In 2018, cannabis research has been largely focused on CBD – specifically how it can be used to alter brain chemistry. Studies discussed below explore whether CBD can be used to treat diseases such as psychosis, addiction, multiple sclerosis (MS), and depression. Overall, one of the big themes in CBD research is how it impacts neurologic and psychiatric disorders. It will be interesting to see whether CBD can improve public health globally in the years to come.
Drug and alcohol addiction is one of the most common issues that public health officials face in America. Over 20 million people in the U.S. are current or former drug addicts – and it costs the county over $18 billion annually. Although cannabis is still considered a Schedule I drug, CBDs (the non-psychoactive compound from the marijuana plant) have shown amazing potential in helping addicts prevent relapse.
The study was published by a group of researchers from the European University of Madrid, The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA, University of Maryland, and Zynderbra Pharmaceuticals in Pennsylvania. During the study, researchers took cocaine or alcohol addicted rats and administered transdermal CBD treatments for 7 days. Then, they exposed the rats to the elements that commonly cause relapse: stress, elevated anxiety, and impaired impulse control. The rats that were given CBD treatments resisted their drug of choice for up to 5 months.
According to a new study done by researchers at King’s College in London, as little as a single dose of cannabidiol (CBD) can provide effective relief from the symptoms of psychosis. The drugs that are currently used to treat psychosis (which is born of conditions like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia) are Thorazine and Haldol, which were developed in the 1950’s and come with serious side effects. Some of those side effects include insomnia, impotence, irregular heartbeat, mental status changes, renal failure, and death (especially in elderly patients). Those symptoms are a far cry from CBD, which only has a few side-effects like dry mouth, drowsiness, and increased tremors in those with Parkinson’s, to name a few.
During the study, participants were broken into two groups ? one that received a CBD treatment and another that received a placebo. In a press release about the study, researchers stated, “cannabidiol can help re-adjust brain activity to normal levels.” Furthermore, the researchers at the college believe CBD can be an effective treatment for young people with psychological disorders. If used early enough, researchers believe it can prevent psychosis from occurring later in life.
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. It’s estimated that 16.2 million adults in the U.S. experience depressive period every year. That’s 6.7 percent of the population! CBD is slowly becoming known as a cure-all for everything from insomnia to seizures, and according to this 2018 cannabis research from Brazil, depression might be next on the list.
During the study, researchers wanted to know if the anti-depressive effects of CBD on the lab rats would show after a single administration, or if the effects were related to changes in synaptic proteins/functions. The rats selected were also determined to be prone to depression. The result of the study was very promising for CBDs ? the anti-depressive effects were instant and lasted up to seven days after treatment. The Researchers found that CBD increased positive brain chemistry in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, and increased the number of brain cells. It would be awesome to see this proved in humans as well!
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a serious disease that affects the central nervous system and can dramatically lower your quality of life. The disease causes muscle pain, spasms, fatigue, inflammation, and depression. In 2017, researchers found that cannabis was a viable alternative therapy for MS. Some of the active chemicals in the plant, including CBD and THC, were found to help people with MS, but the findings were largely unwelcome in the scientific community. The FDA cited issues with the findings such as mold exposure, the presence of pesticides, and more. People with MS also stated they were hesitant to use cannabis because of it’s legal status.
As of 2018, cannabis research in the area of MS has proven CBDs alone can reduce inflammation, depression, fatigue, pain, and muscle spasms, while also increasing mobility. One study found that compared to a placebo, a 1:1 THC and CBD oromucosal spray provided improvements in MS symptoms more than just anti-spasm medication alone.
Here’s What We Have to Look Forward To: Fall 2018 Cannabis Research & Beyond
Here’s some 2018 cannabis research that is fresh off the press! September 5th, 2018 the American Academy of Neurology published a study showing that marijuana can provide relief for chronic nerve pain. This is great news for people with advanced stages of diabetes and even those with sciatica. During the study, researchers focused on the most common type of nerve pain ? radicular pain. This nerve center stems from the spine into the legs, and can be incredibly hard to cope with.
The study focused on the effects on men who reported radicular pain for 6 months or more. Participants were given either a 15mg THC treatment under the tongue or placebo oil. Those with the THC treatment reported a dramatic decrease in pain. Brain scans showed that THC altered the emotional response to the pain, making it seem less intense and more bearable. Researchers from this study claimed, “Larger studies are needed to confirm our findings,” so it will be interesting to see what other develops come in the future.
It’s a well-known fact that the legal classification of cannabis prevents more research from being done on the plant. However, in June 2018 cannabis research got a little farther ahead when the FDA announced a new drug, Epidiolex, which is based on the CBD compound. In order for this epilepsy drug to be prescribed to patients, the DEA would have to reclassify CBDs making it federally legal. The DEA is supposed to do so sometime before September 24th, 2018.
Reclassifying CBDs would open up a whole new world for cannabis research, and some believe legalizing it federally would lead to an upswing in biotech startups that produce cannabinoid through genetic engineering. While GMO cannabis doesn’t sound too appealing at first glance, generically engineering the compound would allow the product to be cheaper and purer because no chemical extraction methods would be required. According to an article from the International Journal of Science, CBD engineering just might be the next biochemical “gold rush.”
Colorado and Washington were the first two states in the U.S. to legalize retail sales of cannabis in 2012, and many marijuana advocates have been eager to see the impact of that policy. In July 2018, Washington State University published a study showing how marijuana legalization impacted policing in Washington and Colorado. The study showed that marijuana legalization was not a burden to police effectiveness ? on the contrary, it actually reduced the numbers of certain crimes like burglary, car theft, and violent crimes.
Research for the study was taken from the FBI’s monthly analysis for crime in the states between 2010-2015. Studies like this are helpful for communities considering the legalization of cannabis as they show how legalizing a substance that has long been illegal can impact the quality of life for citizens. Another obvious benefit that the study showed was a dramatic decrease in marijuana possession crimes, which saved the police departments’ resources and allowed them to focus on other crimes.