Once a disregarded treatment option, medicinal cannabis has now acquired its well-deserved place as a means of treating pain and opioid addiction. The researchers can now say with full certainty that CBD may be effective in fighting the painful battle against the addiction to opioids.
Besides, it has been proved that CBD products are more efficient than any other medications, including opioids, in relieving pain of various strengths.
Alleviating chronic or most acute pain has become the number one priority all around the world as it affects most of the population irrespective of age. It worsens the quality of their life, impacts their mood, biology, and communication. A study of patients struggling with chronic pain has revealed that eighth of them are prescribed opioids. The latter are highly addictive, which means that very often patients take more than it is recommended. The consequences turn out to be rather deplorable, as the addictive consumption of opioids results in overdose and then possible death.
Can CBD Counteract Opioids?
Addiction is generally defined as a disease for it seizes our brain and changes the way it processes the information. The areas of the brain that control the daily and pleasurable activities are highly vulnerable to the influence of addictive drugs. As a result, the person starts to perceive the world through the prism of the drug taken. This usually happens after such drug abuse as heroin, cocaine, opioids. And little by little, it develops into addiction, i.e., the pursuit of the ‘high’ associated with specific drug use.
The symptoms of drug withdrawal vary depending on the type of the drug, and their intensity may range from mild to severe. In the case of opioid withdrawal, the most persistent symptoms involve anxiety, depression, vomiting, nausea, increased heartbeat. Those who go through these impairments and experience anxiety and stress are very likely to turn to opioids to ease the condition. It may go on and on, and, as a result, they develop a dependence on an abused drug. People are generally considered ‘dependent’ on the drug when to function they usually cannot do without this drug. This ongoing process is not perceived as a conscious choice, but rather as a regrettable necessity.
However, the good news is that the use of CBD makes it possible for an individual to undergo a recovery from an opioid use disorder and decreases the likelihood of relapsing because of the withdrawal symptoms.
The numerous studies conducted on rats have shown that cannabis can help wean off the negative effects and symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Medical cannabis, which is made up of cannabidiol and tetrahydracannabidiol, in combination with some opioids has been shown to alleviate such symptoms associated with withdrawal as insomnia, low appetite, fatigue, anxiety, etc.
Besides CBD can decrease the use of opioids for chronic pain by more than half. When taking both, CBD and opioids, as a part of a chronic pain therapy plan, patients report to have experienced less intense withdrawal severity, fewer cravings and side effects, and hence a better quality of life. Thus, it can be concluded that cannabis helps reduce the opioid dosage, making it safer. Furthermore, the studies go as far as to prove that opioid abuse and overdoses dropped drastically in countries with legalized use of cannabinoids.
Of course, there is such a thing as ‘cannabis dependence syndrome’ as well. However, you cannot get addicted to cannabis in the same way as you get addicted to opioids, and the number of people addicted to CBD is much smaller than the number of those addicted to tobacco or alcohol.
Can Doctors Prescribe CBD for Pain?
In spite of all the evidence on the therapeutic properties of CBD, many doctors still do not recommend or prescribe products based on it because of the need for its approval, lack of education, and uncertain regulations.
Actually, three main issues connected with CBD prescription can be singled out. First, CBD is still illegal in many countries; that is why prescribing it is a bit tricky. Second, the fact that it still remains illegal makes it difficult to test or carry out clinical studies to reveal its true therapeutic properties. And finally, the risk of the liability of prescribing any CBD -based product.
The main concern here is that despite its medicinal benefits, CBD has not been approved by the FDA (with the exception of Epidolex) yet, and there is no legal framework for it, which put a medical professional in a bind. However, it is worth mentioning that those countries that have legalized the use of CBD have reported the dramatic decrease in the use of opioids and the number of deaths because of the overdose.
Can CBD Treat Pain?
Many studies have confirmed that medicinal cannabis can relieve neuropathic pain and inflammation, the toughest states of chronic pain. In one of the studies on the pain-relieving properties of CBD, the latter was applied to the skin of rats. The result was amazing as it considerably reduced joint swelling and inflammation. This is quite an achievement, considering the fact that the majority of the population around the world are battling with pain symptoms. Another experiment was conducted on people with fibromyalgia, a condition which is hard to treat without opioids. Those who substituted opioids with CBD reported to have experienced relief of the chronic pain, and remarkably their number is great, and it is still going up. However, the truth is that so far most research on the pain-killing properties of CBD has been conducted on animals and only a small number of experiment involved people. But even with the anecdotal evidence at hand it can be said with full certainty that the future of CBD as a painkiller is quite encouraging.
Can CBD Have Side-effects and Interactions With Other Drugs?
For most people CBD is well tolerated, though there may be some possible side effects, the most common of which include:
- fatigue or greater weakness
- digestive issues
- a change in behaviour or mood
- weight loss or weight gain
- problems with liver
Although CBD is proved to be safe, it can interact with other medications, so before deciding to use CBD, you should consult your physician about the possible interactions.
The medications that warn against consuming grapefruit juice should be avoided here too. The possible interaction of CBD with an enzyme known as cytochrome P450 can result in liver toxicity. Besides, using CBD with certain drugs might weaken or boost their effects, making it difficult to control particular medical conditions. That’s why, it is of utmost importance to consult your doctor about the possible interactions of drugs with CBD.
What is The Right Dosage of CBD?
As Epidiolex is the only approved cannabis-derived product, there are no official guideline as to the dosage of other CBD products. But it is recommended that you should start with a lighter CBD dose, which is 25 milligrams, and increase it by 5 milligrams after monitoring the effect.
Some studies prove higher dosages to be more efficient unless they are well tolerated. The most potent dosage may be 1200 milligrams for a couple of weeks if you want to see more obvious results in the treatment of addictions. If you see that it is hard to control cravings you can consume the higher doses of CBD, which is 1800 milligrams.
Of course, the dosage may also depend on some other factors, too, such as the method of administration, medical indication, your body chemistry and weight.