CBD oil has caused quite a stir in the last few years, during which we have seen the mainstreaming of this handy substance throughout Europe. What’s the benefit of taking CBD oil? Do you need to worry about side effects? Why is it legal while other cannabis products aren’t?
We cover all this and more in the following guide.
This guide is split into the following parts:
- What Is CBD?
- CBD Side Effects
- What Is CBD Oil?
- How To Take CBD Oil
Within each part of our guide, you’ll see that we’ve done our homework. We have referenced studies supporting the properties of CBD oil and even linked to them, so you can read deeper into these therapeutic products.
Let’s start at the beginning – what is CBD?
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound found, in the highest levels, within the resinous flower of the cannabis plant. Cannabis flowers and their extracts have been used as medicine for thousands of years.
Today, scientists and doctors are testing its therapeutic properties with the World Health Organization (WHO), confirming that CBD is non-toxic and non-addictive, i.e. safe for human consumption.
Cannabidiol is one of over a hundred “phytocannabinoids,” which are naturally occurring molecules in cannabis and give the plant its robust therapeutic profile.
CBD is closely related to another medicinally active ingredient called THC, which is responsible for the plant’s infamous “high” effect.
However, CBD is entirely non-intoxicating, making it a great natural alternative to many prescription medications that often come with an extensive list of unwanted side effects.
These molecularly similar components of cannabis are currently the most researched, with well documented yet different effects from each other play a significant role in what makes cannabis’ potential so extensive!
The fact that CBD is so therapeutically potent with a long list of potential health benefits, as well as non-intoxicating, makes it such an appealing option for those who are looking for cannabis-derived products to add to their health and wellbeing routine.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD interacts with our bodies in a variety of ways. One way is by mimicking the effects of naturally produced compounds inside us, called endocannabinoids – named because they work similarly to those found in the cannabis plant.
These compounds interact with neuroreceptors throughout our body that make up our endocannabinoid system. CBD works in a similar way to our body’s endocannabinoids, supplementing their effects.
What Is The Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex biological system whose discovery has led to new medical advances. Medical researchers discovered it in the 1990s and have since been able to identify how, like many other systems within our bodies, this one can affect appetite, sleep patterns and mood swings, chronic pain, amongst others.
Our bodies are home to an extensive network of cannabinoid receptors throughout our systems—in every organ and tissue type.
The ECS plays many roles within the body. It regulates pain responses, immune functions, inflammation reactions, metabolism, hunger/satiety cues, and even brain development and cognitive functioning.
The endocannabinoid system is involved in modulating chemical responses – by increasing or decreasing the strength of signals sent around the body.
This wide range of actions means that any given medical condition may benefit from cannabis oil by helping reduce side effects and stress on other organs and tissues involved in the process.
The potential effects are wide-ranging because cannabinoid compounds interact with receptors throughout the body, modulating a broad spectrum of chemical responses.
What Are The Health Benefits Of CBD?
Due to the prohibition of cannabis and associated research restrictions, studies that research the medical benefits of cannabis and cannabidiol products are currently low in number.
However, in recent years, scientists have paid increasing attention to what can be learned from the study of cannabinoid receptors and how those findings may apply to improving human health.
Below is a list of potential health benefits associated with CBD:
CBD may be able to help you manage anxiety. Researchers think it changes how your brain’s receptors respond to serotonin, a chemical linked with mental health.
Receptors are tiny proteins that receive messages from chemicals and relay them back in order for cells to work correctly; most notably, they play an essential part when nerve responses occur, which is what happens during mood swings and triggering bouts of depression or panic attacks due to too high levels of serotonin being released in response to anxiety-inducing stimuli such as stress, fear, trauma, etc.
A study of 72 adults with anxiety found that 79% had reduced anxiety within the first month and remained decreased for the duration of the study.
Animal studies have shown that CBD, the main active component of cannabis or hemp plants, positively affects serotonin levels in the brain.
