There’s been a lot of conjecture around the potential health benefits of Cannabidiol (CBD), which proponents believe could be used for treatment of a wide array of medical conditions. Until recently, however, research in the U.S. has been limited due to restrictive laws governing the cultivation and study of cannabis and hemp plants. However, the studies that have been conducted are extremely promising.
In the available studies from the U.S. and around the world, CBD has shown strong potential as a therapeutic compound. From anti-tumor properties to anxiety reduction and many possible uses in between, researchers are working every day to grow their understanding of CBD, our bodies’ endocannabinoid systems, and how the two might work together to address common ailments that, until now, have been difficult to treat.
The research so far has convinced medical providers around the world that CBD could be an effective treatment for an array of previously difficult-to-manage conditions. But some healthcare providers are already convinced by the evidence of their own lived experience, seeing the life-altering potential of CBD up close and personal, even firsthand, and they want to mainstream the cannabinoid into the healthcare space as soon as possible. Why is it that they believe CBD will change health and wellness as we know it?
How do New Jersey healthcare professionals view CBD?
CBD is one of more than 100 compounds found in cannabis and hemp plants known as cannabinoids. It is a non-intoxicating compound widely purported to offer myriad health benefits, including possible anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and anti-seizure properties.
“As I’ve expanded my knowledge, I’ve been amazed at the benefits of CBD and low THC,” said Jessie Gill, a registered nurse who runs a medical marijuana and CBD education site, aptly named Marijuana Mommy. Gill said she is particularly excited about CBD’s potential to treat patients with epilepsy as an alternative to anti-seizure medication that often comes with a host of side effects.
“One of my favorite things about CBD is [it appears to be] a powerful anti-inflammatory,” Gill said. “Inflammation is a major issue for every single condition or disease, and CBD [appears to] relieve some of that inflammation in many of these individuals.”
But it’s not just the potential physical benefits that have some healthcare pros interested in CBD. Nicole Greco, a cannabis educator and holistic dental hygienist, is used to seeing patients afraid to see the dentist. She believes CBD could offer some value as an anxiety reduction aid during dental appointments.
“It’s about getting patients comfortable before they come in and reducing their fear,” Greco said.
She added that studies suggesting CBD serves as an antibacterial agent have her thinking about the cannabinoid’s potential to help gingivitis and prevent cavities.
Personal experiences lead to professional interests
Both Gill and Greco have personal experiences with CBD that led them to consider its application in their respective fields. After seeing how well CBD products helped them manage their own health conditions, they dedicated themselves to spreading the word about cannabinoids in their professional life as well.
In 2015, Gill badly injured her spine in an accident that left her disabled and depressed. As a registered nurse, she naturally trusted the conventional healthcare approach, which included medication with opiates, valium and other prescriptions. Gill said she followed that course of treatment for more than a year, ultimately becoming dependent on the medications intended to help here.
“Then somebody suggested cannabis,” she said. “I came in very skeptical and reluctant. I just believed that as a nurse I would already know if CBD had that many potential health benefits.”
But after some convincing from her mother and research of her own, Gill said she was sold. She started using CBD to help her get off the pain medication and get back to work. Today, she credits her ability to function normally to CBD, which motivates her to introduce the cannabinoid to the healthcare system more widely.
Greco said her personal experience comes from her use of CBD to treat her Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, a mental health condition which she has been struggling to manage her whole life.
“I know the therapeutic potential myself because I suffer from OCD,” she said. “CBD quiets my brain and helps me manage my day-to-day.”
But CBD hasn’t just helped her lead a better life, it’s also helped a furry family member. Greco said her dog experienced a series of seizures in 2016 and her veterinarian quickly prescribed Xanax, Prozac and pain medication. Unfortunately, her canine companion’s condition only continued to deteriorate until she was desperate enough to try offering the dog CBD candies.
“I had a medical marijuana card at the time in Michigan, so I started using CBD candies and it worked right away,” Greco said. “The seizures just completely ceased. I only used it for a couple of days and she never had another episode.”
Armed with these powerful personal experiences and a renewed sense of livelihood and freedom, Gill and Greco both felt compelled to educate others on the therapeutic potential of CBD.
CBD in healthcare today
According to Greco and Gill, the current healthcare landscape is largely indifferent to CBD in most corridors, if not downright hostile. According to Greco, misinformation is rampant, further convincing her of the need for education programs such as the CBD workshops she organizes.
“People think that CBD will get them high,” she said. “People need to be educated.”
In traditional medicine, Gill said, the use of CBD is practically non-existent. However, Gill also teaches classes about CBD in New Jersey, going directly to healthcare professionals to discuss the cannabinoid and its potential, and said the reception is very positive.
“People are just starting to learn about it,” Gill said. “Nobody has any info or knowledge of the products, [but] the interest is amazing. There’s a very, very positive reception here in New Jersey.”
Still, education gaps persist, and adoption within the medical community remains minimal. What do Gill and Greco think it would take to change that?
What is needed for widespread adoption of CBD in healthcare?
Aside from educating professionals and patients alike, there are several prerequisites that must occur in order for widespread adoption of CBD as a healthcare treatment to take place. Chief among the challenges CBD must overcome is the steep regulatory hill that hemp and cannabis have gradually climbed over the last two decades, Gill said.
“Regulation needs to happen to get more healthcare providers on board and comfortable,” she said. “The risks of poor-quality CBD are a turnoff for many providers. Price is also a big barrier, as well as stigma, but that is going to change.”
Greco agreed that regulation is necessary, adding that the current CBD industry is rife with unreliable products and a lack of standards that provide consumers with meaningful information.
“The regulation of it lends itself to a mess,” Greco said. “One bottle says 1000mg, another says 250mg. One bottle has lead in it, another has mercury. This lack of control has led to no control; products on the shelves are not always tested for safety or metals.”
Regulations is needed to put bad actors out of business and to exalt those creating a high-quality CBD product. Moreover, she added, without sensible regulation insurance companies refuse to cover CBD prescriptions, making it a cost-prohibitive option for patients at this juncture.
If these problems can be addressed though, and both Gill and Greco believe they will be, CBD could break into the mainstream of modern healthcare. Continued education, new scientific research, and an increasingly friendly regulatory landscape all bode well for CBD products in healthcare. Only time will tell, but soon enough CBD might just be a household name.