It’s pretty difficult to go a day without hearing something about CBD, with everyone and their dog (quite literally) taking it for some or other symptom, ailment or health issue. And for good reason. There is an increasing body of scientific and clinical research indicating that CBD shows a great deal of promise in treating a range of conditions.
CBD is considered by many as being a safe, natural, affordable and effective alternative remedy, helping reduce physical as well as psychological symptoms. For those interested in general health and well-being, CBD is also helpful as a preventative and wellness supplement.
However, for many, especially those new to the world of CBD, things can be a little confusing. For instance, what is hemp-derived CBD and how is it different from cannabis? Will CBD get me high? What are the different types of CBD products? How do you use them? And how much should I take?
We’ve put together this beginners guide to using CBD to answer all of these questions and help you start your own journey with CBD safely.
WHAT IS CBD?
Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is one of more than a hundred different active cannabinoids (chemical compounds) found in the cannabis plant. In the UK and Europe, the CBD oil that you can buy legally comes from industrial hemp which is one particular cultivar of cannabis sativa.
Hemp was traditionally grown for its long fibres and has been used throughout history to make everything from clothes to sails to rope. But more recently, hemp has now also become the main source for CBD oils and extracts because of its high CBD content and low concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). And unlike THC - the cannabinoid best known for its intoxicating and euphoric effects - CBD will not get you high.
CBD’s use as a therapeutic agent goes as far back as 2,700 BC, even then being touted as a natural remedy for a variety of symptoms. Scientists believe that the reason why CBD is so effective in helping to reduce such a wide range of health issues is because of the way in which it interacts with the endocannabinoid system, a recently discovered system present in all of us that helps keep our bodies in balance and healthy.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CBD?
Although there is still a lot of research that needs to be done, scientists are becoming increasingly positive about the health benefits of CBD oil.
So far, animal as well as human studies are showing that CBD may help with the treatment and sometimes even prevention of a variety of different illnesses. These include conditions such as chronic pain, inflammation, Alzheimer's disease, various different types of cancer, and epilepsy. The NHS has recently even approved Epidiolex, a prescription medication made from purified CBD oil, as a treatment for two types of rare and severe epilepsy
In addition, evidence from further studies also suggest that CBD may be an effective, natural and relatively side-effect free treatment for mental health conditions. It seems that CBD has a positive effect on anandamide, the “happy endocannabinoid”, as well as serotonin levels in the brain, making it useful in treating things like schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CBD PRODUCTS & HOW DO I USE THEM?
CBD can be found in a variety of different forms and product types ranging from CBD oils to edibles, topicals, sprays and even cosmetics. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common types in more detail:
CBD OILS & TINCTURES
These contain a mixture of either a full-spectrum, broad-spectrum or CBD isolates and a carrier medium such as hemp oil, vegetable glycerin, medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil. CBD oils like this one from the Otherside and tinctures are administered sublingually by putting a few drops underneath the tongue and holding it there for 30-60 seconds before being swallowed but they can also be blended into smoothies and other types of foods.
With everything from gummies and peppermints to drinks, CBD edibles are extremely popular as these allow for a quick, fun and flavourful way to get a daily dose of CBD. CBD edibles are simply enjoyed like any other food or treat.
These types of products range from CBD balms, creams, salves, lotions and even transdermal patches that are infused with CBD. CBD topicals are applied directly to different parts of the body and especially popular for providing localised relief.
As the name suggests, the CBD is vaporised and then inhaled, allowing for fast and effective relief. Always make sure that vape cartridges are free from solvents as these have been shown to potentially be dangerous.
HOW MUCH CBD SHOULD YOU USE?
This can be a tricky question to answer. Not only is there very little research available on CBD dosing, but each of us also metabolise CBD differently. Generally speaking though, the more severe your symptoms and the larger you are, the more CBD you’ll need.
The general rule of thumb is to “start low and go slow”. For most people this will mean starting out on a lower strength dose twice per day, increasing the amount of CBD as required until you find symptom relief.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING CBD
As the CBD industry is largely unregulated at the moment, there are some brands out there looking to make some easy money by selling a low quality CBD product, misleading the customers about the contents or flat out lying about their products.
That is why it is vital that you do your research and choose a good quality product that has been made and independently tested by a trusted company that make all their third-party lab tests available.
Always makes sure you understand the contents of your CBD oil and that all the ingredients have been organically grown and come from a certified source. Similarly, check if the production facilities meet guidelines for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
There are numerous products and brands to choose from on the market, and as CBD continues to gain popularity CBD products are becoming ever more accessible and simple to use.