A new study led by health scientists at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and published in the JAMA Network Open indicates that as many as 6.4 million Americans use Google to search for cannabidiol (CBD), surpassing or rivaling interest in the majority of other health products and topics.
In response to public health leaders’ silence on the subject of the wide and constantly-expanding assortment of CBD products available on the market, researchers analyzed Google search queries in the United States that mentioned CBD or cannabidiol between January 2004 and April 2019.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Eric Leas says that the big data strategy allowed them to directly observe millions of instances of people seeking information about CBD or shopping for it online instead of having to rely on self-reports where some individuals might not be comfortable discussing CBD openly.
According to the study, searches for CBD in all states grew by 125 percent in 2017, 160 percent in 2018, and is forecasted to grow by another 180 percent in 2019.
“When talking to colleagues about our study, we often play a game we call ‘CBD or’ and almost every time experts are shocked to learn that CBD is more popular or nearly as popular,” says UCSD research fellow Dr. Alicia Nobles. “Consider this one example. For every two internet searches for dieting in the United States we found there is one for CBD!”
For contrast, the research team compared searches for CBD against queries for other trending health topics, products, and alternative medicines.
Results showed that CBD searches eclipsed those for acupuncture by 749 percent, apple cider vinegar by 517 percent, meditation by 338 percent, vaccination by 63 percent, exercise by 59 percent, marijuana by 13 percent, and veganism by 12 percent.
The study’s authors say that there are no known benefits to taking over-the-counter CBD products and that many people are taking them without evidence of any benefits, possibly endangering their health by forgoing proven conventional medical treatments.
Given the popularity of CBD, study co-author Dr. John Ayres says that it is time for government regulators to step up to the plate and give CBD products the same degree of scrutiny as other medications.