Anecdotes from doctors and patients point to cannabidiol (CBD) as a potential treatment for withdrawal and craving associated with opioid addiction, also known as opioid use disorder (OUD). Although medical…
Anecdotes from doctors and patients point to cannabidiol (CBD) as a potential treatment for withdrawal and craving associated with opioid addiction, also known as opioid use disorder (OUD). Although medical advancements have made withdrawal easier, patients in recovery still have a 40-60% chance of relapsing into addiction.
Opioids are a class of drugs that include prescription medications (i.e., morphine), synthetic drugs with medicinal value (i.e., methadone), and the illegal drug heroin. Opioid molecules closely resemble naturally occurring endorphins and cause similar reactions. Endorphins and opioids bind to the same receptors in the brain and spinal cord, suppressing pain responses and enhancing mood.
Life-sustaining activities, such as eating, release endorphins into the brain, promoting a positive association and desire to repeat these activities. The brain learns to associate circumstances and environmental cues with these activities. In the case of eating, these positive associations could be a mouth-watering smell or favorite restaurant that triggers hunger.
Amid a global opiate addiction crisis, can CBD be part of the solution?
Opioids act on the same areas of the brain, tricking the natural reward system designed to maintain life into promoting continued drug use. By the time an addiction develops, the brain has undergone fundamental changes that cause it to function normally with opioids and abnormally without them. At this point, drug use is no longer a choice; treatment is necessary to manage and reverse these changes.
THE STAGES OF OPIOID ADDICTION TREATMENT
Treatment for opioid addiction begins with detoxification, commonly referred to as withdrawal. This part of recovering from addiction has tremendous effects on the mind and body, including but not limited to nausea, fever, muscle cramping, body aches, agitation, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
The second stage of treatment for opioid addiction is relapse prevention. Cravings are often managed with medication, while psychotherapy can help treat any underlying issues that contribute to excessive drug use. Exposure to circumstances and environmental cues (i.e., a friend that misuses drugs) also need to be controlled or effectively managed.
ESTABLISHED METHODS OF TREATING OPIOID ADDICTION
Treatment for opioid use disorder usually consists of psychotherapy, medication, and evaluation for underlying health issues. Medical devices may also be used, such as the NSS-2 Bridge that delivers electronic signals to the brain areas responsible for addiction.
Medications are the most common form of treatment, with 80% of patients taking a pharmaceutical during withdrawal. Many of these medications, such as methadone and buprenorphine, are opiate-based and carry their own set of risks. There have been deaths involving these medications, with methadone showing potential to be six times as lethal as buprenorphine.
Other drugs commonly used included clonidine and the fledgling medication lofexidine, approved for use by the FDA in May 2018. Both lofexidine and clonidine belong to a class of drugs that includes high blood pressure and some anti-anxiety medications.
It is important to note that opiate-based treatments can be safe and effective under medical supervision. Belonging to a different class of drugs does not necessarily make clonidine or lofexidine safer.
USING CBD TO MANAGE ADDICTION WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS
CBD may be beneficial in influencing many of the symptoms caused by opioid withdrawal. For nausea, multiple human and animal studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of CBD, possibly due to the presence of cannabinoid receptors in the areas of the brain that induce vomiting.
Among the potential benefits of CBD for people recovering from addiction: better sleep, relief of chronic pain and muscle spasms, and reduced symptoms of anxiety.
A pharmaceutical medication that contains a 1:1 ratio of THC and CBD, called Sativex, already exists to treat pain and muscle spasms/cramping in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Currently approved for use in Canada, Sativex shows potential for pain management in other patients, such as those withdrawing from opioids.
The endocannabinoid system is a target for treatments that prevent relapse due to its potential to control cravings. CB1 receptors may influence opioid receptors, due to their location in the brain. CB2 receptors possibly affect dopamine and may reduce its rewarding effects that encourage opioid use.
Preclinical trials in rats and mice have reinforced the theory that CBD helps to control cravings, although why it works remains a bit of a mystery. Mice and rats given CBD in conjunction with morphine showed a lower reward response, making the morphine less appealing.
A similar study of rats addicted to heroin found CBD prevented relapse. Daily doses of 5 mg/kg or 10 mg/kg kept the rats from relapsing for up to two weeks following their final dose of CBD.
A third preclinical trial shows rats addicted to cocaine and alcohol experience similar effects from CBD treatment. Another trial using rats addicted to amphetamines found evidence that supports using CBD to prevent relapse.
