With more and more people reporting the use of CBD to ease stress and anxiety in these uncertain times, is the research there to back it up?
With a global pandemic raging, and many of us cut off from our friends and loved ones, it is no surprise that levels of anxiety and stress are at a high right now.
With many of our traditional stress-relieving activities – going to the gym, seeing a friend, travelling – out of bounds, and concern mounting about a rise in alcohol use, people are increasingly looking for alternative ways to relax.
A number of recent developments have once again highlighted the value of CBD in treating anxiety – so much so that a Canadian firm is developing a prescription drug based on the compound.
EmpowerPharm Inc is currently developing a unique prescription drug containing synthetic CBD as the active pharmaceutical ingredient to treat anxiety.
Pending the results of clinical research, it is thought the drug may help the thousands of Canadians who suffer from anxiety, as the firm has identified a growing need for innovative therapies as alternative treatments to avoid the addictive prescription products currently prescribed.
Meanwhile, CBD is also growing in popularity among those using it on a more recreational basis; almost half of UK users have increased their consumption since the pandemic.
A recent poll has found that more than a third (33 per cent) of Britons have tried CBD products, while 42 per cent have increased their usage since the outbreak of Covid-19, with anxiety the most common reason for using them.
While CBD has long had a reputation for promoting relaxation, research is still ongoing.
A landmark study in the US – billed as the first of its kind – was launched in October last year to investigate CBD’s use as a formal anxiety treatment.
The Cannabinoid Anxiety Relief Education Study is targeting millions of CBD and cannabis users across the US to assess the potential role of cannabinoids in reducing anxiety and other co-morbid conditions, such as insomnia and depression.
Such large-scale research is especially relevant given high Covid-19-caused anxiety levels, with many state and local governments deeming cannabis businesses “essential” and thus able to remain open during restrictions.
However, there are concerns that, while CBD can certainly help to relieve anxiety in the short-term, it is nothing more than a ‘sticking plaster’ solution.
Studies conducted by a team at Washington State University, led by phycology professor Dr Carrie Cuttler, analysed data from hundreds of people who recorded their symptoms before and after cannabis consumption.
Findings showed that in people who self-reported as having PTSD, cannabis reduced the severity of intrusive thoughts by about 62 per cent; for irritability it was 67 per cent and anxiety by 57 per cent.
However, researchers also found that there is no indication that cannabis reduced symptoms in the long-term.
Dr Cuttler cautioned: “We see a general theme that immediately after using cannabis most of the symptoms of these conditions are reduced by just over 50 percent.
“The bottom line is that it can work as an effective mask of the symptoms temporarily but it’s not benefiting the individuals in the long term.”
Such research points to the fact that, whole CBD may not be a solution for long-term anxiety, it is a useful took for treating shorter spells of stress – such as those caused by the pandemic.
CBD not linked to any UK sport anti-doping sanctions
CBD has not been a banned substance since 2017 but UK Anti-Doping still urge athletes to be cautious
CBD has not been linked to a single failed drugs test in UK sport, despite fears about the undeclared levels of THC in some products.
The World Anti-Doping Agency removed the cannabinoid from its banned substances list in 2017 and since then several high profile athletes have publicly endorsed CBD products.
Even though CBD – which has no psychoactive properties – is not banned, the UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) still warns athletes to be cautious with treatments.
The watchdog is responsible for testing athletes across all sports in the UK and cautions athletes that unscrupulously marketed CBD products may contain THC above legal limits.
But despite these concerns a Freedom of Information request submitted by our sister title Cannabis Wealth, shows CBD has not been linked to a single sanction.
Since 1 January, 2017 four athletes have failed drug tests after providing samples which contained THC – the controlled compound in cannabis which produces a high – and received bans ranging from 15 months to two years.
However, none of the reports linked to those bans referenced CBD, meaning the increasingly popular products have played no role in a UK doping rules violation.
Scotland rugby union captain Finn Russell is a notable CBD user and investor and companies in the competitive market are using athlete endorsements to boost sales.
UK-based Dragonfly CBD recently unveiled former Team GB skier Chemmy Alcott as a brand ambassador and golfer Bubba Watson has partnered with cbdMD.
