An exciting new study adds opioid addiction to the long list of conditions that can be treated using CBD. CBD is a compound that exists within the cannabis sativa plant, but unlike it’s more well known sibling, THC, it does not get the user high, it is non-addictive, and it has no psychotropic properties. It is legal in most states nationwide, and it is quickly gaining in both use and popularity.
A team at the University of Illinois first discovered CBD in 1940. Dr. Roger Adams and his team successfully isolated the first cannabinoid that year, and his research lead to the isolation of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) twenty years later, too. Although THC for years has received all of the world’s attention, more recently, researchers have begun to study CBD as well, and have discovered a world of benefits that can be easily accessed by almost anyone.
It’s no surprise that CBD can help to treat opioid dependence and the cravings and anxiety experienced by those attempting to break free of it. However, up until now, there were few studies that focused specifically on its benefits in this particular situation. Research by Dr. Yasmin Hurd and her team at the Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai created a clinical trial that seems to present strong evidence that it can help recovering addicts immensely. Read on to learn more about CBD, and about Dr. Hurd’s now famous study.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, known as CBD for short, is part of the cannabis sativa plant. It is one of more than one hundred phytocannabinoids that exists in this plant. It is about 40% of the extract from this plant,; it makes up a large portion of the plant material overall. Unlike THC, which more people are familiar with, it is non-addictive and non-psychotropic. It does not show up on drug tests, and it is safe for use by humans.
CBD can be ingested in a number of ways but the most common is through a high concentrate mixed with a carrier oil. It can be smoked, swallowed, or used topically. It has been found to reduce chronic pain, anxiety, inflammation, depression, other conditions.
There has been a lot of research on CBD over the past few decades, and the United States government has sponsored much of it. Studies have found that CBD can be used to effectively treat autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or general inflammation, and neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and stroke. It has been successfully used in treatment for metabolic syndrome conditions like diabetes and obesity, and its applications also extend to neuropsychiatric illnesses like autism, ADHD, and PTSD, too. Patients suffering from gut disorders like Crohn’s disease and colitis report some relief through the use of CBD, and even symptoms of skin diseases like dermatitis and psoriasis can be partially relieved through topical CBD applications. Further, today, several groups are studying CBD’s anti-cancer potential, and it may be used to combat the disease in the future.
Is CBD Legal?
The applications of CBD for various conditions seem almost endless, and people who suffer from these conditions are quite hopeful about the results they have achieved when using it. Despite all of these wonderful successes, though, it is still federally illegal. Just last year, on June 25, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration finally approved the first CBD-based medication for human use. This medication is called Epidiolex, and is a very pure form of CBD that is used to treat two pediatric seizure disorders, Lennox-Gastaur syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Its effects on stopping seizures in small children quickly is nothing short of amazing.
However, as of this writing, CBD is still listed as a Schedule I substance federally, which means it is believed to have no real medical applications. This is shocking considering the large amount of research demonstrating the opposite. CBD is not approved as a prescription drug, dietary supplement, or for interstate commerce.
Thankfully though, states have legalized it independently, and it is easily accessible locally for most Americans. Only four states currently outlaw it altogether – Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Most others have either legalized it entirely, as part of medical and recreational marijuana movements, or have allowed their citizens access to it through a doctor’s recommendation. It is widely available throughout the USA, but since it is unregulated, quality can vary drastically from place to place and from producer to producer.
CBD and Opioid Addiction Treatment
The study by Dr. Yasmin Hurd and her team offers some positive information for individuals in recovery for opioid addiction or dependence. Because CBD does not get users high, it is safe for use in addiction recovery treatment and will not serve as a trigger for relapse. However, it can help to alleviate cravings and the anxiety that often accompanies early recovery.
Dr. Hurd’s group recruited forty-two adults who had recent histories of heroin use and were in the first steps of addiction treatment. The members of the group had used heroin for an average of thirteen years, and at the time the study began, they had only been not using for a month or less. In order to qualify for the study, they had to agree to stay clean and sober for the duration of study, and they had to also be free of any medication-assistant treatments like methadone and buprenorphine as well.
Study participants were divided into three groups. Each group received a dose of CBD or a placebo once a day for three days in a row, and then were followed for two weeks afterwards. The first group was given 800 milligrams of CBD, the second group was given 400 milligrams of CBD, and the final group was given a placebo. Neither the participants nor the clinicians were aware of which participant received which of the three. The CBD administered to participants was the highly pure Epidiolex, mentioned above and approved last year to treat pediatric seizure disorders.
Participants were then exposed to photos of nature scenes interspersed with images of people using heroin and heroin paraphernalia in an attempt to trigger cravings and anxiety. They were then asked to rate their levels of craving and anxiety.
The group that had been given actual CBD were found to experience reduction in cravings of two to three times more than the placebo group. The researchers also measured heart rate and cortisol levels (the “stress horomone”) and found both to be much lower in participants that were given CBD than in those who were not.
This study seems to be quite hopeful when it comes to positive uses of CBD in people battling addiction. Early recovery can be extremely difficult for all who attempt it. Anything that can make it easier for those attempting to get clean and sober is a good thing, but the fact that CBD is natural, available, and non-addictive makes it even better. The fact that CBD is fairly widely available is another bonus; in many places, people who need it can get it without any sort of doctor’s recommendation, and can help themselves by treating themselves at home with this amazing substance.
Dr. Hurd’s research is groundbreaking and will likely change the fact of addiction recovery treatment in a short time. It’s wonderful that this study has helped to prove something that many already believed to be true.
If you are suffering from addiction, and are working on your recovery, you may consider incorporating CBD into your recovery plan.
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