Patients treated with CBD-rich products showed significantly improved outcomes for well-being, anxiety, pain and depression if their original symptoms were moderate to severe, researchers in Canada have found. But the study also found no such effect on patients with mild symptoms.
The researchers pointed out that CBD has long been touted as a “wellness” product despite little conclusive evidence of its effectiveness other than in epilepsy treatment.
The Real World Evidence (RWE) study was carried out at four Canadian clinics and focused on 279 adults who received such treatment over a nearly two-year period. The researchers suggested that improvement in those patients with moderate to severe symptoms could be due to a deficiency in the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS could be more deficient in such a patient group compared with those with mild symptoms, they said.
There was also the probability of a placebo effect, they noted, adding, however, that there were no differences in initial CBD doses between the various patient groups.
While the researchers acknowledged the limitations of such a RWE study — for example, there was no control group and therefore no causality effect conclusion possible between CBD-rich treatment and symptom improvement — the study did demonstrate the potential of such RWE studies to advance medical cannabis research, they said. RWE studies differ from laboratory-focused research in that they are retrospective and contain observational data obtained during routine clinical practice.
This was particularly relevant because of the exponential increase in the use of CBD among the general population and the corresponding lack of scientific data on its effectiveness.
“This retrospective observational study suggests CBD-rich treatment has a beneficial impact on pain, anxiety, and depression symptoms as well as overall well-being only for patients with moderate to severe symptoms; however, no observed effect on mild symptoms,” the researchers concluded. “The results of this study contribute to address the myths and misinformation about CBD treatment and demand further investigation.”
Such a lack of data confirms that claims by producers of CBD’s effectiveness for a wide variety of well-being improvements continue to fall flat.
“Further investigation is clearly required, but as of now the hyped, and often illegal, marketed claims of CBD as a wellness product are unsubstantiated,” the researchers wrote.