- What Are the Benefits of CBD?
What Are the Benefits of CBD?
In recent years, the popularity of cannabidiol (CBD) has skyrocketed as more people turn to this natural compound for its potential health benefits.
This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of CBD, exploring its various benefits, limitations, and side effects. We will delve into the different types of CBD available and the benefits of using CBD as a supplement, with an NHS prescription or through a private CBPM prescription.
By the end of this article, you will better understand the world of CBD and be better equipped to make informed decisions about incorporating it into your wellness routine.
What Are the Benefits of CBD as a Supplement?
CBD can be purchased at any time without a prescription as an over-the-counter supplement. This natural compound derived from the hemp plant offers various practical benefits, making it an attractive option for those seeking alternative wellness solutions.
In this section, we will explore some of the key benefits of using CBD as a supplement:
100% Natural Supplement
One of the main advantages of CBD is that it is a 100% natural supplement. Derived from the C. sativa L. plant, CBD is not synthetically produced, making it an appealing option for those who prefer natural remedies. This also means that it is less likely to cause unwanted side effects compared to synthetic medications.
History of Traditional Uses
CBD has a long history of traditional uses, dating back thousands of years. Cultures worldwide have utilised the C. sativa L. plant for its potential therapeutic properties, and modern research is now beginning to uncover the science behind these ancient practices.
Balancing the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
CBD is believed to help balance the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is crucial in regulating various bodily functions such as mood, sleep, and immune response. CBD may help maintain overall health and well-being by interacting with the ECS. Experts suggest that CBD works by preventing endocannabinoids from being broken down, allowing them to affect the body more.
Boosting Cannabinoid Levels
By supplementing with CBD, individuals can potentially boost their natural cannabinoid levels, further supporting the ECS. This may help address any endocannabinoid-related deficiencies and promote overall health.
Restoring Endocannabinoid Tone
CBD is thought to restore endocannabinoid tone by raising the level of endocannabinoids in the body, balancing recepotor and enzyme activity. This activates and improves the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and helps maintain health. A well-functioning ECS is essential for overall wellness, making CBD a valuable supplement for those looking to support their body's natural balance.
The popularity of CBD as a supplement is evident in the growing number of users worldwide. In the UK alone, it is estimated that 11% of the adult population (around 6 million people) have consumed a CBD product in the past year. This increasing demand for CBD supplements highlights the potential benefits that many individuals are experiencing from incorporating CBD into their daily wellness routines.
What Are the Limitations of CBD as a Supplement?
Despite their many benefits, it is still essential to understand the limitations and restrictions surrounding CBD supplements in the UK. This section will discuss the factors that may impact the use and effectiveness of CBD supplements and non-prescription CBD products, including regulations, safety concerns, and dosage limitations.
CBD Supplement Companies Cannot Make Medical Claims or Give Medical Guidance
CBD supplements are classified as food supplements rather than medicinal products in the UK. As a result, companies selling CBD supplements are not allowed to make medical claims or provide medical guidance regarding their products, for example advising on chronic pain. This means that consumers must rely on their research and consult with healthcare professionals to determine if a CBD dietary supplement is suitable for their specific needs.
CBD Supplements Cannot Contain Other Controlled Cannabinoids
While CBD is legal in the UK, other cannabinoids, such as THC, are controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. CBD supplements must not contain any controlled cannabinoids such as THC.
This limitation means that CBD supplement brands are more likely to make their products with pure CBD isolate and narrow or broad-spectrum CBD extracts to reduce the chances that they may contain traces of controlled cannabinoids. This ultimately reduces consumer access to the full benefit of the C. sativa L. plant and may limit the overall effectiveness of CBD supplements.
Not All Companies Test Their Products for Safety
Since CBD supplements are not regulated as medicinal products in the UK, there is no guarantee that all products on the market are of good quality or provide the intended health benefits. Some companies may not test their products for safety, which could lead to contamination with pesticides, heavy metals, or other harmful elements. Consumers should be cautious when purchasing CBD supplements and look for reputable brands that conduct third-party testing to ensure product safety and quality.
Cheap CBD Supplements Could Be Contaminated
As the CBD market continues to grow, an increasing number of cheap CBD products are available for purchase. However, these low-cost options may be more likely to contain contaminants or lower-quality ingredients. Consumers must prioritise quality over price when selecting CBD supplements, as contaminated products could pose health risks.
Supplements Are Limited to 70mg of CBD Per Day
The UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends that healthy adults do not consume more than 70mg of CBD per day unless advised otherwise by a doctor. This limitation is in place as a precautionary measure, as higher doses of CBD may affect liver function. Pregnant and breastfeeding women and individuals taking medication should refrain from using CBD supplements as a precaution.
What Are the Benefits of CBD with an NHS Prescription?
