CBD & The Placebo Effect: Could CBD Oil Be the New Snake Oil?

July 17, 2019

CBD & The Placebo Effect: Could CBD Oil Be the New Snake Oil?

On May 20th 1916, Clark Stanley made headline news when the United States attorney filed a formal complaint against him for "misbranding" his highly sought-after Snake Oil Liniment.  This liniment did it all, according to advertisements. It healed your ailments, fought poisonous bites, and even cured paralysis. Upon a chemical analysis of the liniment, it contained nothing more than mineral oil, another fatty oil likely from beef, and trace amounts of what appeared to be turpentine or camphor. Stanley had made A LOT of money by tricking numerous people into buying something they thought was doing their body good. The sad thing about it? Some people continued to seek the oil even after Stanley was fined because they just knew it was doing something for them—some claimed they actually felt it. 

Numerous people have tried to relate CBD and all the hype surrounding it as just another "snake oil" marketing ploy. They mistakenly believe that many of those who are reporting positive effects of CBD have simply fallen for the hype, so the so-called placebo effect has taken place. 

The Placebo Effect & CBD: The Truth of the Matter 

First off, what is a placebo? The American Cancer Society gives the definition of a placebo as a substance or type of treatment that looks like it is real, but is not the real thing. In science, the placebo effect refers to study participants given a placebo instead of an actual drug or substance who show some kind of improvement. This proves that part of being well is believing you are well, which is an idea that has a lot of science behind it not necessary to examine. However, this really doesn't relate to CBD at all.

You see, cannabidiol is an endocannabinoid similar to something your body produces already. Therefore, you can't really experience a "placebo effect" if you are giving the endocannabinoid system something it already produces on its own. It would be like saying a person who is taking insulin to help with their blood glucose levels is only experiencing stable levels because they've been duped into believing that's what will happen. 

CBD Is Not a Placebo By Any Measure 

There are various studies that have proven CBD can actually work for a full list fo different ailments. This means that people who have never heard of CBD, never saw the first ad about CBD, and had no idea what they were taking would likely feel some kind of benefit or change. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating various bodily systems and processes, and science has proven CBD interacts with this system. So why do people claim CBD oil is a placebo? There are a few reasons:

  • CBD helps different people in different ways, but it's because everyone's ECS is different.
  • Not everyone sees a change right away after taking CBD. There can be differences according to genetics, the sensitivity of the ECS system, and how the CBD is taken or how much. 
  • Some people try CBD and see little response, which can oftentimes be due to using a low-quality product.
  • The media advertises CBD as a cure-all miracle, which makes CBD look a lot like modern-day snake oil. Yes, CBD has a list of benefits, but it is not a cure-all. 

With something as diverse as CBD, which is already fighting to overcome the negative stigma attached to cannabis, it's easy for people to want to cast stones. But CBD is not snake oil—there's too much scientific evidence to prove otherwise. At Mahalo Wellness, we've seen the real effects and outcomes from chiropractic patients, so there's no need for a hyped-up marketing strategy. CBD just works when used properly and sourced right.  






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