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Choosing the right CBD for you

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In an exclusive extract from her new book, The CBD Book: The Essential Guide to CBD Oil, medical cannabis journalist Mary Biles offers guidance on making the right choice for you.

I used to be a cigarette smoker, but gave up after reading Alan Carr’s hefty tome, The Easy Way To Stop Smoking. For most of the book, the reader is encouraged to continue smoking.

However, by about halfway through, you’re desperate to stop, if only to shut dear Alan up. I can imagine right now you may well be feeling the same, as all you really want to do is learn how to buy a decent CBD oil.

So, let’s get on with it, shall we?

First things first, don’t be afraid to shop for CBD oil online. Many of us struggle to trust companies selling health products online, thinking them somehow less reputable than retailers on the high street. However, with CBD, this isn’t generally the case.

When CBD oil hit the scene five or so years ago, no high-street shop would touch it with a barge pole.

Those early CBD companies could only be found online and because they were incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about CBD’s health potential, they knew their products inside out.

So, while they couldn’t give medical advice, they would go the extra mile when it came to customer service.

Overall, this level of expertise and customer service continues today when you buy CBD oil online. Unfortunately, the same

cannot be said for the high street, where staff in supermarkets and chemists often know very little about the CBD products on sale.

Not only that, buying from the high street is no guarantee of superior quality products. In 2020, CBD sold in a well- known pharmacy chain was found to contain no CBD at all, while products from a popular health-food store had less CBD than labelled and above the legal limit of THC.

DON’T BE FOOLED BY CBD MARKETING TRICKS

That said, without the right tools and knowledge, buying CBD online can feel utterly overwhelming.

Logic would suggest that the CBD companies nearest to the top on Google must be the best. Sadly, this is not necessarily the case. I’m not knocking the CBD guys rocking the Google rankings, but most of them will have employed some nifty techniques to optimise their online content so it ranks highly on Google.

One shady technique sometimesused is setting up fake ‘impartial’ CBD oil review sites that miraculously link back to a company’s own CBD products.

Also beware of any list articles claiming to review top ten CBD oils for pain or anxiety.

There is no way of saying whether one product is better than another for specific health conditions, and CBD companies have invariably paid to have their product mentioned with a backlink to their site.

A key reason CBD companies employ these tactics is to get round the regulators like the MHRA and FDA banning them from making medical claims.

So while you may be yearning to find informative articles about whether CBD will cure your migraines, if a company says so on their website, you should immediately be suspicious of their credibility.

BUYING CBD – START BY FINDING A TRUSTWORTHY CBD COMPANY

Choosing which company to buy your CBD oil from is a bit like looking for a new love interest on a dating app or website.

If you don’t set up crucial key criteria, you will be inundated by offers of varying quality.

In CBD terms, here are a few criteria you should consider:

Organic

Whether for wellness purposes or to help treat symptoms of a health condition, it’s important to make sure the CBD oil you take is organic certified whenever possible.

Why is this important? As well as providing us with the wonders of CBD, hemp can also remove heavy metals and radioactive toxins from polluted soil through a process called phytoremediation.

So imagine if the hemp used to make your CBD oil was grown on contaminated land. Thanks to hemp’s soil-cleaning powers, your CBD oil would be brimming with heavy metals and goodness knows what other toxic nasties.

So, make sure you choose a company selling CBD oil made from organic certified hemp. If the products aren’t organic, insist on seeing a certificate of analysis showing they are free from heavy metals, pesticides etc.

Transparency and Traceability

My introduction to the CBD industry came through a CBD company that controlled the whole CBD production process from seed to shelf (they grew, extracted, packaged and sold their own CBD oil).

This is of tremendous benefit to the consumer, as with minimum links in the chain, it gives total traceability, greater transparency and less room for substandard products.

Because domestically grown hemp flowers cannot be used to make CBD oil in the UK, most British CBD companies source their CBD oil from mainland Europe or the United States.

Perhaps they go straight to the farmers, or increasingly they might buy through a wholesale middleman.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this as long as every step is traceable.

So ask yourself: how transparent is the company about where they source their CBD from? If in doubt, reach out to them and ask directly

Value for Money

CBD is expensive, especially if you’re taking it on an ongoing basis for a chronic illness.

That’s why before you buy it’s good to do a bit of homework comparing CBD oil prices.

Just divide the price of comparable CBD products by the number of milligrams they contain and, hey presto, you get the price of CBD per milligram.

Make sure though you’re comparing like with like. For instance, there’s no point comparing the price per milligram of a water-soluble product with a standard CBD oil, as the water soluble is always going to be more expensive.

At the cheaper end of the market, some CBD companies offer CBD oils at around £0.025 per milligram, while some of the well-known American CBD products can cost as much as £0.19 per milligram; that’s almost eight times the price.

However, there seems to be a well- trodden middle ground at around £0.08 per milligram, occupied by the more long- standing UK CBD companies.

So if in doubt, use this as a guide price.

