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What is CBD oil, is it legal in the UK and what are the benefits and risks of using it? We asked a dietitian to take a closer look at this food supplement. Does it get you high? Is it safe to use? We asked the experts about what happens to your body on CBD, including the benefits and the risks. BBC Food

What is CBD oil and is it safe to use?

What is CBD oil, is it legal in the UK and what are the benefits and risks of using it? We asked a dietitian to take a closer look at this food supplement.

CBD oil is increasingly popular, both as a food supplement and as an oil to apply topically to the skin. We asked dietitian Emer Delaney to explain what it is, why people use it and whether it’s safe.

What is CBD oil?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid – a chemical compound that acts throughout the body, including on certain parts of the brain, and is becoming increasingly popular in the health world. It comes from the cannabis plant; however, unlike its counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the ‘high’ from marijuana, CBD, derived from the hemp plant, is non-intoxicating and some believe it may have potential health and wellness benefits. Once extracted from the cannabis plant, it is diluted with a carrier such as olive or coconut oil – this improves its bio-availability.

Is CBD oil legal in the UK?

Contrary to popular belief, CBD oil is legal in the UK as it is not a controlled substance. There are, however, strict restrictions over its THC content. CBD oil that isn’t medically prescribed can only have a maximum THC content of 0.2%. CBD oil products that have a higher THC content may be available to buy online, but not legally

A small number of patients in the UK may be prescribed a cannabis-based medicine to treat epilepsy or nausea during chemotherapy. Visit the NHS website for more information on medical cannabis.

It’s worth noting that there are no CBD products authorised for use in animals in the UK. If you are considering CBD oil for your pet, only a vet can prescribe a legal human CBD product.

What is CBD oil used for?

Supporters of CBD oil believe it may help a number of clinical conditions, including refractory epilepsy, chronic pain, depression, anxiety and acne. However, further robust evidence is required as much of the research is carried out on animal models.

A systematic review looking at the use of CBD for epilepsy concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support the efficacy and long-term safety of using it to treat epilepsy. It does, however, suggest that, albeit in very low numbers, small daily doses were safe in a small group of adults for a short period of time.

There are some suggestions from animal studies that CBD may be beneficial for osteoarthritis, through topical application for inflammation or joint pain, however, it has been difficult to attribute the therapeutic benefits to CBT alone.

One study reported reduced pain and muscle spasms in people with multiple sclerosis.

Early evidence looking into the use of CBD in the treatment of anxiety and depression has found some exciting results – although on very small samples. The first study assessed anxiety links with public speaking; it found a very specific dose of CBD (300mg) showed anti-anxiety effects. The second study was a stand-alone case report of one child with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It found CBD oil helped the child safely reduce her anxiety and improve sleep.

CBD may also have the potential to help reduce acne; however, it is important to note that this research is still in its infancy.

For all the above uses, more human studies are needed before conclusive results may be drawn.

Can I buy CBD oil safely?

Most large health food stores will stock ‘pure’ CBD oil. However, as it is classed as a ‘food supplement’ rather than a ‘medicinal product’, it isn’t regulated in the UK. This means you cannot know for sure that the product you buy contains the ‘active’ ingredients at the amounts listed on the label. Furthermore, the product may contain contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals and other elements. For this reason, the NHS highlights there is no guarantee that these products will be of good quality or provide the intended health benefits.

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Is CBD oil safe for everyone?

If you’re considering using CBD oil, you should speak to your GP or other healthcare professional to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for you to do so.

This is particularly important if you are experiencing any concerning symptoms, if you have any pre-existing conditions or if you are taking any medication including statins, blood-thinning medication and calcium channel blockers.

Although the use of CBD is controversial, it does seem to be tolerated by most people. It has, however, caused hypotension and light-headedness in a small number of patients. As it does not contain the THC part of the cannabis plant, the oil will not induce a ‘high’.

CBD oil should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Now read.

This article was reviewed on 21 March 2022 by Kerry Torrens.

Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a registered nutritionist with a post-graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

Have you tried CBD oil and if so, did you find it beneficial? Let us know in the comments below.