CBD COULD BE A BENEFICIAL ADJUNCT TREATMENT
Overall, CBD shows a strong potential as an additional treatment for opioid addiction when combined with psychotherapy and pharmaceuticals. Preclinical trials using animals consistently find CBD can be beneficial in preventing relapse, although further clinical trials in humans are needed to confirm this.
Recovery from addiction requires a multi-pronged approach, including treatment of mental health conditions that may contribute.
CBD may also help treat many of the withdrawal symptoms during detoxification from opioids. However, CBD alone does not replace the vital role of medically assisted treatment for addiction. Anyone suffering from OUD, or any form of substance use disorder should contact their primary care physician to establish a treatment plan.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to ending the opioid crisis, but CBD oil products may prove to be a valuable tool. At this point in time, while millions of Americans battle addictions and tens of thousands die, anything that may help deserves further investigation.
CBD is not a miracle cure, but many people report using CBD for PTSD offers relief of some of its most troubling symptoms. We collected scientific evidence that CBD reduces anxiety, depression, insomnia, and even hypervigilance.
CBD is not a miracle cure, but many people report using CBD for PTSD offers relief of some of its most troubling symptoms.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects millions of people worldwide. Some of its main symptoms include anxiety, insomnia and depression. Since it causes rapid fluctuations in mood, PTSD can lead to reckless behavior, issues with concentration and even hypervigilance.
Many PTSD patients have reported CBD as being a very effective alternative to helping with some of these symptoms. CBD shows tremendous potential to reduce the negative impact of PTSD, with minimal adverse reactions. In addition, CBD has very few side effects compared with other PTSD treatment methods.
Using CBD for PTSD can ease some of this complex condition’s most troubling symptoms.
In this article we will discuss how CBD oil can be a part of safe, effective PTSD treatment. We’ll take a look at the most prevalent symptoms associated with this condition and what CBD does to counteract them.
USING CBD MAY HELP EASE PTSD-INDUCED ANXIETY
Anxiety is sometimes not viewed as a serious condition given how prevalent it is. By definition, it’s just a natural response to stress and other stimuli that we may perceive as threats to our well-being. But there is a distinct difference between a reaction that is necessary to avoid a risky situation and one that is detrimental to our own peace of mind or relationships.
Approximately 40 million adults in the US suffer from anxiety disorders each year. People that are part of this large segment are six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric conditions when compared to those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders. Yet, less than 40% of these people receive treatment.
Sleep is one of our most vital bodily functions, that helps us to heal, recuperate and perform at our best. But, for millions of people worldwide, sleep can be quite difficult to come by.
It is estimated that one in four Americans develop insomnia each year. This prevalent sleep disorder has been associated with other health conditions, a major loss in productivity and even vehicular crashes. Perhaps the most common form of treatment for insomnia is sleeping pills. While some may be effective as sedatives, prolonged use may possibly lead to addiction. To make matters worse, when hopping off the medication, some people experience “rebound insomnia,” which is even worse than when they began taking the drug.
CBD may promote restful sleep, and is less likely than THC to cause nightmares or other weird dreams.
Given these potential hazards, it comes as no surprise that some people are looking for safer forms of treatment. One of the earliest uses of hemp was to help induce sleep. CBD has been the main element associated with this effect and is proven to be useful in managing sleep disorders. Through CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system, it can help to address symptoms that may cause a loss of sleep such as anxiety and promote more calmness. It also shows the potential to be a natural remedy for insomnia by aiding the production of melatonin, which promotes a deeper, better quality sleep.
Though research is still in the early stages, the limited studies and mounting user testimonies suggest that CBD is a safe, effective sleep aid, with little to no potential for abuse.
This condition should always be treated with some form of professional support. However, because of its stigma some people choose to tough it out or even turn to drugs or alcohol to get relief. These choices usually compound the problems even more. Experts suggest that effective treatment of depression usually involves a combination of structured therapy as well as holistic lifestyle changes. An increasing amount of people with depression are turning to CBD oil products to help support their self-care routines.
Though large-scale clinical trials are still underway, the experimental evidence seems to support CBD’s usefulness in helping to treat depression. Research has shown that the region for the brain responsible for regulating emotions, (hippocampus) shrinks when people experience depression. Some studies indicate that CBD may possibly protect and even regenerate the cells in this part of the brain.
PTSD can cause depression, and both can strike anyone, anywhere under the right conditions.
CBD is also known to restrict the breakdown of the so called “bliss molecule” or Anandamide. This compound is an endocannabinoid produced by our body, and is considered a natural antidepressant. Although CBD should not be considered the first choice for handling something as serious as depression, it can certainly add value on the road to recovery.
