Read more about CBD Oil and its risks on our sister publication.
In PPM online poll, about half of respondents said they had tried medical marijuana to help alleviate their pain and related symptoms.
Dr. Bearman is also the co-founder of the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine, and a board member of Americans for Safe Access – a national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research,and of Patients Out of Time – a Virginia-based nonprofit that works to educate all disciplines of healthcare professionals, the legal profession, and the public about medical cannabis. It’s also important to know that dispensary cannabis is not regulated by the FDA so what you get in one state, or at one time, may be different from another.
Cannabis is Complex: CBD Versus THC
Be sure to talk with your doctor about the right dose and route of administration before taking any prescribed of dispensed medical cannabis product for pain relief or related symptoms. Note that Medicare does not cover the product; check with your insurer for other program coverage.
The form/route of administration may also play a role in the pain effects of cannabis. Medical cannabis comes in herbal (marijuana), tincture, oil, and edible forms. It can be smoked, vaporized, ingested in edible or other oral forms, taken sublingually (under the tongue), or applied topically (oil). Research on the efficacy of different routes of administration for pain is sparse. However, a 2013 randomized, placebo-controlled, double-dummy, double-blind study compared analgesic effects of smoked marijuana and dronabinol. 7 The results indicated that under controlled conditions, marijuana and dronabinol both decreased pain. However, compared with marijuana, dronabinol produced longer-lasting decreases in pain sensitivity and lower ratings of abuse-related subjective effects, which can be predictive of use and abuse patterns. Other studies suggest that smoking cannabis produces rapid effects, while oral forms take longer to work but may last longer. 8
Strains of cannabis may come with names like Purple Diesel and Blue Sky. While the term “strain” is commonly used by dispensaries, medical cannabis users and even physicians, it’s not a term used for plant nomenclature. 9 A strain name may come from a grower, producer, processor, or dispensary. A 2018 study out of Washington state found that commercial Cannabis strains fell into three broad chemotypes (chemically distinct plants that otherwise appear indistinguishable) that were defined by the THC:CBD ratio. 10
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is undergoing a surge in popularity as the hot new supplement, with a promise to treat a variety of conditions including pain, anxiety, and insomnia, just to name a few. It’s also available in all manner of forms, from lotions and oils to CBD-infused food and drink. But does it work?
They also provided guidance for the Arthritis Foundation, who recently surveyed 2,600 people with arthritis and found that 29% currently use CBD to treat arthritis symptoms.
Want to learn more on this topic? Listen to this podcast from the Rogel Cancer Center on Medical Marijuana for Cancer Patients.
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.
Purchase from reputable sources. Like vitamins and other supplements, CBD products aren’t regulated or FDA approved to treat disease, so buyer beware. Look for products that have been tested by an independent third party lab “so you don’t end up with a product that has THC in it or a product contaminated with heavy metals or pesticides,” says Boehnke.
The scientific evidence around CBD use is thin, a fact that is mainly due to politics. “Cannabis has been a Schedule 1 drug for a long time, which has limited the type of research needed to figure out how best to use it therapeutically,” says Kevin Boehnke, Ph.D., research investigator in the department of anesthesiology and the Michigan Medicine Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center. Under the U.S. Federal Controlled Substances Act, Schedule 1 drugs are defined as having no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
Cannabis users have long reported therapeutic properties of the plant for a variety of conditions, some of which include nausea, emesis, seizures, cancer, neurogenic diseases and pain control. Research has elucidated many cannabinoid pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties, expanding the potential use of cannabinoids as a medical therapy. Due to the inconsistent delivery and control of the active components involved with smoking, pharmaceutical companies are investigating and prioritizing routes other than smoke inhalation for therapeutic use of cannabinoids. In this relatively new field of pharmaceutical development, ongoing drug development promises great benefit from targeted endocannabinoid receptor agonism. Available in Canada and Europe, nabiximols, a specific extract from the Cannabis plant, has demonstrated great benefit in the treatment of pain related to spasticity in multiple sclerosis, cancer and otherwise chronic pain conditions. The cannabidiol oral solution Epidiolex®, which is available in the USA, is indicated for management of refractory epilepsy but may offer therapeutic relief to chronic pain conditions as well. Current investigative drugs, such as those developed by Cara Therapeutics and Zynerba Pharmaceuticals, are synthetic cannabinoids which show promise to specifically target neuropsychiatric conditions and chronic pain symptoms such as neuropathy and allodynia. The objective of this review is to provide clinicians with an update of currently available and promising developmental cannabis pharmaceutical derivatives which may stand to greatly benefit patients with otherwise difficult-to-treat chronic conditions.
Keywords: Cannabidiol; Cannabinoids; Epidiolex; Nabiximols; Tetrahydrocannabinol.