Whether you’re a university student discussing the merits of micro-dosing with your campus colleagues, or a senior citizen swapping stories of alternative remedies in your care home, you’ve probably heard of CBD by now.
My colleague’s mother’s walking group in Yorkshire are a spry lot – regularly clocking up 12 miles per day (with the occasional pub stop). But it’s not just real ale that’s keeping these Daily Telegraph-reading, seventy-somethings going – they all take CBD oil, which they say is good for their joints. Hailed as the new miracle plant-based remedy, it’s part of a recent re- branding of the cannabis plant, fuelled by de-regulation and increased medical research in recent years.
All kinds of CBD-containing products are popping up everywhere. From CBD tea, to pet products – even CBD- infused tampons. But the key questions are – is it all hype, do any of these products work, and is it worth all the fuss? Well, 14% of Americans seem to think so. According to Gallup, one in seven say they regularly use CBD-based products, with usage spread pretty evenly across age groups. Various sources suggest that more than a million people in the UK regularly use CBD, and even more use it in Germany.
However, even though CBD is now more regularly available in the UK and across Europe, there’s still a lot of misconceptions. People ask if CBD will get you high. Is it safe to use? Are CBD products legal? Can CBD help with Covid-19? Where can you find the best CBD oil in the UK? What should you look for when buying CBD? And, importantly – how can you tell if you are buying quality CBD?
To get behind both the motivations of existing users and discover whether CBD could work for you, it’s worth first getting to grips with the basics.
What is CBD?
As you’ll know from school biology, our bodies are made up of different systems responsible for specific functions, such as our digestive system, immune system, respiratory system etc. One such system is the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which has only become more widely understood in the last 30 years. Our ECS plays a part in regulating our sleep, pain reception, appetite and immunity by producing its own endocannabinoids to balance our bodies.
When we’re not feeling so well it’s partly because our body isn’t producing enough endocannabinoids to level us out, which can result in a variety of symptoms ranging from pain, to inflammation, anxiety and insomnia. And that’s where CBD has the potential to step in and offer some balance.
CBD is one of 113 plant-based cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, which again is a relatively new discovery. The most well-known cannabinoid is of course THC, the psychoactive ingredient that gets you high (and got the whole plant banned from society for the last 100 years). The two main distinct branches of the cannabis plant are hemp and marijuana. Unfortunately, it was marijuana and its bad rap that blocked our understanding of hemp overall. In simple terms, THC is more commonly found in marijuana, and CBD is more common to the hemp plant.
In even more recent times we’ve begun to learn that when we absorb CBD into our body, it intermingles with cannabinoid receptors found in our nervous system, helping create a homeostatic state. Put simply, it’s the constant back and forth communication between these systems that keeps us balanced.
This is why we’re continually hearing how medical marijuana is being successfully used to treat more chronic illnesses, such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease. These are examples where internal systems are significantly out of balance and need the powerful effects of THC to help those suffering with these conditions.
But back to the hemp branch of the cannabis family, rich in CBD and with much lower or negligible amounts of THC. It is believed that, through the absorption of CBD, the body can produce more of its own cannabinoid, “anandamide”. Often known as “the bliss molecule,” for its ability to heighten motivation and happiness, it’s anandamide that allows the body to respond to imbalances and level up. As well as naturally occurring in our bodies, anandamide has also been found in chocolate, which in itself says a lot given how often we naturally turn to it when feeling stressed or under the weather.
Is CBD safe?
CBD does not usually cause any side effects and is non- toxic. The World Health Organisation states that it “is well- tolerated with a good safety profile” and points to CBD as a promising treatment for a number of medical conditions. Many of us have been switching to CBD to replace over- the-counter pain and sleep medications, in the safe knowledge that CBD doesn’t get you high. However, if you are taking prescription medications, we would not recommend that you stop taking these without speaking to your doctor first.
CBD is also not recommended if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and we would not recommend that it is given to children until more research is undertaken.
Is CBD legal?
CBD is legal in the UK so long as certain conditions are met. For instance, the hemp strain from which CBD extract has been derived must either be EU-approved or come from outside the EU. In each case there must be no more than a minimal trace of THC – 0.2% or less, and under 1mg per dose.
