CBD oil has taken the health world by storm over the last couple of years, with claims it can treat a variety of health conditions, from anxiety to epilepsy. There have also been claims the cannabis-based product can help relieve pain, even in conditions like fibromyalgia. But what do experts have to say?
CBD oil is available in a range of products, including oil, water, capsules and even pet treats. The product is being sold on the high street, and one of its most popular claims is that it can treat pain. One health condition, which symptoms revolve primarily around widespread pain in the body, is fibromyalgia. Can the legal cannabis product help treat pain?
Dr Ife Abiola, who works in Canada, where cannabis is now legal for both recreational and medicinal purposes, offered Express.co.uk his advice.
What is CBD?
CBD derives from the cannabis plant. Cannabis has been largely represented by the active ingredient that causes a high – a cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
But another cannabinoid called cannabidiol (CBD) gained popularity with claims of being non-intoxicating while providing benefits for inflammation and anxiety.
Dr Abiola explained: “CBD can be used in many different forms, many of which do not necessitate smoking.
“It’s commonly consumed orally in oil form. Ingestion of an oil allows for the dose to be controlled and offers a longer duration of action. Its effects can be felt within an hour and last up to six hours.
“Typically, CBD oil is used in the morning and afternoon to span the course of the day and the dose is started a low dose and increased slowly depending on the patient’s condition.
“The majority of frequent (daily) CBD users find that a dose between 10 and 20 mg (administered once or twice daily) is enough to provide effective relief from a variety of ailments.”
How can CBD help with fibromyalgia?
Cannabis as a medicine has had a convoluted and storied path to becoming accepted in common conversation and scientific literature, says Dr Abiola, adding: “Much of the relief cannabis provides was anecdotal until studies were completed showing the legitimacy of THC and CBD as medicine.
“Those who have told their stories have dealt with stigma, and skepticism. These are the same challenges facing people with fibromyalgia.
“Fibromyalgia is a condition that is misunderstood for many reasons. Firstly, it affects females at a much higher rate than males. Many females who suffer from fibromyalgia have reportedly felt marginalized by their partners, families and general practitioners.
“Pain issues are often denounced as cries for attention or overexaggerated. They deal with their condition in silence. The suffering and the isolation can leave the many with persistent mental and physical anguish.
“Muscle spasm, as well as muscle, joint and skin pain are common symptoms and often lead to the use of painkillers and pharmaceuticals. The resulting lack of sleep from constant pain leads to issues involving insomnia and self-medication with drugs and alcohol.”
The direct cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, says Dr Abiola, but evidence has shown the pathogenesis is multi-factorial involving genetics, environment, and more.
He explained: “Recent studies have shown that our bodies’ natural inflammatory response may play a large part in fibromyalgia. Abnormal levels of interleukins IL-6 and IL-8 were found in the serum and spinal fluid of sufferers.
“This shows that the disease has an inflammatory component. Even the brains of fibromyalgia patients exhibit signs of neuroinflammation.
“Fibromyalgia patients often are prescribed tricyclic anti-depressants, SSRIs, opioids, gabapentin with varying efficacy. Those who have successfully used CBD, a non-intoxicating cannabis derived medication, have shown improvements in pain.
“CBD has been found to reduce inflammation through regulating inflammatory pathways with our bodies’ endocannabinoid systems. Fibromyalgia patients have reported reduced anxiety in addition to reduced pain, which is a common comorbidity of the disease. Anxiety can trigger pain and discomfort and the use of CBD has been shown to reduce anxiety.”
What does the future hold for CBD?
CBD is becoming more prevalent in the United Kingdom with emerging companies like Kanaco and others which provide CBD in edible and inhaled forms, said Dr Abiola.
He added: “It may be only a matter of time before we are just as likely to reach for CBD capsules as we would for ibuprofen. Nonetheless more research, understanding and dialogue is needed when treating fibromyalgia with medical cannabis.
“Steps need to be taken to provide patients with more options in treating their condition. Awareness that CBD and other cannabis derived drugs can provide relief for many who no longer need to suffer silently.”
Dr Andrew Thornber, chief medical officer at Now Patient, advised Express.co.uk: “I would always talk to your GP before taking any medication to discuss your own medical needs and potential side effects.
“Research is still limited about the actual effectiveness and long-term impact on health. Like with any medication, patients should be careful not to consume too much and for pro-longed periods without chatting to their GP.”
Cannabis-based products have become available to buy online, but their quality and content is not known.
The NHS warns: “They may be illegal and potentially dangerous.
“Some products that might claim to be medical cannabis, such as “CBD oil” or hemp oil, are available to buy legally as food supplements from health stores. But there’s no guarantee these are of good quality or provide any health benefits.”
It’s also been claimed that CBD can help with anxiety.