- Hello, and welcome to Living in the Lehigh Valley, where our focus is your health and wellness.
I'm your host, Brittany Sweeney.
Around the same time medical marijuana dispensaries started popping up, CBD shops also began opening to the public.
But what is CBD, and what ailments can it treat?
For that, we head to CBD American Shaman, in Fogelsville.
- Up until recently, John Wells was experiencing restless nights.
- Couldn't sleep.
Just couldn't get comfortable.
- The 69-year-old, from Orefield, was suffering from knee pain.
- I messed up my knee, I'm bone-on-bone.
I've got a torn meniscus.
The doctor had me basically on bed rest till the...
I had a... a bruise on my knee, until the bruise healed and stuff.
And I was taking oxycodone for the pain.
- My husband was diagnosed with a fracture in his knee, and he was trying to put off the total knee.
- John was prescribed a strong painkiller to help control the pain, but the idea of taking narcotics didn't sit well with him.
- I hated being on it.
I hate the way it made me feel.
I hated what it did to my body.
I...I just hated it.
-He thought that was the only option.
But a friend's recommendation would soon change his treatment plans.
The Wells were told to look into using CBD to treat John's condition, so they stopped into CBD American Shaman, in Fogelsville.
- That happens every day.
We get people come in and they say what they're taking.
They say it's not working for them.
They're sometimes really desperate to try anything.
They don't like the side effects of their other pharmaceutical drugs, so they'd like to try something more natural.
- Crystal Frey is the shop owner and a certified CBD consultant.
- We all have this natural endocannabinoid system, so your body actually needs the cannabinoids, so it will attach to your receptors in your body and trigger your brain to do the things that it's lacking.
Helps with some inflammation, aches and pains.
Calming is another good reason.
Sleep is a huge thing we see people come in for.
- So how does CBD work, and how is it different than its federally-illegal counterpart, marijuana?
- Cannabis has hundreds of compounds inside it that can work in a variety of different ways.
And so, the compound that gets the most attention is tetrahydrocannabinol, with THC.
And THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis.
But CBD, or cannabidiol, is another compound in this cocktail of compounds that come with the plant.
- Jeremy Teissere is the Stanley Road Professor of Neuroscience, at Muhlenberg College.
He studies how drugs work at the chemical level, and has a research student currently looking at CBD.
- We're interested in figuring out why CBD seems to increase sleep, reduce anxiety, help treat epilepsy.
And these are things that cannabis really can't do.
That suggests that CBD works on totally different targets in the body that are different from the ones cannabis works on.
- Teissere says there are some things to consider before using CBD.
The neuroscience professor says, first and foremost, it is not regulated by the FDA, meaning the amount of CBD in any given product may not be the actual dosage.
- Another thing the public I think needs to be aware of is that we don't know how CBD works.
We know it doesn't work the way the active ingredients in cannabis do, because it doesn't have those psychoactive effects, but it seems to work on other targets, and that might complicate the pharmacology of other drugs someone might be taking.
- Frey, the CBD shop owner, says, though rare, there can be side effects to using the products.
- There are definitely fewer side effects than regular pharmaceuticals.
The most common one, sometimes I hear, and it's not even very often, is headaches.
- Teissere says when used without other medications, there is evidence that the substance can have an impact on pain.
- It can work to stop inflammation cascades in the body.
And so, here it would be almost like a kind of weak ibuprofen or naproxen.
The effect on how it might help someone who is struggling with chronic pain might be a combination of both this, sort of removing inflammation, and also helping to reduce anxiety and help promote sleepiness.
And of course, rest is really valuable in reducing pain.
Reducing pain is John Wells' endgame.
He says after he began using some of the CBD products, he immediately felt relief.
- Very good.
I'm glad to hear they're helping you.
- They really are.
- They help us a lot.
- They do.
- The CBD helps.
I'm walking now with a cane, and I'm really not putting much weight on the cane.
I'm feeling better.
I'm able to walk more, I'm able to get around.
I can drive.
- He says he likes the gummies.
Meanwhile, his wife, Donna, started applying CBD lotion for her own pain.
- I have a very sore wrist, and I use the topical and the gummies, and it works wonderfully.
- The couple even started treating their dog, Buddy, with CBD to combat his anxiety.
- Oh, here's the drops for Buddy, for the thunder.
- In my opinion, it's safer than a lot of the drugs the physicians want to put you on.
John says he plans to continue using CBD to improve his quality of life, especially after three of his doctors gave him the green light to do so.
- It's a big thing for me.
If I can live life with less pain and stuff, I can do things.
I can spend more time with my grandsons, I can be more active with them, and I can be active in my life.
- All right.
Here we go.
- Thank you very much.
- Frey says her shop has a special program that discounts items to those who have a serious medical condition, such as cancer.
Of course, those looking to replace any medication with CBD should first consult their doctor.
That will do it for this edition of Living in the Lehigh Valley.
I'm Brittany Sweeney, hoping you stay happy and healthy.