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A comprehensive review of CBD for addiction 

Addiction is a brain disorder that can have obvious or subtle effects. But either way, they ultimately prove to have an utterly devastating effect on quality of life. Finding working treatments for addiction has been a testing challenge for experts, due to the brain’s complexity. New drugs are being explored. These include psychedelics such as psilocybin (the main ingredient in magic mushrooms), and also the totally non-intoxicating cannabidiol (CBD) from the hemp plant. 

Research for addiction arguably hit its highest heights in the 1950s and 60s, when scientists in America and Canada were studying substances that have ultimately become banned. Cannabis is one such prohibited drug. While the ban was installed in the 1930s, the later Controlled Substances Act has made cannabinoid research more difficult ever since. 

But the revival of medical cannabis has set the stage for a new scientific era. Experts are increasingly optimistic about the value of CBD and the cannabis plant for opioid addiction and more. Even better, it appears that CBD oil produces few side effects, while working to reduce cravings. 

This post will concentrate on the following areas:

  • How the effects of CBD may help with heroin addiction 
  • Which cannabis product is best for addiction 
  • How to get the dosage right 
  • Why combining CBD with a holistic approach may yield better results
  • How the mild psychoactive properties of THC may combat addictive tendencies

CBD: a treatment for heroin and prescription opioid addiction?

Addictions don’t just affect physical health – they have a scarring mental effect too. Not being able to break an addictive habit can cause severe psychological torment. Many opioid users are finding themselves in this conundrum, and not all of them through their own doing. While heroin is a huge problem, prescription opioids have made drug addicts out of those who never imagined they would be. These drugs are also extraordinarily dangerous, due to the extreme overdose risk. In all, overdoses from prescription drugs have accounted for almost 200,000 American lives in the past 20 years. 

In 2019, the peer-reviewed American Journal of Psychiatry featured a study on CBD’s anti-addictive effects for heroin, and therefore prescription opioids, too. The experiment involved assessing the short and long-term benefits of CBD for opiate addiction. Cravings for heroin diminished, as did anxiety about getting a fix. Furthermore, the research found no serious side effects from CBD treatment on mental health. 

Yasmin Hurd, the lead researcher of the study has lots of experience in researching addiction treatments. Previous experiments on CBD’s benefits for heroin in animal models produced good results. Hence the desire for a similar study on humans. She said that the effects of CBD on “cue-induced drug craving and anxiety are particularly important.” Hurd noted how environmental cues are prone to triggering relapse and continued drug use.

The next step is for a more extensive study on CBD oil for addiction, to determine how the cannabinoid produces its effects. Neuroimaging studies should make it clearer which neuronal circuits CBD operates on to decrease anxiety and cravings. Then it will be vital to find out the “right dosing and dosing regimen.” 

Other promising research 

In 2015, a review found CBD beneficial for those with opioid, tobacco and cocaine addictions. Moreover, the treatment was successful without causing severe side effects or intense withdrawal symptoms. Even if psychoactive cannabis was being used to manage addiction, it is surely better for users to be on that than drugs with a high overdose risk. 

Several countries are studying the medical potential of CBD and marijuana in general. Clinical trials are still fairly sparse, but surveys and small studies are starting to come thick and fast. A 2009 study in the Journal of Neuroscience found that CBD may reduce addictive tendencies by affecting pleasure-reward mechanisms in the brain. Regulating opioid receptors appeared to be essential to this response. 

Which is best: CBD for addiction or cannabis? 

CBD certainly has intriguing anti-addiction potential. But could a full-plant cannabis extract that features delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) be even more effective? The whole plant offers extra benefits to the endocannabinoid system (ECS), courtesy of the ‘entourage effect’, a synergistic reaction between cannabinoids. However, products with THC come with some risks due to the psychoactive properties. Really strong pot may even be addictive, hence why some tout CBD for weed addiction.

Full-spectrum CBD products are the middle ground. These are made with CBD-rich hemp, but can incorporate all of the plant’s compounds, such as other cannabinoids and therapeutic terpenes. Hemp naturally generates hardly any THC, and hemp products with less than 0.3 percent THC are federally legal. Fast-acting CBD products are perhaps best for managing addiction anxiety and cravings. Tincture oils, smoked hemp flower and vape juices deliver the effects just a few minutes after consumption. 

Considering the risk of mental dependence due to THC’s psychoactive effect, anybody using cannabis for addiction must be careful. Strains with high levels of THC, which are typically taken for recreational purposes, are not likely to help. One-to-one strains where there is a roughly even balance of CBD to THC may work better. 