In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) has approved prescription-specific CBD-containing medications for certain medical conditions. This section will explore the benefits of obtaining CBD through an NHS prescription and discuss the advantages of using these tested and proven treatments.
Tested and Proven Medications
One of the primary benefits of obtaining CBD through an NHS prescription is that the medications have undergone rigorous testing and clinical trials. These trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of CBD for specific medical conditions, ensuring that patients receive safe and effective treatment.
Two such medications approved for prescription use by the NHS in England are Epidyolex, which reduces the number of seizures in children with severe epilepsy (specifically seizure disorders such as Lennox Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome), and Sativex, a mixture of CBD and THC licensed for treating muscle stiffness and spasms related to multiple sclerosis (MS).
Another advantage of obtaining CBD through an NHS prescription is that the medication is free for eligible patients. This means that individuals who qualify for these prescriptions can access potentially life-changing treatments without the financial burden often associated with purchasing CBD products privately.
Quality and Safety
CBD products on the NHS are subject to strict quality control measures, ensuring patients receive consistent and reliable treatment. This is particularly important given the wide range of CBD products available on the market, many of which may not meet the same high standards as those prescribed by the NHS. Additionally, obtaining CBD through an NHS prescription ensures that patients receive guidance from healthcare professionals regarding proper dosages and potential interactions with other medications.
Limited but Growing Access
The number of patients who currently access CBD through an NHS prescription is currently limited. However, as more research is conducted and the potential benefits of CBD become better understood, access to CBD on the NHS may expand to include a broader range of medical conditions.
What Are the Limitations of CBD with an NHS Prescription?
In this section, we will explore the restrictions surrounding CBD prescriptions on the NHS, including the specific treatments it is prescribed for, the difficulty in accessing the medication, and other relevant points.
Limited to Specific Treatments Only
The NHS only prescribes CBD-infused drugs or C. sativa L. for medical use for a select few conditions. These include children and adults with rare, severe forms of epilepsy, adults experiencing vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy, and people with muscle stiffness and spasms resulting from multiple sclerosis (MS).
This means that patients suffering from other conditions that might benefit from CBD treatment, such as anxiety or chronic pain, are not eligible for an NHS prescription.
Difficulty in Accessing Medication
Obtaining a prescription for CBD or for medical use of C. sativa L. on the NHS can be challenging, as it is often considered a last resort. General practitioners (GPs) cannot prescribe C. sativa L.-based medicine; only specialist hospital doctors have the authority to do so.
Furthermore, these specialists will discuss all other treatment options with the patient before considering a C. sativa L.-based product. A prescription for medical C. sativa L. will only be given when it is believed to be in the patient's best interests and when other treatments have not worked or are not suitable.
As a result, only a very small number of patients in the UK are likely to receive a prescription for medical C. sativa L.
What Are the Benefits of CBD with a Private CBPM Prescription?
A private CBPM (cannabis-based product for medicinal use) prescription offers additional advantages for patients seeking relief from various medical conditions. In this section, we will explore the benefits of obtaining a private CBPM prescription:
Medical conditions treated with CBPM prescriptions
A private CBPM prescription allows doctors to prescribe C. sativa L.-based products for medicinal use to treat a wide range of medical conditions. These include chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, Ehlers-Danlos syndromes, fibromyalgia, chronic regional pain syndrome, migraines, cluster headaches, inflammatory and neuropathic pain, palliative care, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disorders, Crohn's disease, cancer pain, and HIV.
With a doctor's guidance, patients can access tailored treatment plans targeting their needs and symptoms.
Access to a variety of cannabis-based products
CBPM prescriptions provide access to a wide variety of C. sativa L.-based products that contain not only CBD but also other compounds like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the psychoactive component of C. sativa L.. These products may offer enhanced therapeutic effects compared to over-the-counter CBD supplements, as they can be customised to suit each patient's specific needs.
The combination of CBD and THC, along with other cannabinoids and terpenes, can create a synergistic effect known as the "entourage effect," which may improve the overall efficacy of the treatment.
Doctor's guidance and legal coverage
When a CBPM is prescribed, patients benefit from their doctor's guidance and expertise in managing their medical condition with C. sativa L.-based products. This ensures that the treatment plan is tailored to the individual's needs and monitored for safety and effectiveness.
Additionally, CBPM prescriptions provide legal coverage for using products containing THC, a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 in the UK. This means that patients can access and use these products without fear of legal repercussions if they adhere to their doctor's recommendations and prescription guidelines.
While it is difficult to determine the exact number of people using CBD as part of a CBPM prescription in the UK, it is worth noting that most of these prescriptions include THC alongside CBD. An assessment of the impact of CBPMs in the UK found that between November 2019 to October 2020, between 149 and 224 unique patients were thought to have been privately prescribed unlicensed CBPMs in England.
