It starts with an accident.
Maybe it was work related, or sports related. Perhaps, the injury occurred leisurely. Regardless, the back pain starts to surface.
A few weeks go by and the pain still persists.
You schedule a doctor’s appointment. Surely, the pain should have subsided by now…
Your doctor runs some tests with no luck. You attend a follow-up appointment. Then, a physical therapist appointment is scheduled.
Back pain,they say, is sometimes incurable. So, here’s a prescription for oxycodone.
Unfortunately, the way this story ends is no longer uncommon.
A patient gets prescribed opioid medication for chronic pain and, statistically, 21-29 percent of those patients misuse their prescription. They then get addicted to the medication and, when the prescription runs out, they turn to heroin to get their fill. At least, that’s what happened to 75% of the individuals involved in this study.
This situation has become so common that it has changed the lives of 11.5 million people in the United States. Our country is currently experiencing the most catastrophic opioid epidemic it has ever seen. Opioids took the lives of 42,000 people in 2016 alone. That’s roughly 116 deaths from opioid-related drug overdosesevery day.
Opioid pain medications aren’t the only highly addictive drugs that are being prescribed by your family practitioner. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can also be highly addictive; however, their abuse is not as common.
The realm of prescription drugs is complex, with patients sometimes taking pain, anxiety and depression medication simultaneously due to the intersectionality of those medications. In the U.S., 70% of Americans are prescribed at least one prescription drug while a little more than half are prescribed two. Of these medications, anti-depressants are the most prescribed with opioids following close behind. With these findings, it’s safe to say that the majority of our population is pharmaceutically medicated.
While some medications do help patients with their symptoms, it doesn’t mean that these medications don’t come at a cost. While opioid pain medications are clearly taking lives at an appalling rate more so than antidepressants and anti-anxiety, they all still have concerning side effects and change the chemical make-up of the brain.
Every patient has an individual reason for taking the drugs prescribed to him or her by their doctor. It is not wrong for patients to listen to the medical advice of their physician, even though it may be worth noting that only 58% of Americans believe their doctors can be trusted. There’s a wide range of reasons for this, including doctors prescribing highly potent pharmaceutical drugs when there are more practical preventative measures that could be taken.
However, what about the patients who want to avoid taking a chemistry lab in the form of a pill? What about the patients who are looking for an alternative that isn’t addictive, doesn’t cause withdrawal symptoms and doesn’t cause a rabbit hole of medication use to combat side effects?
Taking center stage is CBD.
CBD (Cannabidiol) is the non-psychoactive sister of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Both of these compounds, CBD and THC, are found in cannabis and, while THC may be the reason why you hid in your friend’s closet paranoid of an alien invasion in high school, CBD is here to clear up your perspective of cannabis.
CBD made its debut with the story of Charlotte Figi, a child who suffered from severe epilepsy and was having about 300 seizures a week. Charlotte was on a heavy amount of prescription drugs that started to reduce her cognitive skills significantly. With no other option, her parents gave her CBD and her seizures reduced to about 3 a week.
Charlotte Figi’s story gave CBD the fame it needed to be considered a serious alternative to prescription medications.
By this time, some of you may think this is too far-fetched.
“Are you telling me that cannabis is a better form of medication than drugs created and tested by scientists?” your thoughts say.
Yes. That’s exactly what I’m telling you. But, let’s move away from the idea of cannabis being a singular entity. Cannabis extends beyond just smokin’ the reefer.
CBD or hemp oil is different than what you’ve always rolled into a joint. CBD oil derives from hemp, whichis higher in CBD and extremely low in THC as opposed to marijuana. You know, hemp? The powerful industrial plant that has so much potential, but unfortunately was deemed a “hippie” product that most people are unwilling to use it due to its association with cannabis. *sigh*
To get a better understanding of this “new” and medicallybeneficial plant property, let’s look into how it actually works.
How CBD works:
CBD, unlike THC, does not create any psychoactive effects. While THC will give you a “high,” CBD alone is incapable of making you soar like a kite. So, if you’re feeling iffy about CBD because it comes from cannabis, fret not because it will not get you stoned whatsoever.
Rather, CBD causes the body to use its own endocannabinoid system in a more beneficial way.
Confused? Let’s back up.
Every human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that is essentially the message center of cannabinoids in the body. The body creates some cannabinoids on its own (called endocannabinoids), which communicate with the body’s ECS and helps control functions of the body like pain receptors, the immune system and sleep.
The main difference between THC and CBD, other than the psychoactive effects, is that THC affects the brain’s endocannabinoid receptors. It alters the chemicals in our brain and releases dopamine, which can set the brain on a game of cat and mouse to achieve that high again. While THC is fun in moderation, it can be harmful if consumed constantly.
