WHO report on CBD - State of knowledge [2018].

Below is a summary of the report, written in accessible language for all interested parties. You can find the full report in PDF format for download below the article.

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WHO report on CBD (2018)

CBD or cannabidiol is a substance that for many years was overlooked in the discussion of narcopolitics. The focus was mainly on THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, the intoxicating substance found in cannabis. Recently, however, CBD and its medical use, has increasingly begun to feature in scientific discourse and public debate.

You can read more about CBD cannabidiol in this article: Cannabidiol CBD

One of the most important voices in this discussion is the World Health Organisation (WHO) report prepared for the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence. It is one of the most up-to-date documents (dated November 2017) outlining the effects of CBD on the human body and its potential for application in medicine.

The most important findings of this report are that CBD is not addictive, has no negative social effects, but instead can be an important element in the treatment and cure of many diseases including: cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, but also depression and psychosis. In addition, CBD can be used as an analgesic for severe pains including neuropathic pains. However, it is primarily used in the treatment of epilepsy (epilepsy), as CBD works best against this condition.

The report itself is divided into nineteen chapters. However, in practice, three main parts of the document can be distinguished: the first is devoted strictly to the classification and characterisation of CBD as a chemical substance. This section describes the chemical structure, its properties or the conditions under which CBD is extracted - both synthetic and natural. The next part focused on the use of CBD in medicine, with a description of possible side effects, the results of clinical studies on animals or the methods and conditions for dosing CBD. In turn, the next - third - part refers firstly to the use of CBD in other areas of life and the social effects and legal solutions related to the use and distribution of CBD.

A frequently raised issue, raising doubts among potential users, is to associate cannabis - the cannabis plant that contains CBD - only with the psychoactive THC, which is still an illegal substance in many countries. In fact, CBD can be converted into THC under laboratory conditions. This situation practically never occurs when CBD is used as recommended, as specific physico-chemical conditions are required for this process.

It is also a fact that both CBD and THC are extracted from cannabis. However, for one thing, these plants have different varieties, which makes it possible to select those that have more THC from those in which CBD predominates. Furthermore, the process of obtaining CBD is different from the methods of obtaining THC. Therefore, it is possible to safely prepare medicinal hemp products containing optimal doses of CBD at such low levels of THC that this substance does not affect the potential user in any way.

Furthermore, the authors of the report emphasise that the differences between the two substances are considerable and also concern the effects of their use. THC leads to a number of functional impairments. Under the influence of THC, a person may experience problems with movement, impaired perception - including delayed reactions to external stimuli, increased heart rate as well as hunger and constant dry mouth. Similar effects have not been observed even among people who have voluntarily taken a large dose - more than 200 mg - of CBD in oral form.

Another issue is the use of CBD in medical therapy. The report basically only deals with cases of oral administration of CBD. This is due to the fact that as of the date of publication of the report, no medical products containing pure CBD were on the market, and it is precisely as a result of oral administration of CBD that reactions have been studied in laboratory conditions. However, other possible forms of CBD use are known, e.g. sublingual, intranasal or inhalation (e.g. inhalation).

Interesting are the findings of scientists regarding the possible CBD dosage - Well, scientific studies have reported doses ranging from 100 mg to 800 mg per kilogram of body weight, per day. Therefore, this is not necessarily the 'weight' of a single dose, but the sum of all doses taken in a 24-hour period. With that said, the authors of the report did not specify an optimal dose for humans. There are references to animal (monkey) studies, which show that CBD overdose is very difficult, but possible. Possible changes in animal behaviour or biological and physiological disorders have been noted with single doses exceeding 150mg per kilogram of body weight, or with long-term - more than 90 days - daily doses of more than 30 mg of CBD in oral form.

When cannabidiol can be used?

Cannabidiol can be used to treat many diseases and ailments. According to current medical knowledge, it is a very effective treatment for epilepsy. Studies confirm that the use of CBD for epilepsy improves the condition for many patients - epileptic seizures may even disappear completely or occur much less frequently than when CBD is not used. However, the authors of the studies emphasise that CBD is not used as a replacement for medication, but as an additional medication - in most studies, people given CBD treatment continued to take their existing anti-epileptic medication. Nonetheless, most studies and trials conclude that CBD is a good and promising therapy to help counter the effects of epilepsy.

There are also a number of studies confirming the effective intake of CBD against other ailments: in Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's chorea but also multiple sclerosis, inflammatory diseases, infections, cardiovascular diseases and diabetic complications. Furthermore, studies have confirmed CBD's effective abolition of pain (including neuropathic pain), anxiety, stress and depression. CBD can also be a drug used to fight cancer. According to current research (2017), CBD has anti-proliferative and anti-cancer effects in a wide range of cancer types; induction of cancer cell death by autophagy; chemopreventive effects.

Despite its proven therapeutic effect, CBD is still not included in the World Health Organisation's list of essential medicines. To a large extent, this is due to the fact that the agent is still being studied, and the procedure is prolonged by political and social concerns - associating hemp products with drug addiction and THC use. Since CBD does not behave like a typical medicinal chemical compound, it is also somewhat of a problem to accurately classify CBD as a medicine in the definitional sense of the word.

However, this does not mean that CBD is no longer used in various medical therapies today. There are medicines that contain this substance - but it is not the only ingredient in these medicines. One example is the drug with nabiximols - in which both CBD and THC are present - which is distributed in many countries by GW Pharmaceuticals. In addition, the aforementioned company is also already developing drugs based on pure plant-derived CBD. So far, tests of this drug, which is designed to counteract Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes, are already in phase 3 trials. In the Netherlands, on the other hand, Echo Pharmaceuticals has started clinical trials of a drug for schizophrenia and epilepsy, whose main ingredient is also CBD. In the USA, CBD agents are increasingly used in gynaecology and neonatology - for the treatment of newborns - e.g. neonatal hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy or perinatal asphyxia.

Based on the report, it can be concluded that it is only a matter of time before CBD is authorised for normal medical use and medicines produced on its basis are registered. This is because all studies to date confirm firstly its efficacy and secondly the safety of its use. The reported side effects are not at all substandard and similar ones can be caused by a number of other commonly used over-the-counter specifics. These include, for example, diarrhoea and raised blood pressure.

However, similar effects, with the use of CBD, are relatively rare. Anyway, the registration of CBD as a medicine is already taking place nationally, e.g. in the UK. In the USA and New Zealand, CBD is authorised, but is a so-called controlled substance, but in the USA the regulations are liberalising. The legislation is very liberal in Switzerland, where CBD is not controlled as a narcotic, as it is scientifically proven not to have psychoactive effects.

It seems, therefore, that CBD is a safe substance and could be an important part of the future of conventional medicine and, in its natural, non-artificially produced forms in the laboratory, also of natural medicine and herbal medicine. Interestingly, the debate about the usefulness of CBD comes at a time when more and more countries around the world are allowing THC for recreational use. Therefore, nothing should stand in the way of legalising and allowing CBD, which is a much safer drug - one that does not cause addiction or negative psycho-physiological effects, and is socially potentially very beneficial.

Moreover, this WHO report is not an innovative, precursor study, but the quintessence of research that has been conducted since the 1980s. This means that CBD is a plant compound well known to the scientific community, and almost forty years of research should provide guarantees for the safe use of this natural chemical compound, which could prove to be a long-awaited aid for many patients worldwide. Will it be administered to patients as e.g. cbd oil or perhaps some other figure, only time will really tell.

WHO report to download (.pdf): See the WHO report on CBD

You can find the report in its original language version on the World Health Organisation website here: https://www.who.int/ 

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