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Why CBD is taking so long to formally become a medicine

CBD has made an indelible splash on the international market, with millions of eager fans drinking it in lattes, vaping it, rubbing it on their skin, or taking CBD oil. As much as people used to trade their marijuana joints in secret in the past, CBD is now in the open and everywhere.

People are using it to treat a range of conditions, for which there is no clinical proof; they are doing CBD oil Canada because others have done it before them and have seen positive results. We find ourselves in a very unusual situation where farmers are growing cannabis, manufacturers are creating CBD products, and retailers are selling them, all without a solid scientific basis for doing so. All the while, the medical profession is left in no man’s land with research trials that show undeniable promise of CBD’s powers, yet no solid proof in actual human subjects.

Ongoing studies

Partly because of positive results from research studies in the early 1970s before CBD was declared a Schedule I drug and couldn’t be studied, and partly because of overwhelming positive anecdotal evidence of CBD’s ability to alleviate the symptoms in a wide range of conditions, scientists are scrambling to get high-quality clinical evidence once and for all.

There are dozens of clinical trials going on all over the worldinvestigating CBD for conditions ranging from multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, and Crohn’s disease to Parkinson’s disease, osteoarthritis, alcohol disorder, and anorexia nervosa, to mention a few.

CBD could possibly treat a wide range of conditions due to its interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is involvedin the regulation of pain, mood, metabolism, reproduction, appetite, the immune system and more. It is present throughout the nervous system, the brain, and other parts of the body, including the heart, liver and immune tissues. The CBD cannabinoid receptors interact with the endocannabinoid receptors of the ECS to bring about itstherapeutic effects.

Research limitations

One of the reasons for the dearth of clinical information on CBD is the federal classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, which brings with it restrictive policies and regulations on research into cannabis and its possible effects on health conditions. Research on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids has been limited in the United States, involving restrictions on access to cannabis products, funding limitations, and long, complicated application processes. Researchers apply for approvals from a number of federal, state, or local agencies, institutions, and organizations. Not for the faint-hearted. In addition, the authorities control access to Schedule 1 substances very strictly.

This is probably a key reason for the current dearth of clinical research on CBD and cannabinoids.

Canada is not much better off. There, hundreds of scientists have signed a letter to the authorities to demand changes in how clinical trials are regulated.

Things are looking up, though. In July 2020, the FDA issued a new draft document aimed at encouraging cannabis-related clinical research, so hopefully, we’ll soon see more research in due time.

Many doctors report that they have patients who come to them with CBD oil asking how much they should take. Doctors can’t give their patients any guidance because they don’t have any information about dosages. Usually, doctors can use a formula to work out how much of a medication to prescribe for a specific patient. But there are no such formulas for CBD or other cannabinoids.

Other dosing problems

Cannabis is a highly complex plant. According to Prof DediMeiri, the head of the world’s leading cannabis labat the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, there are hundreds of strains of cannabis and all of them contain different combinations of cannabinoids. So actually, every time you create a different medicine, he told a Tel Aviv TedX audience. He said that scientists don’t yet know what the active compounds in cannabis are that affect patients.

In addition, CBD behaves differently depending on which receptors it binds with and the dose determines where it will bind. Also, different at different concentrations, the cannabinoid behaves completely differently. In a 2017 study, 300 mg of CBD was more effective at reducing anxiety than 900 mg.

A lot more research will have to be done before scientists will be able to advise the medical profession on CBD dosages.

The problem with current CBD products

CBD oils and other CBD products are not standardized. So there is no way for doctors to know the nature of the products their patients bring to them.

CBD oil products either don’t contain the same amount as stated on the bottle, or they contain no CBD at all.

Karger reports on a study in the Netherlands that looked at 46 different cannabis oil samples for their cannabinoid content. Almost half of the products (21 of them) were labeled, so the researchers were able to compare the information on the labels with the actual contents in the bottles. The contents of many of the bottles differed from the information on the labels, and seven had no CBD or THC.

The investigators also discovered that more than one sample contained high levels of non-decarboxylated cannabinoids; in other words, they contained the acid form of CBD and THC, not the actual cannabinoids.Decarboxylation is the process of heating cannabis to activate the cannabinoids in the dried flowers and leaves of cannabis plants.

It’s true that tests by independent labs can verify the purity of the CBD product. Still, the Karger article points out that the industry has not agreed on a specific best practice analytical method. Neither is there some form of certification that applies to labs to prove that they are qualified to do botanical analysis. So, it’s possible to get different results from two labs done on the same specimen.

Final thoughts

As you can see, the cannabis plant may have a lot to offer humanity, but we still need to figure out many issues before CBD products will become a regular medicine. Authorities must take an active role in moving the research forward, so proper clinical trials can go ahead in earnest. To ensure that product labels are accurate and that products don’t contain any harmful contaminants, oversight may need to be established for independent labs.

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