Though it may seem counterintuitive, CBD can help lower consumption among those diagnosed with cannabis use disorder.
Cannabis affects everyone differently and can create deleterious effects for some individuals. One recent study indicates 30% of marijuana consumers have some degree of cannabis use disorder.
These disorders are characterized by dependence. When a user experiences withdrawal symptoms when not using cannabis, which can include irritability, sleeping problems, and appetite fluctuations. Some research suggests 9% of marijuana users will become dependent on the plant, while other studies have found 22 million people worldwide struggle to function in their daily lives because of cannabis.
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There is no established treatment for cannabis use disorder, but a new first-of-its-kind study provides answers. In an ironic twist, the non-intoxicating cannabidiol (CBD) can help lower marijuana consumption in dependent users. Previous research has shown this possibility, but this is the first double-blind, placebo-controlled study to explore the concept in a rigorous scientific setting.
Published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, researchers recruited 82 participants motivated to quit marijuana but had struggled on their own in the past. Subjects, all diagnosed with cannabis use disorder, were then given three varying amounts of medical-grade CBD or a placebo in the first stage of the trial. Researchers discovered 200mg of CBD was ineffective and so only administered 400mg and 800mg doses in the second trial.
By the end of the study, researchers reported conclusive evidence that 400mg or 800mg CBD doses outperformed the CBD in helping decrease marijuana use. It’s worth noting that prescription-grade CBD, as used in the study, can be up to 16 times stronger than commercially available CBD.
“The results from our trial open up a novel therapeutic strategy for managing problematic cannabis use in clinical settings,” lead author Dr. Tom Freeman said. “As we highlight, CBD at daily oral doses of 400mg and 800mg has potential to address the substantial and currently unmet clinical need for a pharmacological treatment of cannabis use disorders.”
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There were no reported side effects to using CBD compared to the placebo, researchers noted. Senior author Professor Valerie Curran added that higher doses of prescription-level CBD were unlikely to produce any additional benefit to patients.
“Whilst it may seem counterintuitive to treat problematic cannabis use with CBD—a constituent part of the cannabis plant—THC and CBD have contrasting effects on our own endogenous cannabinoid system,” Freeman said. “Unlike THC, CBD does not produce intoxicating or rewarding effects and it shows potential for a treating several other medical disorders.”