Low levels of serotonin are thought to play a crucial role in mood as well as pain.
Research is still being conducted and is looking at how this affects animals, so we don’t know if it helps human depression symptoms yet, but animal research suggests some benefit for those with low-serotonin conditions such as chronic stress disorders.
By balancing serotonin levels in the brain, CBD may improve mood-disorder symptoms.
Anti-Seizure – Epilepsy
CBD oil has been used for centuries to treat various ailments, with some studies suggesting that it might be beneficial in the management of conditions such as epilepsy.
The first evidence to support this claim comes from research commissioned by GW Pharmaceuticals. They manufacture one variety of CBD-based medication called Epidiolex – an oral prescription drug recently approved by the FDA for two rare types of childhood forms of epilepsy (Lennox Gastaut syndrome and Dravet Syndrome).
CBD is prescribed to treat and reduce seizures in these medical conditions, with life-changing benefits reported by patients and their families.
The effects of CBD on receptors in the immune system may help reduce overall inflammation in the body.
Cannabidiol is listed as an approved active ingredient in the EU cosmetic register, designated safe for use in skincare products.
It possesses anti-sebum & anti-inflammatory qualities, both of which may help treat acne.
Chronic Pain Relief
There are approved medicines in the UK that are prescribed to treat pain containing CBD. It is thought that CBD interacts with receptors in our brains and bodies may be responsible for the relief being reported in scientific studies and anecdotal evidence from across the world.
Nabiximols (Sativex), a multiple sclerosis drug made from a combination of THC and CBD, is approved in the United Kingdom and Canada to treat spasticity, neuropathic pain, and other symptoms caused by multiple sclerosis.
This medicine contains both THC & CBD; researchers feel that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties play an essential role in aiding pain relief by reducing patients' swelling, which may be why so many report relief from other inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.
Clinical trials with CBD have shown promise but need further research and evidence as there has been only one study conducted on humans.
CBD has been shown above to have the potential to improve pain, anxiety, and mood disorders. As a result, it may also help to provide relief from your sleep disorder!
A study looking at the effects of cannabidiol showed that 67% of participants reported improved sleep scores in one month.
Researchers are looking into a receptor located in the brain, the CB1 receptor, to learn how CBD could potentially help people with neurodegenerative disorders. These diseases cause nerve cells and tissues to deteriorate over time.
Researchers have been looking at the potential use of Cannabidiol oil for treating:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson’s Disease
How Is CBD Produced?
CBD can be made in various forms, but most often, it is extracted from the hemp plant and mixed with other carrier oils derived from hemp seeds, olives, or an MCT oil like coconut, for example.
Extracting cannabidiol begins by growing “industrial hemp” cultivated legally from approved seeds known to produce no more than 0.2% THC in the dried yield of the crop as per EU regulations.
The cannabinoids are then extracted from the hemp plant’s flowers and stalks before they are refined into oil.
Several extraction methods are commonly used in the industry, including CO2, ethanol, and cold pressing, with our preferred methods being CO2 and cold-pressing.
These are the cleanest methods and preserve the most cannabinoids and terpenes (the essential oils that give the cannabis plant its unique smell).
We will soon have an in-depth look into how CBD oil is made in an upcoming blog article!
Is CBD Safe?
Yes, CBD is safe.
It has been widely reported as safe by health bodies, including the World Health Organization, as long as it is taken as prescribed or advised by your country’s relevant food safety agency.
In the UK, we follow the Food Standards Agency’s recommendation of no more than 70mg CBD in 24 hours. More information can be found on their website here.
At Beliebis, we are fully compliant with the Novel Food Regulations governing all new foods that were not considered widely consumed before 1997.
Our extracts come from reputable farms that have ensured they meet the highest standards, including testing for heavy metals and pesticides.
This means all of our products have undergone extensive safety testing to ensure the extraction method used is safe or the product is exempt from regulation due to the traditional extraction method used.
