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CBD vs Prescription Drugs – what does the future hold?

One of the big questions that will be answered over the next few decades is just how many illnesses and conditions cannabidiol (CBD) treatment will replace prescription drugs for. CBD appears to have lots of medical potential for mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, and physical conditions including chronic pain. CBD products are currently sold as dietary supplements, enhancing general wellness by boosting the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Our understanding of CBD’s true therapeutic value, in consideration of its beneficial properties and side effects, compared to existing prescription drugs is set to grow. Demand for high-quality clinical trials is at an all-time high, as CBD consumption across America and around the world goes through the roof. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is slowing starting to get its act together. But as of July 2019, the only FDA-approved CBD drug is Epidiolex, an epilepsy treatment made by GW Pharmaceuticals of the United Kingdom.

This post will focus on a few areas where CBD has demonstrated promise as a medicine. We’ll look particularly at fields where current drugs are not up to standard. We’ll look at how CBD could be used, discussing the most suitable forms of administration, and the most effective doses.

Our analysis will look at:

  • CBD’s antipsychotic potential for psychosis and schizophrenia
  • Why CBD may be better than opioids for pain
  • The promise of CBD for anxiety and depression 
  • Cannabis and CBD’s medicinal value for migraines 
  • Why CBD may be a preferable anti-inflammatory drug to NSAIDs

Why it’s vital to seek professional advice 

We get it. You are super excited to try CBD, a derivative of the cannabis plant that doesn’t produce a high. Perhaps your friends have tried it and are having great results. Maybe you’ve been reading up on the medical benefits the cannabinoid has to offer. Are you ready to get in on the growing trend, and try out some of these innovative products yourself?

But if you are planning to start taking CBD alongside – or instead of – you should definitely seek a doctor’s advice first. The drug interactions between CBD and other substances have not been thoroughly studied, and certainly don’t get the attention they should. But there is some evidence that CBD can slow activity in the cytochrome P450 system. This means that CBD interferes with the metabolization of some drugs, affecting how much of the dose becomes active. Typically, this leads to a dosage increase of the prescription drug, even if you are taking the same amount as usual. 

CBD doesn’t affect all drugs in this way, hence why it is perfectly fine to combine CBD hemp oil and other products with your current medication. But you’ll only know for sure if you make contact with your doctor, who can give you the full information related to your situation. And most importantly, they’ll put your mind at rest.

What drugs interact with CBD oil? 

So far, we know that the following drugs interact with CBD oil: steroids, immune modulators, HIV antivirals, calcium channel blockers, prokinetics, antihistamines and benzodiazepines. 

CBD for psychosis and schizophrenia 

Scientific research has found it harder to penetrate the brain and its workings than other organs in the body. Indeed, the human brain is commonly accepted as the most complicated object in the known universe. This has made deciphering the causes and finding safe and suitable treatments for illnesses such as psychosis and schizophrenia very, very difficult. Moreover, use and abuse of recreational marijuana high in THC has been linked to these disorders.

But with antipsychotics failing to help patients enough, new drugs are necessary. CBD is intriguing because of its moderating role on THC. With both indica and sativa strains of marijuana, the richer the CBD content, the less of an overall high the user receives. It is through this CB1 receptor mechanism that CBD has antipsychotic promise. 

Should CBD treatment mark a new era for psychosis and schizophrenia medicine, it would almost certainly be CBD-infused products only. Any amount of THC would probably have a negative effect due to its psychoactive nature.

CBD for chronic pain 

The United States is just one of many countries around the world where healthcare systems are experiencing serious problems in treating chronic pain. Prescription opioid painkillers have demonstrated analgesic effectiveness, but are held back by side effects and overdose risks. Patients who are put on chronic pain treatment plans often end up having to manage an opioid addiction as well. More than 10,000 Americans die annually from prescription overdoses. It is paramount that researchers find a new painkiller medication. And ideally, one that is equally effective, and crucially much safer.

Cannabis is a natural area of research. Medical marijuana has been used for pain relief by patients in legal states for many years, and cannabis has a painkiller history that dates back millennia. However, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has always been considered the key ingredient to the pain relief provided by marijuana. Its psychoactive properties have rankled with medical professionals, politicians and patients. Anti-marijuana arguments center around how the intoxicating effects can have damaging short and long-term impacts on mental health. The debate, in the context of opioids, on whether the upsides of THC outweigh the downsides for pain relief will continue. But could CBD, a distinctly non-intoxicating cannabinoid, have serious potential as a natural, low-risk painkiller? And if so, could it quickly become adopted widely in the US?

