Is CBD a placebo?

The growing popularity of CBD, is awakening the curiosity of many people who want to try the benefits of CBD either because they suffer pains, anxiety-related pathologies, want to increase their athletic performance or enjoy its newly discovered nootropic effects. However, the network is littered with opinions that can sometimes confuse us, make us doubt and move away from scientific data. When it comes to describing the effects of a drug it often ends up misusing the word “placebo” as to say “I didn’t notice the effects.” But what does placebo really mean? What scientific value does it have? Is CBD a placebo?

What is a placebo?

A placebo substance is a non-therapeutic value compound. If an individual consumes placebo it will not adversely affect their body. However, this substance is designed to make the patient believe that he is being medicated. This can statistically isolate the therapeutic effects of the psychological effects of a treatment during an experiment.

placebo group

What is the scientific value of placebo?

Placebo substances are used in clinical trials as a control. It is mainly used to measure the effectiveness of drugs and also to understand what desired and unwanted effects they have. By collecting the placebo group data, they can be directly contrasted with those of the group who were given the drug and drawn conclusions.

To further eliminate psychological biases in a clinical trial it is also common for the researchers involved (the researchers who will later take samples from patients) to know who has taken the placebo substance. This is called“Double-Blind Experiment.”

which is a placebo

What is the placebo effect?

The placebo effect refers to how psychological effects influence therapeutically. And yes, after many clinical trials using placebo throughout history it has been discovered that there are therapeutic improvements simply that a patient believes that they are actually being given a drug.

Psychological attitude when starting treatment is very important to get benefits. Although scientists have not yet been able to demonstrate what leads to the placebo effect, the more logical explanation has to do with each individual’s expectations. Brain processes related to perception and emotion shape and build mental and physical health. If you believe something will work you can get the chemicals in your body to line up so that it actually works. It’s a real, scientific effect. In fact, some pathologies for which an effective drug has not yet been discovered are treated with placebo.

Just as there is the placebo effect that is therapeutically positive,there is also the “nocebo” effect which is a negative effect caused because the patient hopes that the drug will not cure their disease even by thinking that it could have negative effects on their body. In some clinical trials, patients who were actually taking treatment with an inert pharmacological value have ended up abandoning the experiment with the conviction that their symptoms were worsening.

which is the placebo effect

Is there scientific evidence that patients treated with CBD achieve a greater therapeutic improvement than those who only take placebo?

The scientific community has aroused such an interest in recent years to discover the full therapeutic potential of CBD that more and more scientific studies on the benefits of published CBD that join the race to find new medical applications for Cannabidiol are increasing.

Ironically, it is suspected that the endocannabinoid system has a lot to do with the placebo effect as a relationship has been found between placebo analgesia and the CB1 endocannabinoid receptor. When a patient takes a placebo capsule thinking it really is a drug that will help them alleviate their pains, the brain releases Anandamide, an endocanabinoid that stimulates your body to achieve the desired effects.

Absolutely all drugs have a placebo effect including opiates and antidepressants.

As for CBD there are a number of studies that support with sufficient statistical evidence that patients treated with CBD obtained better results than those treated with placebo alone. Remember that there are already approved drugs that use CBD oil as an active substance. For example, in the Double-Blind clinical trial to approve a drug to treat Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (Epidiolex ®) patients who took the drug reduced seizures (among other epileptic symptoms) by 38.9% versus 13.3% of the placebo group.

cbd placebo

CBD has performed better than the placebo group

These are the symptoms in which CBD has obtained better results at placebo in a large number of experiments:

  • Inflammation
  • Pains
  • Epilepsy (seizures, dizziness)
  • Depression

The list continues to grow as science advances in this field and CBD synergy with other cannabinoids that could make it even more effective is being studied. Many generalist articles on CBD are cautious when it comes to positioning themselves as there are many things to discover, especially as far as the endocannabinoid system is concerned. This is why we often read that it is still too early to determine whether the therapeutic value of CBD exceeds placebo.

On the other hand, we often end up reading the opinions of some consumers who have not obtained the desired results by consuming CBD oils. We should not downplay the importance when assessing whether CBD will have the effect we want, but each person is different and it is possible that these users are not consuming the right dose or any other factor that is not reflected in their opinion is getting in the way of improvement.

In any case, the placebo effect does not mean “that the drug does not work”. On the contrary, when treating our pathologies with drugs the optimal is that we combine both forces, placebo and drug,to overcome symptoms and disease.

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