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CBD Oil: The New Way of Wellness

CBD Oil: The New Way of Wellness

CBD Oil: The New Way of Wellness

At every social gathering that I’ve been to over the past six months, where I live in Oxfordshire, at some point, there has been a secretive little huddle whispering over one particular subject — cannabis oil. It seems that more and more people are taking drops of the stuff under their tongue at night — not to get high, but to cure all manner of ailments, from sleep problems and anxiety to back pain, the menopause, and even skin problems.

Cannabis oil has become the new accessory for the well-heeled wellness crowd, and a tiny bottle is fast becoming a common fixture at the bottom of an Anya Hindmarch handbag. Like all of the most fashionable health-giving elixirs, it’s not cheap (£100 for a 30ml bottle), and you need to get it from in-the-know sellers. It’s illegal, of course, but it’s a far cry from the scuzzy bags of dope and lumps of hash peddled by traditional drug dealers.

Hannah, a 46-year-old PR executive who lives in Oxfordshire, puts it like this: “Everyone is searching for the remedy that will make them feel better. You rave about it to a friend and then they want to know how to get hold of it. I get it from a guy that makes it and sells it out here. I heard about him from a friend at the school gate. In the past month, I have given his number to six people.”

One friend, Freya, a 39-year-old property consultant, swears that a drop a night has cured her insomnia and anxiety. “I go into the deepest, most restful sleep,” she says. “When I wake up I feel much more rested, even though it’s the same number of hours. Sleeping pills make me feel like a zombie — but with this, I wake up raring to go.”

Another woman I know, Anna, 43, says: “It looks like green sludge and tastes like a combination of hay and marijuana. I don’t like taking sleeping tablets; if you take a sleeping pill and it doesn’t work within 20 minutes, you end up lying in bed in an anxiety no-man’s land worrying even more about not being able to sleep and the chemicals you have ingested. But after a few drops of cannabis oil, I drift off immediately. My husband, who travels to LA a lot on business trips, takes it to cure his jet lag.”

She adds: “I used to smoke weed when I was younger, but with two children and a serious job I would never touch the stuff now. This feels a world away from spliffs. It doesn’t make you high and it’s not scary.”

It tastes like a combination of hay and marijuana

Another fan of the oil mixes it with her body moisturizer to help to treat her psoriasis. Research suggests that the non-psychoactive element of cannabis oil, cannabidiol (CBD), has an anti-inflammatory effect, and there are many beauty brands that are employing it in everything from lip balms to face creams.

Now, before you write this off as wacky baccy, or start thinking that if you take cannabis once you will end up psychotic, hear me out. Taking cannabis for recreational use is one thing (just for the record, I’m not a weed smoker) and comes with many serious health warnings. What we are discussing here is medicinal cannabis, which, while there has been an interest in it for many years (we all know stories of cancer patients using it for pain relief), the wellness industry is starting to take very seriously.

Since a few states began to legalize forms of cannabis in America, there has been a multimillion-dollar revolution in methods to extract the medicinal parts of the cannabis plant — making everything from oils and pills to topical creams. In some juice bars in the States, it’s treated as a superfood.

There are many cannabinoids (cannabis compounds) in a cannabis plant and the one that is psychoactive is known as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is present in the notorious skunk at very high levels. However, research may show that in very small doses THC can promote good health, while CBD is being studied for its effects on nausea and migraines, as well as its potential to shrink tumors, among many other benefits.

What fans love is that it is natural. It is created by heating up the plant, soaking it in alcohol and olive oil, then filtering it, before heating it again to activate the cannabinoids. The one my friends have is also mixed with a rather luxe blend of frankincense, myrrh, and cinnamon-leaf oils, and what’s interesting is that when I inquire about the seller, I am told that he is a middle-class, handsome man who has a legitimate day job, but is evangelical about this plant (he doesn’t sell other drugs).

One friend swears that a drop a night has cured her insomnia and anxiety

Obviously, taking a homemade oil from a guy who cooks it up in his kitchen can come with many dangers. One homeopathic doctor told me recently that someone had come to her saying that she had taken time off work because she felt “very strange”. When the doctor asked what she had been taking she dug a little bottle of cannabis oil from her handbag. “It’s got to be taken more seriously,” she says. “Cannabis is not something we should play about with.”

Speaking to Michael Heinrich, professor of medicinal plant research at UCL School of Pharmacy, the key problem lies in the oil being unregulated. “There is a safety issue in the risk of receiving something of poor quality,” he says. “You also run the risk of using something that is not right for your condition, which could do more harm than good and needs a medical consultation.”

The presence of THC means that if you take a lot you may get the munchies and fuzzy-headedness associated with being stoned. Therefore it’s important that people know the levels of cannabinoids in their oil. There are more and more people looking for CBD-rich oil (usually 15 percent CBD to 10 percent THC), but it is, I understand, important to have an element of THC. You can buy CBD oil at a click of the Holland & Barrett website, which contains only 0.05 percent THC and, according to my sources, will have only a very minimal therapeutic effect. The legal limit of THC is 0.2 percent

With its health-giving properties, however, there are some companies taking a serious interest in medicinal cannabis. One is the investment company Kingsley Capital Partners. It recently raised £10 million to back a research programme at Oxford University called Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies. From next year this biopharmaceutical company will focus on researching, developing and licensing cannabinoid-based compounds and therapies.

Neil Mahapatra, the managing partner of Kingsley, explains: “There are so many cases out there of people saying that cannabis has helped to shrink tumours, helped with arthritis, helped with epilepsy; but no one has done proper, rigorous scientific research into it.” Mahapatra has eight of the country’s leading professors at Oxford University on the case.

Until the trials are done, there will be two medicinal cannabis camps — those who really believe in its benefits, who will carry on buying it illegally, and those who still see cannabis as a dangerous drug.


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1 Comment

  1. No! Medical CBD is not illegal in the UK, nor in many countries, included several states in America.
    It is sold in Holland & Barrett.
    Note, it is apparently even more effective when combined with medical TFC (the component that gets you high) – which, currently, is illegal.

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