Over recent years, CBD oil has become a popular natural remedy for various health issues. CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is a chemical compound that’s extracted from cannabis and hemp plants to make oil.

While CBD oil is now being sold by pharmacies and large health and wellness brands like Holland and Barrett, it’s still considered controversial – and there’s speculation about its uses, and how safe and effective it really is.

So, to unravel some of the mystery, we’ve taken a closer look at what CBD oil is, who might benefit, and what products are available.

What is CBD oil?

What is CBD oil

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 100 compounds (known as cannabinoids) found in cannabis and hemp plants.

Unlike other cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD isn’t ‘psychoactive’. This means it attaches to a different set of receptors in the body, and it doesn’t cause the same euphoric ‘high’ as marijuana, or impact a person’s ability to function.

Once extracted from the cannabis or hemp plant, CBD is combined with a carrier such as olive, coconut, or hemp seed oil to dilute it.

Some experts believe that CBD oil may offer a number of potential health and wellness benefits – including relief from anxiety and pain.

Is CBD oil legal in the UK and is it safe to use?

Is CBD oil legal in the UK and is it safe to use

Contrary to popular belief, most CBD products are legal in the UK.

The main reason that CBD is generally considered safe to use is because of the way it interacts with the body.

The human body produces cannabinoids of its own – known as endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids form part of a network of chemicals and receptors called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which helps to regulate functions like sleep, pain, and immunity.

Unlike THC, which leaves us feeling high by affecting endocannabinoid receptors in the brain, CBD has been found to influence the body by encouraging it to use its own endocannabinoids more effectively. For example, this study found that CBD can increase the body’s levels of anandamide – a compound linked with pain and mood regulation.

With that being said, there are a number of rules and regulations around CBD usage in place in the UK. This includes restrictions on the THC content of CBD oil, which, unless medically prescribed, must contain no more than 0.2% THC. You can read more about CBD regulations in the UK on the Four Five website.

What are some potential benefits of CBD oil?

What are some potential benefits of CBD oil

Human studies on the uses of CBD oil currently remain limited and more research is needed to confirm the benefits.

That being said, current research suggests that CBD oil could shape up to be a promising and far-ranging treatment for a number of health issues.

We’ll explore some of the potential benefits of CBD below…

1. CBD oil may offer pain relief

There’s evidence to suggest that CBD could offer benefits for pain relief and regulation.

For example, the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of CBD could benefit people with arthritis. This animal study found that applying a topical gel containing CBD to rats with arthritis for four days resulted in less inflammation and pain, without causing additional side effects.

Other research has also suggested that CBD may be an effective treatment for general chronic pain in adults, mainly because it can reduce inflammation and pain signals.

This scientific review, for example, assessed various types of chronic pain – including cancer pain, fibromyalgia, and neuropathic pain – and found that, like the rat study, CBD was effective for overall pain management and didn’t cause any negative side effects.

2. CBD oil may help reduce symptoms of some mental health conditions

CBD oil is becoming an increasingly popular treatment for anxiety and other mental health conditions.

For example, in this study, participants received either oral CBD or a placebo 90 minutes before a public speaking test. The results found that a 300mg dose of CBD was the most effective at reducing and managing anxiety levels during the test. Meanwhile, little to no effect was reported in participants who took the placebo or a 150mg or 600mg dose of CBD.

Other research has highlighted CBD’s effectiveness in helping people manage social anxiety and other anxiety-related conditions.

There’s also evidence to suggest that CBD oil can be effective at reducing insomnia and anxiety in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For example, this small study found that CBD eased PTSD-related symptoms, such as nightmares, in adults.

Additional studies also suggest that CBD can improve the effectiveness of exposure therapy and cognitive behavourial therapy (CBT).

3. CBD oil may help lower blood pressure

There’s some evidence that CBD may help to lower blood pressure.

This study found that when healthy men were given a single dose of CBD oil, their resting blood pressure level was reduced compared with a placebo. The same study revealed that when participants took part in stress tests, those who’d taken CBD had smaller increases in blood pressure than those who took the test without it.

Another study also suggested that CBD could reduce blood pressure in people who were stressed.

Lastly, this research saw that when men took CBD for seven days, their blood pressure was significantly lower, and arterial stiffness and blood flow through the arteries improved. However, the results faded after the seven days were up.

CBD oil may help lower blood pressure

4. CBD oil may be beneficial for neurological conditions like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis

One of the most studied uses of CBD is in its treatment of neurological conditions like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis (MS). While research in this area remains fairly new, studies have shown promising results.

For example, this study showed that when people with severe epilepsy were given between 0.9-2.3g of CBD oil per 2-5kg of their bodyweight, seizures reduced by an average of 36.5%.

Some people also find that CBD offers relief from a number of MS-related symptoms – including fatigue, nerve-related pain and discomfort, and muscle stiffness.