PEOPLE WITH PTSD MAY FEEL CALMER WITH CBD
Hypervigilance is not really considered a condition but more like a behavior. It happens as a result of dealing with a traumatic situation, and usually involves someone being overly sensitive to their environment. The affected person’s senses are typically on high alert, as they subconsciously anticipate danger or some imminent threat.
This is a common symptom of PTSD, and can lead to physical and mental exhaustion, issues in relationships, obsessive behavior and other social problems. CBD can be great alternative to treating hypervigilance. Apart from its calming effects and mood regulation mentioned earlier, studies have shown that cannabidiol reduces learned fear. It may also contribute to the extinction of aversive memories which are usually linked to traumatic experiences.
CONCLUSION: CBD A VALUABLE TOOL FOR EASING PTSD SYMPTOMS
Professional medical advice should always be the first line of treatment for a serious condition like PTSD.
However, CBD has proven to be a valuable asset in helping to relieve many of the associated symptoms. It provides a safe, natural, alternative for relief, and as such should be considered as a useful supplement which can be combined with other forms of therapy.
Holmes Organics CBD Oil relaxed our reviewer and promoted restful sleep by combining potent cannabidiol with delicious, lightly sweet peppermint flavor. Their website also offers great information on uses for hemp and CBD.
Holmes Organics CBD Oil Tinctures provides broad-spectrum, completely THC-free CBD with a delightful taste.
Their Tranquil Peppermint CBD oil provides its dose in an easy-to-take light oil that, for peppermint connoisseurs, delivers a true peppermint flavor: bright, smooth, and with a very gentle peppery bite, gently softened with natural stevia sweetener. Those who do not particularly enjoy the earthy taste often associated with CBD oil will be pleasantly surprised by the light, fresh quality of the taste. And those who do not like overly-sweetened oils will also be pleased with the light hand Holmes Organics uses with the stevia.
Think “peppermint tea,” not “mint gum.”
Those who do enjoy the natural earthy flavor of CBD oil are in luck: Holmes Organics also offers a Natural flavor.
While Holmes Organics does not suggest any specific dosages, our reviewer noticed definite relaxation and sleep-promoting effects with a dosage of about two dropperfuls (30 mg). Everyone’s chemistry and experience with CBD oil is different, however — so it’s always a good idea to start small and work your way up if you desire a stronger effect. Two flavors and three different strengths of oil to meet your specific needs.
Holmes Organics CBD Oil Tincture left us relaxed and promoted restful sleep, while delighting our tastebuds with its lightly sweet mint flavor.
Holmes understands this reality only too well, and started Holmes Organics when he discovered the benefits of CBD oil on his own when researching ways to combat his own stress and trauma from dealing with the legacy of racism and violence in his own neighborhood, as well as head trauma from college football injuries.
In addition to offering products with high-quality THC-free CBD oil, Holmes Organics has a particularly robust hemp-based wellness blog full of timely information, recipes, and focused articles on mental health and sexual health. Many pieces devote time to focusing on information especially helpful to those from marginalized communities.
4.4 percent of adults are estimated to experience bipolar affective disorder. We took a look at research suggesting CBD and other cannabinoids could help.
We wanted to take a closer look at the science behind using CBD for bipolar affective disorder.
The National Mental Health Institute estimates 4.4 percent of adults in the United States will be given a diagnosis of bipolar affective disorder (BPAD) in their lifetime. Adults with BPAD experience the highest rate of impairment among psychiatric patients; an estimated 82.9 percent suffer from severe disablement.
Bipolar affective disorder and its variants can be treatment resistant, which may explain the high rate of disability. Anecdotal evidence, supported by preliminary studies, suggest that cannabinoids have the potential to improve the symptoms of BPAD in some individuals by regulating the endocannabinoid system.
WHAT IS BIPOLAR AFFECTIVE DISORDER?
Bipolar affective disorder is a mental illness that causes significant changes in mood, motivation and energy. A process known as cycling, which involves periods of euphoria (manic episodes) followed by hopelessness (depressive episodes), is a hallmark of the illness.
Some preliminary research supports the use of CBD for bipolar affective disorder treatment.
There are four variants of bipolar affective disorder: bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymic disorder and bipolar spectrum disorders. The severity and frequency of symptoms are used to determine which variant is diagnosed. Bipolar I is the most severe form of the disease.
SYMPTOMS OF MANIC EPISODES
Manic episodes, sometimes referred to as mania, are characterized by exaggerated self-esteem, insomnia, racing thoughts and abnormal speech, inability to focus, and impulsive behaviours. True manic episodes only affect those diagnosed with bipolar I disorder. However, patients with other variants of BPAD experience hypomania, a less severe form of mania.
