By CRISTINA JANNEY
Businesses that sell CBD, a substance derived from the hemp plant, have been popping up all over Hays.
The products have been touted to help everything from anxiety and backaches to seizures and Parkinson’s disease.
Despite a growing list of uses for CBD products and people ready to offer testimonials to the benefits, some health professionals are skeptical of the substance as a miracle cure and warn of side effects.
CBD oil is considered a dietary supplement by the FDA. It is a substance that is present in hemp and its cousin marijuana. But CBD oil that is sold in Kansas is not supposed to contain THC, the substance that gets you high.
Local retailers are selling the product as an oil, in salves, lotions, bath products, as a vape juice, in candy, and even formulas for pets.
Pure CBD oil has only been approved by the FDA for one rare seizure disorder in children. Some research in animals has indicated CBD as a treatment for anxiety, pain and inflammation, but those studies have not been replicated in humans.
Some research has indicated CBD may interact with prescription medications, including blood thinners, SSRI antidepressants and prescription anti-seizure medications.
Dr. Eric Voth, MD, an internal medicine physician and pain management and addiction specialist, is an international expert on the marijuana and drug policy. He is the vice-president of primary care at Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka.
“There is not good evidence except for one disorder that CBD works, and there is also not clearly defined what kind of doses or concentration that is the most effective,” he said.
Voth said sometime in the future, research might show CBD is effective in treating other ailments, but at this point more rigorous medical research needs to be done.
“Most uses of CBD are by rumor and reputation and sort of this hysteria behind it as a marijuana by-product. It is present in hemp and marijuana,” he said. “And it may work, but it really has not been submitted to the scientific rigor that medication needs to be submitted to.”
Jessica Moffitt, a Hays health educator, opened a new CBD franchise in Hays on Friday. Her store is one of many locations in Hays where CBD products can be purchased. Despite naysayers, Moffitt insists CBD is safe and effective.
Moffitt uses CBD oil to treat anxiety and night terrors. She said since she switched to the American Shaman CBD oil, her night terrors have decreased from about six per week to one per week. The American Shaman CBD oil is water-soluble so she drinks in her two daily doses with her coffee in the morning and with other supplements at night.
She said she does not have any side effects from taking the CBD.
Other purported uses for CBD include Alzheimer’s, dementia, nausea Parkinson’s, ADHD, autism, cramps, to address problems with sleep, depression, OCD, diabetes, eczema, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, migraine, and some have even taken the substance while being treated for cancer.
Moffitt said she did not see CBD as a cure for cancer, but it may help the body deal with some of the stresses on the body from the disease and treatment.
Barb Pitcock’s mother-in-law took CBD oil when she was being treated for cancer. Neither woman could confirm what role CBD played in her recovery, but she is still taking the product today a year and half after her doctor gave her only weeks to live. Pitcock, a CBD wholesaler and retailer, said her mother-in-law took CBD oil after chemo treatments and it helped her significantly with her nausea.
Pitcock bottles the oil as well as other essential oils for retailers across the region. She opened a temporary store in Big Creek Crossing during the holiday season under the name Simple Pure Aromatherapy. Pitcock is not a medical professional, but takes CBD oil daily herself to help her sleep.
Pitcock had been selling essential oils for 10 years and was skeptical of the CBD oil. Her nephew has ADHD and was struggling in school. Her sister started giving him CBD oil and it helped, she said.
After that, Pitcock decided to try a cream containing CBD oil to address back pain she had from a prior car accident.
“When I put the cream on, I thought at first I was imagining things because within five or 10 minutes, the pain would go away,” she said.
The store’s manager starting taking CBD for migraines and hasn’t had a migraine in three months. She believed so strongly in the product, she offered to help Pitcock get the retail store off the ground.
Amy Jensen, co-owner of Professor’s, also sells a line of CBD products through Kannaway. Jensen and her husband, Mike, both take CBD oil daily. Amy said she takes the drops for overall health and she feels it helps improve her mental clarity. She first tried CBD topically to ease the pain of a shoulder injury. She said she was amazed at how quickly the salve eased her pain.
