CBD is an extract from the cannabis plant. CBD isn’t a psychoactive substance and doesn’t contain THC, which is illegal in the UK.

CBD products can be sold legally in the UK without a prescription as long as they meet certain criteria. These products are often promoted by making claims about the therapeutic benefits of CBD.

What is CBD?

CBD is a compound from the cannabis plant that doesn’t have psychoactive properties like THC, which makes people high when smoking marijuana in its complete form. It is legal to sell and consume in the UK as long as it doesn’t have more than 0.2% THC.

It’s now a fixture in supermarkets, health stores and department stores and appears in everything from moisturisers to cocktails. But is it really helping ease pain, improve mood or boost wellbeing? A recent study blind-tested 30 products claiming to contain CBD bought on the high street and online. It found that more than half didn’t meet the levels advertised on the product labels.

CBD is the latest wellness craze but its potential for treating conditions like chronic pain and anxiety are still being tested. We spoke to experts about how it works and its effects on the body. Read our blog to find out more about CBD.

How is CBD derived?

CBD is a chemical that comes from the cannabis plant but doesn’t contain the part of the plant that gets you high. It’s completely legal to buy and use in the UK because it doesn’t have any trace of THC.

There’s been a lot of movement in recent years that have seen regulations change around CBD. For example, in 2018 the pharmaceutical drug Sativex – which is a 1:1 mix of CBD and THC – was approved by the NHS for people with severe MS.

The same year it was revealed that over 55% of medical cannabis patients in the UK are male, and research is ongoing into using CBD to treat addictions like alcohol. However, it’s important to note that when consuming CBD oil, it should never be used with alcohol because the combination can cause some serious side effects. This is because CBD can interact with some medications and lead to an increase in blood pressure.

What is the legality of CBD oil in the UK?

In the UK, CBD is legal to sell if it has no more than 1mg of THC and is sourced from an EU-approved industrial hemp strain. It can also be derived from other parts of the cannabis plant such as flowers and leaves, but cannot contain high traces of THC (which is illegal to import into the UK).

While many people search out CBD products based on claims they ease pain and anxiety, these products are not licensed as medicines in the UK, meaning sellers can’t make any explicit health claims. In fact, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has contacted 180 stockists in the past over their unauthorised health claims made for CBD.

In April 2021, new regulations came into effect requiring all CBD products sold in the UK to conform to European Novel Foods Regulations. This requires companies to submit a Novel Foods Application detailing ingredients, safety data and manufacturing processes. Only buy from CBD brands that have taken the time to do this.

What are the benefits of CBD oil?

CBD has been used in a number of studies for anxiety, depression and chronic pain management. However, the controlled trials were small and the effects were short-term; it’s not yet clear whether it can help with daily symptoms of anxiety or pain.

The UK’s high street is awash with CBD products, from oil for vaping to capsules, drops and sprays that are swallowed or held under the tongue. They are usually labelled with the amount of CBD and THC (the psychoactive part of the cannabis plant that gets you ‘high’) in each serving.

It’s worth noting that CBD oil bought on the high street does not go through the same clinical trials as medicinal CBD products. Currently only Epidiolex has been through this process and is being prescribed for two rare forms of epilepsy: Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes. But the NHS says this drug is not yet ready to be made widely available. It is being tested for its effectiveness against seizures in children with uncontrolled, life threatening epilepsy. UK CBD

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