Why CBD Oil Is Not the Latest “Health Fad” and Some of Its Accepted Medical Indications & Inquiries
In Part I of my CBD (cannabidiol) series, I explained why it is so popular and some precautions one should have be aware of before taking it. In Part II, I reviewed the history of the cannabis plant, of which CBD and marijuana are derived, and the importance of knowing its regulation in your state. (You can get the summaries on my Saratoga.com blog here.)
In this post, I will focus more specifically on CBD. I will review why it is a legitimate medicine, some of its indications, and why it is not just a fad.
The Recent Recurrence and Interest of CBD
For those confused regarding all the different species of cannabis and its compounds let me clarify some of the basic differences between them. It is also important to understand this when we discuss the legality of CBD in more detail later in the series.
This excerpt below explains the difference between marijuana and hemp and where CBD fits in:
What, exactly, is CBD?
The acronym stands for cannabidiol, a compound — or cannabinoid — found in cannibis plants. Both hemp and marijuana are a species of cannabis found in the Cannabis sativa family.
But hemp and marijuana are not the same thing. They have differing levels of chemical compounds, for one thing. There are more than 100 known cannabinoids in cannibis plants. Two of the most commonly known are THC, the compound that gives marijuana users the telltale “high,” and CBD. Hemp contains a low level of THC — less than .3 percent — a level that’s set by federal and state law. Marijuana’s THC levels are much higher.
Hemp does, however, contain higher levels of CBD, found mostly in the plant’s flower. And that’s the compound that CBD oil advocates tout as being helpful for conditions ranging from anxiety and depression to chronic pain. Sources: Verdant Health, Lancaster; MedicalNewsToday.com; BusinessInsider.com.
The Human Story of Compassion Popularizes CBD on the “Web”
The story of Charlotte, a little girl struggling with epilepsy, captured the heart of millions in the documentary “Weed” in 2013. It portrayed the quest of her family to obtain relief for her from the 300+ seizures she experienced daily. When the family found CBD oil to treat it, the results were astounding. From her story a movement by seven brothers who sold low THC hemp began. According to the Medium:
After Paige and Matt started giving this new hybrid strain of cannabis to Charlotte, they started seeing immediate results. This strain worked so well on stopping this little girl’s debilitating seizures, that the brothers decided to change the name to Charlotte’s web in honor of her.
Soon after, Heather Jackson heard of Charlotte’s Web and started administering it to her son Zaki– who suffers from a debilitating form of early childhood epilepsy called Doose syndrome—also to great success. Their stories became international news and the queries started pouring in from parents wanting to know more and wanting to find out if Charlotte’s Web is a viable form of therapy for their kids.
And it turns out that it is. The growing number stories of children that have been helped by Charlotte’s web and similar CBD oils attest to the success of CBD as an effective form treatment for a variety of illnesses. Charlotte herself is living a healthy and normal life, with her seizures being reduced to twice or three times a month and being able to eat, walk and talk again.
Because of stories like Charlotte’s, there is an increased awareness surrounding the use of medical marijuana and low THC strains such as Charlotte’s web– especially for the use on children.
The Clinical Side of CBD Continues to “Sprout”
The efficacy found in case reports for epilepsy wasn’t just getting consumers’ attention. Pharmaceutical companies emerged in further exploring cannabis and this extract in clinical trials for pain, epilepsy, and schizophrenia.
According to the book, The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research:
Efforts are now being put into the trials of cannabidiol as a treatment for conditions such as epilepsy and schizophrenia,1 although no such preparations have come to market at this time. Nabiximols, an oromucosal spray of a whole cannabis plant extract with a 1:1 ratio of THC to cannabidiol (CBD), was initially licensed and approved in Europe, the United Kingdom, and Canada for the treatment of pain and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis (GW Pharmaceuticals, 2016; Pertwee, 2012), but it continues to undergo evaluation in Phase III clinical trials in the United States.2 Efforts are under way to develop targeted pharmaceuticals that are agonists or antagonists of the cannabinoid receptors or that modulate the production and degradation of the endocannabinoids, although such interventions have not yet demonstrated safety or effectiveness. Nonetheless, therapeutic agents targeting cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids are expected to become available in the future.** (Excerpts from: “4 Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids” pg 86-88.doi: 10.17226/24625.)
