What is CBD?
CBD or cannabidiol, is an extract that is derived from hemp and cannabis plants and was first discovered in 1940. CBD is one of over a hundred different cannabinoids (chemical compounds) that are found in hemp and cannabis plants but it’s one of the most active and widely studied.
The other active compound is the psychoactive THC or tetrahydrocannabinol (try saying that 3 times in a row!) which gives cannabis users a ‘high’. The key difference between the majority of CBD oils (CBD blended with a carrier oil) and recreational cannabis is that most CBD oils contain little to no THC, allowing users to reap health benefits without experiencing altered states of consciousness.
What are the health benefits of CBD?
We currently know that cannabis has proven antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. There are claims that these properties can help to delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative illnesses.
Advocates of CBD oil attest that it can help relieve stress and insomnia, improve mood and alleviate muscle and joint pain. There are also claims that CBD oil can reduce depression, shrink tumours and reduce epileptic seizures. In fact in 2018, cannabidiol was approved for use in the prescription drug Epidiolex.
Some clinical trials have shown cannabidiol to produce dramatic results for patients living with Crohn’s disease. 50% of these patients achieved ‘complete remission’ and over 90% experienced a marked improvement.
Other conditions thought to be helped by CBD include acne, pain relief, arthritis, insomnia, PTSD, diabetes and multiple sclerosis . Cannabidiol is even thought to be beneficial in the treatment of addictions.
Whilst CBD is showing a lot of promise in helping children and adults living with a number of different conditions, more medical research is required.
How does CBD Oil work?
Once ingested, CBD oil alerts our bodies to use more of our own natural cannabinoid supplies. These natural supplies interact with our two cannabinoid receptors. Once ingested, CBD oil alerts our bodies to use more of our own natural cannabinoid supplies. Remarkably, both the cannabis plant and the human body make cannabinoids.
CB1 receptors, located across our bodies and in our brains, govern functions that include mood, thinking, emotions, coordination, movement, pain and appetite. CB2 receptors, found typically in our immune systems, manage pain and inflammation. So using CBD oil will have an amplifying effect on the natural functioning of these bodily processes.
Is CBD legal?
CBD oil is legal in the UK if it comes from an industrial hemp variety that is EU approved and contains no more than 0.2% of the psychoactive compound THC. In addition, the THC must not be separated from it. An exception to this rule is a drug called Sativex which is comprised of 50% CBD and 50% THC and has been licensed for use in the UK as a treatment for multiple sclerosis. Another exception is Nabilone, a licensed treatment administered to cancer patients to relieve chemotherapy induced nausea, that contains an artificial version of THC.
It’s important to be aware that whilst medical cannabis and CBD oil are legal in the UK, cannabis is not. It is a Class B drug and the possession and recreational use of it in the UK remains illegal, for now.
How to choose the right CBD oil
Because the CBD market is growing rapidly, it may feel a little overwhelming to find the right oil that works for you. ‘It is recommended to start with products featuring a low to moderate dosage, then gradually work your way up to a higher dosage if needed. By observing the effects over the course of several days or a few weeks, you can make the necessary adjustments.’
Possible side effects
In findings published last summer, the World Health Organization concluded that CBD is 'generally well tolerated with a good safety profile’. Any reported adverse effects that have been found have been attributed in the main to interactions between patients’ existing medications.
Looking online, the general consensus from people who have taken CBD oil is generally positive. It seems that collectively more and more people are seeking natural alternatives to synthetic medicine and returning to Mother nature's own remedy cabinet.