Judging by empirical and anecdotal evidence, the benefits of CBD are seemingly endless. And now there seems to be yet another use for cannabidiol: an effective treatment of those addicted to heroin.
A new study by the Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai found that when patients with heroin addiction were given CBD, not only did they benefit from its well-known anxiety-reducing effects, but their cravings were reduced as well.
Scientists hope that the study can help contribute to the ongoing fight to curb the widespread abuse of the drug. Opioid-related causes have claimed roughly 400,000 lives since 2000 in a public health crisis that’s chalked up nearly as many deaths as the number of U.S. troops who died in the Second World War.
Yasmin Hurd, the lead researcher of the study, told CNN:
“The intense craving is what drives the drug use. If we can have the medications that can dampen that [craving], that can greatly reduce the chance of relapse and overdose risk.”
For the study, Hurd and her team recruited 42 adults with an average of 13 years of heroin use who weren’t using the available medications for opioid addiction, such as methadone or buprenorphine. The participants were drawn from social service groups, treatment and rehabilitation centers, and halfway houses.
Participants were divided into three groups, with one group receiving 400 miligram doses of CBD, another group receiving 800 milligrams of CBD, and the third group receiving a placebo. Participants were dosed for three consecutive days and were followed for two weeks.
In the span of those two weeks, researchers tested the subjects by showing them images of drug use and heroin-related paraphernalia, after which they asked the subjects to rate their craving for the drug and their levels of anxiety.
A week following their last dosage during the study, those who were administered the CBD had a stunning two- to three-fold reduction in cravings versus the placebo group, with the two CBD groups showing roughly the same levels of reduced anxiety or cravings.
The researchers found that the CBD groups’ cortisol—or stress—levels and heart rates were significantly reduced, as well.
For their study, the scientists used Epidiolex, the first cannabis-based medication to be approved by the FDA. Hurd credits the medication for showing its precise ingredients and the exact concentration of CBD, unlike many CBD products on the market.
“We are developing a medicine. We are not developing a recreational cannabis.”
CBD oil is a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid found in hemp and cannabis plants that is not only safe and non-addictive, but has also shown a remarkable ability in a range of studies to aid users in treating anxiety-related disorders such as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social phobia, mild to moderate depression, generalized anxiety disorder and mild to moderate depression.
In addition to its use as a remedy for mental health disorders, CBD has also been shown to treat a range of physical problems including arthritis, chronic pain, and aching muscles. It is also being used with increased frequency to relieve the pain associated with cancer and cancer treatment, as well as in the direct treatment of cancer itself.
Dr. Julie Holland, a New York-based psychiatrist who was not involved in the study, explained:
“This is an extremely significant paper. We need to utilize every possible treatment in helping people with chronic pain to find other ways to manage their symptoms and in people with opiate addiction to find relief.
CBD not only manages the anxiety and cue/craving cycle, it also diminishes the original pain and inflammation that leads to opiate use in the first place.”
And while questions still remain about the logistics of how CBD can be effectively used to treat opioid addiction, the study is extremely promising insofar as it further lays out CBD’s potential as a non-addictive, non-intoxicating and truly life-saving medication.
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