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“The hottest new medicine in mental health,” claims a professor in psychiatry at King’s College London. From claims that it treats severe forms of epilepsy to a key ingredient in plant-based restaurants in London; you guessed it right, CBD is the buzzword in the UK trendy health market today.
Experts now estimate that this market will be worth about £1bn by 2025. But is this cannabis hype real or just another health fad like the tummy flattening tea?
Let’s look at what CBD is, effects on the body, how you can take it, legality in the UK, and where to shop authentic CBD products.
What is CBD?
Also known as Cannabidiol, CBD is an active and naturally occurring compound in cannabis plants. It is one of more than 100 cannabinoids –which also includes the more famous THC – contained in the cannabis plant.
Marijuana and the hemp plant are the two primary species of the cannabis plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the major active ingredient in the marijuana plant that gets users “high.” On the other hand, CBD is mainly derived from the flowers, leaves, and stems of the Hemp.
Unlike THC, which has psychoactive effects on users, CBD is not psychoactive. Therefore, with CBD oil, you enjoy pain relief and other benefits without the mind-altering effects associated with marijuana.
The hemp plant is getting too much attention as a source of CBD oil because it has not only higher CBD levels but also low THC levels (less than 0.2%).
CBD Oil Potency- Effect on Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a cell signalling system discovered by scientists exploring the effects of THC on the body. It regulates multiple body processes, such as the nervous system, metabolism, mood, and sleep. Therefore, it plays a huge role in the body’s homeostasis- the balance of the internal environment.
The ECS works through endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. The endocannabinoids ensure the internal functions run smoothly by binding to the receptors. It binds on a receptor depending on the body’s system experiencing imbalance.
For instance, if you experience spinal pain, they will attach to receptors on your central nervous system (CB1 receptors) and relieve it. Moreover, once the endocannabinoid molecules have done their job, the enzymes break them down.
It is still early days in the research regarding the effects of CBD oil on the ECS. However, scientists believe that CBD prevents the breakdown of endocannabinoid molecules after they have attached to the receptors.
Besides, unlike THC that binds on the receptors, CBD doesn’t trigger the receptors directly. Instead, it modifies how they bind to other cannabinoids. This leads to a range of good effects on your body, such as improving your immune system, mood, and relieving pain.
What are the CBD Oil Health Benefits?
CBD oil gained the UK’s mainstream attention after the story of an epileptic 13-year-old, Billy Caldwell, who had his CBD medicine confiscated at Heathrow, hit the headlines in 2018. This not only led to the legalisation of medicinal cannabis oil but also opened up a whole lot of avenues for CBD use.
The recent surge in CBD’s popularity is because of its multiple therapeutic benefits. While CBD oil is not prescribed as a cure for any illness, its ability to relieve the symptoms of various conditions is unprecedented. Here are some of the benefits;
- Treatment of epilepsy disorders in children such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS).
- Chronic pain management
- Reducing acne
- Reducing muscle spasticity in MS patients
- Reduction of drug dependence
- Relieving anxiety and depression
- Helps with sleep
Types of CBD and Products in the UK
People often categorise the types of CBD in terms of gels, edibles, oils, vapes, and pills, among other groups. However, these are CBD products- which we will look into later in this review. The CBD types are best grouped into; full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate.
The CBD spectrum refers to the composition of cannabinoids in a product after the extraction from the Cannabis plant. Some common methods of extraction involve the use of CO2 and Butane. The former is considered the “gold standard” since it allows for the extraction of the full cannabinoid spectrum.
Various cannabis strains have a different cannabinoid profile. For instance, the Hemp has a lot of CBD and close to none THC, while Pennywise has equal measures of CBD and THC. After extraction, the company can then refine the extract to their desired spectrum.
It is highly likely when you go shopping for CBD oil; the products will be labelled using these terms. So what do they mean?
- Full Spectrum: It contains not only CBD and THC but also all the other naturally-occurring cannabinoids and compounds such as terpenes and essential oils in the cannabis plant. With this spectrum, you’ll enjoy the full therapeutic effects of the plant –commonly known as the entourage effect.
- CBD Isolate: This is mainly extracted from the Hemp. It contains the purest form of CBD produced by isolating it from other compounds such as terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. This is the most recommended type for consumers with concerns about THC and the “high effect.”
- Broad Spectrum: The extract here has all the cannabinoids and compounds in the plant EXCEPT THC. There it delivers the entourage effect but without THC’s psychoactive effects.
Here are the various forms of CBD products available;
- CBD Oil drops: They are taken orally. The CBD is commonly infused into a carrier oil such as olive oil or hemp oil for easier absorption. When placed under the tongue, these oils take about half an hour to 2 hours to kick in. The effect can last up to 8 hours.
- CBD gummies: CBD-infused gummy bears are the 2nd most searched for CBD product after ‘CBD oils’ with this demand many new exciting brands like ZenBears have entered the UK market offering a lab-tested, vegan-friendly, CBD gummies product.
- CBD Hemp tea: The hemp tea is made by first drying the plant’s parts and brewing them to yield a full spectrum of cannabinoids, oils, phytonutrients, and terpenes. Besides making tea, you can smoke, bake, or cook the dry herb.
- CBD topicals: These include face creams and body salves. CBD topicals are absorbed directly into the blood vessels; hence can be used to target areas with muscle pain directly.
- CBD capsules: You can take these orally. Most CBD supplements come in the form of capsules, and since they are absorbed in the GI tract, just like edibles, take a bit longer to kick in- approx. 1-2 hours. However, the effects also last longer, about 8 hours.
- CBD E-liquids/ vapes: Similar to oil drops, the CBD is contained in a carrier – in this case, a solution of vegetable glycerine such as propylene glycol – that allows you to vape it. Since you inhale it through the respiratory system, the effects take about 5-10 minutes to kick in and last about 3 hours in your system.
Is CBD Legal in the UK
While cannabis is still listed as a controlled substance (Class B drug), most CBD products are legal in the UK. After the UK allowed the prescription of the first cannabis-based medicine in 2015, there has been various regulation on the production, extract profile and marketing of CBD products.
The law stipulates that it is legal to buy and use CBD oil as a nutritional supplement as long as it is made from Hemp and does not contain more than 1mg of THC per finished product.
The products must also be labelled according to the Food Supplements (England) Regulations 2003 and shouldn’t be advertised or sold as medicine.
Where to Buy Authentic CBD Oil in the UK
CBD Shopy a leading CBD retailer in the UK recently published a medically-reviewed CBD oil guide to help consumers find high-quality CBD products. They advise it is always best for consumers to remain vigilant when shopping for CBD, for instance, always check if your supplier provides a 3rd party lab report showing the CBD dosage in the product. This will help you avoid untrustworthy high street suppliers who are taking consumers for a ride with mislabeled and low-dose products.