CBD research gives cause for optimism

 

The evidence is uncertain, but highlights the real need for extensive research. More people are using CBD for pain than anything else, according to a recent survey. However, this does not equate to clinical evidence, and could perhaps be the result of a significant placebo effect. The small studies that have been conducted on CBD and pain are inconclusive, but show some promise, in particular for neuropathic pain. 

Full-spectrum CBD products would likely be best for pain management, as these produce the ‘entourage effect’. This is an interaction between cannabinoids that makes them more therapeutic than if consumed as a single substance. The wide array of CBD products – such as hemp flower, creams, vape juices and edibles – is also exciting. This suggests there are many ways that CBD could be beneficial. Patients may get better results from using two products together (e.g. a cream with a vape juice). 

CBD for anxiety and depression

As explained in the ‘psychosis and schizophrenia’ section, any cannabis-based treatment for mental illness tends to divide opinion. But non-intoxicating CBD must be explored for anxiety and depression. For one, because patients are already taking CBD capsules and other products. But also since existing drugs are showing diminishing returns. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) the primary class of drug for both since the late 1980s, work at a snail’s pace, and some patients receive no benefits. This indicates that simply tweaking serotonin levels doesn’t solve the problem, and perhaps that these illnesses – and depression especially – are even more complex than they appear.

CBD’s popularity for anxiety and depression is backed up by a few studies which show it can have a therapeutic effect. Granted, this is not the same as hard, clinical evidence. But the bar is set low for new drugs. Any CBD treatment that can be shown to work would perhaps be preferable to SSRIs, since there is much less of a problem with side effects. SSRIs are notorious for making users tired, dizzy, nervous and even nauseous. In contrast, sleepiness only seems to occur with CBD after taking a large dose. 

Which CBD products are most effective

Finding the right type of CBD and medication plans that work for patients is the next step. With anxiety, it seems that the more rapidly a treatment kicks in, the better. This brings tincture oils to the fore, and also vape juices and CBD joints for those who are less concerned about the health risks.

For depression, any product will likely have a potent antidepressant effect. Research suggests that one dose can remain effective for several days. It’s possible that full-spectrum CBD is a more valuable antidepressant than CBD-isolate product. Other cannabinoids have shown potential as promoting neurogenesis and reducing inflammation. Tackling neuroinflammation may be critical to dealing with depression.

CBD for migraines 

Migraines are very painful headaches, and make some patients more vulnerable to sound and light. These are the ‘aura’ symptoms that people talk about regarding migraines. Researchers have developed drugs that manage the condition, without nailing down the root cause. However, new studies related to marijuana and hemp propose that the very ECS that cannabis works in could be to blame.

The idea that a dysregulated ECS is responsible for migraines comes under a theory called ‘Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency’. Proponents argue that those who suffer from migraines and certain other illnesses may not be generating the required levels of endocannabinoids to bind with and regulate cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoids from hemp and cannabis act as substitutes to endocannabinoids. It’s perfectly feasible that the unique compounds from these plants are essential for treating migraines.

Small investigations have highlighted how cannabis is comparable with current migraine drugs in terms of benefits, and that it outperforms them in regard to side effects. The question is whether a pure non-intoxicating CBD solution is therapeutic in its own right, or if the added influence of THC is vital, or merely helpful.

CBD for inflammatory illnesses 

A future crisis with anti-inflammatory drugs may be looming. Aspirin, ibuprofen and other over-the-counter and prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have dominated the market for dealing with arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other inflammatory illnesses for decades. But recent reports have questioned just how effective and safe they are, in older patients especially. 

CBD research – and studies on other cannabinoids – have found that anti-inflammatory effects can be produced via the ECS. Cannabinoids nurture the immune system to find balance between pro and anti-inflammatory signals. THC does this by binding to CB2 receptors; CBD is more nuanced in boosting endocannabinoid presence so this role can be fulfilled naturally.

This link between the ECS and the immune system is a recent discovery. Cannabinoid science has historically been stunted due to prohibition. Many of the most important finds regarding CBD have come since that discovery in the early 1990s. With that in mind, it isn’t such a shock that CBD may treat conditions much more efficiently than drugs which have been used for many years do.

Final thoughts  

Various schools of medicine are going to need to pay much closer attention to cannabis and hemp plants going forward. The potential for CBD as a medicine looks enormous. Exactly what mental and physical conditions CBD is great for is, however, not crystal clear. But in 10 to 20 years’ time, it’s quite likely doctors will be prescribing cannabis and non-intoxicating CBD solutions for common ailments, that affect millions of us. 

