Cannabidiol (CBD) has been gaining popularity since the recreational legalization of cannabis in Canada as it may help provide relief from a wide range of symptoms, without the mind-altering effects cannabis is known for. With consumption options ranging from oils to carbonated beverages, it’s worth looking into this emerging health trend and why it has become popular among adults as an alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals.
CBD: What is the hype about?
CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant and is used in various products such as oil, softgels, topicals, and even transdermal patches. Individuals may choose to explore CBD to relieve symptoms of pain, inflammation, mental health disorders, cancer, and more. Since most CBD dominant products contain very low to no THC (the psychoactive cannabinoid that causes the “high” feeling cannabis is known for), many are exploring this option to replace certain pharmaceutical drugs where potential addiction and/or negative side effect concerns exist.
In a 2021 Canadian Cannabis Survey conducted by Health Canada, 13% of participants indicated they were consuming cannabis that was higher in CBD (in comparison to THC) which was a 2% increase compared to 2020, while 11% consumed products with an equal ratio of THC and CBD.1 One retrospective study that looked at over 9000 older-adult Canadians using medical cannabis found it was most commonly used for pain (the majority being women), followed by oncological and neurological conditions (the majority being men).7
CBD has gained so much popularity that even TV personalities like Martha Stewart have released their own line of (hemp) CBD products in the U.S. aimed at making wellness an easier choice for consumers. Regardless of the hype surrounding CBD, the potential benefits to one’s health and well-being are worth further exploring.
Your Endocannabinoid System and CBD
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is a network of chemical signals and cellular receptors naturally found throughout our brain and body. Endocannabinoids (which our body produces naturally) are lipids that are a type of fat that interact with the nervous system and latch onto individual endocannabinoid receptor cells to cause changes within the nervous system.
The cannabinoid receptor common in the brain, CB1, acts like a traffic conductor helping to control the level and activity of most neurotransmitters. A second receptor, CB2, which exists in our immune system, helps control its functioning and also plays a role in controlling inflammation of the intestines and pain related to inflammatory bowel conditions.2
Both CB1 and CB2 receptors react to cannabinoids like THC and CBD differently. CB1 helps regulate functions related to mood, hunger, inflammation, and pain and reacts distinctively to THC when consumed. CB2 helps regulate functions related to the immune system, pain, and inflammation and is highly reactive to CBD.
Some individuals may suffer from Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD) where their bodies produce a lower amount of cannabinoids, which experts believe are essential to health and vitality.
What’s the difference between hemp CBD and Cannabis CBD?
Hemp-based CBD products are all the rage these days, widely available anywhere you can buy Vitamin C. There is a difference, however, between hemp CBD products and cannabis-derived CBD products. Both plants have different molecular makeups, and consumers should be aware of these before using any for medical reasons.
Hemp CBD generally contains less than 0.3% THC and 3.5% or less CBD. As per Health Canada, hemp must not contain any more than 0.3% THC for it to actually be considered hemp, anything higher in THC would be considered cannabis Sativa and subject to regulations. Hemp is generally produced industrially for food, clothing, rope, and more from its seeds and stalks. In the U.S. the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regularly sends warning letters to producers of hemp CBD they find falsely advertise the medical benefits and levels of CBD in their products.
Cannabis CBD-dominant products usually contain 1mg/ml of THC or less (much more than hemp CBD – and great for the entourage effect which enhances found medical benefits) while typically having a concentration of 20% CBD. Because of this, these products are regulated by Health Canada and should be purchased from a licensed producer (LP) when being used medically.
CBD and THC
While CBD is a beneficial option on its own, this compound can work more effectively when combined with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis. When CBD and THC are combined as part of a treatment plan, it produces a certain synergy in the body called the ‘’Entourage effect”.
The entourage effect refers to the way cannabinoids interact when taken together. When you combine more than one cannabinoid, like CBD and THC, at a time it will enhance the effect of each making them more effective together than alone.
Despite THC’s reputation for recreational use, patients using a combination of CBD and THC under the guidance and dosing plan of a healthcare practitioner should not find themselves experiencing adverse effects (feeling a “high”). Medical cannabis clinics, like Apollo Cannabis Clinics, use evidence-based treatments and personalized dosing strategies to maximize the benefits of the medication while minimizing risks.
Can CBD help with chronic conditions?
