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Health

CBD oil: the cannabis supplement taking the wellness world by storm

June 19th 2018 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru / 0 comment

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It’s one of the fastest growing supplements in the US and the UK and is said to help everything from insomnia to anxiety and joint pain. As the row regarding the legalisation of medicinal cannabis continues, we find out more about its legal counterpart

There are few supplements that spark as much of a debate as cannabis oil - one that’s been reignited by the recent case of epilepsy sufferer Billy Caldwell, 12, who had his medicinal cannabis oil confiscated by officials at Heathrow Airport after his mother attempted to bring it in from Canada to the UK. The reason? It contains a psychoactive substance called Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is currently illegal in the UK without a licence. The use of cannabis for medicinal purposes is now subject to a review by the government.

Not all types of cannabis oil are banned though. Cannabidiol (CBD oil), derived from the stems and leaves of hemp plants, is currently flying off shelves thanks to its wide range of purported health benefits that include better sleep and the relief of joint pain, stress and anxiety. Healthspan Medical Director Dr Sarah Brewer says, "CBD is one of the fastest growing wellbeing supplements in both the US and the UK. It has beneficial effects on the brain to promote relaxation, better sleep, and general feelings of wellbeing." In case you were worried, it won’t make you high. “CBD is non-intoxicating and void of any psychoactive-inducing properties. It’s been widely researched in the States for its health benefits and is increasingly used as a herbal supplement to promote general feelings of wellbeing,” she says.

CBD can benefit both body and mind

“CBD oil has direct effects on brain receptors to reduce pain perception, relieve anxiety and stress and lift mood,” explains Dr Brewer. “The way it does this though is utterly natural and extremely clever. It enhances the effects of other natural brain chemicals like serotonin (often described as the happiness hormone) without stimulating the parts of your brain that marijuana does (because of its THC content).” It’s therefore not addictive as it doesn’t produce the same ‘high’ as marijuana does. It’s also been linked to helping those with social anxiety and is being investigated as a treatment for panic attacks, OCD and post-traumatic stress disorder too.

It can also help improve sleep. “CBD is a popular treatment for insomnia, and promotes refreshing REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement - the dream phase) to reduce excessive daytime drowsiness,” says Dr Brewer, a benefit that she’s experienced first-hand. “Since I started taking a CBD oil capsule at night, I’ve slept really deeply and awoke feeling refreshed.”

From a physical perspective, CBD extracts have been linked to the relief of joint pain due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. “They also have pain-relieving effects due to their interaction with certain parts of the brain,” highlights Dr Brewer.

Taking a CBD oil supplement - start gradually

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A gradual approach is recommended - start low and build up your intake if needed. “For general wellbeing, I’d recommend a dose of 6.4mg one to three times a day, or 15mg strength once or twice a day (i.e. up to 30mg per day),” advises Dr Brewer.

There are both capsule and oil variations available. CBD oil has a slightly bitter taste that can linger in the mouth though, so capsules such as those from Healthspan, from £34.99, might make it easier to swallow. “Healthspan’s CBD oil is obtained from industrial hemp plants that are grown in Europe without herbicides or pesticides, is purified, independently tested to ensure they are non-GMO and certified to contain trace amounts of psychoactive ingredients such as THC,” says Dr Brewer. She highlights that trace elements of THC will have zero effect on your physical or mental state.

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Another that has acquired a cult following as of late is Purephyto CBD Oil, £39.99. Not only does the brand's range of products come with endorsements from world champion boxer Billy Joe Saunders and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu champion Kywan Gracie, but BBC TV’s George Lamb also recommended the supplements to his mother to help her manage the symptoms of her chronic rheumatoid arthritis. The result is that it reduced the number of painkillers she took per week from 20-30 to 12.

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The side-effects

On the whole, Dr Brewer highlights that CBD oil’s pretty well-tolerated across a wide dosage range (of up to 200mg per day when taken orally). There are a few aspects to bear in mind though but nothing to be too concerned about. “Reported side-effects such as dry mouth, low blood pressure, lightheadedness and drowsiness are rare,” says Dr Brewer. “A new report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on CBD also confirms that it has a good safety profile too.”

She does warn though that it can interact with some medications so, as with any supplement or herbal remedy, if you are taking any prescribed treatments, or have any medical condition, check with your doctor before taking it. CBD's also not for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Read more: How cannabis is becoming skincare’s hottest new ingredient

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