Although mania is considered to be the “high” stage of BPAD, it can have disastrous consequences. Many manic episodes result in hospitalization, psychotic symptoms or grave impairment (e.g., risky behaviour leading to legal trouble). Untreated manic episodes can develop into psychosis.
SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSIVE EPISODES
Depressive episodes mimic a severe form of depression known as major depressive disorder. Symptoms can include feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities. Additional traits of depressive episodes are changes in sleep patterns and appetite, trouble concentrating, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, and suicidal thoughts or attempts.
This cycle of bipolar disorder is the “low” point of the disease. Like mania, depressive episodes vary in severity depending on which variant of bipolar disorder is present. Patients with Bipolar I disorder may have what are known as mixed episodes, during which they show signs of both mania and depression.
CONVENTIONAL TREATMENTS OF BIPOLAR DISORDER
Prescription drugs used in conjunction with psychotherapy can help alleviate symptoms of BPAD in most patients. However, bipolar affective disorder can be treatment-resistant, making it difficult to manage in some people. Treatment-resistant BPAD is cause for concern, as up to 50 percent of individuals diagnosed will attempt suicide at least once in their lives.
Medications prescribed for BPAD include anticonvulsants, antimanic drugs and antidepressants. Use of antidepressants alone can lead to the onset of mania or rapid cycling. Mood stabilizers or anticonvulsants are often taken to negate these possible side effects.
The only pharmaceutical shown to have a consistent, positive effect on suicide rates in bipolar patients is lithium. However, newer research has shown there may be a possibility to control BPAD through manipulating the endocannabinoid (EC) system. These are the neurotransmitters responsible for binding cannabinoid proteins to receptors.
ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM DYSFUNCTION AND BPAD
The endocannabinoid system, discovered in the mid-1990s, is comprised of two receptors, CB1 and CB2. Cannabinoids, a type of compound found in both the human body and cannabis plants, bind to these receptors to alter brain function. Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters produced naturally in the body, while phytocannabinoids are found in cannabis plants.
Post-mortem studies of human brains of people with bipolar affective disorder found some abnormalities in how they process cannabinoids.
Postmortem studies have found that brains of patients diagnosed with mental illness, including BPAD variants, show abnormalities in the endocannabinoid system. A similar study, conducted using brain slices from mice, showed dysfunctional CB2 receptors inhibited the release of serotonin, suggesting a healthy EC system helps to regulate mood.
An investigation of endocannabinoid gene variants in 83 patients with major depressive disorder (MDD), 134 with BPAD, and 117 healthy control participants found two marked differences in the patients afflicted with MDD and BPAD. Specifically, the CB1 receptor (CNR1) and fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) genes of the ill participants were found to be abnormal when compared to the control group.
REGULATING THE EC SYSTEM WITH PHYTOCANNABINOIDS
Because of the distribution of endocannabinoid receptors throughout the brain, many of the areas they affect overlap with regions thought to be responsible for BPAD, along with other mental illnesses. Studies have shown patients with specific abnormalities in the CNR1 gene are at a higher risk of being resistant to pharmacological treatment, leaving them more vulnerable to the effects of bipolar affective disorder.
For these patients, phytocannabinoids could provide a way to manipulate the EC system and regulate the level of chemicals traditionally targeted by pharmacological medications. As always with hemp and cannabis research, these studies are still preliminary. More research will be needed to prove whether CBD and other cannabinoids can help treat bipolar affective disorder.
Anandamide and THC
Anandamide, called the bliss molecule, is naturally produced in the body and is similar in molecular structure to THC. Both anandamide and THC bind to CB1 receptors, altering areas of the brain responsible for memory, concentration, movement, perception, and pleasure.
FAAH genes are responsible for activating anandamide; indicating people with FAAH gene mutations may not have the appropriate levels of anandamide in the brain. Supplementing brains deficient in anandamide with THC may help restore chemical balances. Theoretically, this could alleviate cycling between manic and depressive phases.
Cannabidiol has been shown to inhibit serotonin reuptake in rats, suggesting it repairs abnormalities in CB1 receptors found to inhibit release in mice. If CBD functions the same in human brains, it could provide an alternative to conventional antidepressants, especially for individuals with treatment-resistant BPAD.
A randomized clinical trial found CBD reduces abnormal brain function in regions associated with psychosis, implying it may have therapeutic effects on symptoms associated with the manic phase of BPAD. If CBD regulates both depressive and manic symptoms, it could help treat individuals who do not react well to lithium.
