CBD Oil’s Wide Availablity Challenges Medical Research

A multitude of stores sell CBD (cannabidiol) oil now that hemp is legal. One can buy them from gas stations, pharmacies, or other retailers. State regulations on CBD oil vary from US state to US state.  Generally, states and regulators dissuade retailers from selling non-approved substances as medications, but a variety of people use CBD oil for a various medicinal purposes. Now that retailers broadly sell CBD oil, it offers a number of challenges and opportunities to medical researchers.

CBD is the most abundant active ingredient within the CBD oil.  However, cannabis has a multitude of other chemicals. These chemicals vary between different types of cannabis plants. These combinations cause the cannabidiol to have different effects, depending on what amounts they are present in the CBD oil.  Generally speaking, 99 cent stores sell CBD that doesn’t have its terpenes or other cannabinoids measured.  Terpenes are the chemicals that give cannabis varieties their unique flavor or scent.  Terpenes interact with both cannabidiol and THC and change the effects that either drug has on the body.  So even when patients use CBD oil with essentially no THC, doctors need to understand a lot more about the complex chemical reactions of cannabinoids and terpenes.

Preliminary Research on CBD Oil

Pharmacies, as more profitable companies, have the resources to research the other cannabinoids present in CBD oil.  Pharmacies partner with companies that have an interest in cannabis research. However, some traditional researchers fear that the wide availability of CBD oil would erase the profitability of any corporate research.  As farmers widely grow hemp for a variety of purposes, the pharmaceutical industry is not able to control the supply of CBD oil.

Hospitals and universities have always been at the forefront of research on cannabis products. Non profit research has been essential to the acceptance of medical cannabis.  Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx has a cannabis program that uses cannabinoids to treat multiple medical issues.  The doctors from the program prefer that their patients take cannabidiol or other cannabinoids from legal channels. This way the doctors know what the concentrations are of the active ingredients and how they might best help their patients.

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Cannabidiol and Autism

Currently, researchers at a number of university hospitals are investigating CBD’s potential usage as a treatment for autism.  CBD has been show to help improve communication disorders and social anxiety in autistic children and has few side effects.  There are currently no approved prescriptions for autism, so if CBD oil gets approved as the first treatment for autism it will be a huge medical breakthrough.  Montefiore has a similar study on using a CBD variant to treat autism. The Department of Defense the provided grant making this study possible, in collaboration with GW Pharmaceuticals.  GW Pharmaceuticals produces the first cannabis-derived medication that the FDA has approved.

Cannabidiol As Treatment For Opiate and Alcohol Addiction

Patients use whole CBD oil, instead of isolates.  Short term studies suggest CBD oil reduces cravings for those with opiate addiction.  CBD oil is potentially a powerful tool.  Workers at clinics that treat addiction can do these studies and report the results.  And of course, other clinicians peer-review the results of these studies. A cheap new treatment can be made available to substance abuse centers and the public if the mental health profession determines CBD oil to be broadly effective for treating opiate addiction.

Mt. Sinai hospital performed clinical trials that used CBD to treat opiate addiction in both animal and human subjects.  In addition to reducing cravings for heroin in addicts, it also reduced anxiety.   Physicians at Mt. Sinai often refer patients to various studies if they believe it necessary.

NYU is performing clinical trials on using CBD oil to treat alcohol abuse.  Canadian company, Tilray exports CBD oil to New York University for these trials.  Chronic alcoholism is a serious health condition. That researchers believe CBD oil can treat alcoholism is wonderful news, as again it is a cheap, widely available medicine.  It’s useful that university hospitals research cannabidiol, as patented medicines are extremely expensive and only available to the insured and/or the wealthy. CBD is affordable to most individuals. As governments approve the use of cannabidiol, it is more likely to be covered by insurance and public health systems.

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The Opinion of the US Government on CBD

Of course, scientists may wish to also study the specific mechanisms that make CBD oil an effective treatment for whatever conditions treatment providers determine it helps.  Those studies are separate. And the government has already funded similar studies.

The United States government has done reviews that suggest CBD oil has multiple benefits. It calls for more rigorous studies to determine how the cannabidiol may best be used.  With government interest, researchers are aware that they can apply for grants and are not dependent upon corporate development and sponsorship.

A potential problem with CBD oil as a treatment is the isolation of CBD from THC and the other cannabinoids and terpenes from the entire cannabis plant.  Some physicians believe interaction from the cannabis compounds is needed for the so-called entourage effect. These doctors recommend taking medical cannabis itself.  Of course, researchers have done a number of studies on medical cannabis.

The availability of a substance or a plant that is cheap to produce and that cannot be restricted or monopolized by one company certainly is very beneficial.  It could keep down not only research costs, but overall medical costs. Where possible, cheaply helping patients should be a goal. Not in coming up with medications unaffordable to huge parts of the world.