As awareness and more research of the potential benefits of CBD and CBPM prescriptions continues to grow, more patients may seek out these treatments to manage their medical conditions effectively.
What Are the Limitations of CBD with a Private CBPM Prescription?
While there are various benefits of CBD treatment, there are also several limitations to consider when obtaining a private CBPM prescription in the UK. This section will explore some of these limitations, including restricted access to suitable options, high costs, and strict eligibility criteria.
Limited Access to Suitable Options
While specialist doctors can prescribe CBPMs in the UK, not all clinics or healthcare providers may have access to the best options for individual patients. The regulation and licensing of unlicensed CBPMs for their supply, manufacture, import, and export in the UK are undertaken by the Home Office, Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), and Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
These regulatory bodies ensure that only approved products are available for prescription, which may limit the variety of CBPMs accessible to patients.
High Costs of CBPMs
CBPMs can be expensive, especially when obtained through a private prescription. The National Health Service (NHS) does not always cover the cost of these products, meaning patients may need to bear the full expense themselves. This financial burden can be a significant barrier for many individuals seeking relief from their medical conditions through CBPMs.
Strict Eligibility Criteria
Not everyone qualifies for medical C. sativa L. in the UK even if you have chronic pain. CBPMs can only be prescribed by specialist hospital doctors, and it is likely that only a small number of patients will be eligible for such prescriptions. The strict eligibility criteria ensure that CBPMs are only prescribed to those who genuinely need them and for whom other treatment options have proven ineffective.
However, this limitation means that many individuals who could potentially benefit from CBPMs may not have access to them.
Are There Any Side Effects to Taking CBD?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), CBD is safe for consumption. However, it is essential to note that some individuals may experience side effects when using CBD products.
These side effects can include diarrhoea, loss of appetite, drowsiness, vomiting, and fatigue. It is also crucial to be aware that CBD interacts with some medications, such as blood thinners, anticonvulsants, sedative drugs, and narcotics.
Studies have shown that pure CBD is safe to consume up to certain amounts. For example, there is scientific evidence to suggest that doses up to 1,500 milligrams will be well-tolerated by most individuals. However, it is essential to remember that every person is different, and the appropriate dosage may vary depending on individual factors and the specific condition being treated.
What Are the Benefits and Limitations of Different Types of CBD?
There are various types of CBD available in the market, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let's take a closer look at the benefits and limitations of natural hemp plant-derived CBD, synthetic (lab-made) CBD, and synthesised (bacteria/yeast-made) CBD.
Natural CBD (Hemp-derived)
Natural hemp-derived CBD is extracted from the industrial hemp plant, which contains high levels of CBD and low levels of THC (less than 0.2%). This type of CBD is legal in the UK under the Misuse of Drugs Act, as long as it is produced from approved industrial hemp.
- Supports the endocannabinoid system to keep body systems in a healthy state of balance.
- A natural source and as nature intended
- Has a lower risk of side effects compared to synthetic CBD (due to molecular structure)
- Some products may contain trace amounts of THC, which could cause issues for those who are sensitive to it or undergo drug testing.
- Quality and purity can vary between products, making it essential to choose a reputable brand.
- Interactions with other medications may occur.
Synthetic CBD (Lab-made)
Synthetic CBD is created in a laboratory setting and is chemically identical to natural CBD. It does not come from the C. sativa L. plant but is designed to mimic its effects.
- It can be produced in a controlled environment, ensuring consistent quality and purity.
- It may be more accessible in areas where natural CBD is not available or legal.
- It may have a higher risk of side effects compared to natural CBD, as it can be more potent.
- Lack of safety standards and quality control may lead to concerns about product reliability and potential risks.
- Interactions with medications may occur.
Synthesised CBD (Bacteria/Yeast-made)
Synthesised CBD is produced using genetically modified bacteria or yeast to create the CBD compound. This method is still relatively new and less widely available than natural or synthetic CBD.
- Offers a sustainable and environmentally friendly method of producing CBD.
- It can be produced in a controlled environment, ensuring consistent quality and purity.
- It may provide an alternative for those who cannot use natural or synthetic CBD due to allergies or other concerns.
- Limited research and availability make it difficult to assess this type of CBD's overall benefits and limitations.
- Potential risks and side effects are not yet fully understood, as more studies are needed to evaluate its safety and efficacy.
- Interactions with medications may occur.
What Are the Benefits of Taking CBD in Different Formats?
There are various formats of CBD available in the market, each offering unique benefits and methods of consumption. In this section, we will explore the advantages of different CBD formats, including oils, capsules, vapes, and creams.
CBD oil is one of the most common formats available in the UK. It is typically made by extracting CBD from hemp plants and diluting it with a carrier oil such as MCT or hemp seed oil.
