Cannabis is the new catchphrase of Canadian commerce. Ever since the Cannabis Act was passed in Ontario, on October 17, 2018, and, even before, a lot of research has gone into the applications and advantages of cannabinoids.
The pop-culture favorite of cannabinoids maybe Tetrahydrocannabinol, THC as it is colloquially known, due to its psychoactive nature. However, there are several other types, which could be potentially beneficial to us.
Endocannabinoids are organically produced by the human body, generated by the endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids have been found to help in the regulation of sleep, pain, and the responses of the immune system. Cannabis scientists have been investigating the role of physiological cannabinoids in tissue recovery and disease. It is fascinating that the endocannabinoids activate the same receptors as the psychoactive THC.
Phytocannabinoids occur naturally in cannabis plants. There are fifteen subclasses of such compounds. THC, cannabidiol, and cannabidivarin are some examples of the same.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a subclass of Phytocannabinoids and one among one twenty cannabis compounds. It is hailed for its ability to be meditative, without causing a euphoric high. This non-addictive miracle cannabinoid has been the talk of the town and the core of numerous experiments. The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD have inspired the marketing of its by-products, such as CBD oil, for pain relief and relaxation.
What is CBD oil?
CBD oil is extracted from the industrial hemp plant, Cannabis Sativa. The seeds of the hemp plant are pressed until the oils are released. This is what makes cannabidiol different from and less psychoactive than THC, which is extracted from the marijuana plant, Cannabis Indica. The industrial hemp oil has traces of THC in it, about 3% in potency, not sufficient in causing a ‘high’. Despite its non-addictive nature, CBD oil may require a medical prescription for legal acquisition in some provinces.
In order to remove unwanted elements such as fats or waxes, CBD oil is subjected to a process called ‘winterization’. Refined cannabidiol oil is stirred with alcohol and deep-frozen overnight. A Butcher funnel or a piece of paper is then used to filter the fats out. Finally, the extracted oil is heated to the boiling point of alcohol so the alcohol evaporates.
How can CBD oil be consumed?
Contrary to popular opinion, the external application is not the only way by which CBD oil can be consumed. By placing it under the tongue, many consume CBD oil directly. CBD oil has also been innovatively infused into products such as moisturizers and topical creams. CBD oil is an acceptable food supplement, serving as an addendum to cookies, brownies or even tacos! CBD oil capsules are a means by which they can be ingested.
How does cannabidiol help relieve pain?
In general, the human body has specific sites that are allotted to cannabinoids, called the cannabinoid receptor sites. Receptors are mechanisms to which the cannabinoids naturally present in the human body as well as the ones artificially ingested/ applied attach themselves. There are two kinds of receptors for cannabinoids, the CB1, and the CB2. While the CB1 receptors are present in the brain, the CB2 receptors can be found in the immune system.
Cannabinoids can be agonists, inverse agonists or inhibitors. The agonists simply stimulate a bodily function once they adhere to their respective receptors. Inverse agonists associate themselves with the same receptors as agonists, while causing a chemical reaction opposite to the ones caused by agonists. Inhibitors simply stop a chemical reaction or response once bound to their receptors.
Cannabidiol is unique, as it does not work with the CB1 or CB2 receptors. It passively influences the working of the Endocannabinoid system, regulating the reception of pain, immune system functions, and the process of falling and staying asleep. CBD also amplifies the effect of all cannabinoids that attach to the CB1 receptors.
Interestingly, CBD oil protects the body against its own euphoric stimulant. An endogenous cannabinoid, Anandamide, is produced on demand by the human body. ‘Ananda’, in Sanskrit, means ‘bliss’. Anandamide, thus, creates a runner’s high, and this is regulated by Cannabidiol. This stimulates pleasure in the use of cannabidiol or CBD oil.
CBD oil is also said to have anti-tumorous properties. GPR55, a receptor that has shown to proliferate cell production and plays a role in cancer, is inhibited by cannabidiol. More research is required to establish the connection between CBD and GPR55 as well as the possible consequences.
Finding the right dosage of CBD to manage pain
CBD oil is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; as a result dosage for pain relief depends on the user and physician prescribing it. However, that does not mean doses should be excessive. Patients looking to start CBD pain management for the first time should speak to a qualified physician about which product is best for them and how much they should take.
Finding the right dose and formulation involves a little trial-and-error; fortunately, CBD oil pain treatments do not have side effects. Patients can begin with as little as 2.5 – 5mg or as much as 20mg for orally administered CBD oils.
Similarly, a balance must be found for THC and CBD concentrations (both compounds in conjunction provided exponentially greater pain relief than just CBD). Again, start with a small dose and increase it as needed. Since CBD and THC have been scientifically shown to have no adverse side-effects on health, doses can even increase to 200mg per day (please check with a qualified physician).
