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Cannabidiol (CBD) Products for Pain: Ineffective, Expensive, and With Potential Harms

Cannabidiol (CBD) attracts considerable attention for promoting good health and treating various conditions, predominantly pain, often in breach of advertising rules. Examination of available CBD products in North America and Europe demonstrates that CBD content can vary from none to much more than advertised and that potentially harmful other chemicals are often included. Serious harm is associated with chemicals found in CBD products and reported in children, adults, and the elderly. A 2021 International Association for the Study of Pain task force examined the evidence for cannabinoids and pain but found no trials of CBD. Sixteen CBD randomized trials using pharmaceutical-supplied CBD or making preparations from such a source and with pain as an outcome have been published subsequently. The trials were conducted in 12 different pain states, using 3 oral, topical, and buccal/sublingual administration, with CBD doses between 6 and 1,600 mg, and durations of treatment between a single dose and 12 weeks. Fifteen of the 16 showed no benefit of CBD over placebo. Small clinical trials using verified CBD suggest the drug to be largely benign; while large-scale evidence of safety is lacking, there is growing evidence linking CBD to increased rates of serious adverse events and hepatotoxicity. In January 2023, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that a new regulatory pathway for CBD was needed. Consumers and health care providers should rely on evidence-based sources of information on CBD, not just advertisements. Current evidence is that CBD for pain is expensive, ineffective, and possibly harmful.

Read the full report at Journal Of Pain

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