Is Hemp Oil Good For You?

Written by Dr. Steve Chaney on . Posted in Hemp Oil or CBD

The Truth About Hemp Oil and CBD Products

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

 

is hemp oil good for you productsCBD products are hot. If you believe the hype, they cure just about anything that ails you. Plus, they are “natural,” and the public has an insatiable appetite for natural cures. If that weren’t enough, marijuana has had a long history as an illicit drug, which adds a little allure to CBD products. The CBD industry is exploding.

But, is hemp oil good for you?

Many of you have contacted me and asked for my opinion on CBD products. Up until now I have deferred because it was simply not an area of expertise for me, and I had not come across any good studies on the effects of CBD.

However, I recently came across a comprehensive review of the evidence behind CBD and cannabis by experts I trust. This was a report called “The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids. The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research” published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (National Academies Press, Washington DC, 2017 ).

Before I describe the findings of the report, I need to define some terms for you.

 

What Are Cannabis And Cannabinoids

 

is hemp oil good for you plantsCannabis is a genus of flowering plants that originated in Central Asia. Cannabis plants contain a class of compounds called cannabinoids, of which the two most abundant are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). It is THC that is responsible for the intoxicating effects of cannabis.

The term hemp refers to varieties of Cannabis that have been selected for non-drug use. Hemp is low in THC and high in CBD. Marijuana, on the other hand, is high in THC and low in CBD.

 

How Was The Report Prepared?

is hemp oil good for you scientists studyThe National Academy of Sciences selected 16 of the top experts in this area of research. These experts reviewed hundreds of published studies, met several times to discuss the studies, and wrote a comprehensive, 468-page report based on their evaluation of the data. This report was then sent to another group of 15 experts to be reviewed and edited before final publication.

The report evaluated the scientific basis for:

  • Claims for benefits of CBD and/or THC that have been proposed by their advocates.
  • Claims for risks of CBD and/or THC that have been proposed by their opponents.

The strength of the evidence behind these claims was classified as follows:

  • Conclusive Evidence: The claim was supported by many good-quality studies with no credible opposing findings.
  • Substantial Evidence: The claim was supported by several good-quality studies with few or no credible opposing findings.
  • Moderate Evidence: The claim was supported by several good- to fair-quality studies with few or no opposing findings.
  • Limited Evidence: The claim is supported by fair-quality studies or study results have been mixed, with more studies supporting the claim than refuting it.
  • Insufficient or No Evidence: The claim is supported by a single poor-quality study, study results have been mixed, or no studies have been done to either support or refute the claim.

 

Is Hemp Oil Good for You?

 

is hemp oil good for you pillsThe report lumped all claims for any form of cannabis or cannabinoids together. This includes the cannabis plant, CBD, THC, preparations containing both THC and CBD, and everything in between. I will help you sort out which approved claims were associated with which form of cannabis.

Benefits: The report stated that there was:

  • Conclusive evidence that a high potency pharmaceutical CBD drug helps prevent seizures in two rare and severe forms of epilepsy. (This is a patented drug formulation and is not found in commercially available CBD preparations.)
  • Conclusive evidence that THC or a combination of THC with CBD is effective for treating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. (These studies were not done with CBD by itself).
  • is hemp oil good for you the risksSubstantial evidence that THC or a combination of THC with CBD is effective for treating involuntary muscle contractions due to multiple sclerosis. (These studies were not done with CBD by itself).
  • Substantial evidence that THC or a combination of THC with CBD is effective for treating chronic pain. (These studies were not done with CBD by itself).
  • Moderate evidence that THC or a combination of THC with CBD may help with certain sleep problems. (These studies were not done with CBD by itself).
  • Limited, insufficient, or no evidence to support claims for CBD products by themselves.

 

The reviewers did not say that CBD products were worthless. They simply concluded that the existing studies were not strong enough to rate the evidence supporting CBD claims in the moderate to conclusive range.

For example, the reviewers described a study reporting that 300 mg of CBD reduced anxiety for men giving a speech. It was a very small study, the data were inconsistent, and an effect of CBD on anxiety has not been supported by other studies. Thus, the reviewers concluded that the evidence supporting a claim that CBD reduces anxiety is insufficient. Of course, that may change as future studies are published.

In short, the reviewers felt that, while there may be benefits derived from CBD, more high-quality research is needed to either support or refute the claims that are currently being made for CBD products.

 

Risks: The report did not list any studies substantiating risks associated with CBD use.

is hemp oil good for you the risksThe reviewers did state that CBD blocks an enzyme that metabolizes many medicines, raising the possibility that CBD might affect the effectiveness of those medicines. They said that more research into these potential interactions was sorely needed. (Note: Many widely used herbal supplements block the same enzymes, so this effect is not unique to CBD products.)

