CBD comes in a wide variety of forms, from chocolates, soft drinks and energy bars to body balms, face creams and tinctures. Despite confusion over its regulatory status (the latest being the EU Novel Food Regulations) and the stigma related to its association with cannabis, the CBD retail market looks like it is here to stay. Holland and Barrett have recently increased their CBD shelf space, Superdrug, Boots and boutique stores are stocking CBD oils and cosmetics, and a growing number of cafes are offering CBD shots in hot drinks or juices.
As a consumer, the choice can be bewildering, and knowing which product will do what, and which dose is best suited to your needs, can be incredibly hard to discern. We know that the majority of people that buy and use CBD are doing so for therapeutic gain for specific conditions, but the relevant information for such use can’t be found on the packaging or associated retail websites. This is because producers and sellers of CBD products are not allowed to make any medical or therapeutic claims: to do so would require a medical marketing authorisation for each product, which is extremely costly and time consuming and puts the products into a different and more tightly regulated category of consumables. Added to this, regulations relating to CBD production and sales differ considerably between countries, and so producers may be deliberately vague in order to increase their global market and avoid the need for distinct packaging for different locations. As such, CBD product information is more often than not obfuscating, rather than enlightening.
So where exactly can you find reliable information about CBD’s therapeutic use and about the use and efficacy of specific products? Scientific evidence is scarce and difficult to come by, because research with CBD, unlike the better known psychoactive component of the cannabis plant THC, remains largely confined to cell cultures and animals, and published research is often hidden behind a paywall. Human studies are few and far between, and those that have been conducted use much higher doses than those that are commonly being used, and so the results are not easily translatable for the average user’s needs. Importantly, there is no research to date supporting the current ‘wellness’ trend of using relatively low doses of pure or enriched CBD products found in high street stores or online.
Much of the hype about CBD’s potential comes from promising clinical studies conducted with both THC and CBD for a variety of indications, and an increased understanding of the endocannabinoid system and the ways in which CBD interacts with this system. Due to a paucity of CBD-only research (i.e., without the THC), many people rely on a growing body of anecdotal evidence that has emerged espousing the benefits of CBD for a wide array of conditions including epilepsy, anxiety, depression, insomnia, autism, crohn’s disease, neurodegenerative conditions (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease), psoriasis, arthritis, inflammatory conditions and chronic pain. However, the only indication for which robust clinical evidence supports the use of CBD is childhood epilepsy disorders. A small study on CBD use in schizophrenics suggested that CBD may have beneficial effects in this patient group. The rest of the purported benefits remain in the hypothetical camp with either no clinical research to date, or research having not yet reached expected targets and conclusions.
Without science and sellers to reliably light the way through this ‘wellness’ market, people are turning to fellow consumers. Online Community CBD User Groups are attempting to fill the information gap by providing a moderated forum for CBD users to share their experience with others. There are tens of these groups on Facebook, where member numbers range from several thousand to over one hundred thousand. The groups are regularly active with the larger ones having more than one hundred posts per day.
Users post their experience of different products and dose regimes for specific ailments or enhanced well-being. Questions posed tend to get numerous responses and conversations may provide answers that can’t be found elsewhere. Obviously, the opinions expressed in these forums are more likely to be personal than professional, but conversation threads are monitored and inaccurate information has the chance of being exposed either by the moderator or another group member.
Some of the CBD user groups have been set up by sellers of CBD products, as a means for customers to be able to give feedback on various products and discuss dosing regimes and associated effects with other users. Examples of this include the Endoca or Seedsman CBD community user groups. Other independent groups, such as the CBD Oil Users & Education Group are not affiliated with a particular seller or product, and instead ban promotional posts.
Until the science catches up, Facebook CBD groups provide a way of connecting with other CBD users and tapping into the experiential knowledge of people who use different brands and products over time for a wide array of conditions.
Looking to join a CBD community? We have our very own support group CBD For All.