An Informative Website with No Medical Claims

You can glean a lot about a CBD company from its website. If any medical claims are made about their products, warning bells should immediately ring, even if they’re referencing scientific studies to back up their claims.

The MHRA has been very clear in their message that CBD cannot be said to cure or even alleviate the symptoms of any health condition.

There should also be a detailed description of each product on sale. It’s not enough to say: ‘Hemp oil, hemp paste (leaf and flower),’ as in the case of a brand of CBD oil sold by a well-known health-food store.

I would like to see not only how much CBD is in each product, but also what other cannabinoids are contained, plus, if possible, a detailed description of any terpenes.

This should all be backed up by a valid, up-to-date certificate of analysis (COA), traceable to the CBD product you are buying, and detailing not only what’s in the oil, but what is not present, such as heavy metals, mould and pesticides.

Good Ratings on Peer Review Sites

Once upon a time you could find glowing testimonials from satisfied customers on CBD websites, waxing lyrical about the amazing health-giving benefits of their products.

Since the MHRA got involved and banned the use of testimonies on CBD websites, most companies encourage customers to write reviews on sites like Trustpilot.

The good news is that CBD companies have no control over whether customers write positive or negative reviews, and once they’re public, there’s nothing they can do to take them down.

Comments usually cover good or bad customer service, as well as sharing personal CBD success stories.

Either way, you can be fairly certain that if a company has mostly four or five stars from thousands of customers, they’re doing something right.

The CBD Book: The Essential Guide to CBD Oil by Mary Biles (£12.99, HarperNonFiction) is out now.

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CBD might help people quit using cannabis – study

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Prescription-grade CBD, which is much stronger than commercially available CBD, helped people quit cannabis, according to a new study published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.

Researchers recruited 82 people who had been diagnosed with moderately severe or severe cannabis use disorder, which is described as continued use of cannabis despite impaired psychological, physical, or social functioning.

All of the participants expressed a desire to cut down their cannabis use, and had tried to quit in the past.

They were either given prescription-grade CBD capsules – either 200mg, 400mg or 800mg of CBD – or placebo pills, to take every day for four weeks. T

They all also had a series of counselling sessions aimed at helping them stop using cannabis.

The researchers found that daily CBD doses of 400 and 800 milligrams both reduced the participants’ cannabis intake.

The study, which was funded by the Medical Research Council, could help more people quit using cannabis in an ‘acceptable treatment format,’ Tom Freeman,  psychopharmacology researcher at the University of Bath and co-author of the study, told Inverse.

Research has found that almost half of those who quit cannabis experience some withdrawal symptoms, which can include irritability, depressed mood, nausea, vomiting, aggression and disrupted sleep.

There are currently no treatments available for prescription that are deemed safe and effective.

 

 

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Study shows medical cannabis has potential to kill cancer cells

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New findings have raised the prospect of medical cannabis being used as a cancer treatment, rather than just as a relief medication.

Laboratory tests in Austraia have shown that a modified form of medicinal cannabis can kill or inhibit cancer cells without impacting normal cells.The significant outcome follows three years of investigations by cancer researcher Dr Matt Dun in collaboration with biotech company Australian Natural Therapeutics Group (ANTG), which produces a cannabis variety containing less than 1 per cent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – the psychoactive component commonly associated with marijuana.

The plant, known as ‘Eve’, has high levels of the compound cannabidiol (CBD).

The study was conducted at the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute

“ANTG wanted me to test it against cancer, so we initially used leukaemia cells and were really surprised by how sensitive they were,” Dr Dun says.

“At the same time, the cannabis didn’t kill normal bone marrow cells, nor normal healthy neutrophils [white blood cells].

“We then realised there was a cancer-selective mechanism involved, and we’ve spent the past couple of years trying to find the answer.”

The Dun team has run comparisons between THC-containing cannabis, and cannabis lacking THC but with elevated levels of CBD. They found that, for both leukaemia and paediatric brainstem glioma, the CBD-enriched variety was more effective at killing cancer cells than THC varieties.

In a recent paper entitled “Can Hemp Help?”, released by international journal Cancers, Dr Dun and his team also undertook a literature review of over 150 academic papers that investigated the health benefits, side-effects, and possible anti-cancer benefits of both CBD and THC.

“There are trials around the world testing cannabis formulations containing THC as a cancer treatment, but if you’re on that therapy your quality of life is impacted,” Dr Dun says.

“You can’t drive, for example, and clinicians are justifiably reluctant to prescribe a child something that could cause hallucinations or other side-effects.

“The CBD variety looks to have greater efficacy, low toxicity and fewer side-effects, which potentially makes it an ideal complementary therapy to combine with other anti-cancer compounds.”

The next phase for the study includes investigating what makes cancer cells sensitive and normal cells not, whether it is clinically relevant, and whether a variety of cancers respond.

“We need to understand the mechanism so we can find ways to add other drugs that amplify the effect, and week by week we’re getting more clues.

