CBD Oil Uses, health, benefits and risks


We get the lowdown from the experts on this controversial cannabis plant ingredient eeling stressed? Living with joint pain? Suffering the effects of SAD? Some experts believe you’ll find all the relief you need from the humble cannabis plant.

Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, is a cannabinoid, one of many active chemicals that naturally occur in the cannabis sativa plant. Unlike its psychoactive component, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which gives marijuana users a ‘high’, CBD oil is extracted from the non-drug strains of the plant.

The oil first made headlines when the parents of a five-year-old girl from Colorado, USA, reduced their daughter’s grand mal seizures from around 300 a week to almost zero using high-strength doses of the oil. Fast-forward five years and not only has the compound been legalised, this November it became available on prescription as a pharmaceutical drug for the first time in the UK. Now CBD supplements are flooding the market, so what’s the truth behind the health claims – and could it be of benefit tor you?

‘CBD oil is one of the most helpful supplements to become available in a long time says Dr Sarah Brewer. ‘It’s right up there with turmeric and ubiquinol. It’s highly antioxidant, so has anti-inflammatory effects on joints to improve pain and stiffness, and an analgesic effect to reduce pain perception in the brain.’


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There’s plenty of research to back up therapeutic claims made by users, too. A review of studies published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found evidence to suggest CBD is a potent inhibitor of both cancer growth and spread, while research in the journal Neurotherapeutics reported that the compound ‘conclusively demonstrates’ an ability to reduce generalised anxiety, panic attacks, seasonal affective disorder and post-traumatic stress.

Add to this an ever-increasing list of health benefits – including reducing the inflammation of the pancreas that causes Type 1 diabetes, lowering the production of sebum that leads to acne, supporting people with Parkinson’s Disease and even enabling early-stage Alzheimer’s patients to maintain the ability to recognise the faces of loved ones – it’s little surprise the oil is garnering so much interest. But how does it work?

‘CBD oil has direct effects on the endocannabinoid system in the brain,’ explains Dr Brewer. ‘It enhances the effects of other brain chemicals, such as serotonin and anandamide, to reduce pain perception, relieve anxiety and stress, improve sleep and lift mood.’

And the good news is, unlike THC, it’s not addictive, there are few risks and, when you use it as a food supplement, side effects are uncommon – although WORDS: Eve Boggenpoel PHOTOGRAPHY: iStock

Herbal help occasionally some people may experience a dry mouth or feel a little more drowsy than usual.


If you’re wondering if CBD oil could benefit you, you’ll most likely have to buy it.

Despite the change in the law, doctors are currently following interim clinical guidance on the prescription of medical cannabis (pharmaceutical drugs derived from the cannabis plant – some of which contain CBD alone, others which contain CBD and THC) while formal guidelines on its use are due to be published by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) by October 2019.

At the moment, the NHS states medical cannabis will only be prescribed by specialist doctors, and tor rare and serious forms of epilepsy or for the side effects of chemotherapy. Another CBD product, a spray called Sativex, has been licensed in the UK for people with unresolved MS-related muscle issues, but NICE doesn’t recommend its use.

When buying CBD oil products, safety is paramount, so ideally choose brands that are members of the Cannabis Trades Association UK, which works to ensure legal and ethical CBD trading standards.

‘Choose a supplier who provides a CBD/ THC batch-testing certificate of analysis at the point of sale,’ adds Dr Brewer. ‘This confirms the level of CBD present and that the product has only trace levels of THC

[the legal limit tor THC is 0.2 per cent].’ Which format you should take will depend on your needs. ‘Capsules take from 20 minutes to an hour to produce the desired outcome,’ says Dr Brewer. ‘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 a relaxing effect within just a tew minutes.’

You can expect effects to last around three to five hours. To aid absorption, look tor products that contain olive or hemp oil.


‘For general wellbeing, a typical dose is 10mg to 30mg per day,’ advises BBC’s Trust me I’m a doctor GP, Dr Zoe Williams. ‘Higher doses are used tor particular conditions, but as a food supplement,

doses should not exceed 200mg per day.’ As with any supplement, you need to exercise caution. Don’t take CBD if you’re pregnant or breast feeding, and it you’re already taking other medication, always check with your GP before trying CBD as it interacts with enzymes that break down prescription medicines, meaning you could end up with higher levels of those in your system and be at greater risk of side effects.


Healthspan High Strength CBD Oil Drops 250mg; £13.99 for 10ml; healthspan.co.uk This vegan-friendly, broad-spectrum oil is applied under the tongue to directly enter the bloodstream for rapid absorption. Extracted using non-toxic C02 and with a hint of peppermint, each drop contains 27.3mg hemp oil, equating to 0.75mg CBD. Take one-to-eight drops three times a day.

Green Goddess The Tonic CBD Oil capsules, £39 for 80 capsules; greengoddesswellness.com

Containing 400mg of CO2-extracted oil, each capsule will give you 5mg of CBD and CBDa (the raw form of CBD), plus MCT oil from coconuts. Eco credentials include vegetable capsules that are suitable tor vegans and lactose intolerance, no added fillers or flavourings and an option for buying in a glass bottle or biodegradable pouch.

No solvent is used in the extraction process, warm air is passed over the flowers until the CBD oil is released.

Celtic Winds Hemp CBD Powder 1600mg, £64.99 for 40g; lloydspharmacy.com It you want added versatility, the CBD here comes in powder form and is made from 100 per cent of the whole hemp plant. Celtic Winds Crops is a member of the European Industrial Hemp Association, and the crop is grown with no herbicides, fungicides or pesticides. Plus, its omega-3, -6 and -9 content gives a balance of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Sprinkle a level 2.5ml scoop daily onto porridge or into smoothies.

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