Modern life can be exhausting. Long working hours, high-stress jobs, family responsibilities, and an endless supply of temping but unhealthy treats – it all takes its toll on our physical and mental health, and can leave us feeling flat. As a result, the health and beauty industry is booming like never before, providing products that promise to keep us fit, well, and feeling good.
But the one product everyone is talking about right now, is CBD.
CBD products have become increasingly popular in the last couple of years as an aid to health, beauty, and general wellbeing. It’s now one of the fastest growing specialisms within the health and beauty industry, and has plenty of enthusiastic celebrity endorsers from Morgan Freeman, to Jennifer Aniston, and Tom Hanks.
And judging by the initial feedback, it’s easy to see why. It is believed that CBD has a multitude of potential benefits from aiding sleep, reducing anxiety, clearing skin, and relieving pain. It is also relatively inexpensive, and doesn’t demand a big change to your routine. Sounds pretty great…if it does deliver on the hype.
But we’ve heard some of these claims before. Health fads come and go at an alarming rate. And by the time you’ve managed to incorporate weight-loss tea, intermittent fasting, activated charcoal, or cryotherapy into your daily routine, something new has arrived on the market which renders the last thing a bit pointless.
So it begs the question: is CBD oil just another health fad? Or is it really the revolutionary health product so many believe it to be? In this article, we’ll lay out everything there is to know about this new wonder substance. Only time (and personal experience) will tell for sure whether CBD is the product for you.
What is CBD Oil?
However, unlike the intoxicating drug one typically smokes or eats, cannabidiol does NOT contain the psychoactive ingredient THC (which is illegal in some countries and some US states). So what’s the difference when you take it?
The origin plant, marijuana, naturally contains both THC and CBD. Over the years, strains of the marijuana plant have been modified to increase THC and reduce CBD, increasing the intoxicating effects of the drug, and reducing the mellowing counterbalance that CBD delivers. As manufacturers have played with the street-drug’s DNA, THC products have generally become more potent and a little less calming.
In the midst of all this, researchers naturally began to wonder – what would the effects be of taking CBD extract on its own? Would you just experience the calming effects of marijuana without the intoxication? Are they in fact, two substances with opposite properties? It was definitely worth experimenting – and a number of organisations set about doing the research.
Whilst CBD oil has been tested to a high enough health standard to be made available to the general public, the research isn’t extensive. A number of clinical trials have suggested what researchers initially expected: that CBD has the opposite effect to THC, providing the calming balance to an otherwise intoxicating substance. That it does have the potential to help those suffering with anxiety and consistent pain, without the negative side-effects of THC.
But a lot of what we do know about taking CBD is from personal accounts, from enthusiastic individual researchers. Generally speaking, these reports are also very positive. So what do we know for sure?
CBD in the UK is legal, it’s safe (though do check with a health professional before taking it, especially if you are on other medications), it doesn’t make you “high”, and it’s properties and effects have been scientifically researched to explore its health benefits. Aside from all the marketing hype, initial studies are showing some pretty exciting results.
Many report a reduction in general anxiety when taking CBD as a supplement. Others have found the oil has a positive effect on their skin, helping to treat acne and maintain moisture. Some have tried using the oil for pain relief with promising effects. And some have even tried using the oil as a sexual lubricant (each to their own!). There seems to be a range of potential uses, and an increasing number of luxury products via which to make the most of CBD oil’s health and beauty qualities.
How Can I Use CBD Oil?
Typically CBD comes in oil form, either in a bottle (tincture), in edibles, sprays, or to be inhaled in a vape pen. But you can also buy capsules which you swallow, or any number of ‘topicals’ – lotions, salves, or lip balms – which allow you to apply to target a specific ailment or area of the skin.
The main difference is whether you want to use the oil as a health supplement – in which case you can ingest CBD in food, drinks, pills, or under your tongue – or if you’re looking to use it as a beauty product, in which case you can try soaps, moisturisers, or shampoos containing the substance, or apply the oil direct to the area.
If you buy CBD oil or capsules as a starter, it is recommended that you start off with a small dose, keep track of the effects as you experience them, and slowly increase your intake if you feel safe and comfortable to do so.
Make sure to carefully read the information provided with the product and do not exceed the recommended dosage. And most important, listen to your body! If something doesn’t feel right, reduce your dosage or stop taking it. Not everyone is the same, and this product is still in its infancy. Whilst it is unlikely to to have harmful effects, it might not make you feel good.
The Proposed Benefits of CBD Oil
Initial studies have shown a wide range of different uses for CBD oil, both as an aid to your physical and mental health, as well as your beauty routine.
Anxiety and depression are common mental health problems which often come hand-in-hand with high stress, insomnia, and even physical aches and pains. The long term effects of anxiety and depression can negatively affect your physical health and wellbeing, sometimes leading to heart problems or cognitive impairment.
Taking CBD oil as an oral supplement – via a tincture or in a capsule – may help to reduce anxiety and have a calming effect. Taken before bed, it may also aid sleep which as we know – is crucial to proper rest, physical regeneration and mental wellbeing. It is believed to have a generally calming effect, making high-pressure interactions less stressful, and nodding off to sleep that little bit easier.
Some studies have shown a positive effect when taking CBD to combat social anxiety and performance anxiety in situations such as public speaking or even sex. So if your job includes a lot of nerve-wracking presentations, or if you’ve got a big gig coming up, CBD could help relax you and take the edge off.
It is also understood that CBD has some effect on the brain’s serotonin receptors and so may be a useful, natural remedy to help treat depression in the longer term. Some people have reported an improvement in their overall mental health, when taking the supplement over an extended period of time. But again, it’s important to stress that the research into this aspect is still fairly minimal. So it is not advised to stop taking prescribed medications in favour of CBD, or to combine CBD with any medications you are already taking, without speaking to a healthcare professional.
Pain relief is another possible benefit of CBD, studies showing positive effects on all sorts of ailments such as migraines, back pain, arthritis, inflammation and other types of chronic pain. There is still more research to be done in this area and our bodies are all different. But if you are living with regular physical pain, CBD could help alleviate some of the worst effects.
It’s anti-inflammatory benefits also mean CBD could help relieve irritation and keep your skin clear. More than this, studies have shown that CBD can help prevent sebaceous gland cells from secreting excessive sebum, which is one of the main causes of acne.
To use CBD to treat acne, you can either apply directly to the skin (by mixing with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil), or take CBD orally. Though studies have shown direct, topical application to be the most effective.
CBD: Health Fad or Here To Stay?
So the jury is still out to some extent, but generally speaking the outlook for CBD oil is very promising. The initial research is there, it’s safe to try, and personal reports the world over suggest it works very well for some people.
But it’s really one of those products you’ve got to try for yourself, monitor it closely, and work out whether it’s right for you. And because CBD products are fairly affordable and low risk, there’s no reason not to give it a go. Just be vigilant about which companies you buy from, check the CBD content in any product you use, and double-check with your doctor if you have any concerns.