The basics of CBD
In the last few years, cannabidiol (CBD) has reached new heights of popularity. It can be found in numerous products, including oils, balms, coffee and even fizzy drinks.
Despite being sold everywhere, from online stores to supermarkets, the substance is still surrounded by misinformation and myth. Many are still unsure of the key questions: Will CBD get a person high? Are CBD products legal? How can someone tell if they are buying genuine high-quality CBD?
To answer these questions, get a good grasp of the details and understand why CBD is so popular, it’s best to take a closer look at the basics.
What is CBD?
CBD is one of nearly a hundred cannabinoids found in plants of the genus Cannabis. Today, it is extracted from legal hemp varieties to make a range of beneficial products. The World Health Organization (WHO) say that the substance is “well-tolerated with a good safety profile”.
When CBD is absorbed into the body, it interacts with cannabinoid receptors found in the nervous system. Interaction with these “endocannabinoid receptors” supports the body’s homeostatic mechanism. This mechanism works to keep the body healthy by sending signals to all the various systems to keep them in balance.
By absorbing CBD, the body can increase the levels of its own cannabinoid “anandamide”, which allows it to respond to imbalances, including those caused by chronic pain, illness and anxiety.
Does CBD get people high?
CBD is non-intoxicating and won’t get people high. The WHO believes that “CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential”. The high that is associated with cannabis comes from the presence of another cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
The hemp varieties used to make CBD products are selected for their low levels of THC. During the production process, manufacturers use techniques to reduce further the amount of THC contained in the final product.
By taking CBD, some people report a feeling of relaxation or a grounded sensation. Small amounts taken during the day can help feel alert and focused and larger amounts in the evening can support a great night’s sleep. However, any physical sensation is very mild and isn’t experienced by everyone who uses CBD.
What are the benefits of CBD?
There is still lots of research to be done, but current studies indicate that CBD has a range of benefits for several key conditions:
Reduced seizures from some forms of epilepsy
This is the first approved use of a CBD-based medicine. Epidyolex is an oral solution of CBD used to treat seizures caused by Lennox Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Extensive clinical trials were conducted before it was approved; they showed a reduction of seizures by up to 40%.
Relief from anxiety
Many people use CBD to manage the symptoms of anxiety and report that it has a calming effect. A study showed that daily amounts of 600mg reduced the effect of social anxiety felt by people as they spoke in public.
Support with chronic pain conditions
In 2017 a review of research and current use of CBD concluded that: “Patients who were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids are more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction in pain symptoms.”
The medicine Sativex contains both CBD and THC. During trials, it was found to have a powerful effect on the pain felt by MS sufferers. During a 58-person trial of people with rheumatoid arthritis, most participants reported a significant reduction in pain and an improvement in sleep quality.
Soothing skin conditions and supporting healthy skin
CBD displays several properties that could make it a useful addition to skincare products. In 2014, a study found that it had a role in reducing the production of excess oil (sebum) in the skin. This could reduce the chance of outbreaks of acne and minimise oily patches.
Is it legal?
CBD products are legal in the UK if they meet these strict criteria:
- They must contain less than 1mg per container of the controlled cannabinoids THC and CBN.
- They should not be marketed as medicines or sold with the promise of specific health benefits.
- They can only be in a form where any remaining THC cannot be easily separated.
Trustworthy CBD retailers will employ an independent, third-party lab to test each batch of their products. The results should then be made available to customers at the point of sale. These certificates of analysis include a measurement of the actual amount of THC and CBN they contain. This amount must fall below 1mg for the product to be legal.
How to choose a good quality product
There are so many companies offering CBD products today; it’s hard to know where to start. A recommended UK CBD retailer, for the Ageless, list their selection criteria on their main collection page, so customers can quickly make a decision and choose the best product possible.
It is also possible to check for a high-quality product by looking out for these details:
Full or broad-spectrum
Full-spectrum CBD products contain traces of all the cannabinoids found in the hemp plant, including THC. The presence of the other cannabinoids, even in minute amounts, enhances the beneficial effects of the CBD. This combined effect is known as the “entourage effect” and is more potent than that of CBD on its own.
Broad-spectrum CBD products have traces of several cannabinoids but no detectable THC. These products have a better effect than CBD isolate products but aren’t as powerful as those made with a full-spectrum extract.
Third-party lab tests
Industry authorities such as CannaPro and the Cannabis Trades Association encourage their members to employ third-party labs to test samples of every batch of their products. These tests verify claims made by the retailer and allow customers to check that the actual contents of the bottle match the claims on the label.
It’s claimed that organically farmed CBD is the best choice. Hemp is a bioaccumulator, which means that any contaminants in the soil are absorbed and can build up to toxic levels in the leaves. If chemical pesticides and fertilisers are used on the farm, these may well end up in the final product, making it potentially unsafe. To be sure that a CBD product has been produced from organic hemp, the farm must be organically certified.
CBD is a natural cannabinoid that can be safely extracted from legal hemp plants. It won’t get users high, and an increasing number of studies verify its potential as a wellbeing supplement. It is legal to buy CBD if it has less than 1mg THC per container, no medical claims and the THC cannot be easily separated.
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