Natural alternatives to traditional medicines are being tested all the time. New research has prompted a change among medical practitioners, who are now open to discussing complementary treatments with their patients.
Medical cannabis is much talked about, but in its shadow cannabidiol (CBD) is quietly improving the lives of millions of people every day.
Medical cannabis is a broad term that refers to any cannabis-based product that is used to treat patients with health conditions. It is rarely prescribed, and is only used for:
- Nausea or vomiting caused by chemotherapy
- Severe cases of epilepsy, such as Dravet Syndrome
- Muscle stiffness and spasms in people with multiple sclerosis
Clinical trials are slowly uncovering the benefits of medical cannabis. While practitioners get to grips with the research, the health and well-being industry is backing another product of the cannabis plant - cannabidiol.
What is cannabidiol?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many organic compounds found in the hemp plant.
It doesn't have the same psychoactive side effects as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - a similar cannabinoid found in the marijuana plant. CBD is considered a safer alternative to THC, and is widely sold as a nutritional supplement across the UK.
CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS) by intercepting and modifying messages to the brain. This complex system helps regulate the body, and plays a part in maintaining important functions, such as:
Cannabidiol is extracted from the hemp plant and mixed with a carrier agent, such as coconut oil. Most people take CBD oil as drops or a spray (under the tongue), but it's also available in edible products like tea, plus muscle rubs, skincare and bath products.
It's used to treat a range of conditions in people with acute and chronic health problems.
Health conditions and CBD oil
CBD oil is an analgesic (pain reliever), anti-inflammatory, and contains anti-oxidants. It's used by millions of people living with conditions, like acne, anxiety, and sleep disorders.
Acne (and other skin conditions)
Cannabidiol is a powerful anti-inflammatory and can be applied directly to the skin as a topical lotion. In some people, it can reduce the painful swelling associated with acne and other skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, and allergic dermatitis.
The over production of sebum - an oil containing fatty acids - is a well-known cause of acne. Experts studying the effects of CBD, believe that it may hold the answer to regulating how much oil your skin produces and rehydrating dry patches.
More and more people with anxiety and depression are turning to cannabidiol to help manage their symptoms. Cannabidiol is a natural alternative to traditional medication for conditions like PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and social anxiety.
It is thought that CBD restores calm by working with the receptors in the body to balance serotonin - the hormone responsible for regulating mood. Though, CBD doesn't produce the 'high' that you get with THC, it may be able to reduce anxiety.
Chronic pain conditions
CBD is mostly known for its analgesic properties and is widely used to manage pain in patients with chronic illnesses, like arthritis. It's also used to treat acute pain caused by injury and by athletes to speed up recovery between workouts.
Topical CBD products like muscle rubs, massage oils, balms, and gel, all target the skin's receptors directly to control inflammation and manage pain.
Cannabidiol CBD helps people living with sleep disorders, like insomnia, to fall asleep and stay asleep. Tea bags containing a broad-spectrum CBD are now part of the bedtime routine for thousands of people who struggle to sleep.
The effects of CBD drops and sprays last longer, making them a good alternative for those who find themselves waking through the night. And while you sleep, your body is repairing itself - quietly working to combat lots of other health conditions.
The key takeaway
Natural alternatives to traditional medicine are not intended to substitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, but they do play an important part in patient treatment.
Though medical cannabis is rarely prescribed, studies have shown that CBD is safe to use and is already benefiting millions of people in the UK. Likewise, in America, cannabidiol is FDA approved (food and drug administration).
CBD and THC work differently – unlike THC, cannabidiol does not give you the sensation of being 'high' and is not addictive.
CBD oil is a powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic, available in drops, sprays, edibles, muscle rubs, and skincare. It is helping to improve the lives of millions of people with health conditions, like anxiety and chronic pain, every day.