“Is CBD more effective than prescription drugs?” is a collaborative post. Please see the disclosure page for more information. Always seek advice from a medical professional regarding medication and all health issues.
Many people wish they could give up their prescription drugs forever. It’s not just a case of wanting to be rid of a certain condition, but certain drugs can make it even more difficult to live a happy life due to chronic side effects. This is especially so with opioid painkillers, and has been reported with some antidepressants and anti-inflammatories as well.
More recently, the arrival of cannabidiol (CBD) products onto the United States health scene is bringing hope to patients that they can change their treatment plans for the better. CBD may technically be a cannabis derivative, but it doesn’t have the mind-altering intoxicating effects of THC, and nor does the substance cause addiction or severe side effects. But just because Select CBD products are safe and natural, are they really an effective substitute for FDA-approved pharmaceutical drugs?
CBD is an emerging science
Before we dive deeper, it’s critical to point out that CBD research is an emerging science, as part of a growing field of medicine related to cannabis and the endocannabinoid system (ECS). There is plenty that we can’t say for definite yet about CBD, as the studies simply haven’t been done. This explains why doctors aren’t already prescribing CBD products.
But oils, vape juices and concentrates are – providing they are made from hemp and not THC-rich marijuana – legally available for purchase as food supplements. It’s these products that people are getting their hands on, and claiming to be getting unique and substantial relief from. So, let’s look at the research we do have on CBD, assess its value, and compare whether it’s a better option to existing prescription drugs for pain, depression and inflammation.
CBD for pain relief
It’s no surprised that CBD’s pain relief potential is being hotly discussed given the opioid epidemic that has ravaged the US – more than 300,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses since the late 1990s. While opioids are undoubtedly very good at relieving pain, it’s the side effects of sedation, nausea, dizziness and particularly dependence which have caused major problems.
There is currently less convincing evidence that CBD can reduce pain than THC, the psychoactive agent in cannabis that eases pain sensitivity as a potent agonist of the CB1 receptor in the ECS. However, a couple of small studies have been published of late showing that CBD has analgesic properties.
Moreover, CBD products are used more for chronic pain than anything else, as per this 2018 data. For those who want an alternative, CBD is worth experimenting with – in place of or alongside – opioid painkillers. It’s safe and could help you to cut back on or stop taking opioids altogether.
CBD as an antidepressant
Around three decades ago, researchers thought they had found the answer to depression with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs work by boosting active concentrations of serotonin, a hormone associated with happiness and pleasure.
But the success of SSRIs was short-lived, and while they are still prescribed, users aren’t finding them as effective anymore, a sign that they initially produced a strong placebo effect. Furthermore, it suggests that tweaking serotonin isn’t a solution to depression in itself.
CBD has exhibited antidepressant effects in animal studies. And while it may make therapeutic chemical adjustments in the serotonin system and the ECS, it is the cannabinoid’s impact on neuroinflammation that is perhaps most important.
CBD’s anti-inflammatory effect on the brain is protective and restorative for several brain regions, including those that are connected with depression. Encouragingly, CBD’s antidepressant influence in the aforementioned studies is quickly noticeable and sustained. As with opioids, if SSRIs aren’t working for depression, it may be time to try CBD.
CBD for inflammation and autoimmune diseases
Aspirin, ibuprofen and Celebrex are all types of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These are used to manage both pain and inflammation, but have a few concerning drawbacks. For instance, NSAIDs can increase the risk of stomach ulcers and bleeds, kidney disease and heart attacks. In contrast, CBD appears to be a much healthier anti-inflammatory, benefitting the immune system via the ECS.
CBD is helpful for the likes of osteoarthritis by slowing joint cartilage deterioration, which limits the bone exposure that causes pain. Rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases are resolved by improving general immune system functioning – CBD, as a CB2 receptor regulator, ensures there are enough immunomodulatory endocannabinoids such as anandamide to interact with these CB2 receptors.
Because CBD and multiple NSAIDs are both blood thinners, it’s not recommended to take them simultaneously – this increases liability to severe bruising.
These are just some of the benefits of CBD that have been explored. I know of people that suffer PTSD and have had some help using CBD. With this being more widely accepted in society, it will be interesting to learn of all the benefits CBD will offer in the future. Do you currently use CBD? If so, please let me know in the comments below.