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Is CBD a wonder drug or waste of money? Here's what the evidence says

Claims about the health benefits of cannabidiol have outpaced credible research, but CBD does show some real promise

By Corryn Wetzel

13 September 2023

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HAND lotion, dog treats, deodorant. Pillows. Beard oil. Sports bras. The range of CBD products now available is as broad as the health claims these products are marketed with. Items containing CBD, or cannabidiol – the non-intoxicating compound derived from cannabis plants – are touted to stave off wrinkles, improve sleep, reduce anxiety, ease menstrual cramps, prevent hair loss and more.

Celebrities are in on the action. Jennifer Aniston champions CBD for reducing pain and stress. Mike Tyson has a line of CBD dog chews. And business is booming: around 1 in 7 adults in the US say they use products containing CBD, while in the UK a quarter of adults say they would try it and 1 in 10 people under 24 already have, according to polls. In 2020, people in the US spent $4.6 billion on such products. Next year, that could balloon to more than $20 billion. In the UK, the CBD market was valued at £690 million in 2021.

Early evidence hints at many potential medical applications, for issues ranging from arthritis to addiction. But as the skyrocketing popularity of CBD leaves researchers and regulators scrabbling to catch up, we are left with an overwhelming number of products on the market, some of which may work, others whose claims are baseless.

Thankfully, we are starting to get some answers that can help us navigate through the confusion, enabling us to figure out what CBD really does, how it can benefit our health and what products are just a waste of money.

CBD is one of more than 130 compounds found in the cannabis plant

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