Cannabis is a complex compound, made up of over 500 chemicals. Over 100 of these compounds are suspected to be cannabinoids. There is little information on the effects of these chemicals, apart from CBD and THC, because few studies have focused on determining what reactions they produce in the EC system.
Among cannabinoids that have already been isolated, CBG and CBCV seem to show a potential for treating mood disorders, such as depression. Further study may help isolate more of these chemicals and determine what effect they have on the EC system.
Though research is just beginning, it seems likely that CBD and other cannabinoids could help people with bipolar affective disorder.
USING CBDS & OTHER CANNABINOIDS FOR BIPOLAR AFFECTIVE DISORDER
CBD rarely causes adverse reactions. Still, there are risks associated with both conventional methods of treatment and using cannabis derivatives as treatment. The most dangerous side effect of any treatment for BPAD is the potential worsening of symptoms.
Individuals experiencing symptoms of bipolar affective disorder, or previously diagnosed with any of the variants, should consult with a medical professional before starting or changing treatment. Even those who present with treatment-resistant variations of the disease can benefit from traditional methods (such as psychotherapy).
Regulating the EC system through phytocannabinoids may provide a way to alleviate symptoms in those with treatment-resistant BPAD. Further clinical trials in humans are needed to validate preliminary data, but the future of cannabinoids as a BPAD treatment looks promising.
When Haddayr Copley-Woods injured herself cycling, she started to research whether CBD could relieve her pain. It did, but she also discovered that vaping CBD offers almost miraculous relief to her anxiety, too.
Editor’s Note: In the second part of our series of first-person accounts about CBD oil, author Haddayr Copley-Woods explains how she learned to research CBD oil. In the previous installment, Annalise Mabe told us about using CBD for Crohn’s disease. -KO
“You’ve turned into a filthy hippy,” my son told me as I drove him to school yesterday morning. “You think weed cures everything.”
“I don’t think it cures everything,” I said.
“And,” I added with the enormous dignity appropriate to my age and station in life (48, crippled, insane, living paycheck-to-paycheck), “I’m too young to be a hippy. Also, it’s not weed. It’s hemp.”
“It’s the same plant,” he said with obnoxious adolescent assurance.
“No, it isn’t,” I said.
“It’s a different strain, but the same plant,” he said, rolling his eyes. Moms don’t know anything.
“No, it isn’t — infinity plus one,” I said.
When Haddayr Copley-Woods injured herself cycling, she began to research CBD in order to understand how it could help her chronic pain and anxiety.
“Okay,” he said, getting out of the car, “but there is no such thing as infinity plus one. And maybe look it up. Ya damned hippy.”
HOW TO RESEARCH CBD WHEN YOU DON’T LIKE MARIJUANA
So that’s how I wound up writing YOU WERE RIGHT I WAS WRONG on the Facebook page he only keeps to humor me a few days later.
Because I’m now using CBD oil regularly, it was SO important to me that it not be the same. Because, you see, my mom was actually a hippy. And years ago, when a traitorous sister told her that I’d tried pot, she called me on the pay phone at my college dorm, weeping with joy. “You know,” she said. “Now you understand.”
“I was stoned,” I said. “I understand that I was stoned.”
And I hung up on her.
See, my mom likes to feel altered. While pot is what she thought made me Deep and understand the Mysteries of the Universe, she mainly prefers alcohol.
Related: I have complex PTSD from a rough childhood. And I HATE feeling out of control in any way. When your childhood feels like one big mess you’re endlessly failing to clean up, and the adults are so out of control that you feel that you have to create order yourself (but you have no skills to do it), when you experience gaslighting so thorough that you can’t even trust your own instincts or memories — you sometimes become a control freak.
Well, I did, at any rate.
The feeling I got the first time I tried pot: that I couldn’t control the hysterical laughter, like I couldn’t trust my eyes or my thoughts or my sensations — it was far too familiar of a feeling.
I don’t want to feel that way ever again.
Not a hippy. Not by a long shot.
WHY I NEEDED CBD: HOW I GOT MYSELF INTO THIS
The accident happened so slowly that I was able to think: “I’ll bet this is going to be fun to watch,” before I fell.
A cycling accident left Haddayr Copley-Woods hurting, and started her on a journey towards discovering CBD oil’s benefits.
I was biking illegally on US Bank Plaza in downtown Minneapolis, like you do, looking around for an address which wound up being (duh) the US Bank Building. I was biking so slowly I could barely stay upright, keeping my eyes peeled for pedestrians and craning my neck at addresses, which is why I missed the very short yet very solid concrete driving barrier directly in front of me.
