For those that don’t know, a safety profile is defined as: “The chemistry, pharmacology, therapeutic effects, and adverse effects of an administered drug or other substance.” Basically, it is the medical way of presenting what side effects, or adverse effects, may occur with a certain drug or substance. To have a level playing field, we will look at drugs/medications/substances commonly used for pain relief from pharmaceutical companies.
Tylenol: As most people know, Tylenol is generally well tolerated, people have to be careful about how much they take. As the FDA warns, “Acetaminophen can cause serious liver damage if more than directed is used.”Common side effects often include, but are not limited to: bloody or black, tarry stools, bloody or cloudy urine, skin rash, hives, or itching, yellow eyes or skin, nausea or vomiting, etc… Most of these are symptoms of jaundice, caused by an increase of bilirubin (a waste material in the blood). Jaundice is a sign of liver failure or inflammation.
Fentanyl: As this study shows, hypoxia (decreased oxygen reaching the tissues) and nausea were the most common side effects with fentanyl. “Hypoxia, observed in the 200-mcg and 400-mcg dose groups, increased with increasing doses and higher dosing frequency, but was readily managed by nasal cannula oxygenation. Overall, nausea increased with increasing doses, and ∼52.6% (10 out of 19) cases of nausea that occurred at the highest dose of 400 mcg were treated with concomitant medication.” Other common side effects were: life-threatening respiratory depression, addiction, abuse, and misuse, and fatal overdose.
Oxycodone: Oxycodone is also known as oxycontin, Percocet, roxiprin, etc… Oxycodone is another pharmaceutical drug that has common side effects of: headaches, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. However, more severe side effects include seizures, hives, difficulty breathing, slow heart rate and weak pulse, abuse, and addiction.
CBD: Mayo Clinic released a side effect list for CBD in 2018 that is more extensive than most – but still minimal compared these other drugs/medications. “CBD use also carries some risks. Though it's often well-tolerated, CBD can cause side effects, such as dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness and fatigue.” Meanwhile, this study by foodstandards.gov stated, “CBD has been shown to be well tolerated at doses greater than 1000 mg per day. No reports of adverse effects attributable to oral CBD were located in the published literature.”
Interestingly, this study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says, “There is also supporting evidence that cannabis may assist in opioid detoxification and weaning, thus making it a potential weapon in battling the opioid epidemic.”
Interestingly, an article from Chemical and Engineering News and Ethan Russo, a neurologist and director of R&D at the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute says this: “Whole-plant extracts not only are more effective but also have fewer side effects than pure CBD at higher doses, Russo says. The bottom line, he says, is that “whole-cannabis extracts are going to have an advantage over pure compounds in almost every instance.” So, yet again, even for safety profile reasons, it appears that full spectrum products are better received better than products with just CBD, or some other cannabinoid or terpene. This article by the NIH sums up the concern around CBD very well.
“Several studies suggest that CBD is non-toxic in non-transformed cells and does not induce changes on food intake, does not induce catalepsy, does not affect physiological parameters (heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature), does not affect gastrointestinal transit and does not alter psychomotor or psychological functions. Also, chronic use and high doses up to 1,500 mg/day of CBD are reportedly well tolerated in humans. Conversely, some studies reported that this cannabinoid can induce some side effects, including inhibition of hepatic drug metabolism, alterations of in vitro cell viability, decreased fertilization capacity, and decreased activities of p-glycoprotein and other drug transporters. Based on recent advances in cannabinoid administration in humans, controlled CBD may be safe in humans and animals. However, further studies are needed to clarify these reported in vitro and in vivo side effects.”
In short, CBD appears to be much more tolerated than other medications that people may use for pain. Are there side effects/adverse effects in some people? Absolutely. However, these side effects appear to be much less severe than the opioids commonly used in everyday life. As mentioned above, a lot of those side effects are minimized by consuming a full-spectrum product including a variety of cannabinoids and terpenes.
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