Kseniya Sullivan of Bellmore, now 34, suffered with depression since she was 15, chronic pain since she was 25, and migraines for as long as she can remember. Her 16-year-old son is challenged with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), major depression disorder, and anxiety. They both felt like prisoners of their prescription medication up until about one year ago — until they discovered CBD.
Regulated by the Food and Drug Administration , cannabidiol, or CBD, is a nonpsychoactive compound derived from the hemp plant. Not to be confused with tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the chief psychoactive compound in marijuana that gives a high sensation, CBD is available over the counter or from a trusted healthcare provider. It comes in the form of oils, drops, sprays, gummies, supplements, topical lotions, and more.
Two gummies a day and CBD balm for pain have offered Sullivan positive results. Her son takes five drops two times per day or eats a gummy.
“It calms him enough to focus,” she says. “It’s not a perfect fix but it has helped so much with his depression and anxiety. For me, it is a savior. I haven’t had a full-blown migraine in six months now.”
According to a 2013 study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, CBD can act as an anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, antioxidant, antiemetic, anxiolytic and antipsychotic, helping to treat a number of health conditions, including inflammation, epilepsy, oxidative injury, vomiting and nausea, anxiety and schizophrenia. It has even been found to help pets: A recent study by Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine suggests 2 mg/kg of CBD oil administered twice daily can help increase comfort and activity in dogs with osteoarthritis.
CBD works with the endocannabinoid system to achieve balance in the body.
“The endocannabinoid system is the largest regulatory system in our body,” explains Craig Zaffe, CEO of CBD Oils of Long Island and ACD Health and Wellness in Huntington. “We have CBD 1 receptors in our brain and nervous system and CBD 2 receptors in our organs and skin that naturally secrete natural cannabinoids. As we get older, we become deficient in the natural production of cannabinoids. That’s where inflammation and disease start.”
Phytocannabinoids such as CBD help restore the endocannabinoid system. Dr. Amir Herman of East Northport-based Natural Pain Solutions says the bulk of his patients turn to CBD to relieve pain, anxiety, headaches, and improve sleep.
“It helps them to relax,” he says, noting that CBD also works on the central nervous system. Patients with nerve pain have reported less numbness and tingling. “It has a calming effect on young patients with ADD and ADHD.”
While CBD has shown to be relatively safe, Dr. Herman says it’s certainly not free from side effects.
“There are absolutely people who developed issues with vaping CBD … irritation to their throat and lungs, coughing,” he says.
Reported side effects also include tiredness, dizziness, light-headedness or stomach discomfort. The greatest challenge to administering CBD is that there’s not yet an “established standardization of dose,” says Dr. Herman.
“You have to slowly titrate, increase the dose,” he says. “It could take anywhere between two weeks and two months before they get their optimal benefit or know that it’s not for them.”
“Recommendations and dosages vary from patient to patient and whether a condition is acute or chronic,” adds Dr. Joy Moy, physician of acupuncture and owner of Joy of Acupuncture in Huntington. When considering CBD, Dr. Moy says to “pay attention to the quality of the CBD that is harvested and extracted and whether or not it has been backed up independently or tested by third party labs.”
Identify a healthcare provider with competent knowledge of CBD, she advises. Dr. Moy says that bloodwork results on her patients who used CBD sublingual drops revealed lower overall body inflammation. A 91-year-old patient with a severely arthritic ankle who used CBD cream twice a day for two weeks no longer relies on his cane.