“Huh,” I thought. “I’m going to crash. Maybe I should put down my foot or brake or something.”
Instead, I hit the barrier with a delicate bump that could hardly be called a crash and then verrrrryyyyy slooooooooow w w w w lyyyyy fell to the ground, twisting so that I fell on my back.
I lay there for a while, contemplating my folly and looking up at the beautiful blue sky with perfect puffy cartoon clouds framed by skyscrapers.
“Wow,” I said aloud. “Wow. Even for me, that was impressive. Wow wow wow.”
Very soon, a small group of people surrounded me, asking if I were all right.
“If you have some liniment.” I quoted from the classic science fiction novel “A Wrinkle in Time” as I scrambled out from under the bicycle and onto my feet, then continued, “I’ll put it on my dignity. I think it’s sprained.”
I have this quote well in-hand not only because I am a giant nerd but also because I fall down in public a LOT. In addition to PTSD, I have a mobility disorder, and I love to bike, and I apparently make bad decisions.
“Well,” said a man whose outstretched hand I’d declined as I rose, “It was a very graceful fall!”
See? I told you. Fun to watch.
HOW LINGERING PAIN LEAD ME TO RESEARCH CBD
I could tell I had a very minor concussion (my Very Storied Past has made me a connoisseur of concussions) based on the sort of pixelated overly-bright world around me. My butt hurt.
After sitting down on a hard plastic chair for three hours of instruction, I requested a standing desk at work.
After a while, I was rocking and letting out teeny tiny moans much like I had years ago when in the early stages of labor.
So I took some Advil and Tylenol, which are the drugs I used to combat my post-C-section pain sixteen years ago because I hated the experience of Vicodin so much. Anyway, they were enough. I am not macho about this; I just have a very high pain tolerance. Usually, they take care of anything life can throw at me.
This time, they didn’t even make a dent in my pain.
“I’m friends with a lot of potheads, and they love me very much and want to help.”
My doctor, who is excellent, told me to ice it, referred me to physical therapy, and sent me home. (We had already rejected opiates — she knows my background and my need to feel alert at all times. Hypervigilance, they call it.)
So I asked friends for pain control advice.
DANG I’m friends with a lot of potheads, and they love me very much and want to help.
I turned them down for the reasons outlined above, and I was very skeptical when some suggested hemp oil. But after several people suggested CBD oil for my pain and my anxiety, I started to google.
Although CBD is widely recognized as safe, many medical professionals are still reluctant to recommend it. Patients are often forced to research CBD for themselves.
“Do your research!” Everything I read told me.
So, first I turned to the experts.
WHAT MEDICAL EXPERTS SAY ABOUT CBD OIL
Does CBD oil help anxiety?
Cincinnati-area psychiatrist Andrew Nachum Klafter, MD, HATES pot.
“Marijuana is a terrible drug for your brain,” he says. “Absolutely awful. It saps all your motivation. It’s incredibly addictive. It messes up your brain really badly.”
Except he didn’t say ‘messes.’
While I’m not quoting him as stating a fact (studies are conflicted on this one), I wanted you, Dear Reader, to understand that he hates pot even more than I do.
“It’s figuring out what’s going to work for you. When it comes to ways to helping people feel better, why wouldn’t we want to do that?”
And yet, Klafter feels differently about CBD oil. Some patients tell him that it helps with anxiety. “There aren’t good studies on efficacy,” he says, “but the studies I have seen have convinced me that CBD oil, assuming that’s what they are buying, is probably relatively safe.”
St. Louis Park-based Kathleen Mathews, LICSW, is also concerned about her patient’s safety, and has found online research bewildering.
“That said, I’ve seen enough anecdotal evidence that it’s something that I probably will suggest to some people with sleep issues, PTSD, and anxiety,” says Mathews.
She is quick to say she doesn’t believe it’s a miracle cure.
“I know it doesn’t work for everyone. But (psychiatric) meds don’t work for everybody. It’s figuring out what’s going to work for you. When it comes to ways to helping people feel better, why wouldn’t we want to do that?”
Does CBD Oil help pain?
Since my primary concern at first was pain, I turned to a family practice doc to talk about that.
“I have heard from patients that the use of cannabidiol is somewhat effective for pain relief and anxiety,” says Minneapolis doctor Jared Frandson, MD, “so I have suggested that patients could seek this out as an alternative to medical cannabis from a dispensary … which is very expensive.”
Outside of this specific application, Frandson is not so sure about recommending it to clients. “There are few large randomized trials on cannabidiol and the ones that I’ve seen are relatively small and have mixed results,” he says.
