2020 has been a big year for cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating extract of the hemp plant. Sales of the supplement may reach up to $2.1 billion this year, according to a study by industry analysts Hemp Business Journal, and anecdotal reports claim that CBD is helpful for all kinds of conditions.
For decades, properly researching the therapeutic potential of the hemp plant was considered taboo and seen as a sort of “hippie pseudoscience.” Now the stigma has lifted and respectable mainstream scientists are rushing to make up for lost time and research exactly what CBD is most effective for. Here are just a couple of the most recently clinical trial outcomes that have been published in the National Library of Medicine at the time of this writing in 2020 (and late 2019):
1. Peripheral Neuropathy
Scientists at the Scripps Mercy Hospital and University of Missouri School of Medicine conducted a clinical trial of 29 patients with symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. 15 patients were randomized to the CBD group and given a topical CBD oil product. The scientists found that there was “a statistically significant reduction in intense pain, sharp pain, cold and itchy sensations” and did not get any reported adverse effects.
2. Infant Epilepsy
A very small study published in the European Journal of Pediatric Neurology studied three infants with Epilepsy of Infancy with Migrating Focal Seizures (EIMFS) who were given pharmaceutical grade CBD. Two of the infants showed no benefit and quit the study. One infant got no benefit in reduction of seizure frequency experienced less seizure intensity.
Also read: How to Use CBD Oil to Relieve Pain
3. Absorption & Anti-inflammatory Effects of “Water Soluble” CBD
A 2020 study by scientists from Colorado State University focused on 10 healthy adults and measured their response to water-soluble vs. fat soluble CBD powders. They found that water-soluble CBD was approximately 4.5x more bioavailable … and that exposure in to CBD in general may decrease markers of inflammation.
4. CBD May Help Alleviate Drug Cravings
A November 2019 study published in the Journal of American Psychiatry measured the effect that CBD had on heron addicts’ cravings for the drug when shown a supply of narcotics (visual ‘drug cues’). Opiate addicted patients who took CBD has “significantly reduced … craving and anxiety” when exposed to drug cues compared to those who took placebo. According to Dr. Bomi Joseph, a proponent of using hops CBD rather than sources derived from hemp, this study suggests that CBD should be further studied as a potential treatment option for opiate addiction.
Also see: How CBD Calms Anxiety
5. CBD’s Synergistic Effects with Anti-Epileptic Drugs
Prescription CBD, called Epidiolex, is currently of great interest to mainstream medicine because it is the first ever natural, botanical drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of epilepsy. It has shown to be highly effective for treating Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndrome epilepsy. Researches needed to test how CBD and its major metabolites interreacted with 3 major synthetic epilepsy drugs clobazam, stiripentol, and valproate. In 2020, Scientists from Greenwich Biosciences, the maker of Epidiolex, ran some clinical trials on humans and found that CBD taken along with these epileptic drugs caused slight changes in how bioactive the drugs were and in exposure to their metabolites. It concluded that CBD was ‘moderately well tolerated,’ at least as well as the other drugs, and there were no deaths or other serious adverse events.
6. CBD’s Potency When Combined with Food, Milk & Alcohol
CBD is a fat-soluble & alcohol cannabinoid: it mixes well into oil or alcohol but doesn’t dissolve into water. In 2020 scientists at Greenwich Biosciences, the maker of Epidiolex prescription CBD, examined the effect of large (750mg) doses of CBD to 4 different groups of healthy adults who took CBD alongside different foods and drinks. Those who took CBD on an empty stomach were the baseline of this experiment. CBD taken with alcohol had higher-than-baseline absorption. CBD taken with whole milk or low-calorie meals had moderate absorption, and CBD taken with a high-fat/calorie meal had up top 5 times higher absorption than the baseline. This study suggests that patients who want higher absorption of CBD may wish to take it with high calorie meals and those who are sensitive to its effect may want to try it on an empty stomach.
While 2020 has come up with a few smaller clinical trials that established what CBD could be further investigated for and a couple of larger trials on CBD absorption and coadministration with epilepsy drugs – the best is yet to come with CBD clinical trials. There are currently trials taking place on autism, COVID-19, prostate cancer, bipolar depression and PTSD that are currently underway. Stay tuned for exciting new findings of what CBD may be effective for… the scientific journey to discover the full potential of plant cannabinoids is just getting started!
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- Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2020 Mar;25:77-81.
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- Clin Pharmacol Drug Dev. 2019 Nov;8(8):1009-1031.
- Epilepsia. 2020 Feb;61(2):267-277.