Health & Wellness

Americans Are More Interested in CBD than Other Natural Health Options

By Harris Wheless
Kimzy Nanney

CBD has become ubiquitous across the media landscape, including Google searches, where the terms CBD or “cannabidiol” are being Googled far more than other health trends like acupuncture and veganism.

According to a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last week, an analysis of Google search data from January 2004 to April 2019 showed that public interest in CBD grew exponentially in 2014, with a sudden spike in Google searches. 

Until the 2014 spike, searches for the cannabis extract had remained at a relatively low level since 2004, the cut off point for this particular set of data. CBD searches have continued to trend upward in the past few years, and are quickly approaching the number of searches for yoga and e-cigarettes.

[These findings] indicate that interest in CBD across the United States has increased considerably and is accelerating.”

Searches for CBD and related terms increased 126 percent in 2017 and 160 percent in 2018. They are expected to rise another 117 percent by the end of this year.

While this trend may better reflect general interest in CBD more so than interest in use, the researchers said search trends are often a good indicator of health-related behaviors and may correspond with an upward trend in CBD use.

This seems to be the case, as indicated by an August Gallup poll which found that roughly one in seven Americans, or 14 percent of the population, use CBD products.

CBD derived from hemp plants, which are a substrain of cannabis sativa. These hemp plants won’t make you high like marijuana, and were deemed federally legal with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp from the Controlled Substances list.

In April 2019 alone, Americans Googled CBD or cannabidiol about 6.4 million times. The compound has been searched for the most this year by people in Vermont, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Colorado, New Hampshire, and Oregon.

The researchers found that “Searches for CBD during April 2019 eclipsed those for acupuncture by a factor of 7.49, apple cider vinegar by 5.17, meditation by 3.38, vaccination by 1.63, exercise by 1.59, marijuana by 1.13, and veganism by 1.12.”

Despite the public’s rapidly increasing interest in CBD, the FDA has yet to approve CBD supplements for the treatment of any disease or condition and has not created a Recommended Daily Intake for CBD users.

The study authors echoed the sentiments of many other researchers in suggesting that more in-depth studies on CBD are needed. They also said “product safety standards must be developed” and “marketing practices around CBD should be standardized, as marketing that misleads the public could erode trust in evidence-based medicine.”

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