Remember not to confuse CBD with cannabis oil, which has been getting a lot of media attention lately. Cannabis (marijuana) is still a controlled drug (Class B) in the UK, with significant levels of THC. Through increased media attention, it is now becoming more readily available on prescription to those with some of the chronic illnesses mentioned earlier.
For now, CBD is considered a food supplement in the UK, with its future classification made slightly unclear with the whole Brexit debacle.
EVNLY is committed to only allowing brands and their products on to our platform that can demonstrate that their products meet the legal requirements, with 3 rd partly lab certificates required to verify this.
Can CBD help with Covid-19?
There is no direct evidence to date that CBD can help either prevent or treat Covid-19, although some studies suggest that potent CBD-rich formulations could be effective in the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a life-threatening symptom of the virus. There are also a number of other tests currently underway in which CBD and certain cannabinoid and terpene blends are being used to treat the inflammatory conditions caused by Covid-19. The general view among the medical research community is that, while it may take time to find, there will be a means of utilising the plant to prevent and manage the symptoms of Covid-19.
We tend to agree, but believe this is more likely to be identified through a specific strain of medicinal-grade cannabis, which would then need to undergo even more extensive testing before being made available to healthcare practitioners.
In the meantime, sales of CBD products have continued to rise during the pandemic, probably due to uncertainty of the future and the anxiety this causes. Add to this the abnormal sleeping patterns that have resulted – which some have labelled “Covid-somnia” – and it’s clear why sales are up as people turn to natural remedies to help manage the pandemic’s indirect symptoms.
What formats is CBD available in? And what’s best?
There are hundreds of products now on the market, so working out what’s best for you depends on your needs and objectives.
Many people stick to the traditional method of CBD oil tinctures, placing a few drops of oil under their tongue. Others prefer to mask the earthy taste in the form of gummies or soft-gel capsules, just like taking any other supplement.
Patches, balms and creams provide another route to administer CBD. Along with other natural ingredients, such as arnica and eucalyptus, this can be a good way of using CBD to help with muscular pain and inflammation. There has also been a huge explosion in CBD-based beauty products, with many preferring to swap chemical- based ingredients for natural substances more in tune with the planet and our bodies. Whatever your motivation, there’s likely to be a CBD alternative that’s now available for you to try.
Is the CBD used in these products all the same?
The industry has settled on three main types of CBD – Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum and CBD-only. Full Spectrum is where the whole of the plant extract is used, which includes all 113 of the cannabinoids, and includes a trace of THC up to permitted levels (0.2% in Europe and 0.3% in the US). Broad Spectrum is similar, but has all of the THC removed. The final version, but one used less often as the industry evolves, is where the extract has been heavily processed to remove everything other than CBD. Both Full Spectrum and Broad Spectrum products have become more popular than the highly-processed variant, as they retain other beneficial compounds found in the plant that act synergistically. The theory is that using the a broader set of compounds from the plant boosts the overall therapeutic effect of the cannabinoids, which is known as “the entourage effect.”
How do you find quality CBD?
It’s not easy. Even high street retailers are selling products that we would consider to be poor in quality. A Which? report found that a number of popular CBD products sold in the UK are unclear about their strength and contents. This was further supported by a test on CBD oils conducted by the Centre for Medical Cannabis (CMC), which revealed that one product found in a high street pharmacy chain contained no cannabinoids at all, while a further 11 contained less than 50% of the stated CBD content. This is why we set up EVNLY. We don’t believe you should have to have a PHD in biochemistry to buy effective, quality plant-based remedies.
As such, we are currently evaluating a range of CBD products using our unique 7-Step Product Verification Process to determine which brands stand up to scrutiny, and which can be considered the best available on the market today. To do this the right way takes time, and we are working to bring you our first, fully-validated range shortly. But if you can’t wait and want to try CBD today, we suggest you follow the tips in our guide only on The LEVEL - 5 Things to consider when buying CBD.
There’s no doubt that there are proven benefits in using quality CBD products and, as the science keeps digging, so will we. However, as with any new industry, a lack of standardised testing and labelling is creating confusion, resulting in many potential buyers resisting purchase until they are sure they are buying products that are worth it. We agree that there’s work to be done in this nascent industry, and that it needs growers, manufacturers and retailers with an unrivalled commitment to quality, if we are to make the most of this great natural resource.