CBD, as opposed to those of Δ 9 -TCH, might be involved in the antagonism of effects between the two cannabinoids.