Did you know that usage of the hemp plant by humans dates back to the third millennium BC or even before? The mysterious plant was widely used as a medicinal herb, recreational smoke, paper-making product, and fabric-making product since neolithic age in Central Asia and other parts of the world. It was a part of many religious ceremonies worldwide. By the mid 20th century, the hemp plant or cannabis Sativa gained notoriety due to its psychoactive mind-altering and addictive properties. Today, science is catching up with the medicinal usage of its compounds like CBD or cannabidiol. Let us find out how medicalcannabis can become a great therapeutic alternative for chronic pain management for the modern man.
Medical cannabis or CBD:
Today, the knowledge about the therapeutic potential of the plant comes from successful extraction of one of its 100 compounds - cannabidiol. CBD or cannabidiol is a naturally occurring compound extracted from the Cannabis Sativa or hemp plant. The CBD interacts with endocannabinoid or ECS receptors in the body to bring homeostasis in the different systems of the body like the digestive system, nervous system, and so on. Scientists also point out that CBD is non-psychoactive or non-psychotic, and results in little or no side-effects.
It is important to understand that the compound CBD does not bring the 'euphoric high', which is generally associated with the THC compound in the same cannabis plant.
Research on the effectiveness of CBD oil in pain relief:
A study published by Neurotherapeutics in 2015 reported that CBD works in tandem with ECS and other receptor systems of the body. For example, it can work with the nervous system to limit inflammation in the body, which is a good way to bring relief to people who suffer chronic pains.
In 2018, in a review called Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights from Old Molecules, the researchers took a look at all the studies conducted between the 1970s and 2018 on effects of CBD on different types of pains like neuropathic or NP, and fibromyalgia. The studies point to the fact that CBD oil was effective in chronic pain management without any notable side-effects. 'The recent meta-analysis of clinical trials of medical cannabis for chronic pain found substantial evidence encouraging its use in the pharmacotherapy of chronic pain. Also, it was shown that medical cannabis may only moderately reduce chronic pain, similar to all other currently available analgesic drugs.'
According to the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), there is growing evidence to suggest that cannabidiol can provide modest relief to chronic pains. In the USA, Epidiolex, a purified form of CBD, was recently allowed for the cure of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. Similarly, Marinol and Syndros got approval for treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea.
We all are well aware of the chronic pains that individuals suffer, especially the ones caused by cancer, diabetes and heart diseases. Many patients who use conventional pain killers develop tolerance to these drugs or suffer from side-effects from the same. Clinical trials on CBD came with some encouraging results since the 2000s. For example, in a mixed cohort of patients suffering from intractable pain due to multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, brachial plexus injury, and limb amputation, CBD treatment significantly reduced pain. In patients suffering from fibromyalgia, administration of cannabidiol decreased pain by more than 30%.
A 2016 study in the European Journal of Pain published that a study on arthritis in rats showed considerable improvement in inflammation and signs of pains without any apparent side-effects.
A study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine reports that there is substantial evidence to show that cannabis can become an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults. The researchers point out that patients who benefited were likely to not develop tolerance to the effects of CBD. It means that there is no need to increase the dosage in patients over time. This is a huge benefit when compared to over the counter painkillers which result in side-effects and tolerance in the majority of patients.
In a study published in New Zealand, 400 chronic pain patients showed significant improvement in pain and quality of life after using CBD and considered it safe for long-term usage.
Types of CBD: isolate, broad and full spectrum:
Now, there are three kinds of products that scientists are interested in with regards to the CBD: isolated, broad and full-spectrum products. So, researchers are working to understand the effects of the isolated plant vs the full plant. So, a CBD isolate will only have cannabinoid compounds. A full spectrum product contains additional cannabidiol like THC, CBDa, CBG, and CBN, terpenes, and other compounds like proteins, sterols, and esters. Percentage of euphoria-inducing THC is less than 0.3%. The broad spectrum CBD contains the whole profile of marijuana plant barring THC. The effects of each of the three categories are different due to the presence of THC. It is interesting to see that functionality of the compound in an isolated manner and when taken together with other compounds, and the impact on the same on relieving pains in an individual.
How to take CBD oil with complete caution?
CBD's exact benefits or shortcomings is a matter of more research! Please remember that the oil can never work as a complete substitute for chronic pains or arthritis. Any patient with the long-term condition must talk to the respective specialist before trying the product. A visit to your practitioner is a must for best results. The doctor can advise the oil on a trial basis and take care of the exact dosage.
CBD oil has entered a lot of products in the market like gummies, health supplements, and beauty products. However, caution is recommended as some of the products do not contain authentic CBD. It is important to consider proper approval and authenticity of cannabidiol presence in a particular product. Also, top-quality cannabidiol is quite expensive. A third-party lab guarantee and regulatory approval in Australia is a must to get an authentic and genuine product. As the medical marijuana industry is still in infancy around the world, it is important to take an only government-approved product.
Medical cannabis has a long way to go when it comes to complete research. Though anecdotal research points towards an optimistic future, it will take a considerable amount of time, effort and investment to reach a point of absolute approval of the compound for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. Though research is scanty, and at the nascent stage, the popularity of the CBD oil and other related products is soaring high in the market all over the world. Let us hope that the effects of CBD oil will heal generations to come from debilitating pains and discomfort.