CBD oil, or cannabidiol, was legalised in the UK in 2018. Since then, there has been a significant turnaround in people’s perceptions of cannabis, looking beyond the recreational drug and towards potential therapeutic benefits of CBD.
Hemp plants contain 104 chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids. The two main active substances are CBD – cannabidiol- and THC – tetrahydrocannabinol. While cannabis has a long history of therapeutic benefits, the infamous psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, grabbed the Western world’s focus while its quieter counterpart, CBD, went largely unnoticed until recently.
Today, CBD oil is legal to buy in the UK as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. The CBD is extracted from the hemp plant and diluted with another oil, usually coconut or hemp oil. While research shows that UK-grade CBD products are safe for use, its benefits are still not backed by concrete scientific evidence; research is ongoing. Despite this, the industry continues to grow and there are more products on the market, including oil drops, capsules and balms.
Humans produce cannabinoids of their own, as well as having two forms of cannabinoid receptor: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are linked to several functions including movement, pain, thoughts, appetite; THC attaches to the receptors, leading to the “high” that recreational cannabis users experience. High levels of CB2 receptors can be found in the immune system and affect inflammation and pain; it is known that CBD interacts with the CB2 receptors.
As with many alternative or natural therapies, there is not currently sufficient evidence to prove that CBD does have the effects that users report. However, people have been self-medicating with Marijuana for hundreds, if not thousands, of years; it is thought that marijuana was used to relieve pain as long ago as 2,900b.c.
CBD is known to have relaxant, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, the effects of which are subject to ongoing research. Because it is known not to be harmful, and with the psychoactive THC removed, people suffering from certain conditions are willing to try CBD oil when other treatments have failed, if they are seeking a natural alternative to traditional treatment, or if there are no alternative treatments.
People are, therefore, choosing to take CBD oil to treat conditions associated with inflammation including: joint pain and stiffness; MS; arthritis; and type 1 diabetes. Its suspected anti-seizure properties mean that CBD oil is used to control epilepsy and other neurological disorders, and it has also been shown in some studies to alleviate certain types of anxiety. Among the myriad studies into the many potential properties of CBD, research also indicates that the compound could suppress the growth of cancer cells.
While the CBD industry is undoubtedly burgeoning, at this stage evidence is largely anecdotal or unvalidated. However, for people suffering from the many conditions that CBD oil may alleviate, CBD is a low-risk alternative treatment that could, if initial research is correct, transform lives.
There have been reports of tiredness, decreased appetite, diarrhoea,