CBD Research: 2019 Trends and Needs

2019 has been a significant year when it comes to CBD research. So, what we learned about CBD in 2019 and which information is still unclear?
Written by 
Trista Best, Registered Dietitian.
|Last Updated:

Cannabidiol, CBD, is the non-psychoactive compound extracted from industrial hemp and is used as alternative medicine treatments for a wide variety of conditions, whether proven scientifically proven or not. Because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements at this point, most of these products have gone unregulated and research has been largely unsupported by governing agencies.

With government backing, CBD researchers would be more likely to be approved for research funds that would allow for significant studies to be conducted on CBD benefits. At this point, the claims being made by CBD product companies may be done through unlawful marketing.

The desire for most CBD manufacturers and consumers alike is to receive backing by the government for quality research to determine science-based and proven benefits.

While there may not be much government-based research taking place the 2018 Farm Bill and U.S. Hemp Production Program have made it easier for high-quality research to be conducted. Research is still being done and has been since the early 1990s. How has research expanded over the past 20 years and what were the typical research trends over the past year?

The National Institute of Health (NIH) issued $3 million in grants to research teams studying the pain-relieving properties of CBD, which is one of the most popular reasons consumers use CBD products. Cannabis research is even expanding into State University systems where cannabis is legal, Colorado for one.

Why is Research Needed?

Much of what we know about the effects of CBD has come from word-of-mouth through CBD consumers. Someone uses CBD and experiences relief in pain, inflammation, or increased focus and tells their friends and acquaintances, and so the word spreads. This not a negative way to spread information, but for companies to make certain claims, scientific research is required, and even then it is still iffy.

The CBD industry has, and continues, to grow at such a rapid pace primarily due to the health-related benefits consumers have heard or experienced. Unfortunately, there is little guidance regarding dosage and how CBD works to bring about these improvements.

This is where research is key to understanding the deeper layers of CBD as an alternative treatment. Adequate research would shed light on what conditions improve with CBD usage and exactly how much is needed to experience these results.

While there is some understanding to how CBD works in the body, through the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), there is certainly still more to be understood and applied through research. Consumers find themselves, rightfully, confused over what form of CBD is bed and whether full spectrum or isolate is required for their needs. Again, scientific research can and should be conducted to shed light in these areas.

As CBD research continues to become more mainstream larger sample sizes are more likely. Small sample sizes limit the data that can be gathered and used by researchers to draw conclusions. With little funding and government backing studies are not able to offer incentives for larger groups of participants.

Extensive research has been conducted on CBD and epilepsy. At this point, the FDA has only approve done CBD-based drug, Epidiolex, for the treatment of epilepsy. Research has shown BCD interacts with neuroreceptors in the body, but researchers are beginning to dig further into more specific CBD-mechanisms of action in the body.

Traditionally, the cannabis/hemp plants have been studied as a whole, but research over 2019 has focused on individual cannabinoids. Scientists have been learning more about how these compounds work when isolated as well as when they are combined with other cannabinoids.

Review studies were popular in 2019. This form of study does not conduct new experiments but compares the results of previous studies, published and peer-reviewed, with one another. This gives the authors, not researchers as they are writing not doing physical research, some of the benefits of having a larger set of data with which they can answer questions regarding CBD.

Whether or not the government ever fully backs CBD research studies are still needed to bring stability to the industry. Consumers are becoming more aware of the potential dangers and characteristics of reputable manufacturers. Companies are experiencing greater resistance by consumers for false claims and low-quality products. They will be looking for clear signs of quality like third-party testing and manufacturing standards.


Trista Best
Trista Best
Registered Dietitian
Trista Best is a Registered Dietitian, Public Health Dietitian, and former college Nutrition Professor. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Armstrong Atlantic State University in 2009, Masters of Public Health Nutrition from Liberty University in 2014, and Bachelors of Science in Food and Environmental Sciences from the University of Alabama in 2018. Her dietetic background is in Public Health, Medical Grade Supplements, and Childhood Nutrition.

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