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 (9)

  • 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

  • Jesse

    |

    My wife got nerve damage 9 years ago from shingles. She has remained in chronic pain in spite of using alternative and prescription opioid drugs.
    I just order Dr. Mindell’s book on CBD after reading the long list of testimonials of positive results.
    I hope and pray that the research dollars will pour in so my wife can get into this study of using CBD for chronic pain.
    On a side note multi level companies have started to promote these products. We have turned down invitations to attend because we have been distributors of Shaklee for 36 years.

    Reply

    • Dr. Steve Chaney

      |

      Dear Jesse,
      Like you I hope that there will be support for good clinical studies so we know which claims for CBD are true and which aren’t.
      Dr. Chaney

      Reply

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Latest Article

Are Pregnant Women and Children Dangerously Deficient in Omega-3s?

Posted August 13, 2019 by Dr. Steve Chaney

What Is The Omega-3 Status Of The American Population?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

 

pregnant women omega 3 deficient fishIt is no secret that the American population is deficient in omega-3s. Numerous studies have documented that fact. There are many reasons for Americans’ low intake of omega-3s:

  • The high price of omega-3-rich fish.
  • Concerns about sustainability, heavy metal contamination, and/or PCB contamination of omega-3 rich fish.
  • Misleading headlines claiming that omega-3 supplements are worthless and may even do you harm.

Of course, the questions you are asking are probably?

  • How deficient are we?
  • Does it matter?

The latest study (M Thompson et al, Nutrients, 2019, 11: 177, doi: 10.3390/nu11010177) goes a long way towards answering those important questions.

How Was The Study Done?

scientific studyThis study used data on 45,347 Americans who participated in NHANES surveys between 2003 and 2014. (NHANES or National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys is a program run by the CDC that is designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children living in the United States).

EPA and DHA intake from foods was based on the average of two 24-hour dietary recall interviews. Trained dietary interviewers collected detailed information on all foods and beverages consumed during the past 24 hours.

To assess EPA and DHA intake from supplements study participants were asked what supplements they had taken in the past 30 days, how many days out of 30 they had taken it, and the amount that was taken on those days.

 

What Is The Omega-3 Status Of The American Population?

 

omega 3 statusThe results of the NHANES surveys were shocking.

In terms of total EPA+DHA intake:

  • EPA+DHA intake across all age groups was lower than recommended.
  • Toddlers (ages 1-5), children (ages 6-11), and adolescents (ages 12-19) had lower EPA+DHA intakes than adults (ages 20-55) and seniors (ages > 55).
  • Women had lower EPA+DHA intakes than men.
  • Pregnant women and women of childbearing age did not differ in their EPA+DHA.
  • Pregnant women consumed less fish than women of childbearing age (perhaps because of concerns about heavy metal contamination).
  • Pregnant women consumed more omega-3 supplements.

In terms of EPA+DHA from supplements:

  • Less than 1% of the American population reported using omega-3 supplements.
  • The one exception was pregnant women. 7.3% of pregnant women reported taking an omega-3 supplement.
  • People taking omega-3 supplements had significantly higher EPA+DHA intake than people not taking omega-3 supplements.
  • This was also true for pregnant women. Those taking omega-3 supplements had higher EPA+DHA intake.

Of course, like any clinical study, it has strengths and weaknesses.

The biggest weakness of this study is that omega-3 intake is based on the participants recall of what they ate. The strengths of the study are its size (45,347 participants) and the fact that its estimate of omega-3 intake is consistent with several smaller studies.

 

Are Americans Deficient In Omega-3s?

 

pregnant women omega 3 deficient questionsNow we are ready to answer the questions I posed at the beginning of this article. Let’s start with the first one: “How deficient are we?”

You would think the answer to that question would be easy. It is not. This study provides a precise estimate of American’s omega-3 intake. The problem is there is no consensus as to how much omega-3s we need. There is no RDA for omega-3s.

There are, in fact, three sets of guidelines for how much omega-3s we need, and they disagree.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for EPA+DHA intake range from 100-150 mg/day at ages 2-4 years to 200-500 mg/day for adults.
  • The US National Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendations for EPA+DHA intake range from 70 mg/day for ages 1-3 to 110 mg/day for adult females and 160 mg/day for adult males.
  • As if that weren’t confusing enough, an international group of experts recently convened for a “Workshop on the Essentiality of and Recommended Dietary Intakes for Omega-6 and Omega-3 Fatty Acids” (Workshop). This group recommended an EPA+DHA intake of 440 mg/day for adults and 520 mg/day for pregnant and lactating women.

