Anecdotally, CBD seems to work for pain relief. Neurosurgeon Joseph Maroon, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, says his patients with joint and back pain find relief in over-the-counter CBD. “Whenever there is inflammation, CBD may help,” he says. “There is some evidence that it is helpful in peripheral neuropathy, a growing problem for people with diabetes, especially as they age. I recommend it along with other natural anti-inflammatories, such as fish oil, curcumin, and Boswellia. “
But there are strong indications that “CBD products that have some THC content” are the most effective, Bryan says. For example, a 2019 German study of a drug with equal amounts of THC and CBD showed that it relieved chronic pain intense. Even a small amount can make a difference, although that raises the question of the efficacy of over-the-counter (pure) CBD, which does not contain what is considered therapeutic amounts of THC. Scientists suspect that CBD works by attaching itself to receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, an internal regulatory system that plays a role in pain, sleep, mood, inflammation, and stress, among other things. Likewise, it doesn’t even come close to being a cure for everything. “People think it works for almost everything, but that can’t be true,” observes Kent Hutchison, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “It’ll probably be good for some things; we just have to find out what they are.
CBD has mostly been investigated for seizure disorders. In a recent study, CBD reduced seizures in children and adults between the ages of 2 and 55. In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Epidiolex – the nation’s first drug derived from CBD – for rare and severe forms of epilepsy that do not respond to other treatments.
CBD is not a treatment for serious medical conditions like cancer, diabetes, or Alzheimer’s disease. Since 2015, the FDA has sent dozens of warning letters to CBD companies that made “blatant” or “unsubstantiated” claims, including Curaleaf, to whom the FDA sent a letter in July for health claims published in The company’s website that the FDA says amounted to selling unapproved drugs. (The company says it has removed those claims and supports the FDA’s efforts to enforce the regulations.)