Everyone is banging on about CBD. It’s been cropping up everywhere, from vape liquid to sweets, shampoo to your favourite spirits. Kim Kardashian even threw a CBD-themed baby shower earlier this year.
But what exactly is it? You don’t need to be a botanist to understand this mysterious green molecule, you’re one short article away from being an expert.
What is CBD?
CBD is short for 'cannabidol' and it's a molecule produced by the cannabis plant.
Cannabis plants produce lots of different types of these molecules, called ‘cannabinoids’. There are over 120 of them but CBD is one of the most heavily studied ones.
It was discovered in 1940 but clinical research only really started focusing on it in 2018.
CBD is naturally-occurring but humans have to help extract it. The process is pretty complex, not something you could do yourself if you happened to have a hemp plant lying around. To make a long story short and simple, they usually turn it into an oil, remove any unwanted bits like plant waxes and then distill it.
Will CBD get me high?
CBD (at the level that you will take it) is non-psychoactive, which means it doesn't have a strong effect on how your brain works or change your state of mind - it doesn’t cause a ‘high’. You won’t start giggling at nothing, have red eyes, feel extra creative, move slower, get the munchies, or have any other symptoms of being stoned.
Some people like to get fussy about the definition of psychoactive. Any substance that has a direct effect on how your brain functions is technically a psychoactive, but the general consensus is that CBD doesn’t count as one because the effects are so minimal.
Why does weed get me high when CBD can’t?
Weed usually contains THC. THC is another one of those molecules only cannabis plants product and it is the main intoxicating ingredient of cannabis. In other words, it’s the bit responsible for making you feel high.
CBD products in the UK do not include THC - or at least anywhere near enough of it to get you feeling funny.
THC works by activating a thing in your brain called the CB1 receptor. It’s all very complicated but basically it helps increase blood flow to the areas of your brain responsible for making you feel good, giving you a sense of euphoria. Neat! Pity it’s illegal though.
Is CBD legal?
If you live in the UK or EU: yes!
Cannabis oil has been legal to possess, buy and sell in the UK since 2018, so there’s no need to worry about getting in trouble for having some on you.
The conditions of this are that the product must not contain more than 0.3% THC and cannot be advertised as providing a medicinal benefit.
So if your CBD product leaves you seeing talking sandwiches and the bottle claims it will cure appendicitis, you might want to sling it in the bin.
The legality in other countries is a bit more complicated, especially in the US where the law differs from state to state. The EU generally follows the same rules as the UK does, where it is legal on the above conditions.
How will I feel on it?
We can’t really say!
You might feel anything from nothing at all to a pleasant sense of calm, maybe you’ll be a little happier or less high strung - it’s different for everyone. But you definitely won’t feel ‘out of it’, off your face or intoxicated. It’s not like being drunk or stoned.
What is the evidence?
Some research suggests that CBD may reduce anxiety, seizures in certain rare forms of epilepsy, inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis, have antipsychotic effects in people with schizophrenia and loads of other great benefits.
Think of it as similar to herbal remedies. Plenty of people swear lavender oil calms them down, helps them sleep better and rescues them from the brink of panic attacks, even though there's not one huge study that confirms it .
CBD may well help you feel a little calmer, there’s lots of anecdotal evidence for it. CBD may have absolutely no effect on you. You won’t know if it works for you until you give it a go!
Are there any side effects?
Some people may experience tiredness, diarrhoea, changes in appetite and weight gain or weight loss with regular CBD use. At low doses, these side effects are extremely unlikely, but it’s good to be aware just in case.
I’m pregnant - can I have CBD?
Short answer: no.
There's no conclusive evidence to show that taking CBD during pregnant is or isn't safe. However, experts say it's better to be safe than sorry and give the CBD a miss until scientists figure out how it affects your growing baby.
Right, now you're pretty much an expert! Go forth and discover the exciting world of CBD. Or should we say, the CALMING world of CBD.
You may be sick of hearing about it by now, but research is only at the beginning of what cannabinoids can do for the human body and all its anxious, inflamed, seizure-y quirks. Roll on the CBD revolution - and hopefully even more infused treats!
Might we point you in the direction of our delightfully sweet assortment of CBD goodies? Not to toot our own horn but they're a fantastic place to start.