Lack of evidence for the effectiveness or safety of over-the-counter cannabidiol products.
Over the past 5 years, public interest in the potential health benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) has increased exponentially, and a wide range of over-the-counter (OTC) preparations of CBD are now available. A substantial proportion of the population appears to have used these products, yet the extent to which they are effective or safe is unclear. We reviewed the evidence for whether CBD has significant pharmacological and symptomatic effects at the doses typically found in OTC preparations. We found that most of the evidence for beneficial effects is derived from studies of pure, pharmaceutical grade CBD at relatively high doses. Relatively few studies have examined the effect of OTC CBD preparations, or of CBD at low doses. Thus, at present, there is little evidence that OTC CBD products have health benefits, and their safety has not been investigated. Controlled trials of OTC and low-dose CBD preparations are needed to resolve these issues.
Keywords: CBD; cannabidiol; cannabis oil; efficacy; health supplement; over the counter; safety.
© The Author(s), 2020.
Conflict of interest statement
Conflict of interest: EC, PM, TPF and AE declare no conflicts of interest. JS is a researcher and clinician who, through his university, has worked with various pharmaceutical companies to identify new or improved treatments and from whom his employer (King’s College London) has received grant income, travel costs and/or consultancy payments; however, these do not relate to studies of cannabis or derivatives. For fuller information, see JS’s web page at http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ioppn/depts/addictions/people/hod.aspx.
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