In recent years, the consumption of CBD has skyrocketed.
Today, it’s estimated that CBD is consumed by over 1.5 million people in the UK, in forms ranging from the traditional oil and balm, to morning coffee and add-in boosters in post-workout smoothies.
As GQ magazine puts it, “The Sixties had weed, the Seventies got acid, the Eighties had (decent) cocaine and the Nineties took ecstasy. So what do we get?”
Although CBD is now effectively mainstream, very few of us are up to speed on what it actually is and the exact benefits we’re supposed to derive from it.
We explore the CBD phenomenon below.
What is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol. It’s a natural chemical found in a plant species called cannabis sativa.
The cannabis sativa species includes the all-to-familiar marijuana sub-species as well as a sub-species called hemp which is the source of most of the CBD that is consumed.
Although CBD comes from cannabis it is non-psychotropic and will not get you ‘high’. Another chemical found in cannabis plants is responsible for this called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Instead, CBD is used by people who want to manage conditions like chronic pain, PTSD and epilepsy.
The usual CBD formulation is oil, but CBD is now also available informs including as a vaporised liquid, an oil-based capsule and infused products such as in food, drinks and beauty products.
What are the health benefits of CBD?
CBD has gained significant interest in the medical community as it has shown a high potential for therapeutic use.
This includes as an antiepileptic (treat epilepsy), anxiolytic (treat anxiety), antipsychotic (treat psychosis and mental health-related problems) and anti-inflammatory (treat pain and arthritis).
CBD has also been shown to have neuroprotective effects and so may have applications in diseases such as pain (chronic and neuropathic), diabetes, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Huntington’s disease).
Is CBD safe to take?
If you are using a CBD product that you have bought from a reputable source then given the legal requirements it is highly likely to be safe. In this case the list of ingredients will be accurate and it will have been third-party tested.
CBD is known to cause only a few minor side effects such as a dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness and fatigue.
Of note, CBD can interact with other medications, such as blood thinners, so medical advice should be sought before consuming if this is applies to you.
Is CBD legal to consume in the UK?
CBD is a Class B drug according to the Misuse of Drugs Act. The consumption of CBD is legal in the UK provided it satisfies two primary conditions.
Firstly, the CBD must be extracted from an ‘industrial’ strain of hemp that has been approved by the EU. Hemp is acceptable as it is naturally high in CBD and importantly naturally low in THC.
This helps fulfil the second condition that CBD must have a THC content of no more than 0.2%. THC is the part of cannabis that can causes psychotropic symptoms such as hallucinations and paranoia.
Production of CBD requires an official licence and it must be sold either by a licenced medical distributor or a as a nutritional supplement.
How can CBD be consumed?
The most common form of CBD is as a topical application such balms and oils.
This is practical for those suffering from muscular pain or arthritis as it can be applied directly, allowing for the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD to take effect quickly.
However, as the popularity of CBD has grown, so too has number of ways it which it can be consumed. Other forms of consumption include as;
- Capsules: These are pre-dosed and a good option if you don’t like the taste of CBD oil. However, CBD take-up in the bloodstream can take longer than other options.
- Edibles: CBD edibles are pre-packaged snacks that have been infused with CBD. They can take the form of gummies, lollipops, cookies and brownies.
- Tinctures: Extracted CBD is extremely concentrated. A tincture refers to when CBD is diluted by dissolving it in alcohol, and then packaged in small glass bottles with a dropper. Drops of the oil are placed under the tongue and CBD enters the bloodstream relatively quickly.
- Vaping: CBD e-liquids are easy to integrate into vaping hardware. However, it can be trickier to get a precise dosage compared to other methods such as capsules.
- Smoking: It is possible to smoke a flower that has high CBD levels. Smoking has the same drawbacks as vaping, except with the added danger of being a known carcinogenic.
Finally… Until recently, scientists believed that cannabinoids were only located cannabis. However, studies have found that CBD is present in many other plants, such as clove, black pepper, echinacea, broccoli, ginseng and carrots.
The Bottom Line
Though there is much to be learned about the efficacy and safety of CBD, results from recent studies suggest that CBD may provide a safe, powerful natural treatment for many health issues.
Written by Matthew Sweeney, Co-Founder
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