Firstly, let’s iron out the first thought that comes to mind when talking about anything remotely related to cannabis. CBD does not elicit a high, and it is a non-psychotropic compound derived primarily from hemp, meaning you won’t feel any mind-altering effects by using it. Hemp is a species of cannabis, but it only contains trace amounts of THC, the cannabinoid which makes users of traditional cannabis feel ‘high’.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) notes, that “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential… To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
CBD is 1 of over 100 naturally occurring cannabinoids found in cannabis. Often described as a counterbalance to its well-known brother, THC, we could say pulling in opposite directions perhaps.
The strongest scientific evidence points to the effectiveness of CBD as a treatment for some of the most complex forms of (childhood) epilepsy. According to the WHO, other indicators of use highlight neuroprotective, anti-epileptic, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic, pain reducing and anti-inflammatory properties. These indications are based on limited clinical and pre-clinical evidence, in addition to documented anecdotal evidence.
A large body of evidence now supports the use of CBD in the treatment for Dravet syndrome (DS) and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). Epidiolex, a CBD based and FDA approved prescription medicine for Dravet syndrome has been on sale in the US since late 2018.
A recent study, published in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy outlined that “CBD displayed superior efficacy in reducing key seizure frequencies (convulsive seizures in DS; drop seizures in LGS) by 17% to 23%.” According to researchers, the primary reason it works for seizures is because CBD protects neurons in the hippocampus part of the brain.
Multiple studies suggest suffers of anxiety may benefit from CBD as a useful tool. One particular study focused on the treatment of PTSD using CBD and found it assisted in altering significant aspects of negative memories in humans. Helping rewire people’s brains after they had suffered a traumatic incident. Suggesting this is strongly interlinked to CBD’s ability to help treat stress and anxiety, as often these issues often share the same root cause and symptoms.
Anxiety can also frequently be a major contributor to depression. Research suggests CBD holds promise as a potential antidepressant, and whilst the studies to date are primarily pre-clinical, the signs are encouraging. One study implies frequent doses of CBD can alleviate signs of depression in rodents. On the other hand, another suggests a single dose of CBD has immediate antidepressant effects on both mice and rats, lasting up to 7 days after the treatment.
CBD has also been interlinked as a useful sleeping aid. Suggesting it could be useful for patients who suffer with insomnia, with evidence relaying that CBD may assist in both falling asleep and staying asleep.
A study from the Journal of Experimental Medicine reviewed the two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat, inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Defining the mechanisms by which CBD is thought to inhibit and reduce related pain signals. Another animal study from the European Journal of Pain outlined that CBD applied topically on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation originating from arthritis.
As a result, CBD use is also increasing in professional sports, with the compound being WADA approved as of 2018. Professionals from Nate Diaz (MMA) to Eddie Hall (weightlifting), comment on using CBD as a workout recovery aid.
The human body naturally produces compounds which in terms of physiological action, are near duplicates of compounds also found in cannabis (hemp or marijuana). Yes, you read that correctly! The human body is fine-tuned to absorb compounds found in cannabis (known as cannabinoids), such as CBD.
Cannabinoids can be split into two depending on the source: (1) Endocannabinoids (eCBs) generated by our body (and all other animals with a vertebrate) (2) Phytocannabinoids (pCBs), produced by cannabis and to a certain extent other plants mimicking the actions of eCBs. The network governing the absorption of cannabinoids is known as the endocannabinoid system. We talk about this magical neuro network in some detail via another post you can find here
As CBD is supplied as a food supplement it is up to consumers to find what works for them. Starting low and slow, increasing intake weekly until you find what works for you is the most common method of finding your sweet spot. We dive into this further in another post here.
Vaping CBD concentrates such as CBD crumble offers the highest bioavailability and it is the quickest way to feel CBD. However, CBD oils are the most popular due to their versatility, and the association vaping has with smoking. You can find out more about CBD absorption rates for different consumption methods here.
Outside of medicinal products prescribed directly by a specialist doctor, cannabidiol is primarily marketed and sold as a food supplement. Consequently, CBD manufactures are not obliged to outline precisely what the products contain nor to guarantee the CBD content of the items on sale. As a result, consumers are frequently purchasing items which are not necessarily labelled correctly.
Additionally, THC is a natural by product of CBD production and is a controlled psychotropic substance across Europe. However, countries apply varying thresholds on the amount of THC, which are acceptable in non-medicinal CBD products. In the UK for example, non-medicinal products are required to contain ‘non-detectable’ amounts of THC, up to 0.05% THC.
Hemp is also a natural bio-accumulator, absorbing heavy metals from the soil which can end up in the final products being sold today. Depending on their concentrations they can have a severe health impact.
Reputable CBD resellers and brands provide verifiable third party tests.
It’s critical consumers do their own homework. Unfortunately, this includes checking for third party tests across cannabinoid and heavy metal content. Ensuring the validity of these tests is within the last six months. Ideally, each test should relate to the current batch on sale and use testing randomisation via multiple units per shipment. To learn more about how to read third party tests and what you should keep an eye out for check out our third party batch testing post here.
It is also essential consumers ask (if it isn’t clear already) where the CBD is grown, and under what farming practices, including if the product contains any herbicides or GMOs. Having this information at hand can help paint a clearer picture of the authenticity of the brands’ supply chain and if they are operating with good commercial practices.
Although cannabidiol as a whole is considered very safe, it can interact adversely with prescription medication. Consumers are always advised to pre-check any potential conflicts with their doctor prior to using CBD. Reported side effects include:
(1) Drowsiness. CBD effects everyone differently, and some people find it to have an awakening effect, whilst others find it sleep inducing. Although this might be related to timing, it’s important to note that In high doses drowsiness can be a side effect.
(2) Slight reduction in blood pressure: A 2017 study indicated CBD can lower blood pressure. Accordingly, those on blood pressure or thinner medications are at an increased risk of adverse effects by using CBD. As noted above, it is vital to check with your doctor prior to using any supplements, including CBD.
(3) Dizziness: Some people report CBD goes straight to their head and makes them feel lightheaded. This is potentially connected to a slight reduction in blood pressure, in line with point number 2.
We are very early in the CBD journey and science is still playing catch up. Using CBD without doing any due diligence is like crossing a minefield and hoping you walk across unscathed. Simple checks for for certificates of analysis and social proof through reviews or social media can quickly indicate authenticity. Companies operating with nothing to hide are highly transparent and open for discussion, use these levers to identify brands which are building a business vs those looking to earn a quick buck.
You can read more about our quality assurance processes here. Nature & Bloom partners directly with Swiss organic hemp farms, using no GMOs, additives or fillers, and our supply chain is traceable a batch level, ensuring we know which batch each unit we sell originates from. We are interested in building a community via our open door approach and in parallel only retailing products which are effective and safe to use.
Disclaimer: Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Nature & Bloom and its staff. This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention for any disease. Nature & Bloom products have not been evaluated by the MHRA.