These three letters have emerged into UK culture a great deal lately. In fact, it’s now pretty rare to walk down any high street without seeing advertisements or dedicated shops for this mysterious substance in its myriad of forms.

If like many others, you have wondered whether you could be missing out on the perceived benefits of CBD, then you’ve come to the right place, as today, we’re going to be providing an introduction into CBD, what it is and what you may (or may not) be missing.

What is CBD?

what is cbd

CBD, otherwise known as Cannabidiol, is a chemical compound and a completely natural substance, which is extracted from the hemp plant. Not everyone knows this, but the hemp plant is one of the most prolifically grown plants and one that can be found all around the globe.

CBD is completely legal in the UK (provided it is derived from industrial hemp) and in many other countries around the world. However, it is important to remember that if you purchase CBD and are traveling internationally you must ensure you are absolutely certain of relevant legislation in any areas you pass through as well as in your final destination.

First and foremost, although related to ‘tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); which is the major active ingredient in marijuana (and the one that has become famous for its ‘high’), you don’t need to worry about being affected. CBD is completely non-psychoactive, and so will not cause you to feel high as though you had just smoked a joint. Despite the lack of high, however, one of the most well-known effects of CBD is that it can help you to wind down and relax. 

Are hemp and CBD the same?

Are hemp and cbd the same?

One of the biggest confusions around CBD relates to hemp, so what are the differences? As we have said, CBD from hemp won’t get you ‘high,’ as it contains very little or virtually no Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Hemp is the plant from which THC and other compounds come from, but it is used in a myriad of ways, including medicine, paper, and clothing. 

CBD is just one of the 113 cannabinoids that make up this plant, and its chemical makeup is very distinct from that of hemp, helping to tell the two apart much easier. 

What does CBD mean in medical terms?

cbd in medical terms

Research and the introduction of legislation and guidelines around the use of CBD indicate that it is an effective treatment for the management of pain. It is as a result of many years of research around the effectiveness of CBD, that the NHS has begun to prescribe CBD for pain management

It should be noted, however, that CBD prescriptions are the exception rather than the rule and are only available in a small number of cases, and from a specialist hospital doctor. Currently, in the UK, you may be offered CBD on prescription if you fall under the following categories:

  • Children with two severe and rare types of epilepsy may be able to get CBD on an NHS prescription: Lennox Gastaut and Dravet syndrome.
  • From January 2020 in combination with Clobazam; a prescribed medication for children from the age of two, and also for adults.

Today, many people want to try something different than prescription medication, and often this may be due to side effects that people have to live with.  The human body has a network of cannabinoid receptors on the surface of cells and this is known as the endocannabinoid system.  Endocannabinoid molecules are created in the event of changes within the body. The cannabinoid receptors within the central nervous system, brain, organs, and immune system interact with these molecules to manage the changes and help restore balance and relieve symptoms. 

How might I benefit from using CBD?

how could cbd benefit me?

For decades, people have begun to actively seek alternatives to pharmacological medication, or remedies to take in combination with these.  Both suppliers and users of CBD, extol its virtues and report relief from conditions or symptoms, such as: 

  • Inflammation
  • Muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Depression
  • Vomiting and nausea – including the side effects associated with the effects of treatments for cancer
  • Reduction in epileptic seizures.
  • Improvements in acne, again due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Further research into the benefits of CBD in mental health issues has begun; as early indicators point to potential improvements in psychosis, associated with conditions such as schizophrenia. 

What form does CBD take?

If you’re wondering how to use CBD then you’re not alone!  With such a wide range of products available it can be tricky to know where to start, but below is a handy guide you can follow to find the best consumption method for you: 

  • CBD oil tincture; which is placed under the tongue for around a minute to allow absorption into the bloodstream, or simply add it to your food!
  • Capsules – readily available for those who may not appreciate the taste. It has an ‘earthy’ taste
  • There are also a number of edibles and gummies on the market. Some cafes now offer coffees containing CBD, or even brownies – regular and vegan! 
  • If vaping and eliquids are more your scene, these aren’t hard to find
  • CBD oil can also be applied topically to areas of the body where pain or inflammation is present.

Dosage and side effects of CBD

 dosage and side effects of cbd

In order to meet UK legal requirements, CBD cannot contain any more than 0.2% THC.  There is a seemingly bewildering array of dosages and strengths of CBD products, and the rule of thumb is to check with the supplier and/or conduct your own research.  The suggested dosage is very much dependent on what condition you intend to use it for; alongside your weight, age, and gender.  CBD falls into the category of a food supplement and there is no current specific Reference Intake.

It is worth starting with lower amounts to monitor the impact and slowly increasing your intake if required.  This process is known as micro-dosing and if you are new to CBD products, the effects may well be an unknown quantity.  Another benefit is that you may save some money if less is all it takes! 

The vast majority of CBD consumers do not experience any concerning effects.  A small number of users have reported experiencing:

  • drowsiness; although if your reason for using CBD is to combat insomnia, this could be viewed as a benefit.
  • A dry mouth. In comparison to many other prescribed pharmaceutical medications, such side effects may seem small fry.

The World Health Organisation indicates no evidence of potential abuse or harm.  

What about combining CBD with prescribed or over-the-counter medications?

combining cbd with prescription medication

It is vital to speak with General Practitioner before starting to take any CBD product.  Similarly, always speak to your GP if you later consider making any changes to prescribed medications. 

Below is a list of medications that are known to interact with CBD. Again, the key is to seek medical advice and to exercise caution.

  • Steroids
  • HMG CoA reductase inhibitors
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Antihistamines
  • Prokinetics
  • HIV antivirals
  • Immune modulators
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Antiarrhythmics
  • Antibiotics
  • Anesthetics
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-epileptics
  • Beta-blockers
  • PPIs
  • NSAIDs
  • Angiotensin II blockers
  • Oral hypoglycemic agents
  • Sulfonylureas 

Additionally, do not use CBD products if any medication you are taking has a Patient Information Leaflet telling you to avoid grapefruit juice as this can affect the levels of the drug in your bloodstream. 

Could you benefit from using CBD?

Whilst CBD availability and consumption are relatively new in the UK; it is estimated that around 10% of the adult population have tried CBD products at least once, and many people use them daily or with a high degree of regularity. Rather than being yet another health fad, it seems that CBD is not going anyway any time soon, but is it something you could benefit from?

If you’re considering making CBD part of your health routine, we always advise first seeking medical advice. However, by researching the cannabinoid thoroughly, and ensuring you’re obtaining your CBD from a reputable provider, you can go a long way to safely and responsibly finding out if CBD is right for you.