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A beginner’s guide to CBD: What is it and how it works

By Jess Marshall on 14th March 2020

It seems like the whole world has gone a little CBD crazy. Everything from dog treats to gummy sweets have had their very own CBD makeover. It is the latest miracle health trend that is meant to improve a myriad of health issues, including insomnia and anxiety. But while it has been taking the world by storm, many of us – even those of us currently sipping on CBD-infused cocktails or indulging in a trendy CBD-infused cupcake – have been left a little confused about what CBD actually is. Where does it come from? How does it work? The hype around CBD has been so all-consuming that in the midst of the chaos these important questions often get forgotten. So for those pondering these very questions, here is a quick and easy beginners guide to CBD.

Firstly, what is it? CBD or cannabidiol is a natural substance derived from the hemp or marijuana plant; two different species of cannabis. Hemp plants contain a high percentage of CBD and less than 0.3% THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, a chemical that is found in much higher concentrations in marijuana. THC is the contributing element responsible for the feelings of getting ‘high’ when marijuana cigarettes are smoked. Fortunately, regardless of which plant your CBD oil comes from there is zero chance of it getting you high because, unlike THC, CBD is not a psychoactive substance, and does not effect the brain in the same way. Because of this, CBD is legal in the UK in addition to many countries in Europe, North, Central and South America. Always do your own research about the legalities of the substance in your country.

CBD or cannabidiol is a natural substance derived from the hemp or marijuana plant; two different species of cannabis

So now we know what CBD is, the question really is how does it work? CBD has been known to effectively treat anxiety, depression and insomnia, relieve aches and pains, reduce acne and has even been prescribed as treatment for some forms of epilepsy that don’t respond to anti-seizure medication. According to Health Harvard’s website: ‘A study from the European Journal of Pain showed…CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat.’ The website also explains how some studies have suggested that CBD helps with falling asleep and, perhaps more importantly, staying asleep.

Unfortunately, significantly more studies need to be carried out in order to explain how the chemicals in CBD actually work before experts can definitively state what CBD is and is not appropriate to be used for. According to researchers CBD has a history of being difficult to obtain. This is particularly true for the years before 2018 – when it was legalised in the US; a reality that had up until that point made innovative research into CBD difficult and contributed to its status as a slow field of research.

It’s not all bad news though. Now that it is more readily available there is hope that CBD studies will start popping up everywhere, and soon we will have clear-cut proof for what miracles it can and can’t work. In the mean time experts do have some working theories about how CBD works within the body. It is thought that CBD has similar compounds to things called endocannabinoids that are produced by the human body and naturally do the things CBD claims to do. It is thought that because the two compounds are so similar that CBD either mimics or enhances these pre-existing endocannabinoids producing the magic effects it is so in demand for.

One of the best ways to start taking CBD is nibbling on some CBD-infused gummies

Interested in trying CBD for yourself? Say no more! CBD oil is often the go-to for beginners but is perhaps not the best route to take, as the taste can be earthy, overwhelming and frankly off-putting. One of the best ways to start taking CBD is nibbling on some CBD gummies! They are super easy to pop in a bag and snack on throughout the day and the flavour of the oil is masked by the fun, fruity flavour of the sweets! Plus gummies typically have a lower percentage of bioavailability, which means a lower percentage of CBD will enter the bloodstream, starting beginners off nice and slow. The best place to find recommendations for CBD gummies, oils and more is Greenshoppers, a website where hundreds of CBD reviews can be found, plus articles on everything CBD related.

Before consuming CBD please consult your doctor.