The reviewers also noted two other concerns that CBD products have in common with many herbal supplements:

  • The amount of CBD used in clinical studies is generally 100 mg or more, while many CBD products provide 20 mg or less.
  • Quality control is spotty at best. One recent study (MO Bonn-Miller et al, JAMA, 318: 1708-1709, 2017 ) evaluated 84 CBD products and found that only 30% of them were accurately labeled. Some contained little to no CBD and about 20% had detectable levels of THC.

 

What Are The Benefits And Risks Of Marijuana or Hemp Oil?

Benefits: As described in the section above, there is:

  • Conclusive evidence that THC or THC + CBD:
    • is effective for treating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
  • Substantial evidence that THC or THC + CBD:
    • is effective for treating involuntary muscle contractions due to multiple sclerosis.
    • is effective for treating chronic pain.
  • Moderate evidence that THC or THC + CBD:
    • may help with certain sleep problems.
  • Limited, insufficient, or no evidence to support the other claims for THC or THC + CBD.

 

Risks: The report stated that there was:

  • Substantial evidence for:
    • Cannabis smoking and more frequent bronchitis episodes.
    • Cannabis use and increased frequency of motor vehicle crashes.
    • Maternal cannabis smoking and lower birth weight of the offspring.
    • Cannabis use and the development of schizophrenia or other psychoses, with the highest risks among the most frequent users.
    • Progression to problem cannabis use. The risks are greatest for males, people who initiate cannabis use at an early age, and people who use cannabis frequently.
  • Moderate evidence for:
    • Cannabis use and the impairment of cognitive domains of learning, memory, and attention.
    • Cannabis use and the development of substance dependence and/or substance abuse disorder for substances including alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit drugs.

Once again, the committee concluded that more high-quality research was needed.

For a summary of the report’s evaluation of all claimed benefits and risks of CBD and/or marijuana use, click here . For details on individual studies reviewed by the committee, read the complete report at https://doi.org/10.17226/24625.

 

The Bottom Line

 

There is lots of excitement around CBD products and medical use of marijuana (THC). If you believe the proponents, they are a panacea for everything that ails us. If you believe the opponents, the risks far outweigh the benefits. Which of these claims are true and which are false?

Fortunately, the National Academy of Sciences appointed a committee of experts to evaluate the research supporting or refuting the claims. They issued a report in 2017 that evaluated the strength of scientific evidence supporting these claims.

In short:

  • They found no good evidence supporting the proposed benefits of CBD products. Nor did they find evidence for any risk of CBD products, properly used. They did not conclude that CBD products were worthless. They simply concluded that more high-quality research was needed to substantiate the claims.
  • They found conclusive evidence for some of the proposed benefits of medical marijuana. However, they also found substantial evidence supporting some of the proposed risks. Again, they concluded that more research was needed.

For more details read the article above.

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Comments (7)

  • Donna Turner

    |

    Thank you for clearing the air around this hot topic. I have been surprised by the number of people getting sucked in by the hype. We can count on Dr. Chaney to set the record straight!

    Reply

  • Julie colegrove

    |

    With the onslaught of CBD products on the market this article is of value for all to read.
    How can I get a copy of this?

    Reply

  • Merlena Cushing

    |

    Would you please comment on Conolidine being sold now by Dr. Earl Mindell. There is much broohaha about this recent article of his. Thanks.

    Reply

    • Dr. Steve Chaney

      |

      Dear Merlena,
      Conolidine has primarily been tested in mouse models. There is little evidence that it is either safe or effective in humans.
      Dr. Chaney

      Reply

  • Anthony Garofali

    |

    The National Academy of Sciences only looks at studies conducted in the USA. Due to the fact that up until the recently signed 2018 Farm Bill, cannabis was strictly a DEA schedule I substance. Therefore, the body of science involving a full spectrum tincture (not just CBD but all other related cannabinoids and terpenes) is quite lacking as is the qualities of said studies.

    Have you reviewed the European or Israeli panacea of well conducted studies ? Also, why do you give it a thumbs down if a majority of beneficial evidence from a handful of stateside evidence are conclusive or substantial ?

    I agree it all depends on the product being used as quality varies widely from brand to brand. That being said, if a superior product is used, results tend to be dramatic for a wide variety of indications since we are all born with an endogenous cannabinoid receptor system.

    Reply

    • Dr. Steve Chaney

      |

      The National Academy of Sciences does not restrict itself to studies conducted in the USA. This was a comprehensive review.

      Reply

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Latest Article

What Is The Planetary Diet?

Posted May 21, 2019 by Dr. Steve Chaney

Is Your Diet Destroying The Planet?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

 

Earth Day has come and gone, but you are still committed to saving the planet. You save energy. You recycle. You drive an electric car. But is your diet destroying the planet?