What Happens to Your Body on CBD

There are a lot of people talking about CBD these days. CBD (cannabidiol) is a cannabinoid that is found in cannabis and hemp and is known for having numerous health benefits. However, while these health benefits look promising, it does create a lot of questions from the general public on what happens to your body on CBD. Does it really work? Can you use too much of it? And will it make one high just like normal marijuana would?

In order to fully understand the health benefits and risks of CBD, we spoke with Triniti Gawthrop, Founder and CEO of Ami Wellness, to fully understand what happens to your body on CBD.

It can help with numerous physical and mental struggles.

Between any type of physical pain or mental struggles (like built-up anxiety), CBD can actually be a way to help calm your body and make you feel better. 6254a4d1642c605c54bf1cab17d50f1e

“Your endocannabinoid system also has receptors and the way that CBD works with your body is that it helps your endocannabinoid system pick those up, so it essentially creates better communication,” says Gawthrop. “So if you take it regularly, then you’re supporting the communication of that system better and your endocannabinoid system supports the nervous system. It’s just helping your body what your body needs to do. So your body may need help with pain, but my body may need help with dealing with anxiety. Whatever it is you need, it’s helping your body be in the action state.”

Gawthrop also mentions that some studies show how CBD can also help your neuroprotective properties, meaning it can help protect your neurological system.

It won’t fix a health problem.

“CBD doesn’t actually heal you, it just helps your body know to do something to heal itself,” says Gawthrop. “So for instance, if you were dealing with chronic inflammation or chronic pain or if you’re dealing with anxiety or even if you are dealing with any other lifestyle health-focused wellness barrier, it’s going to help your body help you move through that.”

It doesn’t get you high.

For those who aren’t familiar, CBD is a compound found within the cannabis plant. Cannabis also famously has THC, which is the compound that makes people feel high. However, a CBD oil—such as the one sold at Ami’s Wellness—does not have enough THC in it in order for one person to feel any kind of high effects. While Ami’s Wellness does focus on creating products that are full-spectrum (leaving all of the natural compounds of the cannabis plant within the oil), it does not play a main role in the oils that they sell. Simply a “friend” to the many other plants used for the different types of oils.

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“The science right now tells us that your body will pick up the CBD better if it does have some THC,” says Gawhtrop. She points out the oil only has 0.3% THC, and based on the science, feels it creates the most effective product for her customers. She points out that even in history from a healer’s perspective, CBD was never meant to “own the table,” but merely be a small part of the entire product.

It is best applied topically.

As of now, the FDA has not approved any kind of dietary supplement for CBD. Meaning that it cannot be ingested like you could with any pill or vitamin. Gawthrop and the team at Ami Wellness make sure to follow all FDA guidelines and only provide products that are topical, meaning they are applied through the skin.

“For our products, we only make topical products because we feel it’s the more responsible route to work with the FDA and make sure we know what they know and if there’s education to be done, to be working with them to continue to educate ourselves and educate them,” says Gawhtrop.

Plus, with topical use, you don’t have to worry about overdoing it, because your skin can actually handle a lot of it (it’s a big organ, after all). For those topically applying CBD for the first time, Gawhtrop says 16 milligrams per topical use is enough for you to feel an effect.

It can ease pain and inflammation.

By using it topically, Gawthrop points out that the user can acutely choose where they apply the CBD on their skin. This, of course, can help with anyone experiencing pain or inflammation in particular parts of their body.

“If you’re using it for stress and you find it you’re holding that stress in your neck or in your shoulder, being able to apply it there and kind of rub it in can also create a calming ritual,” says Gawhtrop. “If you’re feeling pain, being able to direct;ly apply it where you are experiencing pain and inflammation usually creates a really positive response for people.”

Make sure to read the labels

Not all CBD products are as transparent. Gawhtrop points out that some CBD products are sold without having almost no CBD in them, and others that market products that include chemicals, pesticides, and heavy metals. She highly encourages all users to take a look at the labels of their products before using them.

“I tell people to think about it as having the same level of education as you would about your vitamins or about anything else you put on your body,” says Gawhtrop. “So treat it with that same level of respect. Read a label and understand where it comes from.”