How much CBD Oil should I take?
Because the supplement industry is not regulated by the FDA, Frandson also doesn’t know where to tell his patients to get quality CBD oil or how much they should take — although one interesting study suggests that a middling dose rather than a very high or very low one is best for anxiety.
Why aren’t there large studies on CBD oil?
“I think the larger barrier is the fact that it’s still considered a Schedule I controlled substance,” says Frandson.
Outside of one very narrow and recent exception to this rule, this designation places hemp and CBD in the same category as drugs such as heroin and meth, and puts a near halt to most studies in the U.S. Applying for permission has been extremely cumbersome if not impossible over the past decades.
Scientists are reluctant to research CBD due to legal and regulatory barriers, but that’s beginning to change.
Part of Frandson and Klafter’s worries are about whether or not their patients are getting actual CBD oil. “I would want to have some reassurance that the product itself is what it says it is and that it is pure,” says Frandson.
MEDICAL EXPERTS ON THE FUTURE OF CBD
Andrew Klafter can see a future for CBD oil-derived pharmaceuticals for anxiety and PTSD.
“I’m confident that sometime in the next ten years we will see FDA-approved medications,” he says.
There are a few reasons for that.
First, the DEA has attempted to smooth its application process for large research institutions seeking to study Schedule I Drugs as of January of this year. Due to the popularity of CBD oil and explosion of the industry, it’s hard to imagine Big Pharma won’t salivate over that market.
Third, America is just getting fed up with the illegalization of cannabis. State after state is flouting the federal law, and it seems only a matter of time before the ban is lifted completely.
So if you prefer your medicines to be pharmaceutical, in ten years you just might be in luck.
Here’s the thing, though: I don’t prefer my medicines to be pharmaceutical. While I think there is a time and a place for the Medicine Industrial Complex (namely: emergency care, birth control, antibiotics, and vaccinations), a lot of this distillation and studying and patenting and distributing sounds a lot like barring me from what will help me NOW.
And even Frandson and Klafter, both MDs who are heavily invested in Western Medicine, suggest that people try CBD now, because they are both convinced at the very least that it is safe.
I get acupuncture for tendonitis and depression and I take goldenseal tincture to prevent colds, I use slippery elm bark for sore throats and dandelion root for bloating. I figured all of this stuff out without help from drug companies, and I found I could research CBD oil and safely try it without them, too.
In addition, the pharmaceuticalization of a plant could threaten existing growers and distributors, many of whom prefer to sell the whole plant (I will get into that later). There are reasons people search for healing on their own.
One of those reasons is cost: the oil I wound up buying is around $50-75 a month for what I needed. When this plant is ground down and separated and synthesized and someone puts a patent on it, you can bet your sore butt it will be many, many times that cost.
Yes — all the talk about how impossible it is to know what you’re really getting is intimidating. But it’s not really true.
HOW TO RESEARCH CBD OIL FOR YOURSELF
1. Search for scientific studies online
First, I googled the obvious: “CBD oil and pain studies,” “CBD oil and anxiety studies,” “CBD oil and PTSD studies.”
One way to research CBD for yourself is by searching online for studies and articles about using CBD oil to treat your symptoms or conditions.
Nearly everything else I found was exactly what the MDs had told me: relatively small studies, mainly outside of the US, that were not double-blind or long enough to satisfy my science brain. Still, it was hopeful enough to make me want to try it anyway, because my butt HURT, man.
Vaping oil that did not contain Polyethylene or propylene glycol as thinning agents
3. Where to buy?
What company is reputable? How soon can I get my hands on some?
I mean by butt was on FIRE.
Knowing I wanted oral oil for pain (slower acting but longer lasting) and the vape for anxiety (shorter-lasting but nearly instantaneous), I googled Top Ten CBD Oil Companies, and I started inputting dates. Who was on several lists for multiple years? Why?
I created a list of companies that were on multiple lists for multiple years, or companies that had a long track record, and then narrowed down my search by my checklist above. I did some pricing comparisons (see ‘paycheck-to-paycheck’ above), I sent the companies I’d like to buy from questions and noted how complete and how fast their responses were, and decided who I’d buy from.
HOW CBD OIL WORKED ON MY PAIN
Then, I experimented on myself.
I’m going to admit that I had high hopes. I have always been the friend who helped loved ones with cancer find psychoactive cannabis, and I saw what pot did for their pain. It seemed like a miracle. (Oh, dang. Is my kid right about me being a hippy, too?)
