What Is CBD Oil and How Does It Work?

There is a man in a cave, somewhere in the deepest, darkest recesses of a mountain, who hasn’t yet heard about the amazing medicinal potential of CBD oil. He is probably pretty much the only person left in the world who hasn’t.

Cannabis-derived products, in particular CBD oils, are everywhere right now. States across America are wrangling the technicalities of legalising the plant, while medical establishments are beginning to sink real investments into researching the therapeutic qualities of cannabinoid compounds.

Cannabis satvia plantTeas, tinctures and edibles sit proudly on supplement shelves, boasting of their possible anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and pain-suppressing properties.

In the UK, the product of the moment is CBD. Available in a full-spectrum CBD oil, or crystallized CBD Isolate, this is the only legal form of cannabinoid you can take in Britain. This CBD oil is popping up regularly in the news, on blogs and even in health food shops as the new wellbeing product.

But, despite all this exposure, despite so many people knowing that CBD oil is a thing, a good thing, it’s still a subject people struggle with.

We still see so many questions. People aren’t sure if it’s legal, if it’s safe, what the exact benefits might be and how you take it to best harness them.

We’re concerned that this confusion might be holding people back from exploring this new wellbeing super supplement and discovering the benefits it could have for them.

That’s why we thought we’d address some of these questions in one space. We’ll look at what CBD is, how it works, how to use it, and hopefully highlight why this is a supplement worth trying.

What Is CBD?

CBD oil is made by extracting the chemical compound cannabidiol from a cannabis plant (cannabis sativa) which is then diluted with an oil such as hemp seed oil.

CBD is shorthand for ‘cannabidiol’ which is a chemical compound found in cannabis plants. It is a completely naturally occurring substance, which is carefully extracted and refined in order to remove the THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol).

THC is the psychoactive part of cannabis, which creates the euphoric effects we would recognise as ‘getting high’. Unlike THC, taking CBD oil does not produce this “high”.

For this reason, that the majority of cannabidiol CBD sold is extracted from hemp rather than marijuana plants. Both plants come from the cannabis family, but hemp derived CBD products are naturally far lower in THC.

After extraction and refining, full and broad-spectrum CBD will usually have less than 0.2% THC left in it. This is far too little to create any psychoactive effects. In the UK, having 0.2% or less THC is a legal requirement.

Just because CBD is made from hemp doesn’t mean you will get the same effects from straight hemp oil though. That’s extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant, and has no cannabinoids in it at all, not CBD and not THC. It is packed with plenty of healthy fats and has its own benefits though, and you should consider it you’re looking for a carrier oil for your CBD.

Once it is extracted CBD is available in two forms. A fine, pure, powder called CBD Isolate or a full spectrum cannabinoid oil, that is slightly less refined but potentially has more benefits.

“Is CBD legal?” is a common question we hear and the answer is yes, cannabidiol cbd certainly is. However it must contain no THC.

How Does CBD Oil Work?

Scattered throughout the human body are cannabinoid receptors. In fact, we have enough of these receptors to form a whole system called the ‘endocannabinoid system’.

These endocannabinoids are an integral part in balancing out all the chemicals we have, particularly around stress or pain responses.

It used to be thought that supplementary CBD worked by attaching to these cannabinoid receptors. However, later research has started to suggest the introduction of CBD guides the body to use more of its own naturally occurring cannabinoids.

The Health Benefits of Cannabidiol CBD

Despite the massive boom in interest around CBD, research into the exact benefits it can have is in the early stages.

This means that evidence around its specific healing properties is still highly limited, which is why it is promoted as a supplement but not a cure.

However, anecdotal evidence supports a list of suggested benefits that is impressively extensive and related to cannabidiol CBD’s reported anti inflammatory properties and the ability of cannabidiol to relieve pain.

These potential benefits include:

  • Reducing inflammation and relieving chronic pain & pain
  • Treating anxiety and stress
  • Treating acne and other skin complaints
  • Tackling neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
  • Helping with insomnia – Improving sleep quality
  • Lower blood pressure

CBD has been lauded as a treatment for a number of health conditions including :

  • Chronic Pain
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Inflammatory and Neuropathic Pain
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cancer Related Pain
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Dravet Syndrome
  • Lennox-Gastaut syndrome

CBD for Chronic Pain

Cannabis-based products are prescribed on the NHS in the UK for a small number of health issues to treat pain.

Medical cannabis” are the products derived from the cannabis plant that are available on an NHS prescription.

Medical cannabis is only available for the following health conditions in order to relieve pain:

  • Two rare forms of severe epilepsy – Dravet Syndrome and Lennox Gastaut Syndrome
  • For sickness caused by chemotherapy for cancer treatment
  • For muscle spasms (muscle spasticity) and stiffness caused by multiple sclerosis

A poll in the UK by YouGov found around 14 million people were using cannabis illegally for pain relief.

There are only three approved medical cannabis products:

  • Epidyolex for children and adults with epilepsy
  • Nabilone for chemotherapy patients
  • Nabiximols (Sativex) for multiple sclerosis

There are of course many nonprescription CBD products available that are widely used by prople to relieve symptoms of pain.

CBD for Cancer Pain

Cannabis has been used for centuries for pain relief and understandably there is research around its use as a potential anticancer drug.

Research so far has been lab-based so clinical trials and human studies are needed for evidence that cannabis can be used as a cancer treatment. Cannabinoids are used to treat cancer related pain in terms of Nabilone for chemotherapy.

More research is being carried out as to whether Sativex can help with cancer pain. There’s more information on the Cancer Research UK website.

CBD as a Substance Abuse Treatment

Cannabidoil has been used in clinical trials investigating its potential as a substance abuse treatment. In a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry cannabis helped with drug withdrawal symptoms, reducing cravings and was shown to reduce anxiety.

Is CBD Oil Safe?

CBD oil has such revolutionary potential because it carries all the brilliant benefits of cannabis, without the complications of THC side-effects.

As well as creating the ‘high’ feeling commonly associated with cannabis, this troublesome compound can also heighten anxiety. And get you arrested.

Naturally-derived CBD oil has such little THC in it, that you don’t need to worry about these side-effects. At all.

As with any supplements, the only risk occurs if you take too much. If you take suitably refined, responsible doses of CBD, it should be more than just safe: it should be beneficial.

How Do I Use CBD Oil?

One of the wonderful things about CBD oil is that it is versatile to use, with a range of ways you can take it.

Perhaps the simplest way is to use it as a tincture. Drop it under your tongue and it will rapidly pass in to your bloodstream. You could feel the effects in as little as half an hour.

Another way you can take it is through eating it. You can buy pre-made edibles or you can add it to your own cooking. If you are in a rush, you could even consider adding it to a drink, and washing it straight down.

The main drawback of eating or drinking your CBD is that it will have to pass through your digestive system, particularly your liver, which can have a big impact on how effective it is.

If you’d rather not ingest your CBD oil, there is always the option to apply it topically – you have the option of a CBD patch or a CBD cream. You can massage it into your skin for a localised effect: it is suggested that this can help with muscle aches and strains.

Another option to use CBD is through a vape pen. This is better for people who are already experienced with inhaling smoke, because it goes straight through your lungs into your body, bypassing the liver, keeping it at maximum efficacy.

The way you choose to take CBD will have a massive impact on the amount you should take. The product packaging will give indications of dosage size, but always start at the lowest level then work up.

Awareness of CBD is on the increase. Anecdotal evidence is being joined by growing scientific research into the potential health benefits and therapeutic applications it may have. Soon, even living in a cave won’t be enough to keep you from the next big wellbeing aid, CBD.

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