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There is 'strong evidence' that CBD is good for pain relief in epilepsy patients, experts say

CBD is part of the "shift to get patients away from the narcotics," Dr. Fred Lado of Northwell Health said.

There is potential that CBD could treat certain

There is potential that CBD could treat certain patients with epilepsy, according to Dr. Fred Lado, the regional director of epilepsy for Queens and Long Island for Northwell Health. Photo Credit: The Alchemist’s Kitchen.

With its recent surge on the shelves of New York pharmacies, herb stores and other health shops, CBD products may appear to be another health fad, but the hemp-based treatment could be a breakthrough for some serious ailments, according to experts.

Treatments related to CBD, which is the short form of cannabidiol, have been shown to be effective in relieving symptoms from ailments such as inflammation, insomnia, migraines and, thanks to a September change by the FDA, cases of epilepsy, according to Dr. Fred  Lado, the regional director of epilepsy for Queens and Long Island for Northwell Health. Lado has promoted the use of the substance for some of his patients, because its side effects are less severe than traditional narcotic painkillers and since there is no THC, the treatment has no mind-altering effects. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis.

“There is a shift to get patients away from the narcotics to the CBD [treatments],” he said.

Lado said he has been looking at CBD treatment studies for years and has prescribed it for a handful of his patients. Although he said there is currently a backlog for CBD medication since supply is struggling to meet the nationwide demand, Lado said there is already strong evidence that the extract is potent for relieving the pain from epilepsy. 

He added that studies have also proven effective in treating MS pain-related symptoms. 

"It gives a wide range of effects in the nervous system," Lado said. 

Aside from the prescription level permissions for the extract, the state allows for the production and sale of CBD products in smaller quantities in several forms, including oils and pills. Lou Sagar, the CEO of the Alchemist's Kitchen, an herbal remedy shop in the Bowery that sells CBD products, said while the health community is beginning to understand the benefits of the extract now that it’s more available, more research and observation is needed to the full scope of treatment.

“The fact is it’s proving to be helpful,” he said. “But you really want to be careful that you don’t overstate what this great plant can do.”

The State Department of Agriculture regulates CBD companies and allows them to sell extracts once they and their facilities are approved. Sagar said his store has partnered with a local farm to process the hemp for CBD products and said the regulations help consumers, by ensuring the authentic CBD products do not have any additional ingredients that could interfere with their treatment.

“When you go to the store and see a bottle with CBD, it may be more diluted,” he said.

Sagar's customers have been curious about how the extract can help their ailments, especially when it comes to stress, and his store has been holding events and workshops to educate the public on the ins and outs of the treatment.

Zachary Clancy, the CBD educator for the Alchemist Kitchen, said anecdotally, customers have seen positive effects for stress-related ailments when they use a small amount of CBD products, however, there is a “gray area” when it comes to the right dosage. He said there need to be more research when it comes to proper dosage.  

“We need to know what the right numbers are,” he said. “Everything needs to be tightened up.”

Dr. Lado agreed, but said there is promise now that the state is taking a less cautious approach to cannabis-related medication and treatment. He noted that the more it is used to treat ailments, both serious and small, the medical community can determine, through trial and error, if it is an effective alternative to some of the traditional medications.

“I think we will see physicians, especially in the epilepsy community, utilize it more and more,” he predicted.

In the meantime, he advised New Yorkers who have questions about using CBD for their ailments to seek out a medical professional, before they head to a store to buy a product.  

“It won’t be a panacea, but it will benefit some people,” he said.

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