The Benefits of CBD Oil
Cannabidiol has been widely accepted as an anti-psychotic family member of the cannabis family. Ongoing studies have involved inspecting the use of CBD in helping victims of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The FDA gave the nod to the use of Epidiolex, a purified CBD oil, for the treatment of two rare types of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. This move is in line with similar approval of the European Union and the UK’s NHS (National Health Service). This approval of CBD for children is a landmark development. Children as young as three years old can be given this CBD treatment. The FDA notes that CBD manages to prevent seizures more effectively than synthetic drugs, which are unable to target the endocannabinoid receptors in the body as well as CBD.
Similarly, CBD oil can be effective in the treatment of stress-related bodily ailments.
Multiple Sclerosis is a condition in which the immune system mistakenly reacts abhorrently to healthy cells and organs. Also known as an autoimmune disease, multiple sclerosis causes reoccurring spasms and enduring pain, for those affected. Although the effect is modest, CBD oil, acting as an anticonvulsant, can help in mitigating the number of spasms caused, as well as the resulting pain.
One of the most profound uses of cannabidiol oil is for the relief of arthritic pain. There are two kinds of arthritis, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, both resulting in swelling and stiffness in joints. Scientific studies have documented that the application of CBD oil can help assuage the pain caused by inflammations. Results have been encouraging. Health associations and the government, alike, are optimistic about the role of CBD oil in bringing solace to arthritic patients.
“Transdermal CBD gel significantly reduced joint swelling, limb posture scores as a rating of spontaneous pain, immune cell infiltration and thickening of the synovial membrane in a dose-dependent manner.” – Transdermal Cannabidiol Reduces Inflammation and Pain-Related Behaviours in a Rat Model of Arthritis (Eur J Pain, 2015)
Another study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine agrees with these findings. The results are further evidence that CBD reduces pain and swelling. Researchers also noted that subjects of the trial did not build up a tolerance for CBD effects, which meant doses did not have to be increased.
Of the many developmental disorders, autism and its associated spectrum of disorders are perhaps the most pervasive. Autistic children suffer from insomnia, irritability and a loss of appetite, to name a few. Practitioners have been experimenting with the use of CBD oil in curtailing the social anxiety and psychological manifestations vicariously caused in victims of autism.
A paper by Cassuto and Lubotzky documented the reduction in the number of behaviour outbreaks in autistic children treated with medical cannabis, particularly Cannabidiol. Similarly, anxiety and communication problems were mitigated. Hence, CBD oil could have a future in the treatment of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders.
CBD loaded microparticles as a potential formulation to improve paclitaxel and doxorubicin-based chemotherapy in breast cancer” (International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 2020)
“The co-administration of CBDsol and PTX or DOX showed a synergistic effect. The developed formulation (CBD-Mps) was effective as monotherapy, showing extended antiproliferative activity for at least 10 days, and when combined with PTX or DOX. Finally, the anticancer effect of both CBDsol and CBD-Mps as monotherapy or in combination with PTX was also confirmed in ovo, usingMDA-MB-231-derived tumours.”
This study pertains to breast cancer and demonstrates that inclusion of CBD into conventional chemotherapy optimized the effect of the treatment. CBD is credited with reduced inflammation, reduced tumour growth and other positive effects.
Cramps, chronic pain, and addiction
There have been a number of studies investigating the conceivable part of CBD oil in vanquishing pain of all proportions, be it menstrual cramps or pain of a chronic magnitude. The Journal of Experimental medicine speaks about the utilization of CBD oil for suppressing neuropathic pain in rodents. In spite of the fact that such studies are yet to be replicated with human beings, CBD oil is a good tolerance-builder, an agent that enhances the physique’s ability to cope with and be resilient to pain.
Furthermore, CBD oil can be called the antithesis of cannabinoids, and help in the cessation of smoking as well as other additions. Scientific research is charting the evidence for the same.
It is clear that CBD oil has a number of functions in pain relief and regulation. However, there are a few arguments that are worth considering. One is the use of CBD oil for children. Although proven to be a player in autism-symptom mitigation, the influence of CBD oil on the developing brain has yet to be deemed unintrusive. It is still not recommended that CBD be used extensively on children. The recommended dosage of CBD oil for children and adults, both, must be determined in consultation with a doctor.
CBD oil might also cause fatigue, diarrhea and sudden weight gain/weight loss, depending on each individual’s ability to metabolize or reaction to the substance. For this reason, it is always important to test the use of Cannabis oil in limited batches before delving into a long-term treatment program.
Many a time, multiple cannabinoid compounds are used together, either knowingly or unknowingly. It is, hence, tough to discern the extent to which each compound is involved in causing the desired effect. There are cases where a group of cannabinoids works synergistically in bringing about bodily reactions. Studies selectively employing CBD oil are few in number, but promising.
To conclude, the increasing use of CBD oil as a therapeutic substance has inspired many applications. However, caution must be exercised when choosing CBD as a wholesome alternative to allopathic medicine for pain.