Have you heard about ‘cannabis oil’ and feel uncertain about what it is?
Perhaps people tell you they are taking ‘cannabis’ or CBD oil but then you hear about ‘medical cannabis’ on the news and you are not sure what the difference is?
Are you wondering if cannabidiol (CBD) oil that is now sold in the UK and other countries is something you should take?
This article will demystify ‘cannabis oil’ or correctly named, Cannabidiol (CBD), using 10 evidence-based facts.
First though, some information about what CBD oil is…
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a product derived from the Cannabis plant that does not have the ‘psychoactive’ (high-causing) properties of other parts of the plant. CBD is not registered as a controlled substance and is legal to be sold in the UK and other countries.
Industrial hemp which contains little or no THC (the psychoactive part of cannabis) can legally be grown under license. CBD oil is extracted from the plant and as long as it contains less than 0.2% THC it can be sold in the UK under laws supplied by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The laws do stipulate though that CBD cannot be sold as having any ‘medical value’. Despite this, there is wide information available (anecdotal evidence and growing research) on the benefits CBD can have on a range of health problems.
Sales globally of CBD products have sky-rocketed in recent years and the global industry is now predicted to be worth $2.1 billion by the end of the decade.
Is this growth in the sales of CBD clever marketing; developing from people desperate for relief from medical afflictions or is there true value in CBD and its uses?
Here are 10 facts about Cannabidiol (CBD):
1.CBD oil is legally sold in the UK and other countries
CBD oil that contains minimal amounts of the psychoactive chemical THC can be legally sold. Any companies selling CBD are not permitted to make any medical claims about the product.
Laws stipulate that CBD can only be sold as a ‘food supplement’. Further strict guidelines also exist on the content of the labelling that CBD products must display.
The difference between ‘medical marijuana’ or ‘medical cannabis’ and CBD is in the quantity of the controlled substance, THC, that is contained within the product. Products with higher levels of THC are currently illegal in the UK. It is this that has been discussed heavily in the media recently, due to it’s potential to help some people with severe forms of epilepsy.
2. CBD oil is non-addictive
CBD oil has not been found to be addictive in humans and there is no evidence of CBD having been used as a product of abuse.
3. There are very few reported side effects to CBD
Studies have found that the safety profile of CBD is very good with few symptoms of drowsiness, no impact on blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, a person’s food intake or gut transit times. Most people taking CBD do not experience problems and it very rarely causes stomach upset or weight changes.
Many have the impression that cannabis and therefore CBD will cause the ‘munchies’ — with CBD alone this is not a side effect. The appetite-stimulating effects of cannabis come from THC, so CBD will not result in an increased dietary intake.
A large US study of approximately 2500 people taking CBD published in July 2018 found that the most common side effect reported in approximately 1 in 10 was a dry mouth.
4. There are reports that CBD helps people with a wide range of medical conditions
Medical conditions that CBD reportedly helps include, but are not limited to — anxiety, inflammation, chronic pain, nausea and sickness, psychosis, dementia, schizophrenia, depression, diabetes, insomnia and skin conditions such as acne.
Over 60% of people taking CBD regularly in the recent US study were doing so for a medical condition. The most commonly reported reasons for taking CBD were for chronic pain, joint pain or anxiety.
5. Low doses of CBD have anti-oxidative properties and help to protect the brain
Studies found that CBD is more effective than Vitamins C and E as an anti-oxidant, offering brain protection.
6. CBD is available in a variety of forms
CBD is most commonly used as an oil, often taken as drops under the tongue. It can also be purchased as capsules; gummy sweets; vapes or as a form that is applied directly to the skin (mainly used to help skin conditions).
7. Dosage guidelines for CBD are not always clear
CBD is not being sold as a licensed medication so clear guidelines on how much to take and what quantity might help a certain condition are not largely available and not regulated.
The MHRA do stipulate to those selling CBD that labels should advise that consumers do not take more than 200mg of CBD in 24 hours and often the labelling is more conservative than this. Generally, the advice would be to start taking a low dose of CBD and increase this as necessary, depending on your response to it.
8. CBD use is greater in women than in men and more commonly used in older people
These statistics perhaps reflect the fact that women do seek more help for medical conditions than men. Medical complaints, particularly of a chronic nature, are more common as we age.
9. CBD use reportedly reduces the need for other ‘add-on’ treatments for some common conditions
People with conditions of chronic pain, joint pain or anxiety reported in over 60% of cases that CBD treated their condition ‘very well’ or ‘moderately well’ by itself without the use of any other medications.
10. Most users of CBD are finding out about it from the internet or word of mouth
Despite the fact that CBD is being demonstrated to offer potential benefits for a range of health conditions; nearly all users of CBD reported finding information about it from either the internet, friends or family. Health professionals are not a common source of information about this potentially helpful product.
The facts presented here help clarify what CBD is, who might benefit from it and what the UK law states about the sale and use of CBD. The good safety profile the product has, in terms of minimal side effects or dependence, should also be reassuring.
It is clear that growing evidence is emerging of how many people are benefitting from the use of CBD.
For a product that is safe and effective, a review of the laws surrounding the medical use of CBD seems appropriate. Over 60% of users with either chronic pain or anxiety finding it is managing their conditions well without any other medication use is impressive. As more evidence like this evolves, the question will surely arise of whether health professionals can afford not to be talking to their patients about CBD. Savings in terms of prescribing other drugs and in improving patient’s quality of life could be significant.
What are your thoughts on CBD? Have you used it and found benefit? Please comment below.
To find out more about me and the health writing I do please see my Health Writing page.
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