This is not a new question, but a recent commission of international scientists has conducted a comprehensive study into our diet and its effect on our health and our environment. Their report (W. Willet et al, The Lancet, 393, issue 10170, 447-492, 2019 ) serves as a dire warning of what will happen if we don’t change our ways. I touched on this report briefly in a previous issue of “Health Tips From The Professor,” What Is The Flexitarian Diet , but this topic is important enough that it deserves an issue all its own.

The commission carefully evaluated diet and food production methods and asked three questions:

  • Are they good for us?
  • Are they good for the planet?
  • Are they sustainable? Will they be able to meet the needs of the projected population of 10 billion people in 2050 without degrading our environment.

The commission described the typical American diet as a “lose-lose diet.” It is bad for our health. It is bad for the planet. And it is not sustainable.

In its place they carefully designed their version of a primarily plant-based diet they called a “win-win diet.”  It is good for our health. It is good for the planet. And, it is sustainable.

In their publication they refer to their diet as the “universal healthy reference diet” (What else would you expect from a committee?). However, it has become popularly known as the “Planetary Diet.”

I have spoken before about the importance of a primarily plant-based diet for our health. In that context it is a personal choice. It is optional.

However, this report is a wake-up call. It puts a primarily plant-based diet in an entirely different context. It is essential for the survival of our planet. It is no longer optional.

If you care about global warming…If you care about saving our planet, there is no other choice.

How Was The Study Done?

The study (W. Willet et al, The Lancet, 393, issue 10170, 447-492, 2019 ) was the report of the EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems. This Commission convened 30 of the top experts from across the globe to prepare a science-based evaluation of the effect of diet on both health and sustainable food production through the year 2050. The Commission included world class experts on healthy diets, agricultural methods, climate change, and earth sciences. The Commission reviewed 356 published studies in preparing their report.

 

Is Your Diet Destroying The Planet?

When they looked at the effect of food production on the environment, the Commission concluded:

  • “Strong evidence indicates that food production is among the largest drivers of global environmental change.” Specifically, the commission reported:
  • Agriculture occupies 40% of global land (58% of that is for pasture use).
  • Food production is responsible for 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 70% of freshwater use.
  • Conversion of natural ecosystems to croplands and pastures is the largest factor causing species to be threatened with extinction. Specifically, 80% of extinction threats to mammals and bird species are due to agricultural practices.
  • Overuse and misuse of nitrogen and phosphorous in fertilizers causes eutrophication. In case you are wondering, eutrophication is defined as the process by which a body of water becomes enriched in dissolved nutrients (such as phosphates from commercial fertilizer) that stimulate the growth of algae and other aquatic plant life, usually resulting in the depletion of dissolved oxygen. This creates dead zones in lakes and coastal regions where fish and other marine organisms cannot survive.
  • About 60% of world fish stocks are fully fished and more than 30% are overfished. Because of this, catch by global marine fisheries has been declining since 1996.
  • “Reaching the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming…is not possible by only decarbonizing the global energy systems. Transformation to healthy diets from sustainable food systems is essential to achieving the Paris Agreement.”
  • The world’s population is expected to increase to 10 billion by 2050. The current system of food production is unsustainable.

When they looked at the effect of the foods we eat on the environment, the Commission concluded:

  • Beef and lamb are the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and land use.
  • The concern about land use is obvious because of the large amount of pasture land required to raise cattle and sheep.
  • The concern about greenhouse gas emissions is because cattle and sheep are ruminants. They not only breathe out CO2, but they also release methane into the atmosphere from fermentation in their rumens of the food they eat. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and it persists in the atmosphere 25 times longer than CO2. The single most important thing we can do as individuals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to eat less beef and lamb. [Note: grass fed cattle produce more greenhouse gas emissions than cattle raised on corn because they require 3 years to bring to market rather than 2 years.]
  • In terms of energy use beef, lamb, pork, chicken, dairy and eggs all require much more energy to produce than any of the plant foods.
  • In terms of eutrophication, beef, lamb, and pork, all cause much more eutrophication than any plant food. Dairy and eggs cause more eutrophication than any plant food except fruits.
  • In contrast, plant crops reduce greenhouse gas emissions by removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

 

What Is The Planetary Diet?

In the words of the Commission: “[The Planetary Diet] largely consists of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and unsaturated oils. It includes a low to moderate amount of seafood, poultry, and eggs. It includes no or a very low amount of red meat, processed meat, sugar, refined grains, and starchy vegetables.”

