“For the relief of certain kinds of pain, I believe, there is no more useful medicine than Cannabis within our reach,” wrote Sir John Russell Reynolds, neurologist, epilepsy research pioneer, and physician to Queen Victoria back in 1859. In fact, cannabis was used for pain relief in all of the major ancient civilizations from Asia through the Middle East and into Europe and the Americas. The scientific inquiry into cannabis over the past several decades has confirmed that it is an effective and safe analgesic for many kinds of pain.
Scientists have made a lot of progress in understanding how CBD produces its calming, pain-reducing, anti-inflammatory effects in the body—and there’s still more to learn. We know that CBD interacts with many different receptors, proteins, and other chemicals in the brain. These interactions create changes in the activity of neurotransmitters, hormones, and other cells throughout the brain and body. Through these interactions, CBD appears to be able to affect many of the body’s functions, from sleep-wake cycles and emotional regulation to inflammation, pain perception, and seizures.
CBD could potentially be as effective for pain relief as an opioid, but without the potential for deadly addiction. Dr. Solomon shared a self-report study he conducted at UC Berkeley last year, which tracked patients that were using opioids for pain relief. When subjects tried using cannabis in lieu of opioids, the majority "reported that cannabis provided relief on par with their other medications, but without the unwanted side effects." He noted that more research needs to be done, but all signs point to pain relief—which would lead to fewer opioid-related deaths.
Cannabidiol is currently a class B1 controlled drug in New Zealand under the Misuse of Drugs Act. It is also a prescription medicine under the Medicines Act. In 2017 the rules were changed so that anyone wanting to use it could go to the Health Ministry for approval. Prior to this, the only way to obtain a prescription was to seek the personal approval of the Minister of Health.
Hernandez said interactions between FDA-approved pharmaceuticals and CBD oils are a serious concern. “What we’ve found so far is that [CBD] can actually affect the levels of some of your epilepsy medications,” Hernandez told me. The diarrhea and vomiting associated with CBD oil ingestion can lower the levels of other drugs in patients’ bloodstreams, while the way the body absorbs CBD can raise the levels of certain medications.
Can CBD oil help anxiety? Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical occurring in cannabis plants. It is possible to add CBD oil to food, and an increasing amount of evidence suggests that it may improve mental health, particularly anxiety. It does not seem to have adverse side effects, but CBD oil is illegal in some states. Learn more about CBD oil here. Read now
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