UKAD sets out its official position on CBD on its website: “The use of any CBD product is at your own risk as an athlete, all athletes must adhere to the principle of strict liability and are solely responsible for any substances found in their system.
“As a result, CBD products should be considered in the same way as all other dietary supplements – that strict liability will still apply, and the appropriate sanctions will be imposed on any athlete returning an adverse analytical finding from any supplement product, as with all other cases of doping.”
A lady in the bedroom? Alexandra Dunhill on CBD and intimacy
The great-granddaughter of luxury goods brand founder, Alfred Dunhill, is launching a range of CBD intimacy products.
Having secured a foot in the door in the world of wellbeing, Alexandra Dunhill, the great-granddaughter of the luxury goods brand founder, Alfred Dunhill, is launching her own range of CBD intimacy products.
After seeing how much CBD was helping her son Piers, Alexandra Dunhill became “fascinated” with the cannabis plant.
“Growing up Piers suffered from anxiety. He had trouble concentrating and was at times a challenging child. ” says the mother-of-three.
“We’d been to a few different doctors who tried him on various medications, none of which worked for him.”
After school, Piers moved to Los Angeles and began working at a cannabis publication. It was whilst visiting him in 2017, that Alexandra was first introduced to the potential health and wellbeing benefits of CBD.
“I noticed the difference in Piers and how much CBD was helping his anxiety, general health and therefore I started on this journey,” she says.
“It was very early days, but I attended various conferences and events over there and wanted to share this amazing experience back at home in the UK.”
After spending time sourcing the right manufacturer and suppliers and perfecting her branding, her CBD wellness range Lady A, launched at the end of 2019.
Following in her great-grandfather’s footsteps, Lady A is a cut above.
Where Alfred Dunhill designed luxury menswear and accessories, Alexandra has created a luxury, female-focused range of tinctures, gel capsules, balms and vapes, that she would be proud to pull out of her handbag or display on the dressing table.
She wanted the brand to be void of any stigma still associated with cannabis and ultimately aim to help people live a happier, healthier and balanced life whatever their age or background. And there is no reason why men can’t use the range too.
“I noticed there was a gap in the market, a lot of brands were very masculine and sports-focused,” she explains.
Alexandra has been taking CBD herself since returning from America saying she has never liked taking pharmaceuticals unless absolutely necessary.
“I’m quite an active person and believe if you can find a natural route to health issues that works for you all the better.”
When people comment on how well she looks she always puts it down to CBD, believing it may even have helped prepare her body to beat coronavirus last year.
“I’ve been taking it for quite a long time and people always comment that I look so well and calm, so it must affect your overall balance,” she says.
“I caught Covid last year and didn’t even know I had it. I never know if it’s just being healthy or maybe it’s the CBD.”
Increasing numbers of women are finding that CBD is helpful for complaints such as stress and anxiety, period pain and stomach cramps, as well as regulating hormone levels and managing some of the symptoms of menopause.
The latest addition to Lady A, launching this spring, is an intimacy range called After Dusk – including a CBD lubricant, massage oil and silk eye-mask – designed to be “fun and a little bit sexy” while also having potential benefits for both partners in the bedroom.
“Sex is an important part of life and overall wellbeing. As a female focussed wellness brand this is an area that I couldn’t ignore,” says Alexandra.
The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD are thought to help if there is any discomfort and pain during sex, as well as increasing blood flow and sensitivity in the area.
A few drops of CBD oil beforehand may also reduce any anxiety and aid relaxation so the whole experience is more enjoyable for everyone.
“Intimacy can be quite a barrier for some, so I wanted to create products that people may find helpful,” she adds.
“The range has been designed to look beautiful, discrete and not embarrassing to have lying around or to receive as a gift.”
The business is still very much a family affair, with all helping out to get things off the ground and the children haven’t been too embarrassed by their mother bringing out an intimacy line.
Lady A launched in Selfridges last year and is stocked in it’s new in-store dedicated wellbeing space which opened on 26 April.
Alexandra is currently looking at extending the cosmetics range further, she adds: “Covid has probably helped with the popularity of the wellness industry, we’re all stressed and worried and the pandemic has given us more time to concentrate on our wellbeing.”