Using these recommendations as guidelines, this study reported that:

  • EPA+DHA intake for children 1-5 years old was ~25% of the WHO recommendations and ~40% of IOM recommendations.
  • EPA+DHA intake for children 6-11 years old was ~27% of WHO recommendations and ~40% of IOM recommendations.
  • EPA+DHA intake for adolescents 12-19 years old was ~50% of IOM recommendations (The WHO did not have a separate category for adolescents.
  • EPA+DHA intake for adults 20-55 years old was ~30% of WHO recommendations, and ~65% of IOM recommendations.
  • EPA+DHA intake for seniors >55 years old was 38% of WHO recommendations and 82% of IOM recommendations.
  • EPA+DHA intake for pregnant women was ~20% of Workshop recommendations (The WHO and IOM did not have a separate category for pregnant women).

While the percentage deficiency varied according to the EPA+DHA guidelines used, it is clear from these results that Americans of all age groups are not getting enough omega-3s from their diet.

The authors concluded: “We found omega-3 intakes across all age groups was lower than recommended amounts.”

 

Are Pregnant Women and Young Children Dangerously Deficient In Omega-3s?

 

danger symbolWhile the authors concluded that all age groups were deficient in omega-3s, they were particularly concerned about the omega-3 deficiencies in pregnant women and young children.

The authors said: “Taken together, these findings demonstrate that low omega-3 fatty acid intake is consistent among the US population and could increase the risk for adverse health outcomes, particularly in vulnerable populations (e.g., young children and pregnant women).”

In part, the focus on young children and pregnant women was based on their very low omega-3 intake. With intakes at 20-27% of recommended levels, I would consider these groups to be dangerously deficient in omega-3s.

pregnant women omega 3 deficient pregnancyHowever, the focus on young children and pregnant women was also based on the seriousness of the adverse health outcomes associated with low omega-3 intake in these population groups. This answers the second question I posed at the beginning of this article: “Does it matter?”

According to the authors low intake of EPA and DHA during pregnancy and early childhood is associated with maternal depression, pre-term births, low birth-weight babies, increased risk of allergies and asthma, problems with learning and cognition, and other neurocognitive outcomes.

None of these associations between low omega-3 intake and adverse health outcomes have been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, but the evidence is strong enough that we should be alarmed by the very low omega-3 intake in pregnant women and young children.

There is, however, a simple solution. The authors of this study concluded: “Individuals taking EPA/DHA containing supplements had significantly elevated intake compared to individuals not taking omega-3 fatty acid-containing supplements or not reporting any supplement use.”

omega 3 supplementsThey went on to say: “As supplement use is associated with increased omega-3 intake, supplementation could be an important source of EPA/DHA, particularly for pregnant women given their lower fish consumption compared to non-pregnant women of childbearing age.”

I agree. Given the low omega-3 intake in these population group and current guidelines for omega-3 intake. I recommend:

  • Pregnant & lactating women (and women of childbearing age who might become pregnant) take an omega-3 supplement providing around 520 mg of EPA+DHA/day.
  • Young children (ages 1-5) take an omega-3 supplement providing around 100 mg of DHA/day.

Of course, this study also confirmed that Americans of all age groups are not getting enough omega-3s from their diet, and low omega-3 intake may increase the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, recent studies have shown that high purity omega-3 supplements may reduce heart disease risk.

You will find my recommendations for omega-3 supplementation for adults in a previous issue of “Health Tips From the Professor.”

 

The Bottom Line

 

The largest study to date (45,347 participants) measured omega-3 intake for Americans of all ages and compared that to current recommendations for omega-3 intake.

The authors of the study concluded:

  • “We found omega-3 intakes across all age groups was lower than recommended amounts.”
  • “Low omega-3 fatty acid intake … could increase the risk for adverse health outcomes, particularly in vulnerable populations (e.g., young children and pregnant women.”

In part, the focus on young children and pregnant women was based on their very low omega-3 intake. With intakes at 20-27% of recommended levels, I would consider these groups to be dangerously deficient in omega-3s.

However, the focus on young children and pregnant women was also based on the seriousness of the adverse health outcomes associated with low omega-3 intake in these population groups.

  • According to the authors low intake of EPA and DHA during pregnancy and early childhood is associated with maternal depression, pre-term births, low birth-weight babies, increased risk of allergies and asthma, problems with learning and cognition, and other neurocognitive outcomes.

There is, however, a simple solution. The authors of this study also concluded:

  • “Individuals taking EPA/DHA containing supplements had significantly elevated intake compared to individuals not taking omega-3 fatty acid-containing supplements or not reporting any supplement use.”
  • “As supplement use is associated with increased omega-3 intake, supplementation could be an important source of EPA/DHA, particularly for pregnant women given their lower fish consumption compared to non-pregnant women of childbearing age.”

For more details on the study and my recommendations for omega-3 supplementation, 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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