If you're on the CBD oil bandwagon — using it for workout recovery, anxiety, or another wellness need — we're willing to bet it came recommended to you from a holistic doctor or influencer, not your physician. Of course, just because CBD products are trendy and of murky legal status doesn't mean you shouldn't bring them up during your next checkup. In fact, you're probably better off doing so than just using that tincture willy-nilly.
Albert Ahn, MD, internist at NYU Langone Health, tells Refinery29 that he's absolutely seen an increased interest in CBD products among his patients and, when they do bring it up, he asks them a simple question — why are they interested? "What led them to ask about CBD oil and what [do] they want to treat?" he says, adding that their answers can help him determine their next step.
For the record: Any recommendation, Dr. Ahn says, will come with a disclaimer that there's only so much the medical community knows about CBD products right now. On one hand, the WHO announced last year that CBD doesn't appear to pose any risks (of abuse or harmful effects) to users. On the other, Dr. Ahn explains, there's little to no research on CBD's long-term effects at this point. "I don’t tell patients [that there are no benefits to using CBD oil] it’s just that we really don’t know," he says. "We need more time to find out."
That said, it helps if someone has something specific in mind that they want to treat with CBD oil. For example, if a patient has a history of seizures or lives with chronic pain (two conditions that, research suggests, may be eased with CBD oil) Dr. Ahn says he'd likely recommend they see a specialist, one who's has experience with their condition and CBD products, so that they can find a proper treatment and dosage plan.
This isn't to say that Dr. Ahn would flat-out tell a patient they shouldn't try CBD oil if they didn't have one of these conditions. He'd simply treat it like any other medication — and that means supervising them while they're taking it. That could look like a couple follow-up visits or moderate blood work to track how the CBD is actually affecting the patient (and whether it's interfering with any of their other medications).
"It doesn’t mean you have to [see your doctor] every week," Dr. Ahn clarifies, but, if you stay in touch with them, they'll be able to help you determine the right dosage and how often you should take CBD for your needs. And, if it turns out your CBD product of choice is preventing your body from properly metabolizing another medication, your doctor will know if that's solved by adjusting your dose or if you need to stop using CBD altogether. "I’m by no means trying to discourage people from trying this, but it just needs to be monitored by a professional," Dr. Ahn says. "It has a lot of potential."
So, even though starting a conversation about CBD with your doctor might feel a little awkward, you very well may end up with a more effective (and measured) treatment plan. And, if your doctor dismisses your question outright, Dr. Ahn says to persevere: "If [someone] goes to their doctor and they automatically poo-poo it off the bat because it’s CBD, I would say maybe get a second opinion."
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