Chronic Pain Relief
Cannabis has been used to treat pain as far back as 2900 B.C. In recent years, scientists have proven that certain compounds of cannabis, like CBD, have pain-relieving effects. A survey published in the National Library of Medicine (NIH) looked at 253 participants of varying ages and found that 59% of participants stated CBD (containing trace amounts of THC) helped relieve their pain. Out of those participants, 67.6% were able to reduce their pain medication and 53.7% found a reduction in opioids.3
“One of my favourite success scenarios is when I was told by a grandparent that they have never felt better around their friends and families and wanted to send their gratitude,” says Arash Taghvai BSc. M.D., Director of Clinical Affairs, Medical Science Liaison at Apollo Cannabis Clinics.
Arthritis is an assortment of conditions that affect joints and other tissues in the body. It can cause mobility restrictions, pain, mental health issues, and reduced quality of life. 1 in 5 Canadians live with arthritis and by 2040, it’s projected to reach 9 million Canadians suffering from arthritis.
A study conducted in 20144, looked at rheumatoid arthritis which is an immune-mediated inflammatory disease of unknown etiology that is characterized by chronic inflammatory infiltration of the synovium, leading to eventual cartilage and bone deterioration. They found that in the tissue of arthritic patients, high levels of CB2 receptors were present. CB2, which exists in our immune system helps control its functioning and also plays a role in controlling inflammation. CB2 is highly reactive to CBD and is why many individuals are finding CBD to be a source of relief for various arthritis conditions. It’s important to speak with a healthcare professional experienced in prescribing medical cannabis and CBD if looking to treat any type of arthritic condition.
Mental health disorders treated with traditional pharmaceutical drugs can cause a number of unwanted side effects including insomnia, agitation, headaches, and fatigue. Some common prescriptions, like benzodiazepines, have potential dependence concerns and can have adverse side effects such as drowsiness. CBD has been a growing trend in treating mental health conditions, however, it’s important to seek guidance from a professional.
Participants from a study conducted in 2019, looking at anxiety and poor sleep, which often go hand in hand, found participants saw a 79.2% increase in their improvement of both anxiety symptoms and sleep with CBD treatment. Participants also saw a decrease in their anxiety scores within the first month while maintaining a decrease for the duration of the study.
CBD product options are endless
Since “legalization 2.0” in Canada in 2019, new product options, and ways to consume or apply medical cannabis, have become increasingly available. Before this expansion, medical cannabis patients only had a few options to consume their CBD, like oils, softgels, and dry flower.
These cannabis-infused products like chocolates, candies, beverages, gummies, sublingual strips, and cookies are convenient and discreet but can be harder to dose than a CBD soft gel, depending on the edible product. CBD-based edible options offer the benefit of effective, long-lasting relief.
Medical cannabis topicals are intended to be applied to your skin and can include creams, lotions, transdermal patches, and even bath bombs. Topicals are a good option for localized relief from pain and inflammation which can be used on their own, or in combination with an ingestible CBD product like CBD oil or soft gels.
With the exception of transdermal patches, which are designed to reach the bloodstream, topicals are typically non-psychoactive for those concerned products containing any amounts of THC.
Where can I buy CBD oil?
CBD can be purchased through a Canadian licensed producer (LP) with a valid prescription for medical cannabis. The medical cannabis industry is fully regulated and subject to regular inspections by Health Canada to ensure its safety, quality and adequately labeled CBD/THC content. Patients benefit from the convenience of ordering their medication through an LP which is delivered to your home or care facility. Ordering medication is as simple as calling the LP directly or ordering online through a patient portal.
Did you know that Health Canada has medical cannabis listed as a claimable medical expense? CBD ordered through an LP can be claimed on your taxes while CBD products purchased recreationally or through other retailers are not considered medication, therefore, you cannot claim it on your taxes. Many insurance companies also now allow Canadians to claim medical cannabis under their reimbursable healthcare spending account (HSA/HCSA). Be sure to check with your health insurance provider first before claiming. You can learn more here.
We hope you were able to gain a better understanding of what CBD oil is, how it can be used to alleviate a number of symptoms for various different conditions, and where to purchase safe and effective CBD products.
A robust frequently asked questions resource is available should you have other questions about CBD or medical cannabis. Medical cannabis specialist appointments are covered by provincial healthcare systems and are a great way to learn more about medical cannabis and have questions answered that are specific to your health needs. Appointments are free of charge and covered by your provincial healthcare system.