People with fibromyalgia – a long-term and difficult-to-treat condition that causes pain all over the body – are switching from opioids to CBD to manage symptoms in ‘significant’ numbers, a US study has just revealed.

The researchers noted that much of the widespread use of CBD is occurring without physician guidance and in the absence of relevant clinical trials. “Even with that lack of evidence, people are using CBD, substituting it for medication and doing so saying it’s less harmful and more effective,”​ one said. 

This latest study illustrates both the huge promise presented by CBD and one of the factors limiting its development – namely a lack of hard evidence to back up its perceived health benefits that so excite consumers and manufacturers.

CBD is oil or powder derived from the cannabis plant that can be added as an ingredient in food and beverages. It doesn’t get you high. Studies continue to show it may be an effective treatment for epilepsy and may prove to be an option for, among other things, managing anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, arthritis, and even HIV symptoms. But these studies are as yet inconclusive. With the exception of Epidiolex, the first and only prescription CBD medicine approved by the FDA in the US which is used to treat seizures, no medical claims can yet be made on any products.

Regulation has also been a grey area which has stymied NPD and arguably made consumers cagey. In the UK, companies selling CBD products were told they needed to submit in-depth Novel Foods applications to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), encompassing detailed and costly toxicology and bioavailability data, by March 2021. At the beginning of the year, the European Commission abandoned plans to classify non-synthetic CBD as a narcotic and resumed, like the UK, Novel Food applications for edible CBD products.

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