That said, a small study did find that THC helped to wean heroin-addicted monkeys from the drug. Any treatment that could help with opiate addiction should be explored extensively given America’s current crisis. And since the risk of addiction with THC is merely mental and not physical, it would still mark progress to get a patient off opioids and onto cannabis. 

Finding the perfect dose for addiction 

Getting the dosage right with both CBD and THC is tricky as the substances have biphasic properties. This means they affect the body completely differently depending on the amount. CBD, for instance, is energizing in small amounts and sedating in large doses. THC, meanwhile, alleviates anxiety in low doses, but can trigger it in higher levels. 

A study published studied how low doses of CBD and THC were effective at treating rodents addicted to cocaine and amphetamines. Combining a 5mg/kg dose of CBD with a 0.5mg/kg dose of THC treated the reward patterns and learned behavior associated with addictions. The CBD continued to benefit the rats for nearly two weeks after the cessation of treatment. 

Other important factors for treating addiction 

Getting to the root cause for an addiction is key when helping to treat a patient. There is usually a reason why someone becomes addicted to drugs or any negative habit. Addictions offer a brief period of pleasure and escapism from traumatic events and other life stresses. Talking through these issues with a counsellor or therapist, and identifying the thought processes that lead to addiction are vital in conjunction with any medical treatment. Digging into uncomfortable thoughts can be troubling in itself, but is ultimately beneficial providing the care is good. 

Interestingly, CBD combats the learned fear that can lead to addiction. This is perhaps down to CBD’s actions on the hippocampus, where short and long-term memory is regulated. An investigation studying learned fear found that patients given CBD were less scared of an electric shock than those treated with a placebo. Hippocampal neurogenesis (the creation of new brain cells) is one of CBD’s primary benefits. Studies have also found that CBD calms the brain, reducing anxiety by promoting balance between various neurotransmitters. An additional anti-anxiety comes from CBD being a 5-HT1A (serotonin 1A) receptor agonist. 

Reducing learned fear and anxiety can be helpful when tackling addiction. It makes it slightly easier to dredge up the truth and talk honestly about bad habits. This could be useful if taking CBD for alcohol addiction, perhaps. 

Managing addiction holistically 

Some find that a holistic approach to addiction works best. There may be other reasons why someone has an addiction to a particular substance, and is struggling to quit. It’s harder to quit alcohol, perhaps, in societies where alcohol is very prominent socially. The triggers for relapse are going to be much harder to avoid. CBD can help, but developing strategies to avoid relapse situations is important too. For most, willpower only goes so far. 

In addition, tackling an addiction indirectly could make all the difference. Someone taking opioid painkillers to manage a painful inflammatory illness should look at what’s causing the addiction. If a poor diet is to blame, then maybe eating healthier would reduce inflammation and the need to take opioids. On this post, there is also potential with CBD for food addiction, CBD for sugar addiction and CBD for comfort eating.

What’s the most effective way to beat an addiction? 

Scientists specializing in addiction are best in how to treat this issue. One side favors a ‘cold turkey’ approach, where the patient immediately stops taking the drug. Others prefer ‘harm reduction’, where intake of the addictive drug or habit is gradually rolled back, either by reducing the dose or changing to a less harmful substance. 

Some patients are able to successfully go ‘cold turkey’. Their willpower is able to hold off cravings and suppress anxiety. But a strong network of support is also vital for this risky strategy to work. Why risky? Should the ‘cold turkey’ approach fail, the patient not only has an addiction to manage, but it can become even harder to quit as they have already failed at least once. 

Harm reduction, however, allows the patient to build on progress. Consider someone taking CBD for THC addiction: reducing the number of joints smoked over a set period enables the patient to build on their good work, and cut intake back even more the next time. This lets the addict focus on the positives, rather than the ‘cold turkey’ method which can leave patients troubled by the psychological blows of relapses. 

Can psychoactive drugs help with addiction? 

We have spoken a little about THC’s anti-addictive effects. Research has shown that potent psychedelics can reduce alcohol and tobacco dependence. However, studies into the likes of LSD and psilocybin have been hard to come by, never mind a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Psychedelics, of which THC is a mild one, have an effect on the central nervous system, but their impact appears much more profound than that. 

Chemically and physically, these drugs help to form new brain patterns. But the psychedelic experience itself is renowned for giving the user visuals, which sometimes help them to put their life in perspective. A heroin addict, for example, may be able to perceive how their addiction is hurting those around them while undergoing a psychedelic experience. However, much of this must be viewed as speculation, since we mostly only have anecdotes to go on, as opposed to hard scientific evidence. 

Final thoughts

CBD, cannabis and several other drugs have all demonstrated anti-addictive properties. With society facing huge addiction problems, all drugs with potential must be researched thoroughly in the coming decades. CBD is perhaps more promising than others since it is non-intoxicating.