- Easy to use: CBD oil can be consumed sublingually (under the tongue) or added to food and beverages.
- Customisable dosage: Users can easily adjust the amount of CBD they consume by using the dropper included with most CBD oil bottles.
- Fast absorption: When taken sublingually, CBD oil is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, allowing for faster effects.
CBD capsules are another popular format, offering a convenient and discreet way to consume CBD. These capsules usually contain CBD oil or powder encased in a soft gel or hard shell.
- Pre-measured dosage: Each capsule contains a specific amount of CBD, making it easy to keep track of your daily intake.
- Discreet and portable: Capsules can be taken anywhere and are more inconspicuous than other CBD formats.
- Long-lasting effects: As capsules are ingested and processed through the digestive system, the effects of CBD may last longer compared to other formats.
Vaping CBD involves inhaling a vaporised liquid containing CBD, usually in the form of a vape juice or e-liquid. This format requires a vape pen or vaporiser designed for CBD use.
- Rapid onset: Vaping allows CBD to enter the bloodstream quickly through the lungs, providing almost immediate effects.
- High bioavailability: Vaping offers a higher bioavailability of CBD compared to other formats, meaning more CBD is absorbed by the body.
- Customisable experience: Users can choose from various flavours and strengths of CBD vape juices to suit their preferences.
CBD creams are topical products infused with CBD, designed to be applied directly to the skin. They often contain additional ingredients, such as essential oils and natural extracts, to enhance their benefits.
- Targeted relief: CBD creams can be applied to specific areas of the body, allowing for localised effects.
- Skin benefits: Many CBD creams contain moisturising and soothing ingredients that may promote healthy skin.
The various formats of CBD offer unique benefits and methods of consumption, catering to individual preferences and needs. It is essential to choose high-quality CBD products from reputable sources and consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating CBD into your daily routine.
When and How Much CBD Should I Take to Benefit My Health?
When it comes to incorporating CBD into your daily routine, there are two primary options for when you should take it.
- The first option is to use CBD on-demand, meaning you take it as and when you need it. This approach can be beneficial for those who want to address specific concerns or situations that arise throughout the day.
- The second option is to take CBD at regular intervals continuously, which may be more suitable for individuals looking to maintain overall well-being and balance.
Determining the appropriate amount of CBD to take depends on several factors. These factors include your body weight, individual body chemistry, the concentration of CBD in the product you're using, and the reason for taking CBD. Considering these factors is essential when deciding on the right dosage for you.
It is advisable to start taking a lower dosage of CBD and gradually increase it over time. Pay attention to how your body responds to specific amounts. From there you can begin to find out what suits your current level of endocannabinoid deficiency.
What to Look for When Buying CBD for its Benefits?
When it comes to purchasing CBD products, it's essential to know what to look for to ensure you're getting a high-quality, reputable product that meets UK legal standards.
With the growing popularity of CBD, the market has become saturated with various brands and products, making it challenging to determine which ones are worth your time and money. In this section, we will discuss some general points to consider when buying CBD and how your preferred method of consumption may influence your choice:
- Firstly, it's crucial to choose a CBD product that contains beneficial minor cannabinoids and terpenes. These compounds work together with CBD to create what is known as the "entourage effect," enhancing the overall effectiveness and potential benefits of the product. Some common minor cannabinoids include cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabidivarin (CBDV). Terpenes, on the other hand, are aromatic compounds found in plants that can contribute to the flavour, aroma, and potential effects of CBD products.
- Another essential factor to consider is the availability of published certificates of analysis (COAs) for the CBD products you're interested in. COAs are third-party lab test results that verify the purity, potency, and safety of a product. Reputable CBD companies should make these certificates easily accessible on their websites or provide them upon request.
- In addition to COAs, looking for products with good reviews from other customers is essential. This can give you an idea of the quality and effectiveness of the product, as well as any potential issues you may encounter. Keep in mind that individual experiences may vary, but consistently positive reviews can be a good indicator of a reliable product.
- Quality is paramount when it comes to CBD products, so make sure to choose products made from high-quality ingredients and manufacturing processes. Organic CBD oil, for example, is free of synthetic chemicals like certain pesticides and is often considered a better option for those seeking a more natural product.
- Lastly, it's crucial to ensure that the CBD products you're considering meet UK legal standards. In the UK, CBD businesses are allowed to sell CBD products if they meet the novel food regulations and don't contain any controlled cannabinoids.
CBD has been found to have potential benefits as a supplement, prescribed by the NHS or a private CBPM prescription. The health benefits of CBD and its limitations vary between the different types and formats of CBD available making it important to consider dosage and quality when purchasing CBD products. If in doubt, always speak with a healthcare professional.