But when I took the CBD oil — a nice big mouthful of the oral oil — it didn’t even make a dent in the pain. Not after I waited patiently for the hour several places online recommended.
Aw, damnit, I thought. I guess it has to have THC in it. I’ll take my equally useless Advil/Tylenol cocktail for reasons I can’t articulate and call it a night, even though I can’t sleep with this pain.
But somehow, the combination of Tylenol, Advil, and CBD oil DID make a dent in my pain. I was able to stay at my desk (still standing; I am not a superhero) without lamaze breathing. The pain stopped waking me up. I was just a lady with a pretty damn sore butt.
Googling around, I found a few other anecdotal stories of CBD oil making other pain relievers far more effective, and one or two studies saying the same thing. It was an enormous relief for me.
So I would say if you are a middle-aged mom who hates the feeling of being stoned because you have Issues and constantly have to drive your obnoxious, insulting kids around so you need to stay sharp and also probably the illegality of pot in your state gives you pause, go ahead and try some CBD oil with your Tylenol and Advil.
If CBD doesn’t help and, depending on the laws around you, you may need to investigate THC or other cannabinoids, which may have more effect on some kinds of pain.
After doing her research CBD, Haddayr Copley-Woods discovered that vaping CBD offered instant and profound relief to symptoms of anxiety caused by Complex PTSD. (Photo: Flickr / Electric Tobacconist, CC-BY license)
HOW VAPING CBD OIL WORKED ON MY PTSD ANXIETY
This is the big OH MY GAWD moment.
My PTSD is pernicious — I am always hypervigilant, I have flashbacks in embarrassing awkward places. I freak out over stupid crap and then over nothing at all.
It affects my parenting, because I become so anxious I start snapping at my kids, or I freak out and tremble and freak them out. It affects my partnership, because living with someone who has PTSD has been likened to living with an alcoholic — despite my six years of treatment, you never know which person I’m going to be from minute-to-minute.
I take an antidepressant which helps the anxiety in a rather nebulous sort of way. I sometimes can control things with yogic breathing, but often it’s too late and I’m punching myself in the head, hyperventilating, and crying.
“Oh, honey,” she said. “You just don’t know what calm feels like.”
So I got the vape pen, and on my first incredibly anxious night I tried it.
Went out on the porch. Clicked the thing five times to activate the battery. Inhaled. Held it in my lungs for a long time. Exhaled.
And it was like an anvil came down out of nowhere and squashed the panic. It was just blocked. It was just gone.
“Are you sure I’m not high?” I asked my partner, five minutes later as I sat at the dinner table wondering if I had the munchies.
“Oh, honey,” she said. “You just don’t know what calm feels like.”
And that was it. The vape didn’t fog my brain. It didn’t draw a cloud of cotton over my hurt. It didn’t make me feel out of control. CBD just … stopped the panic. Instantly. And I felt calm. Peaceful. Still.
Writing this now, a month or so later, I am getting tears in my eyes over the simple fact of it.
SOME FINAL TIPS ON RESEARCHING CBD
I’ve become that person now, the one who demands her friends with anxiety try just ONE HIT off of my vape. I watch them as their faces slowly light up with amazement. As their panic just … stops.
If you’ve been wondering about CBD oil, and you have a complex background like I do with feeling high or buzzed, follow my steps:
Figure out the best type of CBD for you (full spectrum or isolate; edibles or CBD tinctures for slower, longer-lasting help, CBD vape for nearly instantaneous help).
Find the company by comparing ‘top CBD’ lists and ensuring quality by following my checklist above.
Google for reviews of the company, and ask customer service questions.
Start with a very small dose of CBD and go from there.
Maybe it won’t work, like half of the damn antidepressants I’ve tried. But maybe it will, and you can take some of your health care into your own hands.
Anyway, maybe that makes me a hippy. And maybe it’s the same damn plant as weed. But CBD oil is legal in all 50 states, it helps an awful lot of people, and it’s something you can do for yourself NOW.
Haddayr Copley-Woods believes everyone has a right to find relief from pain and discomfort. For her, the first step was to research CBD.
I’ve spent my life hearing from people that doing something for myself was wrong for so many reasons: because as an unlovable kid and teen I wasn’t worth being taken care of by anyone. Because moms should put everyone else’s needs before our own. Because disabled lives just aren’t worth bothering much about and we are SUPPOSED to be in pain and pretty miserable.
It has taken me many years of therapy to shout down those lying voices.
I now know that if I can get closer to a calmer and less painful place, it is all right for me to try to get there.
And you — you, reading this now — it’s all right for you to seek relief, too.