CBD may offer an option for treating different types of chronic pain. A study from the European Journal of Pain showed, using an animal model, CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat. More study in humans is needed in this area to substantiate the claims of CBD proponents about pain control.
Some CBD manufacturers have come under government scrutiny for wild, indefensible claims, such that CBD is a cure-all for cancer, which it is not. We need more research but CBD may be prove to be an option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies we can’t pinpoint effective doses, and because CBD is currently is mostly available as an unregulated supplement, it’s difficult to know exactly what you are getting. If you decide to try CBD, talk with your doctor — if for no other reason than to make sure it won’t affect other medications you are taking.
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Is CBD safe?
CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. While CBD is a component of marijuana (one of hundreds), by itself it does not cause a "high." According to a report from the World Health Organization, "In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD."
Cannabidiol (CBD) has been recently covered in the media, and you may have even seen it as an add-in booster to your post-workout smoothie or morning coffee. What exactly is CBD? Why is it suddenly so popular?
CBD is readily obtainable in most parts of the United States, though its exact legal status is in flux. All 50 states have laws legalizing CBD with varying degrees of restriction, and while the federal government still considers CBD in the same class as marijuana, it doesn’t habitually enforce against it. In December 2015, the FDA eased the regulatory requirements to allow researchers to conduct CBD trials. Currently, many people obtain CBD online without a medical cannabis license. The government’s position on CBD is confusing, and depends in part on whether the CBD comes from hemp or marijuana. The legality of CBD is expected to change, as there is currently bipartisan consensus in Congress to make the hemp crop legal which would, for all intents and purposes, make CBD difficult to prohibit.
Over the past 18 years after having trained in both infectious diseases and oncology, I have taken care of many conditions that respond extremely well to cannabis or its psychoactive ingredient delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), such as AIDS-related cachexia, chronic pain, nausea and loss of appetite from cancer or chemotherapy. I have also published case reports of extraordinary outcomes when they highlighted potential activity of an underappreciated intervention (for example, a case of Xeloda and graviola tea associated with a 5-year remission in a patient with metastatic breast cancer). I have a lot of patients who have utilized cannabis or its isolates in the hope it would cure their metastatic disease and assured them I would publish their case if they were successful. But I have yet to personally see a patient whose metastatic cancer went into miraculous remission with cannabis or cannabis products alone, although for most their quality of life was enhanced.
Does Cannabis Cure Cancer?
Regarding anecdotal evidence (and yes, I count anecdotal evidence as evidence, just not of very high quality if it is not reliably reproduced in others) for anti-cancer effects of cannabis, the case that is most often brought up by my patients is that of Rick Simpson. From the information that is available on the internet, Rick was diagnosed with several basal cell carcinomas of the skin (not metastatic) and based on preclinical studies decided to treat his skin cancer topically with a concentrated cannabis oil and left a bandage on the lesions for several days. The lesions disappeared. I acknowledge this is a pretty impressive result but we still don’t know if that was a placebo effect (keep in mind it is also well known duct tape can cure warts but no more so than placebo), correlation not causation (did he or those who have followed suit receive any other intervention?), and even if the oil really was the cause of the remission at best we can say the oil might be worthy of research in the treatment of basal cell carcinomas.
Dr. Abrams will be summarizing the scientific evidence of the benefits of cannabis and its isolates in an SIO webinar on Sept 13, 2018 in a way that only he can, having been on the leading edge of cannabis research in both HIV and cancer care. Not only will you learn about the science of cannabis, but also the sociopolitical challenges he navigated to research the plant’s benefits. I highly recommend signing up for this talk (link below) and it is free for SIO members and only $20 to register for non-members.