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Research & Development Medical research, Pain

CBDo or CBDon’t?

Of the many, many chemical components in cannabis, only THC can match the dizzying popularity of CBD. The compound is – to quote Paris Hilton – “So hot right now,” as consumers seek holistic ways to manage their health. But how is public perception of its quality, safety, and efficacy shifting with growing use?

To find out, an online survey was distributed via social media (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter; face-to-face data collection was also conducted in shopping centers around Kent, UK). A total of 597 participant responses were analyzed, of which 10.9 percent (n = 65) claimed to use CBD products for ailments, including anxiety and pain. CBD products were bought from healthcare stores, vape stores, pharmacies, and online. Of those who did not personally use CBD (n = 532), 35 percent claimed they would like to try it. A positive attitude towards the safety and efficacy of CBD was attributed to it being a natural product (1).

The misconception that natural products may infer they are safe is where the danger lies.

We spoke to author Sukvinder K. Bhamra (Lecturer in Pharmacy Clinical and Professional Practice at the Universities of Greenwich and Kent, UK) about the range of responses. “Some participants reported a willingness to try CBD products, because they were seeking a more holistic lifestyle or because of promotions they had seen on social media. Others shared their concerns of the lack of regulation of CBD products, especially as they were often sold as food supplements and not medicines,” says Bhamra. “Still, the need for more research and evidence to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of CBD was highlighted.” 

With this in mind, is the marketing of CBD as a natural product harmful? “The misconception that natural products may infer they are safe is where the danger lies,” replies Bharma. “From the responses in this study, it was clear people still believe herbal medicines are safer because they are natural. Information on the safe use of natural products and on herb-drug interactions is required to help people use natural products safely and effectively.” Bharma also notes that regulation of herbal medicines, including CBD, needs to be more fully considered. “There are many powerful botanicals that are classed as food supplements to avoid regulation. Investment into natural products research is required.” 

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  1. S Bharma et al., Phytother Res (2021). Available at: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.7232

About the Author

Phoebe Harkin

Deputy Editor

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