Can eat­ing a £1 gummy bear made with CANNABIS oil re­ally boost your health?

Daily Mail - - Good Health - By PAT HA­GAN

Ear­lier this month, Dee Mani, a mother of two from Birm­ing­ham, claimed she’d cured her ag­gres­sive breast can­cer by tak­ing a drop of cannabis oil a day. Dee had re­fused che­mother­apy as it had failed to keep her sis­ter alive a few years ear­lier when she had the disease.

af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed in March 2017, Dee, 44, read on­line about the re­ported ben­e­fits of the oil and be­gan putting a sin­gle drop on her tongue ev­ery evening. Five months later, scans showed her can­cer had gone.

Over the years, more sto­ries such as Dee’s have emerged, with claims not only that cannabis oil can ‘cure’ can­cer, but that it can suc­cess­fully treat a host of other se­ri­ous prob­lems where con­ven­tional medicine has failed.

its pro­po­nents point to re­search that shows it can help with nerve pain, for in­stance. anec­do­tal ev­i­dence sug­gests it may also pre­vent seizures caused by some forms of epilepsy.

and re­cently cannabis oil, or specif­i­cally, a chem­i­cal found in cannabis plants called cannabid­iol (CBD), was given a clean bill of health by none other than the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

in a re­port pub­lished in De­cem­ber, its ex­pert Com­mit­tee on Drug De­pen­dence said it found cannabid­iol had sev­eral pos­si­ble ma­jor med­i­cal ap­pli­ca­tions and no ad­verse health out­comes.

Per­haps not sur­pris­ingly, then, CBD prod­ucts have be­come in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar. last week Hol­land & Bar­rett re­ported that sales of one rem­edy, Ja­cob Hooy CBD+Oil have risen by 37 per cent since it started stock­ing it in Jan­uary. The health food chain says it’s go­ing to add four more cannabis oil prod­ucts to its shelves next month.

Mean­while, the Cannabis Trades as­so­ci­a­tion says the num­ber of reg­u­lar users of CBD in the UK has dou­bled to 250,000 in the past 18 months.

How­ever, CBD prod­ucts, which in­clude di­gestible gel cap­sules, va­p­ing liq­uid to be in­haled with an e-cig­a­rette, lip balm and even gummy bear sweets, are not cheap.

Prices range from £9.49 for a 10ml bot­tle (con­tain­ing 240 drops) from Hol­land & Bar­rett to £400 for a 100ml bot­tle from some UK on­line sup­pli­ers: even the gummy bear sweets cost an eye-wa­ter­ing £1 each.

AGAINST this are the ques­tion marks over just how ef­fec­tive CBD ac­tu­ally is. For in­stance, a 2016 study pub­lished in the jour­nal BMC Com­ple­men­tary and al­ter­na­tive Medicine, car­ried out at the north-West Univer­sity in south africa, showed CBD slowed the rate at which cer­vi­cal can­cer cells grew in the lab­o­ra­tory or, in some cases, even killed them off.

But these find­ings have not yet been repli­cated in hu­mans.

and just last week, guide­lines is­sued to 30,000 doc­tors in Canada high­lighted that in the few con­di­tions where cannabis has been shown to be help­ful (such as for nerve pain and mus­cle spas­tic­ity in mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis) the im­pact is only mar­ginal, but there was plenty of ev­i­dence of side-ef­fects.

‘We rec­om­mend against the use of cannabi­noids for most con­di­tions ow­ing to lack of ev­i­dence of ben­e­fits and known harms,’ the doc­u­ment from the Univer­sity of al­berta said.

Cannabis is a sched­ule 1, Class B drug. When peo­ple talk about us­ing cannabis as a med­i­cal treat­ment, usu­ally it is in the form of drops of oil, taken daily, made from the stalks and leaves of cannabis plants.

The oil is said to ease pain, re­duce the nau­sea of che­mother­apy and re­lieve mus­cle spasms, among other things.

There are two types of oil — cannabis oil made from mar­i­juana and con­tain­ing THC, the psy­choac­tive el­e­ment of cannabis that causes a high. This form is il­le­gal. The ‘le­gal’ CBD you can buy on the High street is de­rived from hemp, which comes from the same plant as mar­i­juana, but is cul­ti­vated dif­fer­ently.

as a re­sult, it has very much lower lev­els of THC — less than 0.2 per cent com­pared with 50 to 80 per cent in mar­i­juana.

The ques­tion is, will the le­gal CBD you get on the High street be po­tent enough to make a dif­fer­ence? The sim­ple an­swer is no, say some ex­perts.

They say re­search shows that for CBD to have any ben­e­fi­cial ef­fect, it must be given in much larger quan­ti­ties than found in these High street prod­ucts. This is be­cause CBD is poorly ab­sorbed by the body as it can eas­ily be bro­ken down by en­zymes pro­duced in the gut and the liver.

Con­se­quently, only a frac­tion of the CBD in­gested reaches the blood­stream. ‘Only about 6 per cent of what is taken gets ab­sorbed,’ says Dr amir en­glund, a re­searcher in psy­chophar­ma­col­ogy at the in­sti­tute of Psy­chi­a­try, Psy­chol­ogy and neu­ro­science at King’s Col­lege lon­don. ‘That’s why, in tri­als, we have to use very large doses.’

He was in­volved in a study, pub­lished in the amer­i­can Jour­nal of Psy­chi­a­try last De­cem­ber, which showed that giv­ing a daily dose of CBD oil to men­tally ill pa­tients sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced the level of psy­chotic symp­toms such as para­noia and hal­lu­ci­na­tions.

