Are you feeling stressed, maybe anxious about everything and nothing, forgetting words mid-sentence, struggling to sleep or always feeling tired? These are just some of the common non-specific symptoms I see in my nutritional therapy clinic experienced by so many busy people and parents trying to juggle the pressures of family life. You don’t necessarily require medical intervention (though it’s always advisable to see a medical practitioner if symptoms change or worsen) so you struggle on trying to “firefight” your own health, maybe attempting to change what you eat in order to feel better.
But what if there was a simple food supplement that could help reduce feelings of anxiety, support better sleep and improve energy levels, as well as reduce inflammation-associated pain? This might sound too good to be true but if you’ve been reading the latest health blogs and social media you cannot have missed the explosion in discussions and research surrounding legal forms of cannabis-derived products in supporting many areas of health; from energy, sleep and pain management, to supporting more defined conditions such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), depression, Alzheimer’s disease and even epilepsy.
There’s no doubt that cannabis supplements are hitting the headlines this year and that CBD (cannabidiol), a major component of cannabis plants, is causing a health revolution. But what are the facts about these popular food supplements? Are cannabis-derived oils legal? Do they help health or just get you ‘high’?
There are so many questions and also mis-information surrounding cannabis-derived food supplements and CBD products that, as a nutritional neurologist, I want to take some time to answer some of the top questions that I commonly get asked about CBD oil. It’s time to bust some myths!
So what is CBD oil used for?
As I’ve just been discussing, CBD oil can be used in a wide range of health areas. CBD interacts with our naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors found throughout the brain and body. So as you can imagine, the right dose and form of CBD oil can help in areas such as strengthening the nervous system in cases of anxiety, stress, poor short-term memory and sleep, as well as digestion and even pain management.
Can I get high from CBD oil?
Cannabis plants contain over 400 different types and classes of phytonutrients, including over 85 known cannabinoids; the most widely recognised include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis and is associated with the natural cannabis ‘high’; this is the molecule that also affects the legality of cannabis products. CBD, on the other hand, is an entirely non-intoxicating compound, which has enormous therapeutic potential and the research into the health benefits of CBD just keeps on stacking up!
Medicinal cannabis oils derived from some strains of cannabis plants contain varying levels of THC and CBD, as well as other phytocannabinoids and phytonutrients. This is what can make them illegal in the UK (or at least now a schedule 2 drug that can only be prescribed by medical professionals), as in the recent widely reported case of Billy Caldwell, the 12 year old boy who had his epilepsy medication confiscated by UK Customs upon his return from receiving medical treatment for his condition in Canada.
However, reputable CBD oil products that are sold as food supplements are derived from the specially bred Cannabis Sativa L. plant, also commonly known as hemp. These CBD oils typically contain less than 0.05% THC (a negligible amount that does not confer any intoxicating effects so CBD oils are not classed as schedule 2 drugs) but are still rich in varying levels of CBD and other beneficial cannabis-derived phytocannabinoids and phytonutrients.
Are CBD oils legal?
CBD products that are produced using Cannabis sativa L. (aka hemp) can be legally sold as food supplements in the UK.
Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) has been used as a nutritionally rich ingredient for thousands of years. It’s also one of the oldest and most sustainable crops to be grown in the world. This means that it’s known to be safe and, as long as the CBD product is derived from Cannabis sativa L. with proven levels of THC <0.2% then it can be legally sold and recommended as a food supplement in the UK. This leads to many readily accessible health opportunities.
What’s the difference between hemp oil and CBD oil?
You may be familiar with hemp seed oil and therefore beginning to get confused between this and CBD oil. So are they different products or the same thing? The short answer is NO! They are different products used in different ways to maximise their health benefits.
Hemp seed oil is extracted by pressing the seeds of the female cannabis hemp plant and typically contains twice the levels of omega 3 found in olive oil with only half of the total calories. However, the seeds of Cannabis sativa L. plants are very low in cannabinoids including CBD, as well as THC.
This makes hemp oil a very useful oil used in your diet, such as a base for tasty salad dressing, to support nutrient levels such as essential fatty acids. However, it does not contain any significant levels of CBD and their associated health benefits. For this reason, you might have hemp oil in your kitchen alongside CBD oil in your food supplement store to support different areas of health. Both can be enjoyed together as part of a healthy diet but just don’t cook with CBD oil as this destroys all the important nutrients. We’ll look at dosing of CBD oil later in this article.
