Hemp and CBD products have been at the forefront of the mainstream media in the last 12 months, popularised by Holland and Barrett, who became the first shop to sell CBD on the high street in the UK. But what is CBD and how does it work?
What Is CBD?
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of over 100 naturally occurring cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant.
Cannabinoids are believed to have different effects on the body, linked to the specific receptors that they trigger and interact with.
CBD has become the most commonly used cannabinoid in recent years. CBD acts as a trigger to both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, meaning that it can interact with both the central nervous system (CB1) (brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system (CB2) (nerves, limbs and rest of the body).
Where Does CBD Come From?
The Cannabinaceae plant family contains multiple species including marijuana and hemp. They are essentially cousins within the same plant family.
There is however a vital difference between the two. Hemp plants contains less than 0.2% THC. Marijuana contains much more and for this reason, it’s common for CBD products to be derived from hemp, not marijuana.
Hemp is grown in many countries across the world and has been for hundreds of years. Hemp cultivation has exploded once again thanks to the sustainability movement. As one of the sturdiest natural fibres, it’s again being used to make environmentally friendly clothes, bedding, furniture, and has now even made its way into health foods, supplements, skincare products and blends of hemp oils.
How is CBD made?
The naturally occurring compounds in the plant are extracted into oil form which is then used as the primary ingredient in many of the CBD products that you see on the shelves today.
There are various methods of extraction and processing that can be used and different methods have an impact on the quality of the product.
To further refine the extract and to isolate the CBD (making CBD isolate), the oil goes through another process in which it is heated, all the compounds are separated and each compound can be used by itself. CBD isolate is mostly found in CBD vape liquid and powdered CBD products.
How Does CBD work?
To understand how CBD works we must first know about the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) which is present in all of our bodies and the bodies of all mammals.
The ECS regulates several essential processes in the body with its receptors and the most important of these are called CB1 and CB2. As briefly discussed above, the central nervous system, (brain and spinal cord) are controlled by CB1 receptors and the peripheral nervous system (nerves, limbs and rest of the body), are controlled by CB2 receptors.
CB1 receptors are mostly found in the brain and have a direct effect on mood, appetite, and pain.
CB2 receptors are spread throughout the body and largely influence skin health and inflammation.
When CBD triggers the CB1 & CB2 receptors, it maximises the effects of the endocannabinoids your body naturally produces.
Is CBD legal in the UK?
There is a great deal of confusion around the legality of CBD in the UK, mainly due to other cannabinoids, namely THC, that are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. But CBD is in fact completely legal in the UK and has none of the mind-altering effects that you associate with cannabis.
The confusion lies with the THC levels that are in some CBD oils. THC is a psychoactive chemical and is a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. THC is legally allowed to be present in CBD in quantities no greater than 1mg per container and the THC must not be easily separable from it.