Here's everything you need to know about CBD

Here's everything you need to know about CBD
18 January, 2020

There's no getting away from it: CBD has taken the skincare and self-care space by storm. Searches for the ingredient have skyrocketed, turning it from relatively unknown (as recently as 2017, according to Google Trends) to the power term on every big skincare brands hit list. Over the past year sales of the oil have doubled, thanks in part to the influence of celebrity fans. Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow take it to cope with stress and Alessandra Ambrosio takes it for anxiety. There's now even a National CBD Day (which is today, 8th August, FYI), and with 24% of Brits expressing the desire to use holistic remedies to alleviate the anxieties felt in self-isolation, there's no better time to invest in its calming powers.

Simon Manthorpe, CEO of EOS Scientific - the UK's leading CBD oil testing service - said: "The number of UK users of CBD oil has almost doubled in the last year, with many claiming the cannabis-based product to be a more natural and easily accessible way to manage their mental health. We are seeing increasing numbers of people turning to more alternative remedies, not just for their mental health but for a number of ailments which can include insomnia, psoriasis and eczema.

During a period in which people many people are suffering from increased stress levels due to the impact of COVID-19, we would recommend the calming remedies that CBD brings to alleviate the pressures felt during this time."

What is CBD?

Typically available as an oil, CBD is a cannabidiol – a chemical compound derived from the leaves of the cannabis plant. It has many benefits, namely the fact that it has been found to relieve pain, insomnia, stress, depression and anxiety. Since it’s made from hemp, a non-psychoactive variety of cannabis, CBD products won’t make you high.

Currently, CBD is legal in the UK. That said, another component of cannabis, THC, is still illegal. THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis and causes the feeling of being 'stoned'. Luckily, if the level of CBD is high enough, the psychoactive side effects of THC are counteracted.

How is CBD used in medicine?

In the UK, medical-strength CBD is unavailable to the majority of patients and is only prescribed in very rare circumstances.

Dr Danielle Gordon, a specialist in cannabis medicine prescribes CBD and other cannabidiols to patients with conditions including chronic migraines and epilepsy, but at low doses you can’t expect miracles, she says. “It’s kind of like the turmeric lattes you can get at Starbucks,” she explains. “They’re not going to treat your inflammatory arthritis or stop your brain ageing, but it’s certainly not a bad thing and it’s bringing awareness to [CBD] as a health ingredient.”

In her clinic, Danielle might start a patient on a dose as low as 5mg and increase it gradually. “Everyone has a different threshold, so it really is an art and science,” she says. “What I use [CBD] for most often is anxiety,” she says. “It binds to the serotonin receptors in the brain and in the body, so it’s a natural anxiety relieving medication with virtually no side effects.”

How is CBD used in wellness?

Alongside medicine, CBD is making waves in wellness amongst claims that CBD oil supplements can help relieve an array of issues. Hemp and Cannabis Consultant at Naturopathica, Yewande Okuleye explains: “We have lots of information about CBD as a medicine, but the research is incomplete. What we’re trying to do is take what we can from the medical research and apply that to wellbeing. Because medical studies are mostly unsubstantiated, we can’t categorically say CBD is anti-inflammatory or that it’s going to help you sleep better, but we do know from the way it affects our endocannabinoid system [an internal bodily system that works to regulate a number of our functions such as pain, anxiety and appetite] that there’s a likelihood it will help.”

How is CBD used in skincare?

Unlike when taken as a supplement, topically applied Cannabidiol can’t enter the blood stream and will deliver benefits directly to the skin. Samir Juneja, Founder of CBD of London explains: “Through scientific research we’re finding that CBD could be a powerful compound in fighting a multitude of skin ailments including psoriasis, rosacea, eczema, acne, redness or itching. We’re also seeing provenance for CBD as a powerful anti-ageing compound, anti-inflammatory and as an anti-oxidant. The difference between hemp and CBD in skincare is that not all products that are made with hemp extracts contain any CBD."

The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-acne properties are what gives CBD extra appeal – celebs like Olivia Wilde and Mandy Moore both use CBD oil topically, while brands including Origins, Ohana, MGC Derma and Aurelia all feature it in their skincare. CBD balms and bath bombs are also used as pain relief for aching muscles.

I tried a CBD bath bomb and have never felt happier

"A major benefit, is that CBD shares part of the ‘fingerprint’ of our genetics, allowing the body to instantly recognise it – and utilise it accordingly,” explains High Winters, CEO of cannabis-focused beauty brand MGC Derma.

While CBD is being dubbed another marketing trend by many, scientific trials suggest otherwise. And, with a very loyal online fan-base, CBD users swear by its advantages in both wellness and beauty. Samir says: "Bare in mind CBD is still a relatively new discovery so there hasn’t been enough time to carry out long-term studies. What we do know from scientific research is that there is strong evidence to show CBD has high efficacy to support anti-ageing and has powerful anti-oxidant, anti-pollution and anti-inflammatory properties."

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