The New York Times Takes on CBD

Nearly everyone I know is taking some form of CBD. Jiu Jitsu athletes are rubbing it on their muscles before training to reduce soreness and accelerate heating. Executives are eating it during the day to calm themselves. Insomniacs are taking it to fall asleep. My coevals are using it in to ease arthritic joints. And my therapist is selling vials of it to her patients to cure whatever ails them.

So when I saw the cover of a recent issue of The New York Times Magazine promising to reveal the truth about this new miracle substance, I was interested. From what I’ve seen of its coverage, the NYT doesn’t jump on new health stories. It tends to wait 5 or 10 years until the story is practically a cliché. Then it features a long essay on it.

But here we were, just a year or so into the early findings, and CBD was on the cover. And it got the cover right. The headline: The ABCs of CBD by Moises Velasquez-Manoff. Below that: an image of a gummy bear surrounded by the claims being made for CBD, including…

  • lowers blood sugar
  • lessens arthritis pain
  • prevents anxiety
  • reverses depression
  • slows Parkinson’s
  • curbs anger
  • treats Crohn’s disease
  • promotes recovery from opioid addiction
  • calms dogs

The question is: Which, if any, of these claims are true?

In the cover story, Velasquez-Manoff, pointed out that we are years away from answering that. The problem is the scarcity of scientific research. And the reason for the scarcity is that CBD comes from the same plant (cannabis) that produces marijuana (a class I drug). As such, the medical community has been largely prohibited from studying it scientifically.

The best proof so far that CBD may actually be helpful in treating disease relates to childhood epilepsy. As for the rest of the claims, there’s been little more than anecdotal evidence.

I want to believe that CBD works. But my own experience with it has been disappointing. I’ve taken it orally in two forms (oil and gummy bears) without any noticeable effects. And I’ve been rubbing a cream into my thumbs, again without any sign that it works.

Maybe it’s because the products I’m using aren’t good quality. This is apparently a real possibility, with thousands of vendors reselling hundreds of wholesale products, some of which are made in China.)

So I’m still hopeful. I haven’t entirely given up on it. I’m going to try some other brands and see if they work any better. If they do, I’ll let you know.