Susannah Taylor gives the lowdown on nature’s little helper – CBD

Cannabis-derived CBD products are everywhere these days. From balms to patches, tinctures to face creams, the choice is baffling, so I spoke to some experts to bring you the basics…

susannah taylor
Image: David Yenni. Stylist: Sairey Stemp.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is an active derivative of the hemp plant which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. There are over 100 powerful naturally occurring antioxidant compounds in the hemp plant. CBD is said to be the superstar of them all.

Is it legal?

Yes, because it is the non-psychoactive part of the hemp plant. Think of it as a supercharged botanical.

Will I get high?

The biggest misconception of CBD is that it will get you stoned or addicted. To be clear, it’s is not marijuana, which contains the psychoactive component THC (tetrahydrocannabidinol) and is the one you need to avoid.

What conditions can it help with?

There are many human research studies on the beneficial effects of CBD for anxiety conditions. Many people say it helps with insomnia and relieving stress, but it has also been suggested that it may aid appetite regulation, the digestive system, motor skills, pain and pleasure, immune function, temperature, mood and memory. Others find that it relieves headaches and period cramps. Used topically, it can ease inflammation, which is why sports brands use it in muscle balms. A good friend who has terrible arthritis in her fingers says it is the only thing that eases the pain.

What does ‘MG’ mean on the packaging?

The ‘mg’ is an abbreviation of milligrams, which is how CBD is measured. So the mg on the front of your product represents the amount of CBD in it, which can be anything from 10mg pills to 2,500mg for a bottle of drops. Lucy Stride of CBD brand The Mindful Muscle says, ‘Brands often bamboozle customers by selling different-sized bottles with varying strengths and prices, leaving customers unsure just how much benefit they will be getting for their money. I believe 1,500mg in a 30ml bottle is the sweet spot.’ In other words, 50mg of CBD per 1ml is a strength she recommends.

How much is safe to take?

The Food Standards Agency says you can ingest up to 70mg of CBD per day. Kim Smith, director of CBD brand Kloris, says, ‘Anything in the region of 15mg per dose is helpful to most people. This can be in different formats and multiple doses throughout the day.’

What does ‘broad spectrum’ mean?

You’ll see these words on some CBD products, especially ingestible ones. They mean the CBD retains natural chemicals from the plant such as cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes which some believe will maximise the product’s effectiveness. Other brands use the term ‘CBD isolate’, which is CBD in its purest form with all other chemicals removed.

What is the best way to take it?

According to many experts, sublingually (under the tongue). Lucy Stride says: ‘When liquids are placed under the tongue, they cross the thin membrane and enter your bloodstream directly without having to go through the gastrointestinal tract, where often the stomach breaks them down before they even make it to the liver for filtration and entering the bloodstream.’

What does it taste like?

CBD has a pungent, grassy taste, which can be too much for some people. If this is the case, brands such as Kloris sell CBD patches.

How do I know if a brand is good?

Quality brands will tell you where their CBD is from, how it was cultivated, how it is extracted and will have third-party testing and lab reports available to read. ‘They are called certificates of analysis,’ says Hayley Dawes from CBD brand Dreem Distillery. ‘If a brand won’t offer them, walk away.’ It’s also worth noting that good quality CBD isn’t cheap, and the more potent the drops the higher the price. My top go-to brands are:

Oto, which combines CBD with essential oils, flavours and scents to create drops, roll-ons, balms and face creams. From £11, otocbd.com.

Kloris, Formulated with the help of plant scientists, its range includes drops, patches and bath products. From £8, kloriscbd.com.

Apothem, uses organically cultivated CBD isolate and blends it with plant-based ingredients. From £20, apothemlabs.com.

Dreem Distillery, This brand’s high-potency products, which include bath oil and sleep remedies, were created by Hayley Dawes after CBD cured her insomnia. From £75, dreemdistillery.co.uk.

The Mindful Muscle was created by Lucy Stride after CBD helped her to come back from burnout. Her four CBD ‘terpene’ blends are combined with natural flavours such as wild mint (right), blueberry and lavender, orange blossom and lemon verbena. From £95, themindfulmuscle.com.

Read more from Susannah Taylor here