CBD products such as oils, capsules and sprays can be found in the UK’s health food shops. They are often used to help with symptoms like chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, insomnia and anxiety.
CBD is a compound that comes from the cannabis sativa plant. The compound is not illegal in the UK, although cannabis itself is classified as a class B drug.
What is CBD?
CBD is the short form of the chemical compound cannabidiol and is one of 104 active compounds in the cannabis or hemp plant. It doesn’t contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive part of the plant that gets you high, so products containing CBD can legally be sold on the UK market.
The popularity of CBD has soared since Charlotte Caldwell made headlines in 2018 when she was arrested at Heathrow Airport for trying to bring into the country CBD oil to treat her son Billy’s seizures, which were up to 100 per day. CBD products are now available in health food shops, pharmacies and on the high street as oils to be dropped under the tongue or e-liquids to be vaped, gel capsules, muscle sprays and even in beer, hummus and sweets.
The UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has classified CBD as a medicine, meaning that it must be produced to pharmaceutical standards. It is also the main ingredient in two medicines – Sativex and Epidiolex, which are approved to treat certain rare forms of epilepsy.
What are the Benefits of CBD?
There’s some evidence that CBD might help with inflammation, chronic pain and anxiety. But more research is needed. And it’s important to remember that CBD is only one of many compounds in the cannabis plant. It’s not, as some people suggest, a cure-all for everything from high blood pressure to menstrual cramps.
In fact, CBD may even be harmful in some cases. For example, it can interact with certain drugs like benzodiazepine sedatives like Klonopin (clonazepam), Ativan (lorazepam) and Valium (diazepam), anti-psychotics like quetiapine and clozapine, immune-suppressants like cyclosporine and some tuberculosis medicines, including rifampin.
The only pure CBD-based medicine that’s been licensed to treat conditions in the UK is a drug called Epidiolex, which reduces seizures for some children with severe epilepsy. But most of the CBD products on sale in shops, such as oils, capsules and gummies, have not been through this process. And they’re often sold as food supplements rather than as medicines. This means that they don’t have to be labelled accurately and could contain illegal ingredients, says Professor Sumnall.
What are the Side Effects of CBD?
CBD has not been shown to have any side effects when used at therapeutic doses. However, it is wise to start with a small amount and increase gradually to find the best dose for you.
The body has a natural system called the endocannabinoid system that uses cannabinoids to control things like sleep, pain, and mood. CBD interacts with this system in a way that is different to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that creates a ‘high’ feeling.
CBD has been found in preclinical studies to help with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis, among other illnesses. It is also being studied for its potential to help with anxiety, chronic pain, and rheumatoid arthritis. There are two CBD-based medicines available on prescription in the UK: Nabilone, which treats severe sickness from chemotherapy; and Sativex, a spray you can inhale to ease muscle spasticity in people with MS. Research is ongoing into the use of CBD in other conditions including PTSD and diabetes complications.
Where to Buy CBD in the UK
CBD is one of the biggest wellness trends at the moment and it’s lining high street shelves in all forms. You can find it in Holland & Barrett, Superdrug, John Lewis and even Boots! It’s also becoming an ingredient in a huge amount of skincare products.
The UK’s laws on CBD are a little confusing, but it’s generally legal to buy any hemp-based product as long as it contains only 1 mg of THC per container. However, there are still some products that are regulated differently or live in a grey area (especially CBD edibles).
Our endocannabinoid systems react differently to different concentrations of UK CBD oil and it’s best to start with a low dose to see what works for you. This is our favourite water soluble CBD oil that has been specially developed to be up to 10 times more absorbed than standard oils. It’s sweetened with natural ingredients and has an incredible chocolate hazelnut flavour!