One of the current hot topics in conservative alternative medicine (CAM) is the use of cannabinoids from hemp oil for the treatment of several different medical conditions. One of the reasons this is such a common practice in CAM is because conservative health practitioners, like chiropractors, cannot prescribe pharmaceuticals to patients. However, a lot of the patients that we see are in severe distress, specifically due to arthritis and other types of musculoskeletal pain. We are continually trying to find safe and effective methods to help patients manage their pain. So far, the research on efficacy, dosage recommendations, and safety of cannabinoid use is rather limited, but more and more is being done, and so far the results are generally positive.
So … What is CBD? What are cannabinoids? Where do they come from? What do they do, and how do they work? What are the side-effects? Is hemp the same thing as marijuana? These are common questions I get from patients when I suggest using some of the hemp products we offer in our office, and they are all legitimate questions.
CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, which is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in cannabis, or the hemp plant. Hemp is a unique variety of the plant species cannabis sativa, which is typically harvested for its fibers, seeds, and oil. Although hemp looks very similar to the marijuana plant, it has a very different chemical make-up. Hemp contains virtually no THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana that gets you “high.” Hemp cannot be considered or used as a psychoactive drug because its THC content is less than 1%, where marijuana contains between 5-20% THC. In the US, Canada, and Europe, the level of THC in hemp is limited to 0.3%. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of at least 113 cannabinoids that have been identified in hemp plants.
Our bodies have specific receptors for cannabinoids, sometimes termed as the endogenous cannabinoid system, or endocannabinoid system (ECS). Some of these receptors are present in the nervous system, and appear to be involved in pain modulation, especially in cases of neuropathic (nerve) pain, and pain caused by cancer and inflammation. CBD has been demonstrated in several experimental models to exhibit the following effects: anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant (for seizures), anti-oxidant, anti-emetic (for vomiting), anxiolytic (for anxiety), and antipsychotic. Other specific conditions CBD has been used to treat are seizures caused by epilepsy, pain and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), colitis, and hepatitis. Cannabinoids may even have the potential to inhibit tumor growth in certain types of cancer. As with all types of medicine, there are some inherent side-effects, although they are relatively limited: sleepiness, decreased appetite, diarrhea, fatigue, malaise, weakness, sleeping problems, and others.
We have several products to choose from in our office, which range from topical ointments for local pain relief, to tinctures (liquid drops) for treatment of wide-spread pain and generalized inflammation.