Tackling adult acne with the help of CBD
After suffering from acne since her teens, Suzanne was running out of options.
Mum-of-three, Suzanne, has struggled with acne for over a decade. She reveals how CBD has helped clear up her skin after years of searching for a product that works.
Suzanne, 31, has suffered from acne since she was a teenager.
The common skin condition affects most people at some point in their life. Many will remember living with the condition during their teenage years, but for some, it can continue into adulthood. It causes spots, oily skin and skin that can feel hot or painful to touch.
For Suzanne, a preschool teacher and mum-of-three, it has had a significant impact on her life.
“It’s one of those things where you just feel really rubbish,” Suzanne says.
“I’m not a shallow person but it does get to you after a while.
“It’s painful and it just really puts you down. I used to just go around thinking that people were looking at how bad my skin was.”
Although Suzanne’s skin did clear up for a period of time in her early 20s, the condition worsened as she approached the end of the decade.
“I used to suffer really badly as a teenager with horrible deep spots; the painful ones,” Suzanne says.
“When you’re a teenager, you think, ‘by the time I’m 30 I’m not going to have sports anymore’. Now at 31, I’m running out of things to try.”
Suzanne thinks she must have used almost every brand on the high street to help manage her acne, but none provided satisfying results. She has also have prescription medication from her doctor a go, but found that the product was too aggressive for her skin.
“It’s quite acidic and it takes a layer off your skin, so you can only use it for a certain amount of time,” she explains.
“When I stopped using it, my skin would flare up again and it wasn’t even completely getting rid of the acne anyway. I wanted something that was kinder to my skin.”
Last year, Suzanne’s sister suggested that she try CBD, but like many people, she was sceptical about the supplement due to its association with cannabis.
“She told me it might not only make my skin better but also chill me out to me out a little bit and help me sleep,” Suzanne recalls.
“I didn’t know anything about it, but I’ve had bad skin pretty much forever, so I thought it was worth a shot.”
After the first national lockdown in March last year, Suzanne noticed her skin was starting to flare up, so she decided to take her sister’s advice. She now uses a raw, unrefined oil and a CBD moisturiser daily to keep on top of her skin.
She found that the moisturiser worked a lot better than other products she had tried, which felt “heavy” and left her skin feeling greasy.
Suzanne didn’t see the benefits instantly, but after a few weeks, she noticed that her spots were less sore.
“I had to use it for a little while to see a big difference, but even if I was getting spots, they weren’t as painful,” she says.
“That in itself was better because I didn’t feel like my face was on fire.
“It does take a little while, it’s not an overnight solution. But if you keep going, it gets a lot better.”
After the pain subsided, her skin started to clear up and, in turn, Suzanne experienced a boost in her confidence as well.
“It sounds like a really silly thing to think, but I always felt like people were looking at my face,” Suzanne says.
“I don’t feel like that anymore. I went out on Friday, and wore makeup. A lot of people wear makeup to cover up their spots, but I [rarely] did because I didn’t want to make my skin worse.
“I can be a bit more girly now and know it’s not going to completely mess my skin up.”
Suzanne has also experienced improvements to her sleep.
Dealing with the pandemic along with stresses in her personal life, her sleeping pattern had taken a hit. Before taking CBD, she used to wake up at least every hour but now she finds she can sleep through a whole night.
Although Suzanne intends to continue using CBD, as a single mum of three kids, she says it can be hard to justify the cost of regularly using the supplement. A 500g tub of moisturiser, priced at £17.99, lasts a long time, she says, but CBD oil sets her back almost £40 every fortnight.
“I’m the kind of person that would give to others before thinking of myself so even spending this money on moisturiser seems selfish to me,” Suzanne adds.
“I feel guilty spending that on myself, but I have to weigh it up against how bad I was feeling.”
Suzanne has since gotten her friends and colleagues using the supplement too. Her boss, who suffers from similar issues with her skin has also noticed big improvements.
“I’d tell people who are unsure to definitely try it,” she adds.
“I think it’s important for people to be open to it.
“I still get a little flare like everyone does, it’s just one of those things. I don’t think I’ll ever not have some kind of skin issues, but it’s nowhere near as bad anymore.”
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