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Can I use CBD for arthritis? Good question!

Welcome to Facts on Fridays where Dr. Koren discusses a prevailing topic in the Hemp Cannabis world.  She will focus on current research and topics found in the news.  You can always “Ask the Doctor” a question, too.  Submit your questions, comments, or suggestions to Dr. Koren and she will include your question in her Facts on Fridays, or she will answer you directly!

Can I use CBD for osteoarthritis? That’s a loaded question!

Cannabidiol (CBD): one of the natural cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa

Or, you could ask the question……Why does Natural Kore include this statement: “Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease”?

There are quite a few rules and regulations associated with cannabidiol, commonly abbreviated as CBD, and hemp regarding what we can claim and how we can formulate our products.  Much of these regulations focus on what businesses can or cannot say regarding the benefits of CBD in the products. This is because Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved one drug that contains CBD (from Cannabis) and this drug has gone through effective clinical trials.  Epidiolex is purified* CBD and has been approved by the FDA to treat three specific seizures: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), Dravet syndrome, or tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC).  It’s not approved for other seizures like epilepsy because the clinical trials narrowly focused on just the three syndromes.  Three other synthetic cannabinoids^ have been approved by the FDA: Marinol, Syndros, and Cesamet.  These drugs have been approved for chemotherapy-associated nausea and vomiting. Marinol and Syndros have also been approved for weight-loss treatment in AIDS patients. Other drugs, like Sativex, have been approved in other countries, but not in the United States.

Because the FDA hasn’t approved CBD for osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, general aches and pains, or all the other possible ailments mentioned in advertisements promoting the benefits of CBD, a company can’t claim or advertise that the product will help with any ailment except the three specific seizure disorders.  In addition, because this FDA-approved drug is purified* CBD, typical over-the-counter CBD products, including Natural Kore Laboratories’ products, are usually made with full-spectrum or broad-spectrum hemp extracts which contains all terpenes and cannabinoids (and other plant molecules), not solely CBD.  Thus, the FDA would probably frown upon a business claiming their full-spectrum product can help with the three seizure syndromes because the product is not the same as the single-component (CBD) FDA approved drug.

A second topic is related to edibles.  To be a component of food (or a supplement/additive) the component must be approved by the FDA as a food additive, a supplement, or a nutrient.  Cannabis extracts have not been given that designation, primarily because there hasn’t been sufficient research to determine the safety of the plant extract.  You probably have seen CBD gummies, CBD chocolate, CBD tinctures for oral administration, and many more edible Cannabis products on the Web and even in stores.  Does this mean that they are safe? Based on anecdotal evidence, people have been consuming cannabis products for…. a really long time.  Thus, anecdotally, they appear to be safe but this information only puts it in context. You would need to conduct a series of studies that address the safety as a food additive. Thus, the only way to answer this question and address this issue, is to do the research. You must do the research. 

The good news is, that since the 2018 USDA Farm Bill which formally legalized hemp (defined as Cannabis sativa plants that have less than 0.3% THC, THC and THCA combined, based on the dry weight of the plant) many scientific studies have been proposed, completed, or are in progress.  What types of studies exist?  Currently there are 35 proposed studies (not yet recruiting), 92 CBD clinical trials that are active (they could still be enrolling or recruiting participants), and 15 that are terminated (for various reasons like lack of funding or participants).  In addition, there are 90 studies that have been completed and most are pending results (see references to trials below). Many of the studies address your questions.  For example, there are clinical trials in the works addressing insomnia, autism spectrum disorders, osteoarthritis, PTSD, endometriosis pain, chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy, anxiety, and general pain. 

There are even more research studies that are not “clinical trials”. These research studies are found in the scientific literature and are reviewed (before being published) by other scientists in the same research discipline. We call this “peer-reviewed” research.

Thus, after decades of stalled research, the research into the biological efficacy of CBD and other cannabinoids is now escalating and we will have the answers we need in the near future. As this research presents itself in the literature (the peer-reviewed studies and completed clinical trials), I will summarize these results, including the successes, ambiguities, and clear failures. 

My next blog will summarize what we know about CBD and its efficacy in treating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  Stay tuned, stay educated!

*Purified CBD means that out of all the plant molecules, CBD is the only chemical compound found on its own in the Epidiolex pharmaceutical.  Full spectrum CBD products include other molecules in plants like leaf components that make the plant green, terpenes that provide the scent of the plant (like the lavender scent, rose scent, or even the scent of hops), beneficial molecules like vitamins and anti-microbials, and anti-inflammatory compounds like the CBD and other cannabinoids.  Many consider that there is an overall beneficial combination of all the plant compounds (for example, the terpenes and the cannabinoids), rather than just a single component (like CBD alone) isolated from the mixture of plant metabolites.  This is called the entourage effect. 

^For more information on the general category of Cannabis compounds called Cannabinoids follow this link!

To review the details of current FDA clinical trials use this external link.

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