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CBD health benefits for physical wellness

If you are yet to use a hemp-based cannabidiol (CBD) product, then you’re missing out! This non-psychoactive compound is being used to manage a range of illnesses and health issues, from arthritis to acne, and depression to migraines. CBD is even helping some people to give up smoking, and may be effective for other addictions, too.

There’s tons to discuss regarding CBD’s natural health benefits. In this article, we will focus on how CBD can be used to improve physical wellbeing. When you’ve finished reading, you’ll be familiar with the following:

  • How CBD helps to relieve pain
  • The benefits of CBD as an anti-inflammatory
  • CBD’s anti-addictive properties
  • How CBD is helpful for the skin
  • Which CBD products work best for various conditions
  • How CBD boosts your endocannabinoid system

And we’ll also briefly go over some other illnesses, such as epilepsy and fibromyalgia. But first, let’s look more closely at what CBD is, and get a basic idea of how it influences the body.

What is CBD and how does it work?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural cannabinoid that enhances health by interacting with receptors in the body. The subtle direct and indirect effects of CBD produce a number of therapeutic effects, inside and outside of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). CBD is not like standard cannabis, in that it doesn’t make you ‘high’ or ‘stoned’.

In fact, CBD products are not made from the usual marijuana that people smoke for the euphoric effects, but hemp. This is a cannabis plant that has hardly any of the intoxicating tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) necessary for a psychoactive response. CBD used to be prohibited by the United States federal government, since it is a natural derivative of cannabis.

But hemp reform now permits CBD from the Cannabis Sativa L. plant, and hemp products are not restricted if they have less than 0.3 percent THC content. This has opened the door for a booming hemp-derived CBD market, which has shone a light on CBD oil’s benefits for physical conditions.

What are the health benefits of CBD?

CBD has numerous potential benefits, although there are currently a lack of clinical trials to confirm its therapeutic value. This section features some of the most common uses for CBD, paying attention to the existing science.

CBD for optimized health via endocannabinoid system regulation

What makes CBD a natural health supplement primarily is the beneficial effect it has on the ECS. CBD hemp oil is great for improving physical health, with ECS regulation helping to decrease sensitivity to pain and boost the immune system. The chemical is also good for bone and reproductive health, and can improve cognition and memory.

CBD provides these effect by promoting balance at the CB1 and CB2 receptors. The impact of CBD is more natural than that of THC. The former doesn’t disrupt the chemical makeup of the ECS, but nurture it for optimum functioning.

CBD oils and capsules are often used for ECS regulation as they are healthy products to take, in comparison to smoking hemp flower and consuming sugary infused edibles. If using CBD as an ECS supplement, a steady daily dose is perhaps the best way of enjoying the effects.

CBD for chronic pain

Existing medication for pain relief tends to work, but usually comes with side effects that makes these treatments unpalatable. For instance, opioid drugs efficiently dampen pain signals, but the body becomes tolerant quickly. Even worse, these painkillers can be physically and psychologically addictive which, coupled with an overdose risk, makes them highly dangerous.

CBD vaping products and more have grown in popularity as treatments for pain. First off, CBD doesn’t come with tolerance or addiction issues. For many, it’s also preferable to cannabis with THC, as there are no mind-altering intoxicating properties to worry about. A non-psychoactive CBD remedy manages pain perception by regulating CB1 receptors, and binding to vanilloid receptors.

Vaping and smoking CBD rapidly suppresses intense pain, while orally-taken products are well-suited to tackling chronic pain. CBD creams can be used to complement the pain relief of other CBD products, or as a solo treatment for localized analgesic benefits. Those using CBD for pain should mix and match with different products and doses to find the best therapeutic combination.

CBD for inflammatory illnesses

As with pain, the effectiveness of traditional anti-inflammatory drugs is limited due to the potential side effects they cause. Studies have shown that non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) heighten the risk of stomach bleeding and ulcers. Aspirin could be useless and even unhelpful for elderly patients with inflammatory conditions.

CBD’s anti-inflammatory qualities have not received the media focus that the compound’s other properties have, but this could be the most profound benefit offered by CBD. Researchers studying the ECS have found that CB2 receptors in the peripheral nervous system can be harnessed to send anti-inflammatory messages to the immune system.

Keeping the immune system balanced and regulated is difficult, hence the proliferation of inflammatory illnesses and autoimmune diseases. But CBD’s indirect regulation of CB2 receptors, and the anti-inflammatory effects of other cannabinoids, mean that organic CBD oil from a full hemp extract is uniquely placed to manage immune system volatility.

