A new study published this month in the journal Postgraduate Medicine found that patients with chronic pain who used hemp-derived cannabidiol—otherwise known as CBD—daily for eight weeks reduced the frequency they needed opioid medications.
More and more, CBD is being hailed as a non-addictive solution to prescription opioids for chronic pain management because cannabinoids offer pain relief and reduce cravings for opioids, according to this study and past research.
This most recent study recruited around 100 pain clinic patients who were regularly taking opioid medications to manage their symptoms. Of the total 94 participants who took CBD regularly, 50 reported they were able to reduce opioid medications at week 8. In total, 89 participants reported their quality of life had improved during the study. They reported two significant changes: improved sleep quality and reduced pain intensity and interference.
“The results of this study suggest that using CBD-rich hemp extract oil may help reduce opioid use and improve quality of life, specifically in regards to pain and sleep, among chronic pain patients,” the study reports. “This is consistent with emerging literature on the topic, which has concluded that CBD is an effective analgesic, and one that helps reduce barriers to opioid reduction, such as physiological withdrawal symptoms.”
The study’s authors went on to note the significance of their findings: “This is a prospective, single-arm cohort study for the potential role of cannabinoids as an alternative for opioids. The results indicate that using the CBD-rich extract enabled our patients to reduce or eliminate opioids with significant improvement in their quality of life indices.”
A larger study, conducted in May and published in the American Journal of Psychiatric Medicine, came to similar conclusions about CBD’s role in potentially reducing opioid dependence. The study was one of the first double-blind controlled trials, the gold standard for drug research, to show the benefits of using CBD (outside of research on CBD for epilepsy treatment, which has been well-documented). Researchers can now say with greater confidence that CBD may offer a viable answer to the opioid epidemic.
It’s no wonder—CBD is getting more and more public recognition as a powerful aid in the fight against chronic pain. In early November, soccer powerhouse and member of the US Women’s National Team, Megan Rapinoe, spoke publicly about her use of CBD for pain management. As more prominent athletes, doctors, and public figures share their positive experiences, CBD continues to gain traction.
Although hemp became legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, the Food and Drug Administration has yet to issue official rules on CBD’s use in food and dietary supplements. The body has blown past its own deadlines for issuing such guidelines and has yet to give any firm commitment on when they will be released, despite pressure from advocates.
In the meantime, research continues to show promising results. Doubtless, CBD’s potential as a viable alternative to devastating opioids give it a bright future.
Christina Rock is a Seattle based writer and photographer.