Results from what is thought to be the largest study to date, show over 70 per cent of CBD consumers saw improvements to their wellbeing.
The study, carried out by Radicle Science, involved over 3,000 participants who were given CBD products to try at home.
The organisation’s Advancing CBD Education and Science (ACES) report, aimed to determine the effectiveness of botanical CBD products.
The randomised controlled trial involved 13 US brands and examined different reasons for taking CBD. This included wellbeing, quality of life, pain, anxiety and sleep quality.
The results revealed that 71 per cent of participants saw an improvement in well-being, with 63 per cent seeing a ‘clinically meaningful improvement in anxiety. A further 61 per cent reported an improvement in sleep quality while 47 per cent said their pain levels were decreased.
Sixty one per cent of participants reported feeling the effects of the CBD within one to four hours of consuming their chosen products.
Speaking with Cannabis Health, Jeff Chen, CEO and co-founder said: “There are studies of American consumers showing that millions are using CBD yet despite that, we still don’t know a lot about it. One of the key reasons is that it was lumped together with cannabis for the longest time so if you wanted to study these products then it was near impossible. What little understanding we have comes mainly from cell and animal studies which shows some amazing things.”
He added: “When we talk about human studies of CBD then there is so little data. The main reasons people are using it is for pain, sleep, stress and anxiety. So our job, as Radicle Science was to generate a body of knowledge and understanding to help consumers.”
The result was a ‘first of its kind’ study providing real-world data on CBD use.
It examined how people used CBD in their own homes rather than a medical setting, how much they use and also what side effects they experienced. To do this, the researchers gathered a diverse pool of participants and paired them with different brands. As the products were mailed to consumers, the study wasn’t limited to those who live near a laboratory and as a result, 3,000 people took part.
Jeff said: “We wanted to involve a variety of different brands with a variety of formulations but we also wanted a diverse pool of participants. This included people from different geographies, ethnicities and demographics to make this as ‘real world’ as possible. We mailed the products to people to take in their own home.”
The success of the CBD was measured with different scientific scales. These findings were assessed through five indices: the World Health Organization (WHO)-5 Well Being Index, the Kemp QOL scale, the Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)-7 scale, the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS™) Sleep Disturbance SF 8B scale, and the PEG-3 Scale for pain.
Jeff said: “When we were assessing the outcomes, we used measures that were developed by the World Health Organisation or the US National Institue of Health for sleep or pain. We collected all of these validated survey instruments along with tonnes of information on demographics, behaviour and health conditions. we want to understand if there are any variables, whether ethnicity or caffeine consumption may affect usage.”
He added: “As we were working with the brands, we knew exactly what products they were taking and what was in them. Our study made calculating the dosage really easy too, which can be really difficult for consumers. We had participants report how many servings they were using whether that is a gummy or a capsule. The bottle is very clear about what each serving is. We have the chemical analytic results, we can back-calculate the dosage to give us a normalised dosage data.”
Radicle Science report results
The study reported significant improvements in the three main areas people reported using CBD for, such as pain, sleep and anxiety.
Jeff said: “We found that depending on what health outcome you are looking at, 47 to 63 per cent of people experienced not just an improvement but a clinically meaningful one. This means that they are experiencing changes to sleep quality or anxiety that is large enough to make a healthcare provider say it is meaningful. It’s strong enough that it deserves to be further utilised.
Another interesting result was that a majority of people reported the impact within several hours of taking the product. We are still trying to figure out the mechanism of action for CBD. It appears that one of the mechanisms seems to be affecting the serotonin system. If you look at things like SSRIs that are prescribed for anxiety, then they can take several weeks to kick in. What we saw was the onset of effects from CBD happening within several hours.”
Jeff highlighted that the study also examined the participant’s quality of life and wellbeing, which may have seen an improvement due to decreased anxiety and sleep problems. The next phase will examine more of the data points from the study.
He said: “We will be doing a lot more sophisticated biostatistics. The next stage will examine the role that demographic or behavioural characteristics may have played or if they had predictive effects on the outcomes. For example, is the use of caffeine or alcohol made you more or less likely to experience an effect. Did ethnicity mean you were more likely to experience a positive outcome?
“We will look at the different product attributes for the 13 brands to see if a gummy had an advantage over a tincture for example. There is still a lot to be determined that will come in the next wave of analysis.”
Prospect Farms entered some of its products into the ACES study.
Speaking with Cannabis Health, CEO Brad Tipper explained how beneficial the study has been for the brand.
“Our focus has been creating terpene-forward products,” said Brad.
“It makes Prospect Farms products unique in the market compared to a lot of our peers. Our balance products which were included in the ACES study are great for mood and cognition. This was a great opportunity for us to be able to differentiate our view of the market right now. We wanted to be able to show the difference in using quality carriers or terpene blends for health outcomes.”
He added: “One of the biggest areas we hoped Radicle Science would shine a light on is consumer behaviour around dosing. Tinctures are still a very unique concept for the broader audience. We are used to taking a supplement or an over the counter product but we are not used to holding something on our tongues for 30 seconds. Thinking about pipettes and graduated marks can be an intimidating concept.”
CBD report and product changes
Brad highlighted that the insights into dosing have been incredibly valuable for the brand. They have been able to take this into consideration when it comes to their products.
He said: “It has informed a lot of our product development considerations. We are restricted in terms of what we can do under current regulations and we can’t make explicit dosage recommendations. We can allow you to understand how much is in each one of your doses and have direct consultations with the consumer. It has also highlighted a need for potentially higher strength products. This has informed some of our product development.”