Millions of people across the UK live with constant, often debilitating pain including over 10 million people living with arthritis and related conditions (71% of whom report being in constant pain). There are also 15 million living with eczema, 16 million with sleep conditions and over 8 million people with anxiety in the UK. Natural alternatives to prescription medication for these conditions are growing in popularity, especially for the management of chronic pain, sleep disorders and a range of skin conditions, and CBD is leading the pack.
But there are still a number of misconceptions about CBD. In this article, we’ll explore a few of the most common misconceptions and debunk a few myths with some help from the latest research on CBD.
Can CBD really help with pain, sleep, anxiety and skin conditions?
A study conducted by Arthritis.org found that 79% of respondents had used CBD or were considering using it. Of the respondents who were currently using CBD, 75% reported feeling some relief with improvements ranging from an increased range of movement to improved sleep and lower levels of depression and anxiety. In a similar vein, Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research published their study that found people with arthritis are the leading purchasers of CBD and they buy CBD for pain relief.
In terms of sleep quality, high doses of CBD have been found to increase total sleep time and reduce wake-ups during the night, and prevent REM sleep suppression triggered by anxiety. Other sources of sleeplessness, such as REM sleep behaviour disorder can also be improved with CBD.
CBD may also be effective in reducing anxiety, with many studies showing consistent CBD dosing to be linked to lower levels of anxiety.
Other studies continue to find health-supporting benefits of CBD with a wide range of benefits covering sleep quality as well as inflammation and pain reduction 1 2 3. CBD is also linked to reducing signs of depression, as well as improving skin conditions such as dermatitis, scarring, and psoriasis.
Isn’t it the other ingredients in the supplements and topicals that are effective?
Sometimes a client will say to us, “it isn’t the actual CBD which helps relieve the symptoms of specific health conditions; it is what it is mixed with.” For instance, CBD topical creams and CBD-infused sleeping products may be mixed with ingredients which also offer relief for those specific issues.
That’s not strictly true. The other ingredients may offer a different approach to the same issue (such as sleep, joint pain or skin irritations), but that doesn’t negate the important work that CBD does. The research supports these findings with studies showing the efficacy of CBD in treating sleep, skin and joint conditions while being supported by other wellness-enhancing ingredients.
How does CBD actually provide all these benefits?
CBD is the main cannabinoid contained in the hemp plant, and it works with your body, supporting your endocannabinoid system which is responsible for maintaining homeostasis (or balance) in the body. The endocannabinoid system plays a role in many body functions and systems, helping to regulate appetite and mood, sleep patterns and pain perception (among other things).
Made up of a network of endocannabinoid receptors found throughout the central and peripheral nervous system, and the immune system, the two primary receptors are the CB1 and CB2 receptors. CBD stimulates these receptors, which has a direct impact on:
Your body has an internal clock that allows you to cycle between awake times and sleep (called the circadian rhythm). As CBD interacts with receptors in the ECS, it helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle.
CBD reduces the perception of pain by reducing your pain sensitivity. It does this by interacting with CB2 receptors that are found in your organs, bones, glands, blood vessels and the lymphatic system.
Inflammation and Arthritis
CBD is an anti-inflammatory, pain-controlling agent as it is thought to inhibit the receptors in your body that are responsible for pain perception, and it may also lower as pro-inflammatory cytokines produced by the immune system.
By supporting the work of the CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD is thought to play a role in immune system function, which can help with rheumatoid arthritis where your immune system attacks tissues in the joints. The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD may also slow the progression of arthritis, as well as offering pain-relieving benefits.
Stress and Anxiety
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system’s serotonin receptors in the brain, helping to reduce anxiety levels. This is the case for post-traumatic stress disorders and anxiety, which, along with improved sleep quality, leads to improved mental health.
Does the brand of CBD that you buy make a difference?
The quality of CBD that you buy makes a big difference, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Using a counterfeit or poor-quality CBD may mean that you don’t get the advertised level of CBD. If you’re not getting the right amount of CBD, you’re not going to experience the benefits. In some cases, certain CBD brands could even be harmful as poor cultivation and extraction processes may introduce contaminants that you may ingest unknowingly.
There are numerous studies that have shown brands across all price points to have inaccurate labelling and huge fluctuations in quality and purity. In the UK, part of the problem is that there is little to no CBD regulation. Producers are limited in the medical claims they can make about their products, but that’s about it.
Specifically in the UK, a study was conducted whereby 30 different CBD products from different companies were tested by third-party lab PhytoVista in a blind experiment. The results were concerning. While some of the products were excellent quality and contained the advertised amount of CBD, most had labelling inaccuracies, and some contained controlled substances and contaminants. One of the products tested contained no CBD at all.
Let’s break down the findings and look at the numbers:
- 62% did not contain the advertised level of CBD
- 38% of products had less than 50% of the amount of CBD that was advertised on the label
- One of the products contained 0% CBD
- One of the products contained 3.8% ethanol, which means it should be classified as an alcoholic beverage
- 45% of the products were actually illegal as the THC level was over 0.04% or the CBN level was over 0.01%
- 24% contained dichloromethane, and one contained cyclohexane
If you’re looking to find a product that will give you the health-supporting benefits of CBD, ensure that you do your research. You should be looking for full-spectrum (or broad-spectrum) CBD. There should also third-party lab reports are available for the specific batch of product that you want to purchase to ensure the CBD concentration is as advertised (and that there are no harmful compounds).
It’s also important to check that the product is produced by a reputable brand with a strong reputation in the CBD space. They should provide clear, easily available information detailing the production process from seed to shelf.
With more and more people turning to CBD, there’s no sign that this is a passing health fad. Because CBD supports the optimal functioning of your body, rather than seeking to mask symptoms or provide targeted relief, it’s no surprise that the projected growth of the CBD industry is set to soar in the next few years.
More and more, as people learn about CBD and the misconceptions around the cannabinoid are debunked, there is more widespread understanding of the benefits. Whether you’re looking for relief from pain, or a way to boost your mood, CBD can help. But, only if you’re using a good quality CBD.