On the other hand, CBD does not change the make-up of the body’s endocannabinoids. Instead, it has little effect on the ECS and allows the body to use its own endocannabinoids in a medically beneficial way.
CBD vs pharmaceutical pain medication:
Opioid pain medication takes control of the body. While it may mask the pain, it creates a handful of other life-threatening problems including addiction, withdrawal symptoms and unsettling side effects.
It does not make any sense to tackle a bodily issue with medication that will create a lifetime of heart-wrenching problems.
While research of CBD is limited, there are still compelling studies that show CBD is a replacement for opioid pain medication. The amount of people struggling with opioid addiction is a cry of help from our country. We need an alternative.
In relation to the treatment of pain, CBD acts in a way that prevents the absorption of anandamide, which reduces the amount of pain a patient feels. In one study, “80% of patients reported that cannabis by itself was more effective than their opioids.”
CBD is key in pain prevention, but more importantly, it will not lead you down a road of addiction and eventually have you fighting for your life. While Big Pharma may do that, CBD will not.
A medication that does its job and doesn’t leave you hooked. Sounds too good to be true, but trust me, it’s not!
CBD alternative for anti-anxiety medication:
In the U.S., roughly 31 percent of adults experience an anxiety-disorder in their lives. That’s 31 percent of the populationsusceptible to getting hooked on benzos. That’s 31 percent of the population who can relate to potentially using Big Pharma drugs to manage their mind.
Treatment of anxiety with CBD may sounds contradictory as many people experience anxiety from using marijuana recreationally.But, remember, CBD is different than marijuana! We are talking about hemp oil here!
It may be hard to grasp, but CBD works in opposite of THC.
While THC affects the brain in a psychoactive way, CBD does not. The negative effects that people feel from THC, like increased anxiety and paranoia, do not exist with CBD because it does not affect how the brain acts or perceives things. This alone should give those with anxiety some interest in trying CBD.
Again, research is limited, but this study shows that CBD positively affected those who suffer from social anxiety disorders by changing the distribution of blood flow to the brain, which causes a relief of anxiety. This shows that CBD does not mask the problem, but rather changes how the brain reacts and causes anxiety.
According to this study, there is evidence that “strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely.”
To solidify these findings and regulate the right type of dosing, more research needs to be conducted, but clearly the positive path of CBD in the medical realm of neuro-science is currently being paved.
CBD alternative for anti-depression medication:
According to the CDC, antidepressants make the top three for the most commonly used therapeutic drugs with it being used for depression, anxiety and pain.
Between 2011-2014, 12.7 percent of people from the age of 12 used antidepressants within the past month. Slowly yet surely, the U.S. is becoming more and more chemically medicated.
For those who have dealt with depression, it is a crippling experience. It’s not something to take lightly and while some antidepressants have had success in some patients, a CBD alternative may interest those who simply do not want to become dependent on pharmaceutical drugs.
The side effects of antidepressants are enough reason to find other alternatives. Among the list are anxiety and potential suicide. Anti-depressants are a drug that causes you to take anti-anxiety medication because of its side effects. All of a sudden, you’ll need to take another pharmaceutical drug to combat the one you’re already taking. And, a side effect of suicide is a red flag. Why would you take something that could cause you to take your own life?
Understanding depression is important in understanding how CBD can affect this emotional state. In this study, it was found that patients diagnosed with depression have lower levels of circulated endocannabinoids and a lack of central endocannabinoid signaling. In addition, some forms of antidepressants alter endocannabinoid signaling. From what we’ve already learned about CBD, it makes sense that CBD has the potential to help combat depression since CBD allows the body to use its own ECS more beneficially.
In a study conducted in 2016, rats have proved this theory to be correct as CBD relieved depression in these little patients. While rats and humans are clearly different, this study at least opens the door for more research to be conducted.
The Take Away Point:
It may seem that CBD is a medical treatment sent from the gods that can miraculously heal almost everything.
While CBD did not come from the heavens on a gold encrusted platter, it did originate naturally from this planet that has been functioning on its own for millions of years. When pharmaceuticals are causing so much harm, perhaps now is the time to reach back to the Earth to combat our problems naturally.
Cannabis has been a cash crop used for a wide variety of versatile uses dating back to 12,000 years ago. In China, there is documentation of cannabis being used medically starting about 1,800 years ago.
Cannabis is not new. Hemp is not new. The medical benefits of cannabis are not new. Only our mindset of cannabis has changed, even though the crackdown on cannabis as a drug only started recently compared to the life span of cannabis itself.
There is strong evidence that supports CBD’s capability of helping those with an array of medical ailments including, but not limited to chronic pain, depression and anxiety. While the pharmaceutical industry has caused an unfathomable amount of deaths, cannabis has a clean slate with zero overdoses and zero deaths. So, why not give CBD a try?