Lately one of the most common questions I get asked is "What do you think of CBD oil and other cannabis products?" It's come from people from all walks of life, and people that I never guessed would ever even look at these sorts of product because of their past stigma. It has been touted as a "miracle cure" for all things ranging from cancer to daily anxiety and insomnia. Some studies show some promise in certain areas but I feel the jury is still very much out on whether it's anything more than placebo for most things.
Now, I don't have anything against placebo or these products themselves. Just as many people use alcohol as a relaxing, anxiolytic, many others have used a little magical herb in the same way. There is also the argument that "Even if it's just a placebo, if it has an effect, why knock it?" and I understand that....I often have an internal argument with myself about whether to "nocebo" somebody out of the "placebo", but thats a whole discussion on it's own (balancing the possible negative effects of a substance with it's placebo positives). Astrology is demonstrably nonsense for instance, but if reading your horoscope on a Monday gives you a sense of purpose, or reduces your anxiety or makes you feel better in some way, have at it. However, if you are basing life decisions and going "all in" on risky investments because Saturn has retrograded Mercury or something, then maybe it's time for some science in your life.
My main problem is with people's attitudes to these products. It has become just another "pill to pop"; an easy alternative to the hard yards of actual lifestyle change. That is the reason for the click-baitey title to this post. It just falls right into the current culture of "I feel something, I must take a drug to fix it." You aren't feeling sick because of a lack of drugs in your bloodstream. You aren't feeling anxious because you haven't ingested CBD. These products just seem to reinforce the "Sickcare rather than healthcare" paradigm we currently see in medicine.
I can tell you that no matter how effective CBD oil proves to be for most daily ailments (I'm excluding very specific childhood drug resistant seizures here, where it has been PROVEN to be effective), it is orders of magnitude less effective than a healthy diet and exercise regime. Simple lifestyle changes like dropping sugar, reducing your overall carb intake, eating more healthy fats and whole foods and doing some resistance training will have a much bigger positive impact on your health than 10 drops of a mystery oil every day will.
There is also some, non-zero risk of taking any active substance. While CBD and cannabis products may be pretty safe compared to other "drugs", it is still an active substance and may still have negative side effects. Many studies on CBD products show members using the products dropping out at a larger rate because of side effects like dizzyness, dysphoria or sedation, so they are not completely without side effects.
Now here's an even more interesting part. Any CBD oil proponent will tell you that these products work on the "endocannabinoid" system in our bodies. This system helps regulate things like pain sensation, mood, cognitive function and even appetite and memory. These are all great things.....but here's the kicker.....Exercise stimulates the endocannabinoid system!! All these benefits that are said to be experienced from ingesting CBD oil can be had, for free, by doing exercise!
So here's what I think about CBD: I think if you feel it really helps you, and it doesn't cost you too much and you're mindful of any side effects that may come from it, go ahead! But, if you are using these products and still throwing down huge amounts of soda, sweets, refined carbohydrates and industrial seed oils and not exercising 2-3 times a week.... you are taking one step forward and 18 steps back. Now, 17 steps back is still better than 18steps back, but it's still moving backwards instead of forwards.
Don't you want to move forward rather?
**Disclaimer** I am completely on board with more studies and research into cannabis products. I will change my mind in a heartbeat if and when more solid evidence that these products are useful becomes available, but for the moment I feel like the jury is still out on most of the claimed benefits.