From patches and pillows to tees and lollipops, you can find CBD everywhere these days. A certified buzzword in the world of wellbeing since the mid 2010s, it’s a trend that looks set to stay, and has certainly now been around long enough for most people to disassociate it with the “wacky-baccy”. But there are still a small slither who may be unsure or worried about what it is, and so it’s always wise to start an article on the subject by breaking down its true meaning.
What Is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol and is the second most found ‘active’ ingredient in cannabis. While it is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is mainly derived from the hemp plant, its cousin. CBD is one component out of hundreds in marijuana, and by itself, it does not cause a ‘high’. According to the World Health Organization, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential. To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
There is a lot of scientific evidence for its benefits though. The most compelling surround its usage in treating various forms of epilepsy, but there are also many studies around its positive impact on chronic pain, sleep, and reducing feelings of anxiety.
CBD Products Flooding The Market
So far, so good, and certainly CBD products have found a big audience. It’s estimated one in seven US adults use CBD products regularly, amounting to a CBD-using population of around 50 million, with a further 6 million over here in the UK. Obviously with a growing audience comes a growing market.
London-based health retailer The Drug Store has been a leading light in the UK CBD oil movement since 2018, doing much to legitimize its public perception through expert-led procurement and curation, a wholly transparent approach, and super-luxe retail spaces that look like art galleries. They’ve seen it all, especially when it comes to people looking to capitalize on the CBD buzzword.
“We’ve had some mad things pitched to us over the years,” says Charles Instone, chief marketing officer at The Drug Store.
“We had a CBD pillow, which was meant to be the world’s most relaxing pillow. It says it’s infused with millions of microcapsules filled with high-quality CBD and is meant to seep in through your skin. But you would have to be bathing in CBD for this to work.
“There was also a CBD gym wear brand, and it’s more of the same stuff. People are putting CBD in things just because it has CBD in it. And, there is no clinical evidence. It doesn’t even make any common-sense. You can never put enough CBD in these products that would they would go transdermally through your skin.”
Instone does point out that CBD does work in creams and there is growing research to suggest it reduces inflammation. “But, if you’ve washed this gym wear, then you’ve just diluted the CBD that is theoretically in the material.”
What To Look For When Buying CBD
The question is, what does work? Well, swallowing several drops of CBD oil serves as the easiest and most streamlined way to consume the molecule. “The conventional products shown to work are the oils and the capsules,” says Instone. “They’re the delivery methods people are using in studies.”
With an oil or capsule, you can more precisely measure what you’re taking. “The typical amount you would take of CBD is 25 to 50 milligrammes if that was orally,” says Instone. “So, transdermally, you need more. And, imagine say you’re putting a bath bomb with 10 mg of CBD in an 80 litre bath, you’re just diluting what was already a hilariously low dosage in the first place.”
Problems with these disparities between measurements are exacerbated by a largely unregulated industry.
“Some CBD companies list by percent instead of by milligram,” says Instone, “which doesn’t happen in any other supplement. With protein, you buy how many grams of protein per serving. And with paracetamol, you buy on how many milligrammes there are of paracetamol. But because people are listing CBD like this, you could just simply shrink the pack or shrink the tablet. At The Drug Store, we only list in milligrammes, and we only list the sizes 50ml or 70ml. When you standardise it like this, you can then start to compare properly.”