CBD UK is a compound that appears to ease anxiety, reduce the symptoms of insomnia and can help with a range of other ailments including chronic pain and inflammation. It’s legal, doesn’t make you high and is now widely available in shops and online. It’s estimated a quarter of a million people are regular users and many use it to help with sleep problems, depression and chronic pain.
It’s extracted from the cannabis sativa L plant, also known as hemp. Hemp is a variety that contains little or no THC, the psychoactive part of the cannabis flower. CBD oil can be used in a range of ways, according to health information site Verywell: It can be smoked in a vape pen, swallowed as drops or capsules, put under the tongue (sublingually), added to food or drinks or applied topically to the skin. It’s also in a range of beauty products from body oils to bath bombs.
But it’s important to remember that there is no proof that CBD really works for most of the ailments its supporters claim it can, says Prof Sumnall. Most studies so far have been carried out on mice, with mixed results. And the evidence that CBD does ease pain and inflammation is not strong enough to justify claims that it could help conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer.
However, he says, it’s likely to be “a useful addition to current treatments for many conditions”.
As for safety, the UK’s Food Standards Agency recommends healthy adults don’t take more than 70mg of CBD each day. This is because some trials on humans have reported side effects at much higher amounts.
It’s worth bearing in mind, too, that if you’re taking a CBD product it may make you fail a drug test. This is because CBD can interact with some medications, so you should avoid taking it if you’re taking any antidepressants or other medicines for depression, seizures, heart problems or schizophrenia.
The FSA warns that people taking high-CBD foods and supplements may experience side effects such as dizziness, nausea and a dry mouth. It may also increase the sensitivity of some people to sunlight.
More research is needed before CBD can be recommended as a treatment for most conditions, but the FSA is continuing to monitor its safety. It is currently assessing Epidiolex, a CBD-based medicine that’s being prescribed by NHS doctors in England and Wales to treat two types of severe epilepsy in children. It’s also assessing whether CBD should be considered for general prescribing in the NHS as a medicine for other conditions such as arthritis, pain and anxiety.
As well as being a legal supplement, CBD can be added to foods such as milkshakes and ice cream. This is because it’s classed as a novel food, meaning that it’s regulated in the same way as other foods. The UK’s law on novel foods requires that they be safe, correctly labelled and not misleading.