Headlines from across the nation remind us that the opioid addiction crisis is an epidemic afflicting thousands every year. As record numbers continue to use prescription medications to manage pain, the problem only exacerbates. However, early studies suggest that CBD hemp oil can help patients manage both their pain and addiction.
You may be asking: “Isn’t hemp just another word for marijuana?”
Not exactly. They come from the same plant, but share different chemical properties. In this article, we explore the taboo surrounding CBDs and how doctors are taking steps to learn more about the potential benefits of this promising treatment.
Since the early 20th century, cannabis sativa–more commonly known as hemp or marijuana–has been considered a controlled substance. In the past 100 years however, much has been learned about the chemical and physiological properties of this plant. Unfortunately, the stigma of the substance has delayed much needed research into the subject until quite recently.
Change is coming: as legal and cultural perceptions of CBD products soften, researchers have a better opportunity to investigate the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of cannabis.
What is CBD?
As more research comes out, doctors and researchers are learning more about how CBD affects the body. CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is one of two active chemicals found in cannabis sativa, or hemp. The other ingredient found in certain forms of the plant is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The latter chemical is the primary psychoactive ingredient in recreational marijuana–and, in most states, considered a controlled substance.
The truth is: CBD and THC are not the same thing.
THC levels vary greatly between subspecies of plants. And once extracted, CBD hemp oil contains no or very low levels of THC and is not psychoactive. Furthermore, CBD and THC have very different effects on the body. In terms of medicinal and therapeutic benefits, CBD has become the primary focus of researchers.
How CBD Oil Affects the Body
In the early 1990s, researchers discovered that CBD supplements your endocannabinoid system. Found throughout the body, this system plays a role in regulating your physiology, including pain response, appetite, immune system and mood. Your body produces natural CBD receptors which stimulate and regulate these vital processes.
CBD hemp oil activates different neuro pathways in throughout your nervous system, engaging different physiological responses. As a result, patients can have better control over various bodily systems including the digestive, muscular, immune and endocrine systems.
Research has shown that CBD supplements are a promising treatment for moderate, long-term pain management resulting from conditions such as arthritis, stress or chronic migraines. Though wide clinical trials are still on the horizon, isolated research and anecdotal evidence have espoused the benefits of CBD in pain management for decades.
Some doctors have already begun prescribing to some of their pain patients after they noticed the positive response in previous patients. In many cases, patients found relief from chronic pain, tension headaches, and overall anxiety.
What does this mean? Doctors are becoming more willing to prescribe CBD products instead of traditional opioid-based medications.
CBD and Addiction Treatment
As CBD hemp oil products become more prevalent in the medical community, they help reduce the level of opioid dependency for long-term pain management.
The best part: CBD oil does not share the addictive properties and damaging side effects of opioid based medications.
Furthermore, studies have suggested that controlled CBD use can help ween the body off of dangerous and addictive substances, such as tobacco, heroin and alcohol. Addiction is a physiological chemical dependency, which results in the persistent physical and emotional need to replenish substance levels. As CBD treatments rework the neural pathways, many patients have attested to relief from withdrawal symptoms associated with many of these substances.
Preliminary research has also shed light on how CBD oil can help reduce cravings for unhealthy habits, such as over- or under-eating, tobacco use and excessive drinking. Though scientists are still struggling with why CBD helps, they do have evidence of its success. Small-scale trials have shown that patients who used CBD products to help quit smoking or using drugs found they had an easier time reducing substance use than those who were administered a placebo.
The future of CBDs is upon us:
As the benefits of CBD become clearer and the stigma lessens, doctors will begin using CBD treatments more commonly. Though more needs to be known, the potential of CBD hemp oil in helping addiction patients is not only promising, but could become part of the solution to a growing epidemic.