One of her employees at Professor’s, Rachel Cox, consumes CBD products to deal with social anxiety as well as migraines. When she is feeling anxious, Cox vapes CBD oil or uses a CBD chew.
“It still had the anxiety but things seemed easier to do. It seemed more like I was going to survive this,” Cox said. “The more I took it and the more it built up in me, it was just like a well-oiled machine. There were days I was not waking up with the anxiety. I was excited to meet people today and do things.
“It was at a bad time before where I couldn’t get out of bed and greet the day. With the CBD it just seemed more doable, more normal.”
Cox said she was having about one migraine a month, and she hasn’t had any since she started the CBD about a year ago.
Cox and Jensen claim to have no side effects from taking the CBD products. They both said they feel good about CBD because it is a natural substance derived from a plant.
Moffitt said she hopes the FDA and medical research will soon catch up to what she and others know about the CBD from using the products.
“I think that hemp is a plant just like vitamins and supplements, just like someone is OK with taking black cohosh or someone is OK with taking magnesium,” she said.
“I think when people realize that there is scientific processes to remove the THC to where people don’t have the psychoactive properties, when people begin to understand that and that misconception goes away … When people realize there is absolutely zero risk behind taking our product, I think it is going to be used a lot more.”
Moffitt said she does not see CBD as a cure-all as some tout it to be. She thinks it will be linked most strongly to stress, depression, inflammation, anxiety, pain, migraines and sleep.
“I don’t believe CBD is cure-all or CBD is a miracle drug,” Moffitt said. “I think there are things yo have to do in your lifestyle as well. I think we can all benefit from it for the reason that we all carry tension. We all have inflammation, and we all have some sort of stress and most of us have sleep issues.”
A barrier to further CBD research has been the federal ban on marijuana and its classification in the same category as street drugs like heroin. Attitudes and laws concerning CBD and hemp are starting to change, which may open more opportunities for study.
Thirty states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical uses and four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Marijuana and products containing THC are prohibited in Kansas. Federal law prohibits sale of any product containing more than 0.3 percent THC.
All three of the CBD retailers the Hays Post spoke with said their products are made from hemp. They said because their products don’t contain THC or contain very small amounts, they should not result in a positive drug tests or result in addiction.
Because CBD is unregulated, Voth said consumers should remain cautious. They may not know what they are getting.
Since CBD is not regulated by the FDA, there is no guarantee the product that you are buying is THC free, Voth said. He said there is a concern there could be harmful substances or infectious agents in the products.
Parent whose children had seizure disorders flocked to Colorado to purchase CBD oil to treat their children once it became available there. Some parents unwittingly purchased what they thought was pure CBD oil, but it actually had THC in it.
The THC in the oil made the children’s seizures worse, Voth said.
Moffitt and her husband visited the lab in Kansas City, Missouri, where the product she will sell is made. She said she felt confident the product she is selling has no THC. The lab tests with a third party to ensure quality control and uses only organic substances in their products.
Jensen said the products she sells are also lab tested, and Pitcock said her CBD products are certified by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy as 100 percent pure and organic with no THC.
Voth said scientists who are studying CBD argue it could be snake oil or the next great cure, but without more research, no one knows.
“I would caution people not to waste money on it until we know more about it,” he said. “It may be wonderful, but even then you are going to want purified forms and a standardized dose and clearly understand what the indications are for it.”
Voth said he wanted to remind consumers there is a billion dollar industry that is pushing the CBD and THC markets. He compared it to tobacco lobby. CBD products are not cheap. Drops can cost $39 for a 30-day supply up to $70 per bottle, and creams can run as high as $150 per container.
“Beware of snake oil because it is not necessarily going to work and it may cost a lot and have minimal effect and even negative effect,” Voth said.