Cannabis has been used for centuries to treat a number of health problems, but just as its use was gaining traction in the Western medical communities in the late 19thcentury, a prohibitionist sentiment took hold in North America and Europe. When the cultivation, sale, and use of cannabis was outlawed for the larger community, it became more expensive and more difficult for the medical community to access for CBD research. Plus, by the 1940’s, the scientific community had plenty of other fodder for new medical research. Aspirin, morphine, and other medications sprang to the forefront and cannabis research further declined.
At the end of the 20thcentury, however, cannabis is finally getting its due. Indeed, it was the study of cannabis that led to the discovery of our own endocannabinoid system, which has proven to be one of the most important bodily functions we never knew we had until the 1990’s. Thus, medical research on cannabis is booming again. In fact, it’s a little hard to keep up with all the new developments. Here’s a quick rundown on the latest hits.
CBD for Pain and Nausea
Recent research continues to find that cannabis-based medicines are effective for treating the neuropathic pain and painful spasms associated with multiple sclerosis, as well as neuropathic pain associated with diabetes, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and other causes. Marijuana was used “under the table” for years by cancer patients before real research began to confirm the reality – it works better than any other known synthetic drug.
Marinol was the first marijuana-based medicine approved by the FDA for use by cancer patients. Now, a new class of drug called Nabiximols is undergoing FDA approval. These are sublingual sprays that contain both CBD and THC, and are used to combat nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients.
CBD Research for Epilepsy
Some of the strongest scientific evidence points to CBD as a safe and effective treatment for seizures. The first-ever cannabis-derived medicine for epilepsy, Epidiolex, has now been approved by the FDA. In one of the latest studies that paired CBD with standard epilepsy drugs, patients experienced 51% reduction in seizures.
Dravet Syndrome (DS) is a debilitating childhood disorder characterized by seizures and delayed development. Parents of children with DS, desperate to find a viable medication for this heart-breaking disease, were the first to report success with CBD. Clinical trials continue to support CBD treatment, and not just for seizure reduction. The deficits in psychological and social development also seem to be countered by CBD. For these families, CBD indeed promises a full-spectrum solution to a complex disorder.
CBD for Anxiety
CBD is emerging as a front-runner in the treatment of anxiety and stress, which can take many forms, from social anxiety to phobias to OCD. In one study, patients with social anxiety, given 600 mg of CBD oil, had a markedly lower incidence of anxiety in a simulated public speaking test.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, in particular, is an anxiety disorder that is typically difficult to treat. However, in several recent studies, a majority of the patients studied experienced an overall decrease in PTSD symptoms after treatment with an oral dose of CBD oil. A subset of these patients reported relief from frequent nightmares as well. Indeed, several studies point to CBD as a highly effective treatment for the reduction of stress or trauma-related anxiety.
CBD for Inflammation
Inflammation has been found to be a player in most chronic diseases. Arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and even Alzheimer’s have been linked to chronic inflammation. Some scientists even suggest that the connection between biological processes and inflammation points to a unifying theory of disease itself. The endocannabinoid system is a vital warrior against inflammation of all kinds, and thus the molecular mechanisms of CBD, as well as other cannabinoids, are ripe for research.
The science is technical and complex and there’s so much that scientists don’t know yet, but suffice it to say that the recent research is promising. Much of the research focuses upon the endocannabinoid system and how it acts in complex ways to create equilibrium in the cells of the body. When inflammation occurs, the ECS springs into action. Cannabinoids (CBD plus all the others scientists are currently studying) plug into the ECS is amazing ways – even going so far as to stop breast cancer cells from reproducing in one major study. Indeed, the study of how and why inflammation occurs, its role in bodily processes, and how the endocannabinoid system (and cannabis as a medicine) interact, is one of the most exciting areas of research.
CBD Research for Addiction
Far from being the “gateway drug” that prohibitionists feared, CBD actually shows promise as being an exit door. Studies show again and again that cannabis products reduce cravings – from alcohol to opioid abuse. There is ample evidence suggesting that cannabis interacts with opiates, enabling people to reduce their usage of opiates while also obtaining the analgesic (pain-relieving) effect that opiates provide. Indeed, in states that have legalized medical marijuana, deaths related to opioid overdose have fallen drastically.
The field of endocannabinoid and cannabis research is almost in its infancy, and detailed research takes time. However, the excitement generated by the discovery of the endocannabinoid system is palpable in the research. Cannabis – as its namesake – has a vital part to play. Keep your ear to the ground for more of the latest. Also, check out what real people have to say about their experience with CBD for another perspective.