Cannabidiol (CBD) oil and products made from it, including capsules, sprays, lotions, edibles, and "vape," have become immensely popular in just a few years and is now sold and marketed to treat a wide range of diseases. Buying products made from CBD oil became legal in Wisconsin for treatment of seizure disorders in 2014 with Lydia's Law, which expanded to include any medical condition with note from health provider in 2017, and finally available to general public in 2018. But what exactly is being sold and does it really help?

CBD is the largest non-psychoactive component of marijuana whereas tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the component that causes the "high" feeling. This non-intoxicating marijuana extract was initially utilized as a treatment for seizure disorders; in fact, there is an FDA approved CBD drug for epilepsy treatment. CBD oil is now being marketed as a solution to many more issues.  There is ongoing controversy regarding the effectiveness for the treatment of these various issues.

When it comes to mental health issues, CBD oil is often one of the top contenders in claiming effectiveness. There have been reports of CBD oil consumption alleviating symptoms of anxiety, depression, pain, and a variety of other psychiatric conditions. What's the truth behind these claims? Some studies and ongoing clinical trials suggest that CBD oil could be effective for depression, anxiety (particularly social anxiety), and posttraumatic stress disorder. However, there is difficulty in regulation of this drug, making it hard to apply these studies to the real world. Much is unknown about CBD oil and its effectiveness in treating psychiatric conditions; more studies are needed to determine effective dosage, treatment duration, side effects, etc.

When considering a drug to treat medical issues in adolescents, we must consider the risks, and the safety profile. One aspect of utilizing a drug that is largely new and unknown to the medical community is limitations in understanding the drug interactions and side effects.  Many teens dealing with comorbidities that potentially benefit from a medication like CBD oil are likely taking a variety of other medications, which can have the potential to dangerously interact with supplements we know little about. Also, like most supplements (and drugs of abuse), CBD products may not monitored by the FDA (although this may be changing), so one can never be certain about potency, other ingredients, etc. Is it worth the risk?

If you have questions about CBD, or are currently taking CBD, make sure to discuss with your health care provider.