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FAQ: everything you want to know about CBD

Everyone is talking about CBD, thanks to recent press coverage and the popularity of CBD supplements in the United States. But what is CBD, and could it be right for you?

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural compound found in the leaves of the hemp plant, an annual, flowering herb that has been cultivated for thousands of years.

CBD oil is extracted from the hemp plant, a strain of hemp that was bred to produce useful fibres. It contains high levels of CBD, but low levels of the tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) that cause people to feel ‘high’.

CBD has now been approved as a medicine by several countries, including the United States, Sweden, and Canada. In the United Kingdom, it can be sold legally as a supplement, in smaller doses.

What are the benefits of CBD?

Dr Nicholas Shenker PhD FRCP, is a consultant rheumatologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and a member of the medical advisory board at Cambridge Nutraceuticals. He explains what we know about CBD:

‘More research is needed before we have a full picture of its benefits.’

‘At high [pharmaceutical] doses, CBD has been shown to have some potentially beneficial effects on neurological disorders, such as seizures and multiple sclerosis. It might also have an effect on arthritis, although most of the data comes from animal models and need to be confirmed. Because of its anti-inflammatory effects, some studies suggest that CBD could be useful for irritable bowel disease (IBD) treatment.’

‘At low doses, CBD has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. An in vitro study done in rat cells showed that CBD was more effective than vitamin C and vitamin E as a neuroprotective antioxidant.’

How long does CBD last?

There is no definitive answer to this question. With many nutritional supplements, the strength and duration of any effects will depend on multiple factors including your metabolism and chosen delivery method.

You should follow the directions for use provided with your chosen CBD supplement – this should give you a good idea of how much to take, and how often.

Is CBD oil safe?

We know that CBD is well tolerated by humans even in high doses (1,500mg per day), is non-toxic, and is regarded as safe for human consumption. CBD is not addictive.

Research is ongoing, but scientific studies have shown that it can cause some low-risk side effects in a small percentage of people when administered in very high (pharmacological) doses.

You should purchase your CBD supplement from a reputable supplier, to ensure that it is safe and legal.

As always, you should follow the directions for use provided with your chosen CBD supplement, and tell your doctor about any supplements you are taking. You should also consult your doctor before taking CBD if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking any medication or are under medical supervision.

Is CBD oil legal?

CBD supplements are legal in the UK if they meet certain criteria. If you live abroad, you should check your local laws before purchasing CBD.

Click here to find out more about CBD and the law.

Will CBD make me feel high?

The UK government has stipulated that to sell CBD products, the manufacturer must ensure that the THC content of the product is lower than 0.2%.

THC is the compound found in some varieties of hemp, that causes the ‘high’. A supplement that meets legal requirements will have only trace amounts of THC, and will not create any psychoactive effects.

How does CBD affect the body?

Cannabinoids like CBD interact with the endocannabinoid system, an internal system involved in the homeostasis (equilibrium) of the body.

Receptors for this system are found throughout your body, which already produces its own cannabinoids. CBD acts on these receptors to produce a number of different effects.

Dr Nicholas Shenker, a member of the medical advisory board at Cambridge Nutraceuticals, explains:

‘It is not yet clear what the molecular targets of CBD are, but research data suggest that CBD might take effect through the activation of serotonin receptors, deactivation of TRPV1 receptors (involved in anxiety), and modulation of TRP channels (involved in pain). However, this data comes mainly from in vitro and in vivo studies, and more studies are needed to fully understand CBD’s mechanism of action.’

Click here to find out more about why people try CBD oil.

How should I take CBD?

CBD is usually mixed with something else, such as hemp oil – this makes it easier for your body to absorb the CBD, and also contains useful omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

It is sold in several different delivery methods, including capsules, drops, oral sprays and topical creams.

Each delivery method has different advantages: for example, capsules ensure you get the same dose every time, while sprays or droppers may take effect more quickly.

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