There’s so much buzz around cannabis-derived oil – but what’s the evidence behind the hype? NH investigates
CBD oil has made a huge splash in the health world of late. Sales of Holland and Barrett’s product doubled in 12 months from 125,000 to 250,000 when it became the first high street retailer to stock it. Oxford University are carrying out a £10million research programme into medical use of marijuana. And it seems not a day goes by without one newspaper or another carrying a story about someone claiming to have ‘cured’ cancer with ‘cannabis oil’. So what’s the story?
CBD oil is sometimes incorrectly referred to as cannabis oil, which is in fact illegal in the UK. Cannabis oil comes from the marijuana plant and contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the chemical that gets you high. Hemp is bred without THC, and is rich in cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive component of cannabis. It’s this oil which has been licensed for medicinal use in the UK. A FDA advisory panel in the US has also just recommended a CBD oil-based epilepsy medication be licensed. If it does, it will be the first cannabis-derived prescription medicine in the US.
Things are further ahead in Europe – cannabis oil (with THC) is already legal for use in medicine in Holland. You may recall the much-publicised case of Alfie Dingley, the six-year-old boy with a rare genetic condition which means he can suffer from up to 30 seizures a day. His family moved to Holland last September so he could be treated medically with cannabis oil. This saw his seizures reduce to just one a month. The family had to move back to the UK for financial reasons, but took their fight to Downing Street where they presented prime minister Theresa May with a 380,000 signature petition urging her that Alfie be allowed access to the treatment in the UK.
The jury is still out although the government has promised to look into it as a matter of urgency.
According to the charity Young Epilepsy (youngepilepsy.org.uk), there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that cannabis can reduce seizures. It’s thought to be down to the anticonvulsant properties of CBD, although science still has a way to go before we understand how this works.
According to the Lung Institute in the US, medical marijuana has been found to help reduce inflammation, ease pain, improve sleep and reduce phlegm in those with chronic lung conditions. Professor Raphael Mechoulam is considered by many to be the grandfather of medical marijuana research. Specialising in medicinal chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, he started studying the cannabis plant in the 1960. He goes as far as to say he regards CBD oil as a potential replacement for traditional drugs. “Most symptoms of allergic disease are controlled by steriods,” he says. “However, some patients, such as those suffering from severe asthma, are often steroid-resistant.
“As such severe asthma (and atopic dermatitis) have been labelled as ‘unmet medical needs’ by the WHO. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a potent anti-inflammatory agent that is therapeutic in many areas. A specific CBD derivative shows promise of eventually replacing traditional drugs as a potential treatment for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and atopic dermatitis.”
While the message that smoking cannabis relaxes a person is outdated (using it has actually been linked to increasing the risk for anxiety disorders), a lot of studies have found that CBD oil may be able to help with social anxiety and situations like public speaking. Helpfully, no negative side effects have been found, meaning it’s a good option for those who don’t get on with pharmaceutical medication for anxiety. Anecdotally the wonders of this substance stretch even further. “Personally, my severe period cramps have subsided since using CBD oil,” says Zoe Lindt, co-founder of Wunder Workshop (wunderworkshop.com). “I know people use it for endometriosis and other inflammation-related conditions. I’ve just come back from California where professional athletes also use it as pain relief for sportinduced inflammation, especially in the martial arts world.”
CBD oil has also made a splash in the beauty market. “The anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory and skin healing properties of cannabis-based beauty make it a very attractive proposition for consumers, who are always after the newest and latest evidence-based products to enhance and refine their complexions,” says Dr Alexis Granite, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic (cadoganclinic.com).
“The moisturising properties of hemp oil make it particularly appealing to people with dry skin. It is rich in essential fatty acids as well as having anti-inflammatory properties which is very promising for anti-ageing, as well as skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema.”
So there you have it – this up-and-coming oil may court controversy, but is showing cure-all tendencies which make it definitely one to watch.
Save over £11
when you subscribe today
Exclusive prizes from our Heaven Skincare, Senspa, Green People and more...