CBD and Epilepsy
Recently, there was enough evidence provided for the FDA to approve a CBD solution for several forms of epilepsy. According to their website:
FDA has approved Epidiolex (cannabidiol) [CBD] oral solution for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, in patients two years of age and older…
Epidiolex’s effectiveness was studied in three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials involving 516 patients with either Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome. Epidiolex, taken along with other medications, was shown to be effective in reducing the frequency of seizures when compared with placebo…
The most common side effects that occurred in Epidiolex-treated patients in the clinical trials were: sleepiness, sedation and lethargy; elevated liver enzymes; decreased appetite; diarrhea; rash; fatigue, malaise and weakness; insomnia, sleep disorder and poor quality sleep; and infections…
Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), CBD is currently a Schedule I substance because it is a chemical component of the cannabis plant. In support of this application, the company conducted nonclinical and clinical studies to assess the abuse potential of CBD.
Update from the DEA on classification of Epidolex:
The Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration today announced that Epidiolex, the newly approved medication by the Food & Drug Administration, is being placed in schedule V of the Controlled Substances Act, the least restrictive schedule of the CSA. (source)
Exploring CBD and Psychotic Disorders
Noting that cannabis exposure is associated with an increased risk for psychotic disorders, specifically schizophrenia, researchers have been investigating if the endocannabinoid system may be implicated. This connection existed prior to Charlotte’s Web. In a 2012 trial, it was reported that CBD had antipsychotic effects, though mechanisms at that time were unclear. The authors concluded:
Our results provide evidence that the non-cannabimimetic constituent of marijuana, cannabidiol, exerts clinically relevant antipsychotic effects that are associated with marked tolerability and safety, when compared with current medications. Although a plethora of pharmacological mechanisms have recently been suggested relevant for the antipsychotic effect of cannabidiol31 the primary pharmacological mechanism through which cannabidiol exerts this antipsychotic effect in humans is unclear at present.
Later on, the effects of several of its constituents were explored to determine their actions. This 2015 review states:
A convergence of evidence shows that use of Cannabis sativa is associated with increased risk of developing psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia, and earlier age at which psychotic symptoms first manifest. Cannabis exposure during adolescence is most strongly associated with the onset of psychosis amongst those who are particularly vulnerable, such as those who have been exposed to child abuse and those with family histories of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia that develops after cannabis use may have a unique clinical phenotype, and several genetic polymorphisms may modulate the relationship between cannabis use and psychosis. The endocannabinoid system has been implicated in psychosis both related and unrelated to cannabis exposure, and studying this system holds potential to increase understanding of the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Anandamide signaling in the central nervous system may be particularly important. ?9-Tetrahydrocannabinol in cannabis can cause symptoms of schizophrenia when acutely administered, and cannabidiol (CBD), another compound in cannabis, can counter many of these effects. CBD may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of psychosis following cannabis use, as well as schizophrenia, possibly with better tolerability than current antipsychotic treatments. CBD may also have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. Establishing the role of CBD and other CBD-based compounds in treating psychotic disorders will require further human research.
CBD Oil in Warp Speed, Marketing Speed
Today, the momentum of demand for CBD oil and its uses has only accelerated. According to recent reports the cannabidiol market is estimated to grow by 700 percent in 2020. Some sources claim it will soon be a $22 billion industry. (source, source, source, source).
Conclusion for Part 2 & What’s Coming Up
In this post, we briefly reviewed the reemergence of a compound found in cannabis, CBD, and its current medical indications for epilepsy and its potential use for psychiatric disorders. Until recently, hemp, a different species of cannabis which contains high amounts of CBD, was illegal in the United States. This has recently changed. However, the legality of CBD oil is still fuzzy.
In the next article, I’ll review the current legal status of hemp and CBD in more detail.
Coming up in future articles, I will:
- Review in more detail specific caveats and potential dangers of CBD oil.
- Discuss what is known currently from the research and the latest clinical trials on its efficacy for various health issues.
Do you have any experience with CBD oil?
Has it benefited you?
Any side effects with CBD?
Please feel free to comment below!
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This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.