They gave 88 pa­tients ei­ther CBD or a dummy drug for six weeks and found a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in psy­chosis, with hardly any side­ef­fects. But the dose needed was 1,000mg of (100 per cent) CBD oil, twice daily.

Most on­line oils, gels or sweets pro­vide no more than a cou­ple of hun­dred mil­ligrams at most: Ja­cob Hooy CBD+Oil 240 drops bot­tle con­tains just 2.75 per cent CBD. On­line sup­pli­ers such as CBD Oils UK, which pro­duces a prod­uct range called love Hemp, have oils con­tain­ing up to 40 per cent CBD.

‘The daily dose of CBD from these would be very low and there are no stud­ies to sup­port the idea that it would have any ben­e­fi­cial ef­fects,’ says Dr en­glund.

in fact, none of the CBD prod­ucts sup­plied by UK firms are al­lowed to be de­scribed as medicines, or make claims for their health ben­e­fits.

This is be­cause the Medicines and Health­care prod­ucts reg­u­la­tory agency, which reg­u­lates the sale of drugs, has classed CBD as a medicine.

That means any claims must be backed up by ex­ten­sive clin­i­cal tri­als prov­ing its ef­fec­tive­ness.

so CBD prod­ucts are in­stead sold as food sup­ple­ments and sup­pli­ers are care­ful not to make spe­cific claims. For ex­am­ple, one on­line UK sup­plier, called For The ageless, says its prod­ucts ‘sup­port well­be­ing and op­ti­mum health’.

CBD Oils claims on its web­site: ‘reg­u­lar use of CBD as a food sup­ple­ment can help to im­prove and main­tain your health.’ and an­other on­line sup­plier, Can­abidol, states on the open­ing page of its web­site: ‘Main­tain your health with cannabis.’ sci­en­tists who have spent years in­ves­ti­gat­ing the drug’s po­ten­tial medic­i­nal pow­ers say there is good ev­i­dence that CBD could in­deed be the ba­sis for pow­er­ful new medicines for a range of con­di­tions. But there is no ev­i­dence yet that plac­ing a few drops of oil on the tongue ev­ery day, chew­ing a sweet made with CBD or rub­bing on a lip balm will pre­vent ill health or com­bat com­mon ail­ments. ‘CBD has great po­ten­tial and there are many stud­ies un­der way look­ing at its pos­si­ble fu­ture uses,’ says Dr Tom Free­man, a se­nior aca­demic fel­low at the na­tional ad­dic­tion Cen­tre at King’s Col­lege lon­don, who has been in­ves­ti­gat­ing CBD for the past decade. ‘But none of these prod­ucts on sale has been through clin­i­cal tri­als and peo­ple should def­i­nitely not be us­ing them as though they are a medicine. i would rec­om­mend that peo­ple us­ing these prod­ucts seek ad­vice from their GP for any de­ci­sions re­lated to their treat­ment.’ in fact, there are al­ready le­git­i­mate and li­censed cannabis- based medicines avail­able. Bri­tish drugs fir mg W Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals makes sat iv ex, a pep­per­mint-flavoured mouth spray for mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis, us­ing CBD and tiny amounts of psy­choac­tive THC to ease painful mus­cle spasms. How­ever, the drug is so ex­pen­sive, about £500 a month, that it is rarely pre­scribed on the NHS.

GW Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has also de­vel­oped a CBDbased drug for cer­tain hard- to- treat forms of epilepsy. The drug, called epid­i­olex, is await­ing ap­proval from the U.s. Food and Drug ad­min­is­tra­tion fol­low­ing suc­cess­ful tri­als.

it is 98 per cent CBD, more than dou­ble the high­est con­tent oil sold on­line.

The Univer­sity of Ox­ford re­cently set up a £10 mil­lion drugs re­search busi­ness, called Ox­ford Cannabi­noid Tech­nolo­gies, to in­ves­ti­gate CBD’s po­ten­tial to treat arthri­tis, can­cer, alzheimer’s, de­pres­sion and Parkin­son’s disease.

This re­search could take sev­eral years to bear fruit. in the mean­time, celebrity- backed en­dorse­ments of cannabis oil, along with dereg­u­la­tion of

26% Pro­por­tion of Bri­tons who think home­opa­thy should be avail­able on the NHS

cannabis for med­i­cal use in U.S. states such as Cal­i­for­nia, Colorado and Ore­gon, are fu­elling con­sumer de­mand. For­mer East­End­ers actress Pam St Cle­ment re­cently re­vealed she takes CBD oil ev­ery day to help ease the pain of her os­teoarthri­tis.

Dr Ian Hamil­ton, a lec­turer in men­tal health at York Univer­sity, fears the hype around CBD may put some pa­tients at risk — es­pe­cially if anx­ious par­ents of chil­dren with epilepsy de­cide to aban­don pre­scrip­tion medicines in favour of what they per­ceive as a more ‘nat­u­ral’ treat­ment. ‘Peo­ple who buy these CBD prod­ucts are po­ten­tially wast­ing their money,’ he says. ‘And par­ents should never stop a child’s anti-epilep­tic med­i­ca­tion with­out go­ing to see their GP first.’

Dr Jeremy How­ick, a se­nior re­searcher at the Univer­sity of Ox­ford who spe­cialises in study­ing the placebo ef­fect, says any health­boost­ing ben­e­fits that cannabis oil devo­tees ex­pe­ri­ence are prob­a­bly all in the mind.

‘They are un­likely to help other than through a placebo mech­a­nism,’ he says. And when it comes to hemp prod­ucts, it’s po­ten­tially a very ex­pen­sive placebo at that.

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