Updated: Aug 10
There is no doubt when you walk down your local high street, it won't be long before you come across CBD in some form. Creams, tinctures, oils, sweets, lip balm, teas, chocolate and more that are 'CBD flavoured', sometimes adhering more to the health trend than actually being something that's necessarily good for you.
There are however many forms of the stuff that have been found to be incredibly helpful with managing symptoms for certain individuals struggling with ongoing pain, anxiety and even cancer. People often assume that CBD is the same as cannabis, which is only partly true.
CBD is one of the main chemical compounds (cannabidiol) of the cannabis plant that has a relaxing affect on the body. CBD products in the UK are strictly monitored; they must be derived from hemp (part of the Cannabis Sativa family of plants) that is grown outside of the UK; and must contain no more than 1mg of THC per product or bottle.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol is a chemical also found naturally in the cannabis plant that contributes to the hallucinogenic characteristic that cannabis is so well known for. As the amount of THC found in UK products is so low, no matter how much of a CBD (legal) product you might consume, it won't deliver the high that you would otherwise experience from marijuana!
When we think about this, we are actually getting limited access of the cannabis plant. The same concept applies to curcumin, which is the most abundant of chemicals found in turmeric, that is removed and sold as supplements. While there is a place for this, it does not have the same effect on the body that the whole plant or food would have if consumed in its more natural state, with all the other naturally occurring plant chemicals that while are in much smaller dose, synergistically play a part in the healing and managing of symptoms within the body that are still being understood. The same can be said for cannabis that when used as a whole plant, can potentially offer much great benefits to support a variety of symptoms that are otherwise managed using long term pharmaceutical drug use with likely unwanted side effects.
Plants and herbs when used as medicine can offer a much more gentle approach to aiding the body, unlike conventional drugs that are designed to treat one specific thing. Cannabis is known as an adaptogen, which is the term used to describe herbs and plants that can adapt to the specific needs of the body, going to places where it is required and used to help naturally support the body in multiple ways.
Cannabis is widely used as medicine in the USA and Canada for treatment in diseases such as early onset Parkinson, epilepsy, ME, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, sclerosis and depression to chronic pain relief and alongside cancer relief treatment. Medicinal CBD differs from what you can buy from your local health shop, as the amount of cannabis chemicals vary from what we can purchase from the shelves. The different ratios of CBD, THC and other properties naturally found in the plant can be significantly beneficial in many conditions, with very limited side effects.
In fact, CBD is one of the safest substances to consume with very little interaction with other medicine too. This is why it is so readily available!
A case in the UK that highlighted the case for medicinal CBD in the UK was with Charlotte Caldwell, a mother of a young boy Billy, who suffered with severe epilepsy and whose medicated CBD was confiscated by UK police upon returning from Canada for treatment in 2018. The 6 month supply of CBD that was taken away resulted in the young boy's condition to worsen significantly, putting him into what his doctors referred to as a 'crisis situation'. To put this into perspective, the young boy who would typically endure up to 100 seizures a day, was able to safely manage his symptoms with the prescribed CBD oil and be seizure free for over 300 days when medicating with it. It was only when the boy's US and Canadian doctors urged his UK doctors to help put pressure on the UK government that he was granted access to the medicinal CBD.
Unfortunately, the same doctor who prescribed the CBD to Billy Caldwell in the UK, was later told by the Home Office that he was no longer able to do so.
More eyes are now on the use of medicinal CBD in clinical form and further research and studies are going in to learning more about how the plant can be used and offered to patients to make a significant difference to some otherwise debilitating conditions. The Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society for example, is a UK based non-profit platform to raise awareness and help train clinicians in the use and prescribing of cannabis in clinics. I believe this is an exciting time for healthcare to become truly integrated, giving health practitioners more to offer to be able to support patients with something very simple that may offer potentially life changing results.
Dr Dani Gordon who is part of the expert panel at the MCCS and author of the book The CBD Bible, has done a huge amount of work to bring awareness from her native Canada to the UK about the uses and potential of medicinal cannabis to the medical community and general public. You can find more information about what she has to say on her website- https://drdanigordon.com/.
While medical cannabis is something that is only available privately, there are some brilliant products available for more self care and every day symptoms such as headaches, period pain, anxiety, sleep, restlessness, focus and concentration, muscle aches and joint point. Taking a few drops of CBD oil under the tongue for example, and upping the dose slowly until the desired effect can help ease every day symptoms very easily. CBD creams can work really well to help relieve tense muscles and CBD teas are a great way to calm nerves and ease sleep.
Look out for the COA or Certificate of Analysis on a brand's website to get more information about the source and range of the CBD to ensure you are using something that is good quality. Where possible go organic from a reputable brand.
If you would like to start using CBD for a chronic condition or have any questions about your specific condition, speak to a qualified health professional.
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