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Why CBD works for teenage depression, acne and more

 Cannabidiol (CBD) products are preferable to cannabis for many reasons. But one of the most crucial is that they are suitable for all ages. Responsible use is, however, essential. Nearly all of the CBD that is available in the American market comes from industrial hemp. This plant is naturally very low in psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a great bonus for making CBD products.

In this article, we are going to cover:

  • How CBD could potentially help teenagers and young adults
  • Study CBD’s antidepressant properties
  • Look at how CBD may relieve acne symptoms
  • Analyze how CBD might alleviate anxiety
  • Suggest which CBD products may be most beneficial

Depression

It’s fair to say that many depression patients are crying out for a new treatment – and one that works! The leading class of antidepressant drug has been, for thirty years, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Initially, the science and logic behind SSRIs looked sound. Serotonin is a hormone that the body naturally produces. Serotoa major regulatory effect on our mood and social behavior. 

The prevailing theory was that depression patients were suffering from a lack of serotonin. SSRI drugs could supposedly help to correct that chemical imbalance. In doing so, this would alleviate symptoms of low mood and motivation. It’s important to note that SSRIs merely block serotonin from being degraded. They aren’t a means to creating more of the hormone.

However, research has shown that the effectiveness of SSRIs has declined over time. This is indicative of an initial placebo effect, which made patients think these drugs were more beneficial than they actually are. Nowadays, some still find help from SSRIs. But it is commonly accepted that the therapeutic value of drugs like Prozac are limited. Furthermore, we don’t fully understand the full impact that these drugs even have on the body. It is feasible that the antidepressant properties of SSRIs has little – or nothing – to do with their enhancing effect on serotonin.

Therefore, researchers are now channelling their efforts into new avenues. Those studying cannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and the brain are optimistic about the potential of CBD for teenage depression. And, indeed, depression in patients of all ages. CBD’s non-psychoactive nature immediately gives it a good start as a future mainstream drug. Ad glut of studies featured in peer-reviewed scientific journals is fuelling that optimism amongst CBD advocates.

The hippocampus 

Research on CBD is helping to uproot the narrative that depression is the result of a serotonin imbalance. In recent times, some scientists have been looking into the negative effects of neurological inflammation. This causes damage and structural changes to the brain. Brain scans and studies have shown that several areas of the brain are physically changed by depression. We are going to look at two in particular: the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex.

The former holds huge influence over memory and motivation. We can see the harmful effects of hippocampal damage in chronic cannabis users. Some experience memory loss and motivational decline. This is due to the regular and long-term intake of psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

It is perhaps ironic then that one of the emerging treatments for depression comes from the cannabis and hemp plants. But that is thanks to CBD having the complete opposite effect of THC on the hippocampus. Instead of being neurotoxic, CBD sparks hippocampal growth. Another cannabinoid – the non-intoxicating cannabichromene (CBC) has the same effect. A 2015 study identified this in humans for the first time. Both of these chemicals are present in full-spectrum CBD products.

The prefrontal cortex

Moving on to the prefrontal cortex. Molecular Neurobiology published the most relevant study yet in 2018. The teaming up of neuroscientists from Denmark and Brazil made it possible. Their study revolved around researching the antidepressant effects of CBD in rodents. While not as good as a study in humans would have been, rodents are a good first step. They are often used for neuroscience research as their brains have much in common with humans’.

The study focussed on how CBD fixed broken neuronal circuitry in the prefrontal cortex. This likely improved the brain’s ability to handle complex cognitive planning, decision making and personality expression. Researchers noted how CBD sparked an increase in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which stimulates neurogenesis. The decline of BDNF after a few days was taken as a sign that the effects were wearing off.

The future

The main takeaway from this study was the sheer potency of CBD as an antidepressant treatment. This puts it in stark contrast to SSRIs. The experts demonstrated how just one dose of CBD produced antidepressant effects lasting for almost one week. SSRIs must be taken daily by humans with depression. Positive effects rarely show for a fortnight, if no longer. So, what exactly was CBD doing to the prefrontal cortex to make such a significant change in the rodents?

We must wait on this research. But we can already see that Americans with depression are benefitting from CBD treatment. Let’s turn our attention to results from a questionnaire that was answered last year by more than 2400 CBD users. Out of those who are taking CBD for medicinal purposes, depression was listed as the fourth most common illness being remedied. They accounted for nigh on 20% of all medicinal CBD usage. That figure is remarkable given that there is currently no concrete scientific evidence that CBD can help with depression. It proves that this is an area which needs much more attention from researchers. And most of all, it shows the desperate requirement for more funding.