When described in that fashion it sounds very much like other healthy diets such as semi-vegetarian, Mediterranean, DASH, and Flexitarian. However, what truly distinguishes it from the other diets is the restrictions placed on the non-plant portion of the diet to make it both environmentally friendly and sustainable. Here is a more detailed description of the diet:

  • It starts with a vegetarian diet. Vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, soy foods, and whole grains are the foundation of the diet.
  • It allows the option of adding one serving of dairy a day (It turns out that cows produce much less greenhouse emissions per serving of dairy than per serving of beef. That’s because cows take several years to mature before they can be converted to meat, and they are emitting greenhouse gases the entire time).
  • It allows the option of adding one 3 oz serving of fish or poultry or one egg per day.
  • It allows the option of swapping seafood, poultry, or egg for a 3 oz serving of red meat no more than once a week. If you want a 12 oz steak, that would be no more than once a month.

This is obviously very different from the way most Americans currently eat. According to the Commission:

  • “This would require greater than 50% reduction in consumption of unhealthy foods, such as red meat and sugar, and greater than 100% increase in the consumption of healthy foods, such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.”
  • “In addition to the benefits for the environment, “dietary changes from current diets to healthy diets are likely to substantially benefit human health, averting about 10.8-11.6 million deaths per year globally.”

What Else Did The Commission Recommend?

In addition to changes in our diets, the Commission also recommended several changes in the way food is produced. Here are a few of them.

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the fuel used to transport food to market.
  • Reduce food losses and waste by at least 50%.
  • Make radical improvements in the efficiency of fertilizer and water use. In terms of fertilizer, the change would be two-fold:
    • In developed countries, reduce fertilizer use and put in place systems to capture runoff and recycle the phosphorous.
    • In third world countries, make fertilizer more available so that crop yields can be increased, something the Commission refer to as eliminating the “yield gap” between third world and developed countries.
  • Stop the expansion of new agricultural land use into natural ecosystems and put in place policies aimed at restoring and re-foresting degraded land.
  • Manage the world’s oceans effectively to ensure that fish stocks are used responsibly and global aquaculture (fish farm) production is expanded sustainability.

What we can do: While most of these are government level policies, we can contribute to the first three by reducing personal food waste and purchasing organic produce locally whenever possible.

What Does This Mean For You?

If you are a vegan, you are probably asking why the Commission did not recommend a completely plant-based diet. The answer is that a vegan diet is perfect for the health of our planet. However, the Commission wanted to make a diet that was as consumer-friendly as possible and still meet their goals of a healthy, environmentally friendly, and sustainable diet.

If you are eating a typical American diet or one of the fad diets that encourage meat consumption, you are probably wondering how you can ever make such drastic changes to your diet. The answer is “one step at a time.”  If you have read my books “Slaying The Food Myths” or “Slaying the Supplement Myths,”  you know that my wife and I did not change our diet overnight. Our diet evolved to something very close to the Planetary Diet over a period of years.

The Commission also purposely designed the Planetary Diet so that you “never have to say never” to your favorite foods. Three ounces of red meat a week does not sound like much, but it allows you a juicy steak once a month.

Sometimes you just need to develop a new mindset. As I shared in my books, my father prided himself on grilling the perfect steak. I love steaks, but I decided to set a few parameters. I don’t waste my red meat calories on anything besides filet mignon at a fine restaurant. It must be a special occasion, and someone else must be buying. That limits it to 2-3 times a year. I still get to enjoy good steak, and I stay well within the parameters of the Planetary diet.

Develop your strategy for enjoying some of your favorite foods within the parameters of the Planetary Diet and have fun with it.

The Bottom Line

 

Is your diet destroying the planet? This is not a new question, but a recent commission of international scientists has conducted a comprehensive study into our diet and its effect on our health and our environment. Their report serves as a dire warning of what will happen to us and our planet if we don’t change our ways.

The Commission carefully evaluated diet and food production methods and asked three questions:

  • Are they good for us?
  • Are they good for the planet?
  • Are they sustainable? Will they be able to meet the needs of the projected population of 10 billion people in 2050 without degrading our environment.

The Commission described the typical American diet as a “lose-lose diet.”  It is bad for our health. It is bad for the planet. And it is not sustainable.

In its place they carefully designed their version of a primarily plant-based diet they called a “win-win diet.”  It is good for our health. It is good for the planet. And, it is sustainable.

In their publication they refer to their diet as the “universal healthy reference diet” (What else would you expect from a committee?). However, it has become popularly known as the “Planetary Diet.”

The Planetary Diet is similar to other healthy diets such as semi-vegetarian, Mediterranean, DASH, and Flexitarian. However, what truly distinguishes it from the other diets is the restrictions placed on the non-plant portion of the diet to make it both environmentally friendly and sustainable (for details, read the article above).

I have spoken before about the importance of a primarily plant-based diet for our health. In that context it is a personal choice. It is optional.

However, this report is a wake-up call. It puts a primarily plant-based diet in an entirely different context. It is essential for the survival of our planet. It is no longer optional.

If you care about global warming…If you care about saving our planet, there is no other choice.

For more details read the article above.

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

 

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