So if CBD oil is so good, how do I choose a reputable product?
It’s important to remember that not all food supplements are created equally and that also goes for CBD oil. It may seem a bit confusing when choosing a product, as there can often be several to choose from, but don’t choose from price alone, as this can often be a false economy.
Remember; the most expensive food supplement you’ve ever taken is the one that didn’t work!
From my extensive research into this area, I recommend raw, organic CBD oils that are in the form that Mother Nature intended – this means that they are not mixed with any other carrier oils, like coconut, hemp or olive oils. Raw CBD oil is dark green in colour and contains the full range of phytocannabinoids, including CBD, and other plant nutrients, as found in the whole plant. This means that raw CBD oils, dosed in drops under the tongue have a distinctive and acquired taste, but for all the benefits gained from supplementing with raw natural oil, rather than a diluted product it’s worth, in my opinion, the slightly grassy/tea type flavour! In my clinical experience, this has never been an issue for people taking this product as the taste quickly disappears. Also remember not to drink or eat anything for around 10 minutes after taking CBD oil under the tongue so it can be fully absorbed.
A reputable CBD oil producing company will always test each batch of oil to ensure they have the highest levels of CBD, negligible THC levels and high quality, potency and purity.
This all sounds great! I want to take some CBD oil – how much should I use?
As with all nutrients and food supplements, everybody needs to take a personalised approach. If CBD oil is suitable for you (this product is not recommended for those who are pregnancy or breastfeeding and seek practitioner advice if taking certain medications like blood-thinners) then finding your daily ratio is important.
You can buy different strength CBD oils ranging from 250mg up to 1000mg of CBD. Some oils label CBD in terms of percentage (e.g. 2.5%, 5% etc.) but knowing the actual amount of CBD in each bottle per millgramme enables you to dose more accurately.
I suggest starting with raw, organic CBD oil standardised to contain 500mg CBD per bottle. This provides around 5mg per drop (reputable raw CBD oil products come in glass bottles with a dropper dispensing approximately 0.1ml per drop). One or two drops daily is a suitable base dose for most adults and can be calibrated to suit the needs and sensitivities of each person.
There is of course be a ceiling to the therapeutic effect reached so a maximum of 10 drops daily of 500mg CBD oil (giving 50mg CBD) is the normal suggested dose range with no more than 200mg CBD (40 drops of 500mg CBD oil) daily.
That said “less is more” is often the case with respect to CBD oil. The reason being that CBD acts to support the body’s own systems so it takes time to restore the balance. For this reason, starting with a small daily dose of just 1 – 2 drops of 500mg CBD oil and increasing by just 1 drop a day over a couple of weeks is likely to provide better therapeutic outcome that taking the whole dose in one go at the start.
So I hope you have enjoyed this article and that you’ve increased both your awareness and knowledge in how to use this (unofficial) 2018 health supplement of the year. I have worked hard to introduce this product to a wide range of consumers and practitioners so beware of cheap imitations and please do not hesitate to contact Nutrigold if you have any further questions – we’d be happy to help.
Dr Elisabeth Philipps achieved a BSc Hons and PhD in neuropharmacology and from her own personal health experiences extended her training in the area of nutritional therapy, studying for a BSc in Nutritional Medicine at Thames Valley University (now called University of West London). She is a busy nutritional therapist and health coach who is passionate about high quality and bioavailable food supplements, as well as nutrition education for the public and practitioners alike, which she shares through her work as technical adviser and product developer at Nutrigold and as lead tutor writing courses, blogs and education articles at nutrihub.org.
 Lu, H-C et al (2016) An introduction to the endogenous cannabinoid system. Biol Psychiatry 79:516-525
 Marzo et al (2015) The endocannabinoid system and its modulation by phytocannabinoids. Neurotherapeutics 12:692-698
 Ligresti et al (2016) From phytocannabinoids to cannabis receptors and the endocannabinoids: Pleiotropic physiological and pathological roles through complex pharmacology. Physiol Rev 96:1593-1659