Proponents of full spectrum cannabis products refer to something called the entourage effect, which basically means that the compounds in marijuana work synergistically or cooperatively. 11 Think of marijuana like a plant (which it is). Just like vitamin supplements don’t offer the same benefits as consuming whole foods, CBD isolates may not offer the same benefits as whole-plant extracts. 12
What can CBD (aka: cannabidiol) do for your chronic pain? This natural compound extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant will not get you high, since it does not produce the same psychotropic effects as its cannabinoid sibling, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but many people are finding that it can complement their pain care plan. In fact, research shows that of the 62% of people who use CBD for a medical condition, the majority are treating chronic pain, arthritis, and joint pain, as well as anxiety. 1
Get to Know the CBD Isolate, Broad, and Full Spectrum Products
A budtender – that’s what they call dispensary pharmacists – or your doctor can guide you, but here’s a quick overview.
14. Bruni N, Della Pepa C, Oliaro-Bosso S, et al. Cannabinoid delivery systems for pain and inflammation treatment. Molecules. 2018;23(10):2478.
These tips and tricks may help ensure your CBD is the real deal, but they still don’t provide proof. The best way to be sure you are consuming what you want is to request third party testing. Some products will print a QR code on the packaging that links directly to their proof of third-party testing. You can also do your own third-party testing by bringing your CBD sample to a testing lab, although this may get a bit tedious (the USDA provides a searchable hemp testing laboratory list).
While there aren’t any published clinical trials on CBD in pain, Boehnke notes that ongoing preclinical studies in animals have demonstrated that CBD reduces pain and inflammation, and studies of CBD in humans show that it is well-tolerated and has few negative side effects. “There are also observational studies that ask why people use CBD and if it’s effective, and results tend to be quite positive. People report using CBD for anxiety, pain, sleep — all things that go hand-in-hand with chronic pain,” he says. The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp-derived CBD (<0.3% THC) from the Controlled Substances Act, and many people are since testing it out. Boehnke says, “Even though there isn’t clinical trial literature for most common uses of CBD, people don’t necessarily follow what clinical trials say.”
People looking for a safer pain reliever are turning to cannabis-derived CBD. Michigan Medicine experts weigh in on what’s currently known about the trendy supplement.
Want to learn more on this topic? Listen to this podcast from the Rogel Cancer Center on Medical Marijuana for Cancer Patients.
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Start low, go slow. Take a small amount and slowly increase your dosage until you start to get symptom relief over a matter of weeks. Track your symptoms to get a sense of whether or not CBD is a helpful part of your treatment plan.
Boehnke and Clauw recommend that people with chronic pain talk to their doctor about adding CBD to their treatment plan, and continue to use their prescribed medication. They offer the following advice for people wanting to try CBD: