A 2016 study by the CDC found that 1 in 5 U.S. adults suffer from chronic pain. This has led to many of them to seek out relief by using opioids. Many prefer non-narcotic pain meds and choose the medical benefits of CBD products.
Do you know someone with an addiction to opioids? It’s not surprising if you said yes. The American Psychiatric Association says that 2 million Americans abuse opioids.
Nearly 1 in 3 Americans know someone who’s been addicted to opioids or other painkillers. This epidemic has left doctors and patients searching for another option. See how opioids became prevalent, the medical benefits of CBD, and why many choose non-opioid pain management.
The Timeless Threat of Opioids
In 3400 B.C., the opium poppy was first cultivated in lower Mesopotamia. The plant produced euphoric effects by consuming its latex. In 460 B.C., Hippocrates, the father of medicine, prescribed opium for pain, diseases, and epidemics.
China experiences an opioid epidemic in the 1700s. Emperor Yung Cheng prohibits opium smoking and sale unless used as a medicine. In 1799, Emperor Kia Kung bans opium entirely.
In 1805, Friedrich Serturner dissolves opium in acid and neutralizes it with ammonia. He thereby discovers its active ingredient. Principium somniferum. The first synthetic opioid.
In 1898, Felix Hoffman, while working at Bayer, develops heroin. It’s a type of morphine, but more potent. So Bayer sells it as a cough suppressant. Yes. Bayer found heroin to be good for coughs from tuberculosis and pneumonia.
Congress Causes Cannabis Confusion
Before the 20th century, cannabis had a 5000-year history and was used in many cultures. But claims that marijuana use led to rape, suicide, and psychosis changed that. And the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 effectively banned the use and sale of marijuana.
The Controlled Substances Act replaced the Marijuana Tax Act in the 1970s. Congress added cannabis to the most restrictive category (Schedule I). But it lacked the dangerousness and potential for addiction of others in that class. Cannabis was a kitten in a pack of Rottweilers.
In 1996, California became the first state to approve medicinal marijuana use. Opposers of marijuana claim that there isn’t enough research for medicinal use. But supporters point to the wide use and history of cannabis as evidence of its medical use.
Big Pharma Enables the Epidemic
In the late ‘90s, Big Pharma told doctors that patients wouldn’t develop opioid addictions. So they prescribed opiates at higher rates. Doctors taking medical advice from for-profit corporations. How’d that turn out?
In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared a public health emergency to address the national opioid crisis. HHS had found that more than 130 Americans died from an opioid overdose every day. Thanks a lot, Purdue Pharma. And you too, Endo Health.
So HHS came up with a 5-point strategy to combat opioid misuse:
- Improve access to recovery services
- Promote the use of overdose-reversing drugs
- Strengthen public health data reporting and collection
- Support cutting-edge research on addiction and pain
- Advance the practice of pain management
CBD Industry Breaks $1 Billion
After California legalized medical marijuana, other states started to do the same. By the year 2000, medical marijuana was legal in seven more states. This led to other products made from cannabis.
The stigma against cannabis started to shift. But in 2002, 2 out of 3 Americans still oppose cannabis legalization. Cannabis was still viewed as dangerous, addictive, and harmful.
But people started to share their personal experiences. CBD-users shared stories using it for conditions like anxiety, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. In 2010, the story of Charlotte Figi’s drastic reduction in seizures started a movement.
Researchers Uncover CBD Uses
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It is legal to buy and consume hemp-derived-CBD in all 50 states. Hemp includes any cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
The human body produces cannabinoids on its own. And it has receptors for cannabinoids, known as CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors, mainly in the brain, affect coordination, pain, and mood. CB2 receptors, common in the immune system, affect inflammation and pain. Many believe that these receptors are affected by CBD.
Researchers behind a study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine say CBD may be used for chronic pain. The FDA recently approved the use of CBD (Epidiolex) for two forms of epilepsy. A Neurotherapeutics review found that CBD may be good for opioid addiction.
FDA Evaluates CBD Industry
In April 2019, the FDA released a statement regarding interest in CBD products. CBD suppliers market alongside human drugs, dietary supplements, foods, animal products, and cosmetics. The FDA committed to the regulation of the claims of these products and to protect the public.
The FDA requires cannabis products that claim therapeutic benefits have FDA approval. They stated that it’s unlawful to sell “food” containing added CBD or to market CBD as a dietary substance.
Questions have been raised about the risks of CBD. The FDA recently approved Epidiolex, a purified form of CBD, to be prescribed for seizures. But they discovered risks such as liver damage. How can regulators manage risks of CBD in wider use?
Are there risks with cumulative exposure to CBD? What amount of CBD could the FDA allow into foods and not undermine the drug approval process? FDA regulators see a critical need to answer these questions. But more research is needed.
Regulators Require Compliance
The April 2019 FDA statement assures that their goal is not to have companies forgo CBD research. They acknowledge that CBD studies could lead to safe and effective therapies. But they also don’t want patients to be at risk by using unapproved medicines.
The FDA recently sent out warning letters to three CBD suppliers. The suppliers made unsubstantiated claims related to more than a dozen different products. The following statements, among others, were specifically called out as “unfounded, egregious claims.”
- “CBD successfully stopped cancer cells in multiple different cervical cancer varieties.”
- “CBD reduced the rewarding effects of morphine and reduced drug seeking of heroin.”