“It’s really exciting and important if we want to move this into a therapeutic,” Dr Dun adds, stressing that CBD-enriched cannabis isn’t yet ready for clinical use as an anti-cancer agent.

“Hopefully our work will help to lessen the stigma behind prescribing cannabis, particularly varieties that have minimal side-effects, especially if used in combination with current standard-of-care therapies and radiotherapy.

“Until then, though, people should continue to seek advice from their usual medical practitioner.”

The study was funded by ANTG and HMRI through the Sandi Rose Foundation.

“We are very pleased to see three years of collaboration with UON and HMRI deliver such exciting findings in the fight against cancer. ANTG remains committed to its patient-centric mission of understanding the massive therapeutic potential of medicinal cannabis,” Matthew Cantelo, CEO, Australian Natural Therapeutics Group, said.

“We thank Matt Dun and the team for such encouraging insights into anti-cancer properties of our Australian grown CBD strain, Eve. We are looking forward to moving forward to the next stage of the study and continuing to develop effective, safe and consistent cannabis medicines for Australian patients.”

Dr Matt Dun is from the University of Newcastle, researching in conjunction with the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) Cancer Program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.

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How CBD is helping women with endometriosis

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Women around the world are increasingly using CBD to deal with the symptoms of endometriosis – a much misunderstood and misdiagnosed condition. Cannabis Health finds out more.

Endometriosis is the second most common gynecological condition in the UK, affecting around one in 10 UK women – although frequent misdiagnosis and a lack of understanding means this figure may be higher.

It happens when tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes, which then reacts to the menstrual cycle each month and also bleeds.

However, there is no way for this blood to leave the body, causing inflammation, pain and the formation of scar tissue.

Nobody knows what causes it, or why some women suffer and others don’t, and symptoms, including pain in the lower abdomen and back, nausea, intense fatigue and infertility, can be debilitating.

According to Endometriosis UK, it takes an average of seven and a half years from onset of symptoms to get a diagnosis, and the condition costs the UK economy £8.2bn a year in treatment, loss of work and healthcare costs.

There is currently no cure, and treatment is limited to painkillers, hormonal contraception, or surgery to cut away the scar tissue. In more severe cases, the only option may be a full hysterectomy to remove part or all of the affected organs.

But could there be another way? More and more women are turning to CBD to ease their symptoms, and the results are encouraging.

Charlotte Nichols, managing director of North East of England-based PR firm Harvey & Hugo, has been using a CBD oil for a couple of months, and has already noticed a difference in her symptoms.

She explained: “I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2017 but I’d been suffering with it for three years before that; it took that long to diagnose as it was just put down to ‘just’ painful periods.

“I had surgery to remove it but still struggled with infertility, until I finally got pregnant in 2018. The symptoms disappeared while I pregnant and breastfeeding but then came back with a bang since – I’d forgotten how awful it was.”

After researching how CBD could help, Charlotte began taking the oil in June 2020, and the results have been significant.

She said: “While the CBD doesn’t stop the pain completely, it definitely helps take the edge of the symptoms.

“Stress and lack of sleep both make my symptoms worse, and the oil has definitely helped with this, helping me relax and dramatically improving my sleep.

“I’ve also found that the CBD has improved my mood, as feeling so rubbish all the time was getting me down. That might be the effect of the oil itself, or simply because it’s alleviating the symptoms    – either way, it’s making me feel more like myself again.”

While using CBD as a painkiller is nothing new, experts believe that its use for endometriosis may be down to more than simple pain relief.

Research has found that cannabinoids also help by:

  • Stopping the endometrial cells from multiplying
  • Preventing them from migrating to other parts of the reproductive system
  • Stopping the blood supply to the lesions – effectively starving them of the nutrients they need to grow
  • Regulating nerve growth
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Modulating the immune response
  • Desensitising the nerves that transmit pain.

In fact, some scientists believe that dysfunction in a woman’s endocannabinoid system – the molecular system responsible for regulating and balancing processes in the body, including immune response – may be behind endometriosis.

Dr Michele Ross, CEO of Infused Health, explains: “Reduced function of the endocannabinoid system leads to the growth of endometriosis throughout the body, and more pain.”

CB1 cannabinoid receptors mediate the pain from endometriosis and, according to a 2010 study, are present in the cells that supply nerve impulses to the endometrial growth.

However, the endometrial cells of women with endometriosis have been found to have a lower expression of CB1 receptors — so activating the few that are expressed is even more important for those in pain.

Whatever the science behind it, women like Charlotte are just pleased to finally have a natural product to alleviate their symptoms.

“I much prefer taking CBD to other painkillers, as I’m very aware of what I’m putting into my body and, as far as I’m concerned, the more natural the better,” she says.

“At the moment I’m just using the oil; I haven’t tried any other products, like the balms or lotions, but I’m going to look into it.

“I also find that exercise, intermittent fasting, avoiding alcohol and cutting down on sugar really helps my symptoms, in combination with the CBD. It’s been a long road, with a lot of trial and error along the way, but I’m so glad to finally feel in control of my body again.”

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