Cannabinoids may offer significant “side benefits” beyond analgesia. These include anti-emetic effects, well established with THC, but additionally demonstrated for CBD (Pertwee 2005), the ability of THC and CBD to produce apoptosis in malignant cells and inhibit cancer-induced angiogenesis (Kogan 2005; Ligresti et al 2006), as well as the neuroprotective antioxidant properties of the two substances (Hampson et al 1998), and improvements in symptomatic insomnia (Russo et al 2007).
^ Jump up to: a b c d Campos AC, Moreira FA, Gomes FV, Del Bel EA, Guimarães FS (December 2012). "Multiple mechanisms involved in the large-spectrum therapeutic potential of cannabidiol in psychiatric disorders". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences (Review). 367 (1607): 3364–78. doi:10.1098/rstb.2011.0389. PMC 3481531. PMID 23108553.
Extraction: The method by which CBD oil is processed from hemp plants can be very telling. Some manufacturers extract and process the oil using toxic materials like propane or butane; in most cases, these oils are cheaply priced. Safer extraction and processing agents include ethanol, which cleans the hemp plant of unwanted toxins; and supercritical carbon dioxide extraction, which strips harmful materials from the plant by changing the carbon dioxide’s temperature and pressure settings.
In the meantime, some physicians are forging ahead — and cashing in. Joe Cohen is a doctor at Holos Health, a medical marijuana clinic in Boulder. I asked him what CBD is good for, and he read me a long list of conditions: pain, inflammation, nausea, vomiting, intestinal cramping, anxiety, psychosis, muscle spasms, hyperactive immune systems, nervous system degeneration, elevated blood sugar and more. He also claimed that CBD has anti-cancer properties and can regenerate brain cells and reduce the brain’s levels of amyloid beta — a kind of protein that’s been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. I asked for references, noting that most of these weren’t listed in the Academies report or a similar review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “I think you just have to Google search it,” he said. It’s true that a preliminary study found hints that cannabinoids might reduce beta amyloid proteins in human brain cells, but the study was done in cells grown in a lab, not in people. As for cancer, the FDA sent warning letters last year to four companies that were selling products that claimed to “prevent, diagnose, treat or cure” cancer.
Recent controversies have arisen in relation to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), with concerns that COX-1 agents may provoke gastrointestinal ulceration and bleeding, and COX-2 drugs may increase incidents of myocardial infarction and cerebrovascular accidents (Fitzgerald 2004; Topol 2004). In contrast, neither THC nor CBD produce significant COX inhibition at normal dosage levels (Stott et al 2005a).
While there are more unknowns than knowns at this point, Grant says he doesn’t discount all the anecdotal CBD reports. “You hear somebody say, ‘Hey, I gave this to myself and my kid and we feel a lot better,’ and we should never dismiss that kind of information,” he says. He points out that many modern medicines were discovered when researchers followed up on exactly this sort of human trial-and-error evidence. “But we still need to do the studies that confirm whether all the good things are true, and how much to give, and how to give it,” he says. “These are all questions that need to be answered.”
One of the most exciting applications of hemp lies in the extracted cannabinoids or CBD oil. According to the Washington Post, “dozens of studies have found evidence that the compound can treat epilepsy as well as a range of other illnesses, including anxiety, schizophrenia, heart disease, and cancer.” With the legalization of hemp, CBD can be regulated and researched much more than before to truly understand the medical efficacy for a wide range of diseases.
To be clear, there is no one specific test, scan, or anything else of the sort that you can do to determine whether or not you need CBD oil for pain. Also, since cannabis is not yet recognized by the FDA, you unfortunately can’t really go to your doctor either and have them recommend it; until marijuana is FDA-approved, it cannot be prescribed by physicians.