Are CBD Oil Benefits a Placebo Effect?

CBD oil is the hot new thing in the health and wellness world and it’s starting to pop up everywhere you turn. Thousands of companies are selling it online. And chances are that at least one store in your town sells it.

Some call it snake oil. Others call it a miracle cure for their ailments. It seems to helps many people but doesn’t help some at all. As its popularity increases, many people are wondering…is CBD the real deal or are reported benefits just the placebo effect?

What is a Placebo?

A placebo, according to the American Cancer Society, is a “substance or other kind of treatment that looks just like a regular treatment or medicine, but is not.” You may have heard of “sugar pills” as a form of placebo. Designed to seem like the real thing, it doesn’t contain any actual active medication.

In research studies or clinical trials, placebos are often used in conjunction with the actual treatment in the form of a “double-blind controlled study.” This means that neither the researchers doing the administering nor the patients in the study know which treatment they are getting (placebo or real). This method allows research to remain as unbiased as possible, and helps verify whether or not the treatment being studied is actually effective.

That doesn’t mean that placebo is not an effective treatment. To the contrary, the placebo effect can be quite strong. In one study, even when patients were aware that they were being given a placebo, the placebo was more effective compared to doing nothing at all.

Is CBD Oil a Placebo?

So is CBD oil a placebo? Research indicates it is not. Various studies using CBD and placebos have demonstrated the CBD has actual therapeutic benefits that surpass those of just a placebo.

Just like how we have a nervous system, each of us also has an endocannabinoid system. Co-discovered by Professor Lumír Hanuš, this system regulates various things throughout our body. CBD, a phytocannabinoid, interacts with it. We wouldn’t have this system in our bodies if it wasn’t important.

Why Do Some Think CBD Oil is a Placebo?

Too Good to be True?

There are many reasons some may think CBD oil is a placebo. CBD’s reputation as a cure-all, which often does more harm than good, is likely one of them. We prefer to think of CBD oil as a tool in the toolbox. It’s not a miracle cure-all but it can be an excellent treatment option for many. Sometimes it’s used in conjunction with other more traditional pharma treatments and other times it works wonderfully on it’s own. It really depends on the individual. Just like how some pharmaceutical drugs don’t work for everyone, CBD oil doesn’t work for everyone either.

Everyone is Different

Another possible reason is the variety of products. We are all different. And different people benefit from different doses, methods of ingestion and even different cannabis strains. CBD is the main player in CBD oil, but full spectrum products contain other minor cannabinoids and terpenes in addition to CBD.

Sometimes it takes finding the right product, with the right terpene and cannabinoids ratios, to see benefits. This process of trial and error can be understandably frustrating and costly. This leads some new users to be “one and done.” They try one type of product and when it doesn’t work, they give up on CBD oil entirely.

Lack of Immediate Effects

Most know more about the “other” cannabinoid, THC, and it’s more apparent intoxicating effects. Almost immediate effects are experienced with THC, so these profound, often extremely psychoactive, experiences leave lasting impressions.

Since CBD is much more subtle and does not have intoxicating effects (it won’t get you “high”), some people assume it isn’t working after taking one dose. Many don’t realize that with CBD, the benefits take time to show. If you told someone that their doctor-prescribed treatment took a few months to work, they wouldn’t bat an eye. But tell them CBD takes time to work and they’re much less likely to believe you.

The Bottom Line

It’s understandable that some people are skeptical about CBD oil. It certainly doesn’t work for everyone. But based on our experience, many of the detractors were either using a low quality product, using it incorrectly or were unwilling to do the experimentation that it typically takes to realize the benefits. CBD oil is not a miracle cure-all but we hear directly from thousands of people each day who consider it a highly effective part of their daily regimen.

Sarah Jorczyk is an advocate for CBD products and one of the Administrators of the CBD Oil Users Group on Facebook. She strives to educate the public, and promotes the use of safe products while helping others throughout their CBD journey. You can also find a variety of her content, including reviews and educational videos, on the group's youtube page.

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