A form of medicinal cannabis, CBD is gaining ground for its purported calming effects. It has also infiltrated the fitness industry, thanks to claims that its anti-inflammatory properties can aid post-workout recovery, relieve aches and pains, and improve blood circulation. And the hype is real, with everything from sportswear and pillow cases to CBD-infused chips and nail polish.
now in the overseas wellness market.
As for science, studies are back on CBD
as effective, although rather than seeking
at the wellness level, they tend to focus on specific conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, PTSD, epilepsy, insomnia, and arthritis. Regardless, it’s a big deal. Valued at $ 3.7 billion in 2020, the global CBD market is expected to experience year on year growth of more than 21% until 2028.
In small doses of CBD
So what are we talking about here? Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a natural compound found in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, CBD does not have psychoactive effects. In other words, it doesn’t get you high.
Both cannabinoids have been available in Australia since medicinal cannabis was legalized by the federal government in 2016, but only by prescription. That’s until February 1 of this year, when CBD was rolled back from Schedule 4 (prescription drugs) to Schedule 3 (drugs only for pharmacists) by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
Now, it’s legal to buy low-dose (150 mg or less) CBD products over the counter. But you can stick a pin in all the maps to get to your local pharmacy. Although CBD is legal, it is not actually available. How to come? There are currently no products approved for sale by the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). Oh.
“The way it’s set up is that the companies that supply these products have to do clinical trials to prove that their CBD is effective at this dose range. [of 150mg]Says Professor Iain McGregor, Academic Director of the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapy at the University of Sydney. “At this time, there is very little evidence that CBD at 150 mg or less is useful.”
Certainly, clinical trials have shown CBD to be effective for a variety of conditions, but never at this specific dose. Some examples: the results of a landmark trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2017 showed that CBD indisputably reduces childhood epileptic seizures; while a 2015 New York University School of Medicine study found that CBD helps reduce anxiety behaviors related to multiple disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder and PTSD.
46: Percentage of Australians who consume medical cannabis while accessing it illegally
SOURCE: Cannabis as a Medicine Survey 2018
Yet many studies and organizations, including the Australian Medical Association, have called for more advanced research, which is exactly what is happening with the Lambert Initiative. Established in 2015, this program aims to discover, develop and optimize safe and effective cannabinoid therapies. Since there are over 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, the potential is enormous. “It could well be that other parts of the plant that have yet to be discovered are magic bullets for pancreatic cancer or brain tumors or more severe forms of pain. [for example]”says McGregor, adding that” we owe it to ourselves to properly unleash the potential of the plant. “
Go through the book
Currently, CBD and THC are the two legal pharmaceutical grade cannabinoids in Australia. These are available in three classes: CBD isolate (does not contain any other cannabinoids); Broad spectrum CBD (contains small amounts of other cannabinoids, but no THC); and full spectrum CBD (contains small amounts of other cannabinoids, including THC). They come in a variety of forms (think: oils, gels, gummies) with over 200 products available here today.
Right now, these are accessible via script through specialist clinics or a virtual consultation with CDA Express, Australia’s only CBD delivery service. Dr Ben Jansen, one of the country’s leading advocates for medical cannabis, says that while CBD has life-changing potential, it certainly shouldn’t be treated as a panacea.
69: About this percentage of medical cannabis prescriptions in ounces are for chronic pain issues.
Source: Dr. Mark Hardy, Medical Director of CA Clinics
“If you are going to use a drug, and that includes any medicinal product made with cannabis, you have to think of yourself holistically and consider it as a possible therapy among all the other possible therapies,” he explains. “Weigh the risks and the benefits… [and] have a good discussion with your doctor.
As the founder and clinical director of CDA Health, the holding company of CDA Express among others, Jansen says he has been aware of a change in attitude towards medicinal cannabis in this country. “The barriers are falling and we can see that the adoption has been generally positive,” he says. “We expect up to 1.2 million Australians will benefit from cannabis therapy of some description over the next two years.”
The path to the drug market is rarely quick, with more optimistic estimates putting CBD on the shelves next year. But concrete science is essential when it comes to the safety and effectiveness of pharmaceuticals – and, as Jansen puts it, for “happy and healthy Australians”. And that absolutely gets the green light from us.