Arthritis Foundation Endorses Snake Oil?

NBC reported on new guidelines about CBD released by the Arthritis Foundation. Given that CBD is sold everywhere from gas stations to flea markets, information from a supposedly reputable organization should be welcome. 

The Arthritis Foundation started off reasonably enough, saying CBD may help, but there aren’t rigorous controlled studies to confirm this notion. That should have been enough for a prudent organization to discourage use. However, the Arthritis Foundation went on to give a how-to guide on using cannabinoids for arthritis. They ignored the Food and Drug Administration’s position on CBD: “Selling unapproved products with unsubstantiated therapeutic claims is not only a violation of the law, but also can put patients at risk, as these products have not been proven to be safe or effective.”

The transcript of the Arthritis Foundation report is below, but – inspired by a Congressional Committee Chairman’s recent performance – let me first tell you what the transcript essentially says. 

“There is no evidence that CBD does anything for arthritis pain, but if you like taking over-priced, unregulated junk, we will help. Find a fancy looking bottle that says CBD. Cross your fingers that it actually contains the concentration of CBD that the label claims. Pray to the Gods it is not contaminated with pesticides, lead, synthetic cannabinoids or high levels of THC like many of these potions. Put the tiniest homeopathic amount of the concoction under your tongue. If the placebo effect isn’t strong enough, take more so you might feel something. If the power of suggestion still doesn’t work, add THC to the mix. Now you will catch a buzz, so try it while in a safe administration zone because you could fall and break that arthritic hip that you’re trying to help in the first place. And if you get paranoid or feel a psychotic reaction coming on, sleep it off and hope you wake up in one piece.”

Here is the actual transcript which isn’t much different than my synopsis except that it contains no links to actual data:

“How much CBD should I use? While there are no established clinical guidelines, the medical experts consulted by the Arthritis Foundation recommend the following for adults:

When preparing to take a liquid form, be aware that the CBD extract is mixed with a carrier oil, so there are two measures to know: the amount of the liquid product to take (the dose) and the amount of CBD in each dose.

Go low and slow. Start with just a few milligrams of CBD in sublingual form twice a day. If relief is inadequate after one week, increase the dose by that same amount. If needed, go up in small increments over several weeks. If you find relief, continue taking that dose twice daily to maintain a stable level of CBD in the blood.

If CBD alone doesn’t work and you are in a state where medical or recreational marijuana is legal, talk to your doctor about taking CBD with a very low-dose THC product. Be aware that THC, even at low levels, may get you high, creating cognitive, motor and balance issues. Try THC-containing products at home or at night first, so you can sleep off any unwanted effects.”

Dear Arthritis Foundation, if you want to do something useful for arthritis sufferers, use some of your $86,761,758 in total revenue to sponsor double blind, randomized controlled trials. Until then, stop giving false hope by encouraging patients to drink a magic elixir at $80 an ounce. 

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