That people can now receive the medical benefits of marijuana with no psychoactive side effects has turbo-charged the herb’s potential as a mainstream medication. In the past, the possible mental health side effects of too much tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) turned many against cannabis, but that was before the qualities of CBD and other non-intoxicating cannabinoids came to light.
Beyond helping people directly with their conditions, studies show that CBD also enables many patients to reduce the quantity of prescription drugs they take. A long-term investigation of 435 participants conducted by Israeli organization Tikun Olam found that medical cannabis use allowed them to reduce their prescription drug intake by 75 percent. Considering that strong painkillers can have harmful, addictive side effects while cannabinoids do not, this is a significant development.
A study by Care and Design of 2500 US patients has dug down on the most common uses for CBD. The research revealed that the majority of people who use CBD do so to remedy mental health disorders, most notably anxiety and depression. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients are also trying CBD, however it appears that the medicinal properties of THC are also required for major improvements to be made with this condition.
Taking CBD is an excellent way to reduce stress, with the cannabinoid having a suppressant effect on the stress hormone cortisol. There is some evidence to show CBD can also help treat addiction.
CBD improved the mood of more than 80 percent of the participants in the Care By Design study. Patients with PTSD and anxiety reported the most drastic mood boosts, but depression patients found their mood perk up – on average – by more than 50 percent.
While this study involved participants taking cannabis flower, rather than a healthier CBD hemp oil, the CBD to THC ratios of 8:1 and 18:1 would work like an oil – at these concentrations, there simply isn’t enough THC to get high, not to mention that the anti-psychotic properties of CBD reduce THC’s psychoactive effects anyway. For anxiety patients, high-CBD products are preferable to those with more THC, as the hallucinogenic effects can amplify feelings of paranoia and anxiety.
The 2017 Eaze State of Cannabis Report gave us more insight on how CBD can help reduce dependency on prescription drugs. The survey of medical cannabis users in California found that 95 percent of participants who had used – or were still using – prescribed anxiety drugs were able to cut back their intake thanks to CBD. A remarkable 40 percent managed to stop taking medication altogether.
CBD’s positive effect on the central nervous system
CBD can treat several conditions that are related to the central nervous system, thanks to the presence of cannabinoid receptors. One of those conditions is epilepsy, which has received plenty of attention due to the efficaciousness of CBD for treatment-resistant disorders, particularly in children. Just recently, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved a CBD-based drug called Epidiolex, marking the first time that the federal agency has done so for a cannabis-derived medicine.
The federal government happens to hold a patent on cannabinoids for neuroprotectant and antioxidant uses, which is intriguing since the Schedule I status of cannabis – and therefore its compounds – deems it to have no medicinal value. Could it be that CBD helps to protect the brain from neurological damage, which manifests in the form of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases? The signs are promising, with a Brazilian patient suffering from Alzheimer’s authorized to receive CBD treatment.
CBD can also benefit those with spinal cord injury – the Care By Design survey found that all participants with the condition enjoyed reduced pain and a mood boost from CBD.
CBD: a remedy for chronic pain
Neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, headaches, migraines were all classified under chronic pain in the Care By Design study. CBD helped to ease pain and discomfort among more than 70 percent of participants.
Fascinatingly, 100 percent of fibromyalgia and migraine patients found CBD improved their symptoms, advancing the argument of a condition called Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD), which was first proposed by Dr Ethan Russo. Russo has suggested that some people do not produce the necessary number of endocannabinoids to keep their endocannabinoid system (ECS) in balance, leading to illness.
But since cannabinoids are effective substitutes for endocannabinoids, it may be possible for cannabis, and specifically CBD to directly treat fibromyalgia and migraines by rebalancing the ECS.
We know that the ECS regulates pain perception, which explains why CBD can reduce pain, but fibromyalgia and migraine patients typically find that the benefits extend beyond this, enhancing mood and sometimes energy, too.
How CBD can help with inflammatory conditions
Seniors are perhaps the demographic that has gained the most from the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD. The compound can help with arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and much more. The combined analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of CBD quell pain, but also improve mood and wellbeing – a common theme among patients taking CBD. The Care By Design Study found that CBD helped more than four in five arthritis patient and every single irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patient surveyed.
It’s worth noting that some patients preferred slightly more balanced CBD to THC ratios here, although CBD consistently remained the most dominant component. The cautious embrace of THC here is down to the cannabinoid’s anti-inflammatory properties, with one study concluding it to be 20 times more potent than aspirin, which can be bought over the counter.
The aforementioned surveys have offered us a glimpse on the effectiveness of CBD and has somewhat quantified the personal stories we have heard for a while about the compound’s therapeutic value. This information should prove invaluable to cannabis researchers, who can now pursue specific areas with confidence, and hopefully produce further scientific evidence on the cannabis plant’s medicinal uses.
With the opioid epidemic wreaking havoc across America, the arrival of a treatment that could help patients stop taking addictive prescription painkillers – or at least reduce their dependence on them – couldn’t have come at a better time. Opioid overdoses, both medical and recreational, claimed more than 40,000 American lives in 2016 alone.
*This article is for entertainment use, and should not replace the diagnoses of any disease or the subscribing of any medication. Always consult with your doctor or a medical professional for any and all health-related advice.
Article written by Felipe - (Photo by jurassicblueberries via Flickr)