Cannabidiol or CBD is a naturally occurring component of cannabis. It is extracted from the cannabis plant and often made into an oil for use. CBD is not psychoactive, and does not produce the ‘high’ of THC (tetrahyrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive component of cannabis. CBD is legal in Canada and has been used in the treatment of various medical conditions.
All cannabinoids, including CBD, produce effects in the body by attaching to certain receptors in the brain or immune system. The human body also produces its own cannabinoids. It seems that CBD does not attach directly to receptors. Instead, it directs the body to use more of its own cannabinoids to produce the therapeutic effects associated with CBD.
Research suggests that CBD may provide relief for chronic pain. Sativex is a proprietary medication that combines THC and CBD and may be prescribed for the relief of pain associated with multiple sclerosis. There is also some evidence suggesting that CBD may be a promising support for people with opioid use disorders. The researchers noted that CBD reduced some symptoms associated with substance use disorders including anxiety, mood-related symptoms, pain, and insomnia.
After researching the safety and effectiveness of CBD oil for treating epilepsy, in 2018, the United States FDA approved CBD (Epidiolex) as a therapy for two rare conditions characterized by epileptic seizures. Other evidence suggests that CBD may be useful in the treatment of schizophrenia, though further research is needed before introducing CBD into medical practice.
There is some initial evidence that CBD may help people in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease keep the ability to recognize the faces of people that they know, and thus slow progression of the illness. Again, more research is needed in this area.
Because of the way cannabis and its products are metabolized, scientists believe there is a potential for interaction with other drugs, although nothing significant has yet been recorded. CBD has been found to be generally safe. Reports from patients indicate that negative drug interactions are not common. As with any other treatment, it is important to monitor your use of CBD and seek assistance if you experience any problems or have questions or concerns about its use.
About the author
The Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, formerly CARBC, is a member of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information. The institute is dedicated to the study of substance use in support of community-wide efforts aimed at providing all people with access to healthier lives, whether using substances or not. For more, visit www.cisur.ca.
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