Estimates put the number of CBD users in the UK at around 250 000 in 2017, double the number of users in 2016. Recent numbers show that there are now 1.3 million regular CBD users in the UK, with over 6 million having used it in the last year. As CBD’s popularity continues to grow, there’s a counter-culture emerging that seems to want to put CBD in the box of ‘scam’ and/or ‘placebo’ so it’s important to look at the arguments for and against the use of CBD.
Why Are Some People Cautious About CBD?
#1 – Apparent Contradictions
Many CBD users claim that using cannabidiol can both sharpen mental acuity to be able to focus on challenging problems as well as making people relaxed. At first glance, this seems impossible, but according to experts such as Philip McGuire, a professor of psychiatry and cognitive neuroscience at King’s College London, that’s it’s less of a contradiction and more of an indication that further study into CBD is needed. In a recent interview with the Guardian, he shared that, ““One of the interesting things about the endocannabinoid system in the body is that it’s not just in the brain but also all over the body,” he explains. “And cannabidiol also appears to have beneficial effects on metabolism, on the immune system and liver function, in addition to its mental health effects.” McGuire is currently researching at CBD as an adjunctive therapy in schizophrenia, the study showed that CBD lowered the psychosis symptoms in the experiment group, a fact that was verified by their therapists who agreed that conditions and symptoms improved considerably.
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system throughout the body, not just the brain. From completed studies, in addition to its mental health benefits, it appears to have positive effects on the immune system, liver function, and metabolism. Understanding the effects of CBD on the whole body will likely shed more insight into the different health and wellness benefits that CBD can offer.
#2 – CBD Quality
Some users haven’t experienced the range of benefits that they expected when taking CBD, and this may come down to CBD quality. It’s important to use CBD that contains hand-harvested, organic hemp, and a gentle, solvent-free extraction process. Many high street retailers sell low-quality oils that don’t contain the advertised percentage of CBD. One study looked at 84 different CBD products sold online and found that only 31% of them contained the advertised levels of CBD. This means that the user needs to do their research, looking at the oil’s third-party lab reports and online reviews to ensure that they are buying a good quality, effective product.
#3 – Ongoing Research
Recreational CBD use and its efficacy still need further research. Medical trials give patients much higher levels of CBD than CBD products available on the high street (source?). And the lack of regulation means that it’s difficult to know what’s in street products, and ingredients vary widely between products.
Medical trials use CBD tablets that are upwards of 1000mg, and can’t accurately be compared to a CBD coffee that contains only 5mg of CBD. It also doesn’t factor in bioavailability where, of the 5mg that you consume, only 1mg or less will be absorbed into the bloodstream. This means that there may be a placebo effect as the doses being consumed aren’t enough to have an effect.
In addition, because CBD isn’t controlled by big pharma, there are no requirements for in-depth studies, so there the potential for a placebo effect is high. In mental health particularly, the placebo effect can result in a 40% change in symptoms so people might think it’s the CBD at work when it is just the placebo effect.
Is CBD a scam?
Good quality CBD is not a scam. It has been scientifically proven to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, stimulating receptors to produce beneficial effects. A quick Google will reveal thousands of user testimonials where individuals have tried out CBD for themselves and have experienced real change.
It’s not a cure-all as some might have you believe, but:
- There is anecdotal retrospective evidence that CBD does have calming effects that can facilitate sleep and prevent panic attacks. It can also raise your threshold for pain (particularly musculoskeletal pain).
- There is incontrovertible evidence that it can mitigate seizures (acting as an anti-convulsant), as well as preventing dystonia (severe, uncontrollable muscle spasms). In the UK medicinal cannabidiol can be legally prescribed following the case of Billy Caldwell.
- There is evidence that it is an anti-inflammatory, which is helpful for understanding how topical CBD creams can provide relief. Studies into CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties show promising results in animals and humans.
What to Look for When Choosing a CBD Oil
You should choose CBD that is full-spectrum made from CBD stalks, leaves, and seed, not “hemp seed oil”. The product should be third-party tested and should be made from organically grown and harvested hemp. While there are many brands of CBD oil, it is essential to find a good quality option in order to experience the benefits that CBD offers. An oil made with poor quality CBD, one that uses harsh chemicals during the extraction process, or one that does not contain the advertised percentages will dramatically lower the efficacy of the product.
Possibilities for CBD into the Future
Proponents of CBD are confident that in the next 20 to 30 years, CBD will have a significant impact on the way we live. Already there is a lifestyle shift away from binge drinking and the effects that it has on the body. Instead, people are choosing to invest in their health and wellbeing by eating better, exercising, and being more mindful of the products they use and consume.
CBD oil is likely to form an important part of this trend as new research emerges of the use cases and benefits of incorporating a high-quality CBD oil into your lifestyle.
There is no doubt that CBD has captured the imagination of the UK population with the health benefits that allow for a natural path to health and wellness. There are many studies currently underway that show promising initial results which point to what users already know: CBD oil is not a scam and it’s not a placebo, it’s a completely natural product that interacts with the body’s own endocannabinoid system to regulate the body and restore balance, helping with pain and inflammation, as well as helping to control seizures.