CBD products are taken more for arthritis than any other condition besides chronic pain, according to a 2018 questionnaire. This was the first comprehensive survey of its kind on American CBD usage. CBD creams may relieve symptoms of psoriasis, and edibles and CBD vape juices could be effective for lupus, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and more.

CBD for addiction

The devastating impact of some addictions are obvious, such as alcohol, cigarettes and heroin. Meanwhile, the likes of gaming and internet addiction are more subtle, but can be debilitating in their own way to quality of life. CBD research is finding that the cannabinoid may interfere with reward pathways formed by the brain, and that this could help to safely wean people from their addictions.

A 2019 study on heroin revealed that CBD treatment could alleviate anxiety and cravings, which in turn reduces the likelihood of relapse and overdose. This effect may also help people who are addicted to prescription opioid drugs (e.g. Vicodin and OxyContin). The investigation showed that the CBD group enjoyed a two-to-three-fold drop in cravings compared to the placebo group.

A previous pilot, randomized, double-blind study in 2013 documented how giving smokers a CBD inhaler reduced cigarette intake by 40 percent over the course of a week. Twenty-four smokers took part in the research – 12 were given CBD while the other 12 had a placebo. The researchers suggested that the potential of CBD for nicotine addiction “warrants further explanation.”

CBD for skin care

CBD for hemp health doesn’t just apply internally, but externally, too. The skin is a living organism, and CBD topicals can be applied lavishly for various health effects. The anti-inflammatory properties shine through to reduce swelling and bruising, and also to manage the redness and skin patchiness that comes from psoriasis. CBD creams also provide natural acne relief, resetting sebum production to a healthy level.

Some swear by the anti-aging effects of CBD, according to the free radical aging theory. Scientists have debated this concept hotly. The logic is that CBD – an antioxidant – puts the brakes on external aging by neutralizing free radicals. CBD certainly has a nourishing and moisturizing effect on the skin, which preserves a youthful, vibrant appearance.

CBD for epilepsy

Epilepsy is the illness that CBD research has got the furthest in. So far, in fact, that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved an epilepsy drug made with a pure CBD extract – Epidiolex, from GW Pharmaceuticals. Epidiolex is used to treat Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. Standard epilepsy drugs cannot efficaciously manage the condition. There are also signs that CBD helps with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a similar type of intractable epilepsy. These conditions can cause hundreds of seizures a week in children. In some cases, CBD has reduced that number to single figures or even zero.

CBD treats convulsive seizures efficiently, as does cannabidivarin (CBDV), another non-intoxicating from hemp. Eliminating seizures helps to improve sleep patterns and behaviour in patients, and generally enhance quality of life.

CBD for fibromyalgia

The ECS is breathing new life into research for a fibromyalgia remedy. This bizarre illness causes physical and mental symptoms, from intense pain in specific areas, to cognitive decline known as ‘fibro fog’. Other symptoms include stiffness, fatigue, insomnia and headaches. The unusual set of symptoms have baffled experts, but ECS scientists may be piecing things together.

It just so happens that nearly, if not all fibromyalgia problems can be traced back to ECS issues. This has led to a theory that it is chronic dysfunction in the ECS – referred to as Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED) – that causes fibromyalgia. And indeed, early indications are that CBD can ease symptoms, by regulating the ECS.

CBD for sleep

Make insomnia and fatigue a thing of the past by using CBD products for sleep. By relaxing the muscles and the mind, CBD puts the user into a state of calm that promotes sleep. For insomnia, a quick hit of CBD from a vape pen or tincture oil may do the trick.

Capsules are better for all-night relief if you are waking up during sleep. CBD works to eradicate fatigue not just by increasing sleep duration, but by enhancing the amount of deep sleep. This is the phase where the body and brain waves slows right down, and we relax and repair for the day ahead.

Is CBD better for physical health than THC?

CBD is definitely a more viable form of treatment for physical health problems than THC. The intoxicating effects of the latter mean it simply doesn’t work well for those who have to work, and be in full cognitive and physical control. The therapeutic effects of CBD – and a combo of THC and CBD – are undeniable, however. THC delivers potent relief and be very effective when used responsibly.

CBD oil’s benefits are great everyone, though. And studies are starting to reveal that it can be used as an isolated treatment. This is handy for those who have reservations about drug tests, and want to avoid all products with THC.

Final thoughts

CBD will transform healthcare in the next couple of decades. Now that experts are studying the endocannabinoid system, they are getting new ideas about how to solve illnesses. ECS manipulation is not just helpful for physical illnesses, but has huge potential for anxiety, PTSD and depression, too. The onus is now on politicians to make CBD research easier for scientists to conduct, and for the FDA to carry out clinical trials on CBD for various ailments.

Have a story to share about how CBD has helped you? Please leave a comment below!