As for which CBD products may work best for depression, the jury is out. A treatment where the CBD remains active for longer would yield the most benefit. In which case, depression sufferers may want to look at CBD capsules or edibles. This is opposed to vape juices and tinctures. However, any CBD product where the CBD is taken into the body and then the brain is likely to help.

Acne  

Acne is a skin disorder that causes many more problems than just oily skin. This is just the primary physical symptom. It’s the adverse side effect that acne has on confidence which can be most devastating. Those affected obsess over spots and zits, and sometimes even go into a prolonged period of depression. The aesthetic harm that acne causes can be especially worrisome for younger people. Hence why it is so encouraging that CBD skin care products may help with teenage acne.

Unsurprisingly, given the proliferation of hormonal acne, the alternative health market has been flooded with treatments for the skin disorder. While some of these may be effective, others have been shown to be downright dangerous. Take Roaccutane, for instance. Many countries have pulled the acne remedy, as it can cause dry skin, nosebleeds and rashes. It’s likely that Roaccutane doesn’t work because it is aggressive on the skin.

How CBD works

CBD nurtures the skin to produce its anti-acne effects. The key to the acne puzzle is regulating levels of sebum. The sebaceous glands create this natural oil. Acne is the result of overactivity in these glands. Excess sebum is responsible for oily skin and clogged – and potentially infected – pores. CBD soothes the sebaceous glands. One study coined the cannabinoid a “sebostatic”. This regulating effect returns sebum production levels to a normal and sustainable rate. Therefore, a CBD topical doesn’t just manage the symptoms of acne. It is also free of the side effects that other acne treatments bring.

Ideally, a large scientific investigation on the benefits of CBD for acne will be carried out in the near future. At present, our knowledge is based around a handful of studies – not all directly related to acne – and some anecdotal evidence. Clearly, an acne cream is the best possible treatment for the condition. CBD creams deliver anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antimicrobial effects directly to the skin. The all-round properties of CBD help to calm acne, as well as redness, scars and itching.

Anxiety

Anxiety affects many teenagers and young adults. Maybe this is due to mental health being less of a taboo in today’s world and the younger generation. This could make people more willing to report it. The online world and social media may also exacerbate anxiety. Switching off has become impossible for many.

As with depression, mental health scientists have been slow to get to the root causes of anxiety. Subsequently, we have substandard treatments for the disorder. Anxiety patients get SSRI prescription for their condition. But the results are mediocre. However, CBD research suggests things may soon get better for anxiety patients.

The key to resolving anxiety seems to be in calming and relaxing the brain and the mind. Easier said than done, but CBD operates in some novel ways. CBD influences the serotonin 1A receptor in the serotonin system and the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). These are independent from each other, but both can be worked with to deliver anxiolytic effects.

Studies have also shown how CBD is effective for anxiety in practical – and particularly social – situations. This is important. It’s all very well knowing how CBD reduces anxiety in theory, but it needs to work in practice. An investigation in 2011 compared the responses that anxiety sufferers had to CBD and a placebo in a simulated speaking test. The results found that the group given the former enjoyed less anxiety before and during their speech.

Chronic cannabis users

For those who have taken too much cannabis in their younger years, there is good news. CBD can reduce the potential harm that this has done to the brain. This is arguably more of a problem than ever before, considering that cannabis is now stronger than ever. THC’s impact, as we described earlier, is neurotoxic for the hippocampus.

But the neurogenesis properties of CBD and a full hemp extract can reverse memory and motivation loss. A study published in 2018 showed how CBD had the biggest therapeutic effect in those with the most severe hippocampal issues. 

Final thoughts

CBD has huge potential for younger people. It may even deal with some of the most serious health problems that the youth are dealing with today. CBD needs comprehensive clinical trials for medical approval. CBD research must now progress.The FDA approval process takes time, as a new drug must go through several phases of testing. But a CBD drug called Epidiolex for epilepsy has successfully passed. This indicates that CBD could also win approval for other illnesses. 

The early promise of CBD is undeniable. And the great effects that people are already enjoying with CBD suggests a bright future. The availability of funding dollars is key. Then we can make these crucial discoveries, sooner rather than later. Do you have a story about CBD use for younger people? Drop us a line in the comments – we want to hear from you!