The Apothecary does stock CBD oil, however, and in the last few months, I have seen a huge spike in people coming in and asking how CBD might help with pain and anxiety. If you have suspected that pain, stress, anxiety, and insomnia are the number one concern for the majority of people I see in clinic? You’re right. The overprescription of opiates while complex and multifaceted in nature does reflect that people are experiencing pain.
I bring up opiates to make the clear distinction that cannabis is not in the same realm, sphere or even galaxy as opiates. Cannabis and its active constituents use different receptor sites and pathways than opiates – which are highly addictive in nature. Cannabis is non physically addictive but researchers suggest that habitual users can become psychologically addicted and that research reflects cannabis in its recreational form, the whole plant.
There are hundreds of active ingredients within the cannabis plant grouped simply as cannabinoids. Those include varying forms of THC and CBD. What is important to know is that THC (Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol) is responsible for a psychoactive or euphoric high – this happens when the commonly occurring acidic form of THC in plants (THCA) is converted to THC when activated by heat either by smoking, vaping or by cooking at moderate heat (note- cannabinoids are fat-soluble, which is why they are often used in butter or oil suspension).
CBD strains, however, are not psychoactive in nature. They are responsible for the analgesic (pain-relieving), sleep-inducing, and relaxing sedative properties of cannabis. Decades ago, doctors began to see the therapeutic benefits of the whole plant for Cancer patients, due to the natural pain-relieving and antinausea properties. Since then, medicinal marijuana has gained legal status in 34 states with CBD oil legal in 6 states in the US. As of yesterday, the Australian Capital Territory has now legalized recreational use of marijuana, medicinal marijuana was legalized nationally in 2016. Consequently, hundreds of CBD products have surfaced. It is well established that medicinal marijuana (the whole cannabis plant) is effective in chronic pain. But the FDA in the US has yet to approve research for specific label claims on CBD products. This makes it difficult for people to know a) what the labels mean b) which CBD product is better for their set of symptoms?
The CBD ingredient is especially worthwhile understanding. As a wholistic nutritionist, cook, and practitioner to patients with systemic inflammation, it’s important to know which are quality products and what to look for. Making cannabis oil yourself requires several steps, and isolating just the CBD without THC requires a lab. Commercially the majority of CBD oil, again, different from cannabis oil, is derived from hemp and is in a hemp oil suspension. You want this, as it’s using the whole hemp plant and thus the varied cannabinoids responsible for different therapeutic properties (sleep, anxiety, pain) are included. This product would have had the THC removed and so will not get you high. There are companies using techniques to isolate the CBD, or, alternatively pharmaceutically creating a synthetic version to market for pain and thus will likely not contain the spectrum of cannabinoids. There is speculation whether CBD oil on its own without THC is effective. However many patients report relief and product continue to sell rapidly.
Taste can be a factor for some people, as hemp has a distinct taste albeit relatively odorless. For this reason you can find some products with flavoring, or, alternatively, you can add it to your food after cooking. Strength and dosage vary, 5-10 drops of CBD oil sublingually is a common dose and can be taken with other medications. However, you can now find CBD in chocolate, drinks or even gum! There are no contraindications for CBD oil at this stage although it is worth noting that it may have an additive effect to antianxiety or pain-relieving medications and so working with your practitioner is advised should you require alteration of medication dosage. There are a lot of products using CBD topically as well, I find these can be incredibly effective for muscular and/or nerve pain or injury. Commonly these topicals are formulated using other anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving botanicals.
This is a huge market and CBD products will only get more popular. The stigma of using cannabis or hemp derived products has changed dramatically. People are looking for alternatives to pain medications and seeking relief from anxiety, while more research is needed, CBD has massive health potential, and hopefully, now you have a greater understanding of what it is and what to look out for.