CBD promising but more research needed: Sask. drug expert

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WATCH ABOVE: Canadian have heard a lot about cannabidiol, or CBD, since marijuana was legalized, but healthcare providers say many of them don't know how much to prescribe to a patient since it's so new and research is scarce – Jan 2, 2019

Since the legalization of recreational marijuana on Oct. 17, 2018, Canadians have heard and learned a lot about cannabis including cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD.

It’s something Alicia Yashcheshen discovered nine years ago and said she’s been able to avoid taking powerful opioids ever since.

READ MORE: What you need to know about CBD, the non-intoxicating cannabis chemical

“I use a RSO oil for Crohn’s disease,” she said.

“I use it in suppositories and orally and it’s the best relief that I found.”

CBD is a component of the marijuana plant that is not psychoactive, although some products contain THC which is the ingredient that causes the euphoric effects.

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Alicia Yashcheshen (right), a CBD user and acting director of the Saskatchewan Medical Cannabis Association. File / Global News

In Yashcheshen’s case, she consumes an RSO oil, or Rick Simpson oil, which is a thick, syrup-like substance developed by a Canadian medical marijuana activist.

“My best advice would be know where you’re getting your CBD and what it’s processed with it – is it coming from hemp or is it coming from cannabis?” Yashcheshen explained.

“How is it infused, is it made into an oil, is it made into a tincture? There’s a variety of different methods to infuse it but it doesn’t mean that they necessarily work.”

READ MORE: Saskatoon hydroponic farm switching from vegetables to cannabis

In the 34-year-old’s experience with CBD, the quality of the plant and the extraction process will determine if a product is bogus or beneficial.

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“Just because one brand doesn’t work, doesn’t mean the next brand won’t work,” she said.

“Just keep looking and doing the research to find one what works for you.”

Health care providers say the problem they’re having with CBD is not knowing how much to prescribe to a patient since it’s so new and there’s a lack of research to back its benefits.

“They’re small studies, not a lot of people, there’s a lot of variation with the type of CBD that they use, how they use it,” medSask drug information consultant Kelly Kizlik said.

The other major hurdle for Kizlik is the studies that have been conducted have only been short-term. Physicians, nurse practitioners and pharmacists might feel more comfortable about the drug, if it was proven to be safe and effective long-term.

“The other thing that is tricky about these CBD studies is they’ve been done in animals and test tubes so it’s hard to translate that into humans so we don’t just know yet,” she explained.

Kizlik does acknowledge, however, CBD is promising with the right research and for different systems within the human body.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a prescribed oil called Epidiolex to treat two types of epilepsy.

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It’s also currently being studied as treatment for a wide range of conditions including: Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and anxiety.

CBD also exhibits “no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential,” according to one report from the World Health Organization.

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