Science Seeks CBD Research
A wide variety of CBD product types are available. Suppliers sell oil drops, capsules, and topical lotions online. And they are available to ship throughout the United States. Countless testimonials of CBD’s therapeutic effects exist. Studies have supported its role in areas such as alternative pain management.
Cannabis has been used since ancient history. Stone tablets from 1800 BCE suggest that cannabis was a primary drug used as an anticonvulsant. 10th century Persians used juiced cannabis to control epilepsy. Could all these people and cultures be wrong?
Unfortunately, Cannabis remains a restricted substance. Part of the reason for that is that there are no large-scale studies proving its efficacy. But much of the reason for the lack of these trials is the federal prohibition of access to cannabis. Catch-22!
Quality Control Concerns
Quality control concerns plague the CBD industry. A study in 2017 found 70 percent of CBD suppliers labeled products improperly. Partly due to lack of regulation by the FDA, contaminated oils have sickened some people. Consumers should pay close attention to labeling. They should note the number of milligrams listed. And see if the company publishes third-party test results.
Marcel Bonn-Miller found that nearly 70 percent of CBD products sold online mislabeled. This could cause serious harm to consumers. Miller believes the mislabeling is a direct result of poor regulation. Bonn-Miller’s team purchased CBD products online with CBD content listed on the packaging.
They analyzed 84 products from 31 different companies. They found 42% of products contained higher concentrations of CBD than they listed. 26% of products contained lower concentrations of CBD than listed.
Only 30% contained CBD content within 10% of the amount listed on the product label. Products that contain too little or too much CBD could negatively affect benefits. And the variability could make it hard for patients to get a reliable effect.
Cannabis vs Opiates
In 2015, a team conducted a study to review the pharmacology of medical marijuana use. They reviewed medical literature from 1948 to 2015 on medical marijuana. They found that evidence supports the use of marijuana for chronic pain.
Cannabis, Opiates, and Dependence
Marijuana produces a mild dependence. Cannabinoids affect the brain’s processes for regulating reward-seeking behavior. Opioids have a similar effect, as reported in a study published in 2007 in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience.
Unlike opioid dependence, marijuana dependency is often reversible with behavioral therapy and abstinence. And this reversal can occur without withdrawal symptoms. No vomiting, diarrhea, or anxiety necessary!
Opiates and Cognitive Impairment
Opioid use can cause cognitive impairment. Doctors hold back from increasing doses to a level that provides enough pain relief. These findings are in a study published in 2004 in Pain Management Nursing. But some cannabinoid compounds enable patients to reduce their pain without psychoactive effects.
Dr. Donald Abrams says, “I’ve had patients with cancer who’ve been put on high doses of opiates. And they find they can’t communicate with their family. Once they have effectively weaned themselves off their opiates onto cannabis, they find it much easier to communicate with their loved ones.
Cannabis, Opiates, and Pain
Patients who used opioids and cannabis for pain claimed higher satisfaction with cannabis. A study published in June 2017 in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research found. Patients reported the following reasons why they turned to cannabis over opioids.
They felt they had a smaller chance of experiencing withdrawal with cannabis. They felt fewer negative side effects. And they felt that the non-opioid pain medication was more effective.
97% of the 2,897 cannabis users said that it allowed them to decrease their opioid use. And 81% claimed that cannabis alone was more effective than cannabis with opioids.
A 2011 study provided patients using opiates with vaporized cannabis. The subjects’ pain decreased significantly when they used cannabinoids. It found that cannabinoids could likely allow patients to use opioids in lower doses.
HIV, Chronic Pain and Opioids
Chronic pain and opioid use are more common in people with HIV. Between 25 and 90 percent of HIV-infected adults suffer from chronic pain. Adults with HIV are likely to receive opioids to manage their pain.
Medical marijuana has recently gained recognition with pain sufferers. Twenty-nine states have legalized the use of medical marijuana. In those states, HIV/AIDS or chronic pain qualify patients for medical marijuana use.
Doctors Study CBD Benefits
Researchers have never studied medical marijuana over time as an attempt to reduce opioid use. There are also no long-term studies on how THC and CBD affect pain, function, and quality of life. A study that will be completed in 2022 will provide this information.
Dr. Chinazo Cunningham says, “There is a lack of information about the impact of medical marijuana on opioid use in those with chronic pain. We hope this study will fill in the gaps and provide doctors and patients with some much-needed guidance.”
Patients Participate in Study
The study will include 250 HIV-positive and HIV-negative adults. They will all have chronic pain and use opioids. The participants have also received a certification to use medical marijuana.
Over 18 months, participants will complete web-based questionnaires every two weeks. The questionnaires will focus on pain levels and the use of marijuana and opioids.
Subjects will also provide urine and blood samples every three months. In-depth interviews will explore perceptions of how medical marijuana affects their opioid use.
Try the Medical Benefits of CBD
Studies clearly show that opioids, although effective, carry many risks. Addiction to opioids has become a national crisis. Governments, doctors, and patients struggle to find a solution. As the stigma of cannabis and CBD products wanes, many patients turn to CBD.
There is still much research to be done on the medical benefits of CBD. But the growth of the CBD industry is a testament to the value consumers place on it. You can profit from this rapidly-expanding industry too. Why not offer your own private label of CBD products? Request a custom quote from Spring Creek Labs today!