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Digital Subscriptions > Healthy Food Guide > September 2019 > IS LEGAL CANNABIS (CBD) really a cure-all?

IS LEGAL CANNABIS (CBD) really a cure-all?

Help with sleep, stress, anxiety, chronic pain, skin complaints… There are no end of health claims for over-the-counter products with cannabis-derived CBD. But are they safe, how should you use them and – the crunch question – do they actually work? Melanie Leyshon asks the experts, while Hannah Ebelthite speaks to those who use it

WHEN THE WORLD’S MOST QUALIFIED EXPERT ON MEDICINAL CANNABIS AND CBD, the non-psychoactive health supplement, tells you it’s a ‘complex topic’, it’s no wonder we ordinary folk are grappling with whether to try it, how to buy it and when to use it. Yet right now we can’t move for products containing CBD. This ‘miracle’ substance is frequently in the news and there seems to be a new launch every week of CBD-containing products in health shops and online. There are oils and tinctures to use under or on our tongues to help us sleep, creams to rub on different parts of our bodies to treat pain, skin complaints and muscle aches, and even CBD-containing food and drink that claim to ease stress and anxiety.

The problem is some of us are lapping it all up without fully understanding how much to take and whether it’s safe. It doesn’t help that manufacturers aren’t permitted to make specific health claims on packaging. One of the more recent controversies was the launch of Ignite, a vaping CBD, marketed with Love Island-style bikini-clad girls to attract younger ‘stressed’ users. While this bling approach got the thumbs-down from the scientific community, the jury is still out on the effectiveness of the product.

In our attempts to cut through some of the mystique surrounding this substance and get to the truth, Dr Dani Gordon was the obvious person to turn to. A world-renowned Canadian and American board-qualified medical doctor, with a dual specialisation in Integrative Medicine and Family Medicine, Dani is currently working in the UK mentoring doctors who are prescribing medicinal cannabis. Some of the first UK medical specialists in cannabis medicine have trained with her programme and she developed the first free physician education platform for medical cannabis here in the UK.

So what are the hard facts?

First, we need to clarify the difference between CBD and the illicit form of cannabis. CBD is derived from hemp, a type of cannabis plant, but unlike its relative, marijuana, hemp contains hardly any of the psychoactive chemical THC – so CBD will not cause you to become ‘high’.

A lot of the hemp that is turned into CBD products comes from the US and Columbia, and there’s a pioneering female-only company in Jamaica. The UK grows hemp, but it’s not a particularly productive or sustainable operation. Currently, it’s only legal in the UK to use the stem and leaves of the plant and not the flower, which has the most concentrated amount of CBD and other cannabinoids (see below).

CANNABIS AKA marijuana, weed, pot, dope or grass contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive chemical in the plant.Cannabis (a class B drug) is the most popular illegal drug in the UK.

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About Healthy Food Guide

The Best of Health Award winners, how probiotics can feed your brain as well as your gut and the scientific facts about CBD – could it help you beat stress and pain or help you sleep? Plus, in this month’s special section: the low-carb diet that’s been seeing off type 2 diabetes!