Once upon a time, marijuana was the big enemy of the people. The title of the 1936 film Reefer Madness was still being used as a shorthand for wild drug abuse during the 1980s-era “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign.
Any substance that was even tangentially linked to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) suffered the same fate: including all strains of hemp. Hemp plants have been used since ancient times for relief—without cognitive impairment—from everything from inflammation and pain to neuralgia and depression.
Meanwhile, a perfectly legal, wildly lucrative, legitimate crisis was brewing as people in physical and psychological pain turned to their doctors for solutions.
Crisis one: opioid addiction
In 2016, more than two million Americans were reported to suffer from addiction to opioid-based pain relief medication. Deaths increased 72 percent from 2014-2015 alone, and since 2000, over 300,000 deaths have been directly related to opioid overdoses. In 2017 alone, an average of 130 Americans died this way every day. These numbers can’t really be much of a surprise: from 2000 to 2010, opioid prescriptions in the U.S. increased 104 percent. The drugs are effective, but the potential side effects are sobering.
Crisis two: benzodiazepine addiction
Let’s talk about an incredibly important but often under-reported factor in discussions around the opioid problem: the role of mental health and benzodiazepines (more commonly known as “benzos”) in the crisis.
Benzodiazepines—including diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin) and others—are prescription sedatives used to treat psychological problems. They work to calm or sedate the user by raising the brain’s GABA neurotransmitter levels.
Just as opioid prescriptions shot up this century, so too have benzo prescriptions. From 1996 to 2013, the number rose 67 percent—and the drug dosage per pill tripled as well.
A perfect storm: the connection between opioids and benzodiazepines
The fact that both opioids and benzos are addictive is widely known and accepted by virtually every reputable expert. Less known, though, is how often people with psychological disorders are first prescribed and then become addicted to both. In 2017, the “Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine” released some striking facts: An estimated 16 percent of Americans (38.6 million people) have a mental health disorder, and 18.7 percent of them use prescription opioids.
Adults with psychological conditions account for 51.4 percent of the total number of opioids prescribed in the U.S. every year, including all benzo prescriptions. Studies have shown that people with mental health issues are also nearly twice as likely to stay on them in the long run.
Let’s boil this down
Many mental health issues are acknowledged to cause people physical and psychological pain. People suffering from mental health disorders are often prescribed virtual boatloads of highly addictive drugs to deal with both types. Even taken separately, both classes of drugs come plastered with warnings about everything from cognitive impairment to long-term addiction. If taken together—as they often are—the two combined can be absolutely lethal.
The other “O” word
As of March 2018, more than 30 percent of opioid overdoses also involved benzodiazepines, because both types of drugs are designed to sedate their users and suppress their breathing. Both also—by design—impair cognitive function; in layman’s terms, the user’s nervous system simply can’t cope with the signals the drugs’ chemicals are sending it. And, because cognitive functioning is at this point dangerously impaired, symptoms such as difficulty breathing often go unrecognized.
CBD therapy and CBD medical treatment
With all this knowledge, it only makes sense that many people are eager to find a less addictive remedy for psychological problems. Now that CBD is legal in all 50 states, more and more research and many animal studies suggest that what people have assumed for thousands of years is true. What’s that? CBD offers real relief to people suffering from debilitating mental and physical issues (including chronic pain) without causing cognitive impairment, and with virtually no side effects.
CBD therapy for GABA transmitter-related conditions
Benzodiazepines affect the endocannabinoid system (ECS), by interacting with the ECS’s GABA transmitters, making them useful for people with psychological and mood disorders including:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Panic Disorder (including panic attacks)
- Sleep disorders like insomnia
But guess what? CBD can also help with all of these issues. CBD works within the ECS like the body’s natural endocannabinoids (our body’s homeostasis regulators). But the FAAH enzymes that break down endocannabinoids very quickly are drastically slowed by plant-based cannabidiols, which gives them a chance to return our bodies to homeostasis.
The science behind GABA-related CBD therapy
Recently, Australian scientists reported that CBD is a “positive allosteric modulator of the GABA-A receptor.” There’s a lot of science behind this, but essentially it means that CBD changes the shape of the GABA-A receptor, increasing its calming effects—just like benzos.
CBD therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Twenty-five million Americans have been affected by PTSD. Although scientists still can’t identify why some people get it and others don’t, some common causes include:
- Combat exposure
- Childhood physical abuse
- Sexual violence
- Physical assault
- Being threatened with a weapon
- Experiencing an accident
Some common increased-risk factors include:
- Mental-health problems, such as anxiety or depression
- Problems with substance misuse, such as excessive drinking or drug use
- Lacking a good support system of family and friends
- Blood relatives with mental health problems, including anxiety or depression
The science behind CBD therapy and PTSD treatment
Together, the causes and risk factors above create a sound recipe for a likelihood of PTSD. But now, research suggests that CBD products can help, because they disrupt the fear response in the hippocampus.
CBD medical treatment for schizophrenia and psychosis—looking forward
There is still work to be done in proving CBD’s full use as a weapon against schizophrenia and psychosis. However, we do know that CBD has both anti-inflammatory and antipsychotic effects without the psychoactive effects of THC. Further, new research including a comprehensive review of 27 years’ worth of articles now states that cannabidiol “improves cognition in multiple preclinical models of cognitive impairment,” including schizophrenia.
Psychology Today reported on this issue as well: In 2012, a double-blind clinical trial on treatment for psychosis found that its subjects responded equally well to traditional antipsychotic medications and CBD oil.
Therapeutic properties of CBD: a future hope
Mental health treatment and respect for its sufferers have come a long way. And the studies indicating that widely available and now-legal CBD might be able to help offer a lot of hope. We’re happy and honored to be a small part of this juncture in history. CBD For Life provides the best in health and beauty products. Still have questions? Reach out online, or leave a comment below!