Nonetheless, the numbers of people taking it for more everyday complaints like pain and anxiety are huge; it is clear that people believe in the medicinal effects of CBD enough to spend their hard-earned money on it. In the UK a conservative estimate values the market at £300 million a year. A recent study says that within five years, sales of CBD will hit $20 billion a year in the US alone.
W hilst I find the ‘pharmaceuticals vs plant’ decision an easy one to make, knowing what to buy is not so simple. In December 2016 the UK Government designated CBD as a medicine, but so far prescriptions on the NHS have been almost non-existent, as even the most well-informed doctors on the matter are awaiting further trials.
What does CBD oil actually do?
As for side-effects, there’s no giggly high or munchies or any of the other cliches associated with cannabis use, because there’s no THC present. CBD oil reduces my pain and this has a fairly straightforward knock-on effect on my mood – less pain, less moody – but it doesn’t alter my state of mind in any other way. However, many people do report that it helps them with anxiety.
Others at the high-quality end of the market are Apothem and Provacan, both selling hemp-derived, lab-tested products. Provacan recently commissioned a study of 2,000 adults into attitudes towards CBD. It found that most people still think it is illegal, and banned in professional sports. Neither point is true, but the point about confusion still stands. CBD is legal, but because it is now defined as a medicine, it means that companies have to sell it as a food supplement, and cannot make any medical claims.
T he most common reason for taking CBD is for fighting pain. It works in three main ways: reducing inflammation by decreasing the production of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines; by binding to and blocking receptors in the central nervous system that are associated with pain; and reducing anxiety associated with pain by binding to serotonin receptors and giving a natural anti-depressant effect.
‘CBD oil is one of the most helpful supplements to become available in a long time,’ says Dr Brewer. ‘It is highly antioxidant so has anti-inflammatory effects on joints, to improve pain and stiffness. CBD also has an analgesic effect to reduce pain perception in the brain.’
❗️Do not take CBD if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you are on any medications check for interactions with your doctor.
How does CBD oil work?
‘Capsules typically have a slow action, and can take from 20 minutes to an hour to produce the desired outcome,’ says Dr Brewer. On the other hand, ‘oral sprays and liquid drops of CBD, which can be held in the mouth to boost absorption directly into the circulation, work more quickly – you may notice an effect within just a few minutes.’
‘CBD interacts with enzymes involved in metabolising some medicines and may result in increased drug levels that could cause side effects,’ says Dr Brewer.
‘Cannabidiol oil has direct effects on the endocannabinoid system in the brain,’ says Dr Brewer. ‘This enhances the effects of other brain chemicals, such as serotonin and anandamide, to reduce pain perception. It is also a powerful antioxidant which suppresses inflammation.’