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What is CBD?

Over the last few years, there has been growing interest in CDB and the benefits of using products which contain this ingredient. It is renowned as an aid to good sleep and many people confirm its pain-relieving qualities. As its use becomes more widespread, we are learning more and more about the benefits of this most natural of supplements. There’s a lot of ‘news’ online about CBD, but it can be hard to track down information that’s reliable.

CBD stands for cannabidiol

A substance found in abundance in the hemp plant. Hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant species, but it should not be confused with the other varieties of the same family which produce marijuana.

Hemp is grown specifically for its industrial and commercial uses, including making CBD oil.

Hemp is a strong, fibrous plant and in years gone by ships used ropes made of the abaca variety known as Manilla Hemp. As the name suggests, this was grown in the Philippines.

For a long time, that country had a monopoly and many attempts were made to smuggle plants out for cultivation elsewhere. Eventually, in the early twentieth century, some specimens were taken secretly to central America and the monopoly was broken. 

Hemp has other uses too, such as a potential bio-fuel and also for making paper – the familiar ‘manilla folder’ is so called because these robust card folders were originally made from Manilla Hemp. However, hemp is now increasingly cultivated for the beneficial properties of one of the substances it produces naturally: CBD

Hemp, CBD or THC?

For a long time, hemp has been famous for its association with cannabis or marijuana. The plants and leaves look very similar and are easily confused. Marijuana is a well-known “recreational” substance which is illegal in the UK and many other countries. 

Marijuana contains the ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol or THC for short. THC is the chemical which gives Marijuana its psychoactive (and occasional hallucinogenic) properties. Marijuana is produced from very specific cultivated variants of the cannabis family with a high THC content. Plants with a high THC content are low in CBD and vice versa. Hemp, which is rich in CBD, contains very little THC. Consuming CBD derived from hemp will not make you high and it is entirely legal in the UK.

CBD is used mainly in oil form via a dropper or spray or in capsules. The oil can be added to food products as well, such as ‘gummy’ sweets, herbal teas or chocolates. Products sold in the UK contain only minute traces of THC; the maximum permitted amount is 0.2%, which is not enough to have any psychoactive effects. 

Benefits of CBD and Hemp

CBD is extracted from the flowers and seeds of the hemp plant and added to a neutral flavoured edible oil. It has a wide range of benefits. In oil form it’s easy to use – via a dropper or spray – and can be added to other foods too or used in a vaporiser. There is a growing number of people convinced of the health and general wellbeing advantages of CBD. In the UK this is well over a quarter of a million. Benefits of CBD can include improved sleep, and relief from anxiety and depression. Many people also find it gives effective pain relief (including easing migraine) and for some it can be an alternative to long term consumption of prescription medicine in chronic illness. CBD has also been associated with heart health and reduction in acne, as well as being linked to reduced seizures in some types of epilepsy. 

Other CBD products

Although CBD oil is possibly the most versatile way to access the benefit of CBD, it can be found in many other products. You can find CBD in many specialist foods, such as gummy bear type sweets other treats, and teas. You can also choose from a wide variety of cosmetics, such as bath products, face creams and it is also available as a massage oil. Like so much in life, we get what we pay for, and the cheapest product is unlikely to the best. Shops and online suppliers will have their favourite brands and product lines, and it is worth finding a brand you like and making sure it is good quality and reliable. 

CBD is classed as a food supplement. You should not use it instead of or alongside prescription medicine without first consulting your doctor. CBD is not intended for children under 18. It should not be used if you are breast feeding or if you are, or might be, pregnant. If you are new to CBD, start off with small quantities until you find the amounts that suit you.

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