At Ami Wellness, two of the most popular products are Soothe and Dream. Soothe is an herbal tincture that helps relax muscle tension, and Dream helps to quiet the body and mind for restful sleep. All made with certified organic ingredients or farmed organic ingredients that you don’t have to worry about.

Why are people eating CBD and will it get me high?

Cannabidiol, or as it’s better known CBD, is a legal cannabinoid (chemicals found in cannabis) and can be sold in the UK .

It’s not the psychoactive cannabinoid that gets you high, called THC. Instead it’s a product believed by its high-street users to have medicinal properties, such as relaxation and pain-, nausea- and anxiety-relief, although studies are not conclusive.

So why are we increasingly seeing CBD-labelled coffees, cakes and croissants in shops, cafes and restaurants all over the UK?

What is it doing in food?

CBD is normally sold in combination with a base oil, such as olive or coconut, as a supplement, vape, gel to be applied to the skin and more recently, in food and drink.

“Businesses have picked up on growing public awareness and have been promoting their products online, in high-street retailers and increasingly in food and drink,” says Professor in Substance Use, Harry Sumnall, Liverpool John Moores University. We spoke to chefs at two restaurants who use CBD on their menus in completely different ways.

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“CBD is actually hard to cook with. It has a disgusting taste”, says Greg Hanger, head chef at Kalifornia Kitchen in London, who has created an entire CBD afternoon tea . Greg pays attention to the type of oil that the CBD is mixed with, saying “coconut oil CBD is great in Thai cooking balanced with coriander, ginger and lime. Olive oil CBD is great for Middle Eastern foods like hummus or you could even mask the flavour with rosemary and put it in cheesy sauce or mashed potatoes .”

“CBD tends to work well in foods with a stronger, earthy taste, such as chocolate and coffee”, says Meg Greenacre, head chef at Erpingham House in Norwich. “I’ve been inspired by menus in London to create a delicious CBD brownie for our customers here. I was surprised that during taste tests, no one could tell which brownie the CBD was in and actually, most people thought it was the batch that did not contain it. I am looking into adding CBD to more sweet bakes such as nutty flapjacks and beetroot chocolate cake , which naturally have a deeper and richer flavour, complementing the earthy, almost bitter, taste and smell of CBD oil.

“When you cook with CBD, you have to be careful not to heat the mixture at too high a temperature”, advises Meg. A search on CBD websites brings up details of CBD evaporating and losing its ‘health’ properties past 160–180C, though “there is also little understanding of what happens to CBD when you cook it or add it to a drink”, says Professor Sumnall.

Is CBD a miracle cure?

“There is a greater public awareness of the potential therapeutic uses of medical cannabis and cannabinoids such as CBD, particularly in light of the UK government decision to permit some cannabis prescriptions in response to high-profile campaigns by the families of children affected by severe epilepsy,” says Professor Sumnall.

“The emerging UK CBD industry, inspired by the successes of the legal cannabis industry in the USA, has adopted a similar marketing strategy, and whilst the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency rules mean products can’t make direct health claims without going through formal licensing, the language of ‘wellbeing’ allows them to bypass regulation.

“But there is no good scientific evidence that these consumer products have any real benefits.

“Many of the CBD products available on the high street contain so little CBD that you would need to consume vast quantities to even approach some of the doses that are administered in clinical trials of medicines”, concludes Sumnall.

Coffees and cakes may contain between 5–10mg of CBD. But clinical trials administer doses of around 100–1,500mg per day, with medical supervison.

However, it is not clear whether it would be advisable to consume higher doses of CBD than is currently in these products. “I do worry that if people believe a small amount is good and it’s completely safe, they may believe a large amount is better, says Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of Patient Info.”

“The problem we have is there hasn’t been enough research and we just don’t know”, Jarvis continues.

This is currently not a regulated market in the UK and so there are no rules on the quality, source, or content of CBD in these type of products, said Professor Sumnall. Michael Wight, Head of Food Safety Policy for The Food Standards Agency said, “We are not aware of any significant safety concerns related to CBD, but as part of the ‘novel foods’ authorisation process they do need to be evaluated for safety. We are continuing to actively monitor food safety aspects of CBD. If we find credible evidence to say that CBD extracts in general, or specific products containing CBD, risk harm to the public, they will be removed from sale.”

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