Cannabis – New Hope for Pain Relief

What was once referred to as “Wacky Weed” may now be the next best hope for chronic pain sufferers. Cannabidiol or CBD as it is commonly known, is a naturally occurring compound extracted from cannabis, a member of the hemp family, also known as marijuana.

A recent article appearing in Consumer Reports entitled “New Hope for Pain Relief,” stated that a growing body of preliminary research suggests cannabis possesses properties that could improve health. What has been known for millenia as a pain reliever in Asia is only now recognized in the United States as an effective pain treatment for arthritis as well as a variety of muscular aches and pains. Its effects on brain chemistry, such as the reward and pleasure center and dopamine production, include the easing of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and epilepsy, and has even been known to alleviate glaucoma.

Growth Curve

As a result, the CBD-based drug market is expected to grow from a $292 million level in 2016 to a $2.15 billion industry by 2021, according to the Brightfield Group Research Report. Thousands of CBD products are now widely available in retail stores and online. The world anti-doping agency removed CBD from its list of banned substances in January 2018. In addition, for the first time the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a prescription drug (Epidiolex) with CBD as its active ingredient, which cuts seizures by nearly 44 percent in people with two rare but devastating forms of epilepsy.

More Research on the Way

Researchers from major educational institutions, including Johns Hopkins and the University of California at San Diego are studying an array of potential uses. Recent animal studies and early research in humans point to CBD useful for treatment of opioid addiction as well as other forms of substance abuse. Multiple reports show declines in the rate of opioid deaths and use in states with medical marijuana laws.

Scientists blame the lack of definitive evidence for help with other types of pain relief not on the ineffectiveness of cannabis or CBD, but rather on U.S. Government rules that for decades prevented scientists from using federal funds to research the compound’s health benefits.

The approval of Epidiolex may open a path to more research. In 2017, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded $140 million toward cannabis research with $15 million going to CBD studies. In a 2017 report from the National Academies of Science on the benefits of cannabis co-authored by cancer specialist Donald Abrams, MD of Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, he and fifteen other experts examined more than 10,000 studies based mainly on cannabis, not just CBD, and found that pain and nausea related to chemotherapy, and spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis was substantially reduced.

Complete Federal Legalization

With further research many new health benefits are expected, along with complete federal legalization. CBD is legal in all states in the U.S. with the exception of Idaho, Nebraska and South Dakota. Every other state, plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., has legalized CBD, either alone (18 jurisdictions) or with THC (31 jurisdictions), with many states requiring a doctor’s recommendation for medical use. However, on the federal level, marijuana, including all its byproducts, remains illegal even for medical use. Canada legalized all forms for recreational use in 2018, and commercial production companies are preparing for high demand and becoming listed on stock exchanges there as well as worldwide.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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