These exempt products were either widely consumed before 1997, such as cold-pressed oils or are cosmetic products, which are not governed by UK/EU food regulations.
No matter which method of extraction is used, all of our products have been extensively tested by an independent UK laboratory.
The World Health Organization (WHO) conducted a thorough report into cannabidiol in 2017 based on the scientific evidence available and contained a long list of potential therapeutic benefits.
In summary, the report states that CBD is safe for human consumption and that it is non-toxic & non-addictive.
You can see the report via the link here.
CBD Side Effects
Like many substances people take for healthcare and therapeutic reasons, there are possible side effects when you take CBD. As we have detailed above, CBD is considered safe for the overwhelming majority of trialled populations.
Before taking CBD, you should first consult with your doctor or a medical professional who is familiar with any medications you’re taking. CBD can react negatively with certain medications.
You should pay attention to the grapefruit warning too. This is where a group of protein enzymes – cytochrome P450, or CYPs – interact with both CBD and the flesh/juice of grapefruit. If you take CBD after eating or drinking grapefruit, your metabolism will process the drugs differently. This often means more of the drug reaches your bloodstream without being processed by the liver, sometimes in dangerous doses!
With that covered, let’s take a look at the nine main side effects of CBD that have been found.
Can Cause Diarrhoea
While uncommon, some who take CBD oil will experience an upset stomach that soon advances into diarrhoea. Sometimes this is a reaction to the cannabidiol itself, sometimes it’s something else in the oil. If you try two different oils and get the same results, then it’s cannabidiol.
It helps to scan the ingredients list for the CBD oil that you take (along with anything else you put in your body!) and find out the carrier oils that have been used. MCT oil and coconut oil are most popular but they can cause diarrhoea in large doses.
If you’re serious about CBD oil, you may want to shop around and find the carrier oils that work best with your stomach. Upon experiencing diarrhoea, stop using it until it subsides. If it doesn’t subside, go see a healthcare professional!
CBD oil is often marketed for its properties that can support weight loss. That said, not all weight change is welcomed, especially if CBD accelerates weight gain. While it can help with weight loss, it can also promote weight gain depending on the person taking it and the way they live their lives.
Like some of the more illegal parts of the cannabis plant, some have reported hunger after taking CBD. An increase in appetite will lead some to overindulge, having the opposite effect on your weight.
As mentioned above, taking CBD oil can cause some stomach issues. This can present itself as nausea and will be due to the cannabidiol or the carrier oils/other ingredients that have been used in the mixture.
If you experience nausea and dizziness then you may not be digesting CBD oil properly, especially if it gets to the point of vomiting. While it’s known that CBD side effects typically cause gastrointestinal disruptions, the link between cannabinoids and nausea has mainly been explored in the context of cancer. Medications including CBD, like the aforementioned Nabiximols (Sativex), have been used to relieve nausea in those going through chemotherapy.
While the so-called “cottonmouth” is associated with the more illegal parts of the plant that are loaded with THC, some experience it with CBD too.
Fortunately, this side effect doesn’t cause much harm, especially if it is mitigated beforehand. You can do that by staying hydrated before, during, and after using CBD and using hydrating mouthwash in the mornings and evenings. You could also chew gum, particularly those containing xylitol, to increase your saliva production.
If the side effect persists or is bothering you, other CBD oil products with different ingredients may not trigger this reaction.
One of the positive effects of CBD oil is that it can help with sleep disorders and general relaxation. For some, this can go too far to the point of fatigue. Taking CBD in lower amounts can disturb sleep while larger doses will increase your sleeping time, both affecting your drowsiness the day after. If the symptoms are severe enough that it impacts your functions, you shouldn’t put yourself in situations where fast motor reactions are needed.
Low Blood Pressure
The relationship between CBD and vasodilation has been observed in the arteries of both rats and humans. In each case, dilation of the blood vessels may improve the subject’s blood flow and lower blood pressure. Depending on your blood pressure when you take the oil, this may not be a good thing.
