CBD & Sickle Cell Disease: An Option for Black Americans

CBD & Sickle Cell Disease: An Option for Black Americans

Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, has been shown to provide relief for many people suffering from Sickle Cell. Hemp seeds are a sustainable source of healthy fatty acids and protein. Many Black Americans suffer from Sickle Cell which is a genetic disorder that leads to problems with the Red Blood Cells.

In this blog post, we’ll cover how CBD helps with the symptoms of Sickle Cell.

  • Sickle Cell Disease in Black Americans
  • Why CBD is a good treatment for Sickle Cell
  • Risk of CBD and Sickle Cell medication
  • How to Choose the Right Product

Sickle Cell Disease in Black Americans

Sickle cell anemia or sickle cell disease (SCD) is a very common inherited blood disorder. As the name implies, blood cells take on a crescent or sickle-like shape instead of being round. Their shape can obstruct blood vessels. This can cause symptoms like pain, inflammation or a severe symptom like tissue/organ death due to lack of oxygen.

It’s passed on by parents who each have a recessive sickle cell disease gene. So two individuals may be carriers of the disease and pass it onto their offspring. SCD may not manifest until 4-5 months in a newborn. And doctors can test for it during pregnancy via the amniotic fluid, which is the liquid that surrounds the developing fetus. Sickle cell disease is present at birth.

Black Americans are most impacted by this genetic disease because of its possible origin. As you may have learned in high school, SCD evolved in areas most exposed to malaria. It’s a counter-measure to that disease, thus present in those descended from Africans.

Other races are capable of inheriting SCD, the disease impacting nearly 100,000 Americans. Highly prevalent in our community, 1 in 13 Black babies are born with SCD and 1 in 365 Black Americans are afflicted.

There’s only one known cure for sickle cell anemia: a bone and blood marrow transplant. As the cases vary in severity, other options include lifestyle habit changes (quit smoking, eat a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise) and/or SCD medication like Hydroxyurea. Unfortunately for medication, there’s major side effects like nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, hair loss or more.

With this in mind, CBD may be a great option to explore. Here’s what to expect.

Why CBD is a good treatment for Sickle Cell

Though conventional medicines can help mitigate sickle cell disease, there’s possible long-term ramifications or just unpleasant side effects to work through. Cannabidiol, or CBD, can be helpful in that it’s low risk for addiction and has limited side effects. Research is still unfolding about this promising plant, but it shows potential in helping those afflicted with SCD.

Unpleasant effects of sickle cell anemia can include compromised immune system, inflammation and pained caused by the obstructed cells. The go-to medications include penicillin, hydroxyurea, NSAIDs like ibuprofen and aspirin, codeine and morphine.  Over-the-counter NSAIDs can be great for mild pain, but with severe pain, there’s a risk of overdose and addiction with prescribed opioids.

CBD could balance this out, whether it’s oil tinctures, capsules, edibles or vaping. It can strengthen and support the immune system: its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antimicrobial possibilities step in without weakening the immune system. Studies like this one show that CBD could reduce pain.

That said, each form of CBD changes with the onset of relief and how long the cannabinoid will remain in your system. We’ll get into that further below with how to choose the right CBD products.

Before anything, make sure to speak with your doctor. CBD can interact with certain medications—for better or worse. More on that bellow.

Risk of CBD and Sickle Cell medication

As mentioned before, common medications used to address the woes of sickle cell anemia include morphine, codeine, NSAIDs, Hydroxyurea, and penicillin. These medications can have bothersome side effects on their own like nausea, dizziness, stomach aches, addiction risk, or other uncomfortable states.

This isn’t where we say CBD is the best substitute. Though studies reflect how it can help mitigate problems associated with SCD, always speak with a medical professional. Especially when introducing this cannabinoid. Cannabidiol does interact with some of the listed medications, so tread carefully if any of those are prescribed to you.

For starters, penicillin and hydroxyurea have no known side effects from interacting with CBD products. As it goes, the absence of evidence isn’t the evidence of absence. There could be side effects we’re not aware of yet. So again, work with your doctor if you choose to add CBD to your SCD treatment options.

There are interactions with morphine, codeine and NSAIDs. If you consume CBD with your morphine or codeine, you may increase your chances of drowsiness or losing your sense of balance. As for NSAIDs, there’s the increased risk of liver damage. You want to work with a cannabis-friendly and knowledgeable medical professional to establish the right dose.

CBD is not a cure-all and there’s much about it that needs to be researched. If prescriptions or other medications are apart of your SCD regimen, avoid risk and work with a professional.

Still, if the side effects of your medication is compromising your quality of life, read on to learn the best CBD products. You can speak with your doctor about them.

How to Choose the Right CBD Products

At the moment, there is no “right” way to take CBD for sickle cell disease. The options listed are meant to give you an idea of what your daily regimen with certain products could be. Before hopping into that, let’s explore a July 2020 study on cannabis and SCD.

It was a small study performed on 27 people who vaporized 1:1 THC-to-CBD cannabis versus a placebo. The results didn’t affect the chronic pain—instead, those who found success with vaping cannabis found that their mood wasn’t altered by the pain.

One of the researchers, Dr. Donald Abrams, stated that opiates may remain the primary option for addressing the chronic pain of SCD. And there are studies that reflect that CBD didn’t affect opiate reduction. On the flip side, there are studies that show patients who were able to cut back on their opiate use.

Again, beginning your journey with CBD should include a medical professional to guide you. Now let’s get into the various products to explore with them.

For starters, using flower for inhalation is useful for quick effects, though not long-lasting. Smoking is discouraged with SCD patients, so consider investing in an herb vaporizer or even a delta-8 cartridge. You can learn more about delta-8 THC effects here.

CBD oil tinctures are also great options. You can place the drops under your tongue for up to 20 seconds for quick effects. After you swallow the oil, it’ll process through your digestive tract like an edible. It can take up to 30 minutes for effects to kick in and they may last up to 3-6 hours.

The best thing about tinctures and edibles is that they’re easy to dose and won’t unwanted attract attention if you’re consuming outside of your home.

Lastly, for spot treatment, there’s topicals you can rub onto problem areas. Be sure to read the ingredients for possible allergies and check for duration of the product.

Work with Your Doctor if You Want CBD in your SCD Regimen

CBD benefits are highly relevant to Black Americans with Sickle Cell. If you’re dissatisfied with your current medications, consider speaking with your doctor about introducing CBD. Results may vary and may take weeks before you find a satisfying, harm-free regimen.

If you or a loved one has sickle cell disease, have you already tried CBD? Are you considering it as an option?

Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear what products you’re considering or already love.

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