THE SCIENCE BEHIND CBD
By Nicole Mongelli
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is and active ingredient in cannabis that is becoming an increasingly popular product being promoted to help chronic pain. This growing industry is expected to hit $23 billion annually in sales by the year 2025. This comes after emerging research has shown that CBD can be an effective and safe treatment for chronic pain, anxiety and epilepsy.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, is a psychoactive component of cannabis. Since both THC and CBD are linked to marijuana, this association may make some chronic pain patients hesitant to try or utilize CBD. Fortunately, CBD can be isolated completely from THC. This allows patients to have access to CBD (without THC) to potentially provide them with pain relief without psychoactive effects.
Scientific research has rigorous standards for proving safety and efficacy for chemicals like CBD. CBD has been studied for decades and many studies point to promising results regarding effective pain relief in animal models. Future human trials need to be done to substantiate claims of pain relief so it can be used to treat chronic pain patients. One inconclusive research studied recently showed that CBD has the potential to inhibit inflammatory and neuropathic pain. A 2018 assessment looked at 43 years of clinical studies and concluded that CBD was effective in treating arthritic pain, cancer pain, neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia without negative side effects. As attractive as this might appear, there is still insufficient evidence that CBD alone can be an effective pain treatment. Given the rapid timeline of legalization, it could take years or decades before the scientific community reaches a consensus on CBD's safety and efficacy.
One piece of evidence may bring a sigh of relief to potential CBD patients. The World Health Organization has reported that “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.”
Even with the growing clinical body of evidence, the FDA has still only approved one CBD product, Epidiolex, for epilepsy. The FDA has yet to approve any retail CBD product because the market has not yet standardized potency and variety. This is textbook across all cannabis products; the market is so young due to newly legalized substances that there is no base standard.
If you think that CBD could be useful for your pain relief, talk to your doctor about your options.