CBD interest surpasses nearly all other health products or topics, experts say

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Every month as many as 6.4 million Americans turn to Google to learn about or buy cannabidiol (CBD), rivaling interest in most other health products, according to a new study published in the journal  JAMA Network Open.

Researchers have documented unfounded claims that CBD treats acne, anxiety, opioid addiction, pain, and menstrual problems. Consumers can buy CBD droplets, massage oils, gummies, or even ice cream.

For this study, researchers analyzed Google search queries that mentioned "CBD" or "cannabidiol" emerging from the United States from January 2004 through April 2019 and forecasted searches through December 2019.

The fraction of CBD search queries in the United States grew by 125 percent during 2017, an additional 160 percent during 2018, and is forecasted to grow 180 percent more during 2019. This rise in CBD searches occurred across all states, ranging from a 211 percent increase in Oklahoma to a 605 percent increase in Alabama.

To further appreciate CBD's exploding popularity the team contrasted search query volumes for CBD against those for other trending health topics, products, or alternative medicines.

Search queries for CBD surpassed those for acupuncture by 749 percent, apple cider vinegar by 517 percent, meditation by 338 percent, vaccination by 63 percent, exercise by 59 percent, marijuana by 13 percent, and veganism by 12 percent.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working quickly to evaluate regulatory policies related to cannabis and cannabis-derived ingredients like CBD. At the same time, they are stepping up policing companies marketing unapproved products with unsubstantiated claims.

Study co-author John Ayers, PhD, MD, called on the government to step in further.  

"Now is the time to act," said Ayers in a statement. "Government regulators must step up to the plate give CBD products the same level of scrutiny as other proven medications. Moreover, anyone considering taking CBD should know there are no proven over-the-counter health benefits."

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