The lower blood pressure drops happen when the subject (that’s you) is at rest. The side effect is reversed by physical activity, where the heart pumps faster and stress hormones constrict the vascular system.
The effects of CBD on those with cardiovascular conditions aren’t fully explored yet and you should consult your doctor if this is a concern. You should also consult your doctor if you are using medications for increasing or lowering your blood pressure.
It May Be Unsafe While Pregnant/Breastfeeding
CBD oil may be unsafe for those who are pregnant for breastfeeding immediately after a pregnancy. To err on the side of caution, it’s advised to avoid taking CBD oil in those circumstances because the cannabidiol or other present ingredients can harm the foetus/infant.
May Cause Liver Damage
In extremely high doses, CBD has been observed to damage the liver in mice. While that study caused some worry over human use of CBD oil, this side effect seems strictly related to the dosage that you take and other compounding factors. If taken with the wrong medication, as detailed above, then CBD can go unfiltered in your system and harm the liver.
The mice study showed liver damage in very high doses – the highest that humans could withstand in daily doses – which overwhelmed the endocannabinoid systems of the small animals. The study authors themselves stated that the 200 mg dosage “is not applicable to most real-life scenarios.”
As always, consult a medical professional if you have concerns. If you have liver disease or other liver troubles, you should lower your doses of CBD to see if negative side effects cease.
Like with weight gain, many people turn to CBD oil for help with anxiety, depression, and other issues that cause unpredictable mood swings, yet can experience mood swings as a side effect of cannabidiol.
It is generally agreed that CBD oil causes fewer side effects than anti-depressant medication but it should not be used as a replacement for medical treatment. If you’re still experiencing mood issues, the CBD isn’t efficiently managing and smoothing out irregularities in serotonin and dopamine levels. Consider stopping CBD use and consult a professional.
What Is CBD Oil?
We’ve used CBD and CBD oil somewhat interchangeably above. While CBD is short for cannabidiol, one of the main chemical substances of the cannabis plant alongside tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it’s mixed with other ingredients and sold as an oil. This oil is typically ingested, though there are topical applications as we’ve covered below.
To create CBD oil, hemp extract is typically mixed with a carrier oil. Many brands use MCT oil as a carrier oil, though coconut, sunflower, avocado, and even extra virgin olive oil are used. The hemp extract is what contains cannabidiol along with other legal cannabinoid by-products, such as cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabis terpenes.
What Is CBD Oil Used For?
With the explosion of the commercial market for CBD supplements, it’s overtaken THC as the most popular ingredient of the cannabis plant. We’ve detailed the many positive effects of taking CBD oil above, which brings up the question – what is CBD oil used for?
As we have covered, CBD can be an effective treatment for a variety of ailments and is prescribed in certain conditions.
The NHS lists three main reasons that somebody can get a CBD oil prescription in the UK (and even then, they may opt for medications containing CBD instead of the oil itself):
- The patient is a child or adult displaying a severe form of epilepsy.
- The patient is an adult suffering nausea/vomiting as a result of chemotherapy.
- The patient has spasms and muscle stiffness caused by multiple sclerosis (MS).
In each case, CBD is turned to when more traditional and familiar medications and treatments have fallen short.
Of course, the popularity of CBD oil isn’t because it gets prescribed to people. There is a bustling commercial market behind CBD oil because it’s legal, inexpensive, and works for treating many people in their everyday lives.
Cannabis was farmed and used in ancient times for pain relief and calming the symptoms of disease and discomfort. While this was mainly through smoking marijuana to get the THC content from the plant, CBD oil allows us to reap the benefits of the plant without any of the controversial implications.
It is also widely bought by customers to treat everything from acne to Parkinson’s Disease. It should be noted that animal studies are often the basis for positive CBD oil claims, as is the case with emerging industries, but there have also been positive human studies like the many we’ve linked throughout this guide.
