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CBD is everywhere. But does it work?

CBD isn’t BS. But CBD products probably are. 

Christophe Haubursin is a senior producer for the Vox video team. Since joining the team in 2016, he has produced for Vox’s YouTube channel and Emmy-nominated shows Glad You Asked and Explained.

Cannabidiol is having a moment. Consumer product sales of the non-psychoactive marijuana compound are expected to surpass $1 billion by 2020. Increasingly common state legalization and loose federal regulation means that anyone in any state can go online or to a physical store and buy CBD products — from oils to dog treats to bath bombs — without fear of arrest. But what makes it so popular?

Google Trends results for “CBD”
Google Trends results for “CBD.”

CBD has been shown to help treat a number of conditions, including psychosis, anxiety, movement disorders, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy and seizures. For years, people have used medical marijuana to address those conditions — but CBD is showing promise as a possible way to get the benefits of medical cannabis without getting high.

Here’s the catch: Most of the CBD products that have trickled down to the consumer market are poorly labeled and have extremely low doses.

It’s possible that the placebo effect is providing CBD users with tangible benefits. It’s also possible that low-dose CBD products can act as a form of microdosing — where users take small amounts of a substance to achieve milder or entirely different results than a full dose. But right now, there aren’t many studies about how CBD affects adults in low doses, and the ones that do exist indicate that it doesn’t do anything.

CBD isn’t a scam — it’s a powerful substance with a lot of medical potential. But most of the stuff on the market now probably isn’t worth your time.

Watch the video above to learn three big misconceptions about what CBD can do and what it can’t. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to view all of our latest videos.

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