GREATER SPRINGFIELD – There’s no question that CBD oil has become the new darling of alternative medicine. Shops offering a plethora of CBD oil and oil-based products have sprung up everywhere from local street corners to shopping malls, and even major drugstore chains such as CVS and Walgreens have begun stocking CBD-based “creams, sprays, roll-ons, lotions and salves” in parts of the country, according to a March 29 article in USA Today.
But should this popularity be tempered with any precautions? Do CBD users need to be concerned about interactions with prescription medicines, or the results of mandatory drug testing for employment? Reminder Publishing reached out to local cannabis consultant and author of “Cannabis Consulting” Ezra Parzbok of Northampton, for a better understanding of how CBD oil works, and what users need to be aware of.
Popular – for a reason
“Certainly people are thinking about using CBD oil for a variety of ailments,” Parzbok said, noting its current use to treat a variety of inflammation-based conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, hives, irritable bowl syndrome and arthritis, and neurological conditions ranging from anxiety and muscle cramps to fibromyalgia and neuropathy. He added CBD oil has even proven effective for treating pain such as migraines and menstrual cramps.
“How can one thing have an effect on so many conditions?” said Parzbok. Because, he noted, the oil has a direct effect on the endocannabinoid system of the body.
According to a scholarly article in the medical library of the National Institutes of Health, the recently discovered endocannabinoid system “is involved in a host of homeostatic and physiologic functions, including modulation of pain and inflammation.”
The article goes on to describe the endocannabinoid system as “an ancient lipid signaling network which in mammals modulates neuronal functions, inflammatory processes, and is involved in the etiology of certain human lifestyle diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, atherosclerosis and osteoarthritis” and that “the system is able to downregulate stress-related signals that lead to chronic inflammation and certain types of pain.” (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3820295/)
Parzbok explained scientists have been researching the properties of the endocannabinod system since the 1990s, but because it is “attached to a plant with a huge amount of cultural resistance,” learning how it regulates conditions in the body has been slow.
Is it for you?
Parzbok said individuals considering using CBD oil for a health condition should do some research first. He said the best way to locate reliable information is to go to your Internet browser and “type in CBD and your ailment.” That approach, he said, will bring you to scholarly articles on the use of CBD oil to treat your condition “and cut through al the websites not giving scholarly information on CBD oil and actual illnesses.
“Go right to the National Institutes of Health or the British College of Pharmacy, don’t read an article in the New York Times that is going to reference a study and the science is going to get lost in translation,” Parzbok said.
If you do choose to try CBD oil to address a health concern, Parzbok said it is important to inform you medical practitioners so they can monitor any interactions with prescription medicines and their dosing.
“CBD oil effects the enzymes that can metabolize pharmaceuticals,” Parzbok said. Though most interactions are minimal, Parzbok said CBD could speed up the metabolization of some drugs – which means there is less in your system during the dosing period – or slow it down – which means there would be more drug in your system. Calling himself a “data guy,” he cited a study in which a patient taking high dose of CBD oil – 1,800 milligrams – needed the dosing instructions for the blood thinner Warfarin reduced by 30 percent. “That was the equivalent of taking an entire bottle of CBD oil a day,” Parzbok said of the oil dose, adding that even at that high a dose, the interaction was not life threatening. Even in situations were patients have used CBD oil in conjunction with opiates, he said the result was a reduction in a patient’s need for the opiates prescribed, not an increased toxicity of the opiate.
“The upside [of CBD oil use] is that there is a potential for a patient to reduce the amount of drugs they are taking that are harmful,” Parzbok said. “Prescription drugs serve an important use, but there are doses that are fatal. If you can work with a practitioner or expert [in CBD] to effectively manage your symptoms, you can reduce the amount of medicines you need.”
As most doctors and specialists have access to the Internet in their offices, Parzbok said your health practitioner should be able to research any interactions and adjust your dosing. But the patient also needs to bring up any concerns or symptoms, Parzbok noted. “Though you are working with a health practitioner, you are engaged in the process of keeping yourself healthy and well,” he said.
Parzbok said those looking to use CBD oil should be aware that there are two types – whole plant and isolate. Whole plant, he said, is the “full-spectrum CBD with all the plant’s natural oils including trace amounts of THC” which is the psychoactive chemical in marijuana.
“Whole plant [CBD] will show up on a drug test. It’s comparable to the poppy seeds on a poppy seed bagel, which show up because they are from the poppy [or opium] plant,” Parzbok said. Individuals who are required to take and pass a drug test, such as truck and other Class One licensed drivers and those working for Federal offices should avoid the whole plant oils and only use the isolate.
The issue here, he said, is that in some cases individuals may need to take larger doses of the isolated form of CBD oil to find relief for their ailment, and that may pose more of a potential for interaction with any prescription medicines the individual takes. Still he said CBD – “or cannabidiol in general, requires enormous doses to have any harmful effect.”
Jonathan Evans, business manager for The Herbarium, located at 264 Exchange St., Chicopee, said individuals interested in trying CBD oil should also be aware of what they are buying. The oils available at the corner store may not have the efficacy of something purchased from a knowledgeable alternative medicine supplier.
“The biggest thing I’ve seen is that [the retailer] has to be able to supply certificates of analysis, they have to show you what’s in the bottle, and the labeling has to make sense,” Evans told Reminder Publishing.
He said the state’s current rulings regarding CBD oil products are “muddy at best” resulting in a lot of grey area surrounding the contents – and purity – of products for sale. Some products, he said, could say they contain hemp oil, but that wording doesn’t indicate what strength or quality.
”The bottle may say ‘full spectrum hemp extract’ – that gives you some indication it does contain CBD,” Evans said, adding that if it is full spectrum, buyers should expect the product contains not just CBD oil, but also trace amounts of other cannabinoids, possibly including THC.
For individuals interested in learning more about CBD and its medicinal implications, Evans said the American Cannabis Nurses Association has a listing of books about the subject under the Resources tab on their website, cannabisnurses.org.