On current topics that may be in the news or, more likely, are brought up by my clients, I offer the following evaluations and recommendations.
Dr. Z’s recommendations on CBD Oil and related products
Bottom Line: Proceed with caution and buy only from reputable manufacturers. Much research still needs to be done to determine whether CBD oil and related products have any lasting health benefits.
Pros: Some improvement has been documented for certain conditions, namely epilepsy in children and severe mental health issues such as psychosis.
Cons: Trials on numerous other disorders have yielded inconclusive results or no results. The product is being exploited by unscrupulous vendors who are making outlandish claims and charge exorbitant prices for a product that costs pennies to make. Buyer beware!
Dr. Z’s recommendations on the ketogenic (keto) diet
Bottom Line: Proceed with caution and realize that it may not work for you and any weight loss will likely not be permanent, unless you stay on it for the rest of your life. Much research still needs to be done to determine whether the keto diet has any lasting health benefits beyond temporary weight loss.
Pros: Dramatic weight loss has been documented in case of severely obese individuals. The diet is helpful in managing certain types of diabetes.
Cons: Randomized trials are sorely lacking. There is simply insufficient evidence that the diet is safe for the heart and the circulatory system. Cholesterol and arterial plaque remain a concern even for individuals who are on a strict keto diet.
Dr. Z’s recommendations on recreational marijuana
Bottom Line: Fully-grown adults can use recreational marijuana without any noticeable benefits or side effects, other than the temporary brain impairment. Driving, working, even arguing with your spouse are not recommended while under the influence.
Younger adults (under age 21) and adolescents (who may start using as early as at age 13), on the other hand, are incurring serious and documented risks of brain damage that are not worth taking and may cause cognitive damage that is irreversible in adulthood and even after they quit using.
Current efforts to normalize cannabis use are being driven largely by a combination of grassroots activism, pharmacological ingenuity, and private profiteering, with a worrisome disregard for scientific evidence, gaps in our knowledge, or the possibility of unintended consequences (especially for young people, i.e. under 21).
Pros: No medical applications have been proven or documented for street-level or commercially available recreational marijuana.
Cons: Many people report that they do not get the mellow, relaxed feeling from marijuana that they expect, and instead they experience paranoia, anxiety and even psychosis. This is due to the fact that today’s marijuana is delivered in much higher concentrations than ever before (+30% vs. 8-10%). The active ingredient of marijuana (THC, tetrahydrocannabinol) is addictive and leads to dependency to “feel normal” again, after habituation sets in (usually within a few weeks of use).