Though, it’s important to note that a large number of current studies have looked only at the effects of Sativex (the first cannabis-based medicine to be licensed in the UK), which contains both CBD and THC levels above 0.2%. This makes it unclear what affects, if any, CBD has on neurological conditions by itself.

For example, this study found that Sativex reduced spasms in 75% of 276 people with MS; while another study found that Sativex reduced inflammation, fatigue, and mobility.

However, as it’s a licensed treatment, Sativex can only be used when prescribed by a medical professional in the UK.

Other research has looked into CBD oil’s ability to treat several other neurological conditions. For example, studies have revealed that CBD oil may improve sleep quality and overall quality of life in people with Parkinson’s disease. But, further research is needed to confirm this.

5. CBD oil may help improve the appearance of oily skin and acne

There’s growing evidence that taking CBD can help maintain the natural balance of oil in the skin and benefit skin concerns such as acne and itchy skin.

Researchers have found that CBD oil can stop sebaceous glands in the skin from producing too much sebum (the oil that causes a shiny appearance). Studies also suggest that CBD may prevent the activation of inflammatory proteins known to cause acne.

Meanwhile, another study found that CBD oil can be beneficial for people with dry or itchy skin conditions – causing an 86.4% reduction in itchiness when applied to the skin as a cream.

Note: There’s also evidence that CBD may offer relief for other health issues such as migraines, cancer symptoms, and cancer-treatment side effects. However, because current studies on these topics look only at CBD when used in conjunction with THC, we’ve decided to leave these out.

What types of CBD oil products are available?

What types of CBD oil products are available

There are a number of different CBD oil products available to buy – from capsules and gummies, to oral sprays and skincare products. So if you’re interested in taking CBD oil, you should be able to find one that’s right for you.

We’ll cover some of the most common options and how they work below…

  • CBD oil – the original, and arguably the most popular form of CBD. Some people place CBD oil underneath the tongue to help with absorption. However, this can sometimes make it difficult to swallow and may not work for everyone. Others prefer to take CBD oil with food, as this can also improve the rate and degree that it’s absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • CBD oil balm – many manufacturers of CBD oil balms recommend massaging them into the skin for best results, which includes a nice warming then cooling sensation.
  • CBD oil capsules – a great option for anyone who isn’t a fan of the earthy taste of CBD oil. Some CBD capsules also contain extra vitamins and nutrients, so you can enjoy added health benefits.
  • CBD oil skin care products – similar to balms, CBD skin care products such as CBD-enriched serums, moisturisers, and face oils are absorbed through the skin.
  • CBD oil gummies – just like capsules, CBD gummies are a good option for anyone who wants to enjoy the benefits of CBD without tasting it. In fact, gummies take it one step further and come in a variety of enjoyable fruity flavours.
  • CBD oil oral sprays – CBD oral sprays are a quick and simple option. Sprays are available flavoured and non-flavoured, which again, solves the issue of taste. Some also contain added vitamins and nutrients. Because sprays are applied to the tongue, this form of CBD enters the bloodstream quicker than capsules and gummies because they don’t have to pass through the digestive system. And because you don’t need a drink to wash them down, CBD sprays are great for travel too.

It’s important to only buy CBD oil from reputable buyers. You can browse a range of CBD products on the Holland and Barett website.

Research into recommended daily amounts of CBD is also ongoing, but experts suggest healthy adults take no more than 70mg CBD a day – unless a doctor agrees more. This is equivalent to about 28 drops of 5% CBD.

Note: It’s important to always speak to your doctor before trying any new CBD product.

What are the potential side effects of CBD oil?

Generally speaking, CBD oil is considered safe to take when taken orally or applied to the skin. However, as with any substance, there are some potential side effects that it’s important to be aware of.

Some of the most common side effects of CBD include…

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea
  • Changes in liver enzymes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea

Some scientific research also suggests that taking too much CBD can affect the liver, so it’s important not to exceed the current recommendations of taking no more than 70mg of CBD a day.

Is there anyone who shouldn’t take CBD oil?

While CBD oil is generally recognised as safe to use, it may not be suitable for everyone. This includes people with certain health conditions or who are on medication.

This is because CBD can interact with some over-the-counter dietary supplements and medicines, as well as some prescription medicines for conditions like liver disease, kidney disease, heart issues, and epilepsy.

Examples include statins, blood-thinning medication, calcium channel blockers, and any medication that warns against consuming grapefruit. CBD should also not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

For this reason, it’s important to always speak to your GP or other healthcare professional before taking CBD oil to make sure that it’s safe for you.

Final thoughts…

CBD oil has gained significant popularity over recent years and according to the research, may have a number of health uses and benefits. So if you’ve been wanting to know more about CBD oil, we hope you’ve found this article helpful.

For further reading, why not head over to the general health section of our website? Here you’ll find everything from diet and nutrition tips to information on heart, bone, and gut health.