Here are some of the reasons that people buy and take CBD oil:
- Acne: CBD regulates sebum production, preventing cytokine activation and the acne that comes from it. This treats acne and prevents future breakouts and is mainly observed if the CBD is applied topically.
- Arthritis: CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can also relieve the inflammation that comes with arthritis and similar conditions. Once again, this is best observed through topical application.
- Depression: CBD seems to deliver an anti-stress response that helps some with anxiety and depression. It does this by stimulating the serotonin levels of the brain, something widely observed in mice and other animal studies.
- Sleep Disorders: When taking CBD oil for other reasons, many will report improved sleeping patterns. In mid to high doses, it seems to eliminate restlessness and preserve healthy sleep.
- Parkinson’s Disease: While more traditional treatments should be pursued, some take CBD for help with their Parkinson’s Disease. This mainly manifests in self-reported quality of life, not a difference in motor reactions or the tremors that Parkinson’s Disease produces.
How To Take CBD Oil
Now that we know all about CBD, CBD oil, and its side effects, let’s take a look at how you take it. Taking CBD food supplements is a far cry from smoking the plant. It can be taken in a few ways but you should always follow your doctor’s instructions if they have recommended CBD oil for any reason.
This is because certain applications will produce different results. As mentioned above, the acne and arthritis benefits of CBD oil won’t be seen if you just ingest the oil instead of applying it topically.
The most effective applications tend to involve dissolving the CBD oil into your bloodstream as fast as possible. If it reaches your bloodstream quicker, it’ll have more of an effect on your body.
Any medication that you take needs to be taken in the right doses. If you take too little, you won’t feel much of the benefits, if any at all. If you take too much, you can risk becoming sick or even suffering dangerous reactions to so much CBD in your bloodstream – namely liver damage.
Before taking CBD, you should figure out the proper dosage so that you can enjoy the benefits of CBD oil with none of the undesirable side effects. There are three main factors that you should consider when dosing properly:
- Your body weight.
- Your reasons for taking CBD.
- The concentration of the CBD product.
A healthcare professional can further advise you on taking the correct CBD dose, preferably your doctor who knows which medications you’re on and other conditions you may have.
For typical use, most adults will take doses of 200 mg or less each day with the UK FSA recommending no more than 70mg per day.
Doses up to 1,500 mg have been given to people in studies to test the dosage and observe negative side effects in CBD but that’s beyond the purview of a customer taking CBD oil. It’s also a bad idea since you’d run out of CBD faster, your CBD should go a long way!
When starting, you should start with smaller dosages and gradually increase so you adapt to the treatment and experience no negative effects. Many start at 20 mg and increase by 5-milligram increments until you get the desired effect.
Ways Of Using CBD Products Include
With that covered, let’s go through all the ways that CBD oil supplements can be taken:
- The typical way to take CBD oil is to place a few droplets under the tongue. Many CBD oil containers have a pipette or dropper built into the cap, making it easy to move and place drops of the oil into your mouth. The tongue has the most capillaries in your mouth, allowing it to reach the bloodstream faster.
- Similarly, you can also get spray bottles of CBD oil that are also sprayed under the tongue. They function the same but don’t come with the added effort of removing the cap and using the pipette.
- You can then also mix the CBD oil into food or drink. This is best if you don’t like the taste of CBD oil and want to smuggle it into your bloodstream by eating or drinking something you’d prefer instead.
While not necessarily CBD oil, CBD products can also take the form of swallowing capsules or massaging them into your skin.
Taking a capsule is best for those who want to avoid the taste of oil and is often used in a medicinal context, on the advice of a medical professional. Topical application has an anti-inflammatory effect that helps skin and muscular conditions
That brings us to the end of our guide on all things CBD. We have covered the nature of CBD, its side effects, the ingredients of CBD oil, and the practical considerations you must have when taking it.
Hopefully, you’ve learned about CBD products and can make an informed decision on whether it’s ideal for you or not. Many swear by the benefits of taking CBD as a dietary supplement but everybody interacts with drugs differently, so the only way to know is to try it!