Over the past year Coach’s inbox has been peppered with details on products containing CBD oil, promising borderline-miracle benefits for what ails you. When something is claimed to help alleviate – and this is just from one email – “Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, MS, pain, anxiety, depression, cancer and diabetic complications” and yet it’s not being prescribed by the NHS, we’re likely to skip over it quickly. But when high-street pharmacist LloydsPharmacy began stocking CBD oil we saw a chance to ask a reputable expert what the proven benefits are. Short answer, there aren’t any, but responsible drug development takes a while so ask again in eight years.
In the meantime, here’s pharmacist Shilpa Shah’s explanation of what CBD oil is, how to take it, what the point of it is and how it should never be used as an alternative to medication.
What is CBD?
CBS is a naturally occurring product from the cannabis sativa plant, the same plant cannabis is from, but CBD doesn’t have THC in it – the element you get high from, basically.
What does it have in it that’s of use?
Cannabidiol is the bit that helps people.
There’s been a boom in CBD oil products being sold. Was there a legal change or did the industry just happen to develop?
It’s just kind of developed. Because it’s not cannabis and it doesn’t have THC, we’re able to sell it as a food supplement. The NHS has made medicinal cannabis available in selected places since 1st November, but that’s different from the CBD oil that we sell.
Is CBD oil addictive in any way?
The addictive part of cannabis is THC. CBD oil hasn’t got the component in it to make it addictive.
How do you take CBD oil?
There are different ways of taking different companies’ products. Capsules are taken orally. You can sprinkle the powder on your food – porridge, smoothies and so on. The best way to take the oil is to place droplets under your tongue where there are loads of capillaries so it can get into your bloodstream a lot quicker.
What is the point in taking CBD oil?
It’s used for many different things – it’s dependent on the person. People use it to help them sleep better; some people have said it helps with arthritic-type pains; some people have said it helps with anxiety.
my recommendation as a pharmacist is that you can try the CBD oil on top of the medication that you’re taking
We can’t come out and say “you can take it directly for this”. It’s to be used in conjunction with the medication you’re on. For example, if you have arthritis and the doctors have given you medication – painkillers and anti-inflammatories – my recommendation as a pharmacist is that you can try the CBD oil on top of the medication that you’re taking. Not instead of, but as well as – like offering someone vitamins if they’ve got a cold. You’d give them stuff for cold and flu, and then offer them vitamin C as well to recover that a bit quicker.
You should never use it as an alternative medication for a condition. If you have any conditions or symptoms that you aren’t getting medically treated, it’s really important that you do speak to a healthcare professional to get the correct advice, rather than just buying CBD oil off the internet.
So is research into CBD oil continuing?
Yes, research is taking place all the time and there are lots of companies working on it. We’ve had lots of patient testimonials which say it’s really helped, and bigger companies have jumped on the bandwagon. It can take from eight to 12 years for a drug to land in the public domain, from the point of thinking about it to going through all the testing and legal side of it. Maybe in time we might see something [based on CBD oil] marketed for a specific illness.
If people are buying CBD oil products on the internet, are there any regulatory markers they should look out for to know it’s safe?
Unfortunately, it’s really difficult on the internet to know what you’re buying and from whom. So I would always buy any medication, any food supplement from a reputable website. Obviously you’ve got LloydsPharmacy, but there’s Boots, Well and other pharmacies.