What Is CBD Oil, Is It Legal in the UK and How Does It Work?
25th July 2019
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Once a controversial substance, CBD oil (also known as cannabidiol or cannabis oil) has been quickly growing in popularity around the world. According to the UK Cannabis Trades Association, the number of CBD users soared from 125k to 250k in just one year.


But people are still uncertain if it is really helpful. Some are skeptical due to its association with marijuana, others are concerned about its legality and side effects.


In this article, we’re discussing all the issues and controversies surrounding CBD oil to help you enjoy all the health benefits of this fantastic natural remedy.


What is CBD (Cannabidiol)?

The cannabis Sativa plant contains 100+ chemical compounds called cannabinoids, among which are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Even though these two compounds share a few similar effects like nausea relief and pain alleviation, they are quite different.


THC is known to be psychoactive and for having mind-altering effects, i.e. it makes users high. In addition, it can result in numerous side effects including:


  • Dizziness

  • Increased hunger

  • Paranoia

  • Impaired memory

  • Increased heart rate


CBD, on the other hand, blocks THC’s psychoactivity, as well as many of the above-mentioned side effects.


CBD products are becoming more and more popular due to their numerous health benefits.  A report released last year by the WHO (World Health Organisation) revealed that, due to its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, CBD can help treat symptoms related to a great number of illnesses and conditions, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, MS, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, diabetes, and cancer.


How Does It Work?

Cannabidiol engages with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is responsible for regulating a number of functions in the human body, including:


  • Immune system

  • Bone growth

  • Emotions

  • Metabolism

  • Pain perception

  • Movement

  • Sleep

  • Memory

  • Reproduction

  • Fetal growth

  • Temperature regulation

  • Stress response


Even though it is still speculative how CBD engages with the endocannabinoid system, initial research has found that CBD prevents the decomposition of endocannabinoid molecules, thus leaving more endocannabinoids available for the organism to use.


CBD also engages with serotonin receptors in the central and peripheral nervous systems, thus improving mood and helping with mental conditions such as depression and anxiety.


CBD Oil Effects

Researchers have confirmed a great number of beneficial effects of CBD oil, including:


  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Antimicrobial

  • Stress relief

  • Anti-anxiety

  • Anti-nausea

  • Antidepressant

  • Pain relief

  • Anticonvulsant

  • Antioxidant


It should be noted that the effects of CBD oil depend on several individual factors, such as body weight, age, and the condition being treated.


Health Benefits of CBD Oil


Cannabidiol has been proven very effective in the treatment of various anxiety-related disorders including social anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Researchers are currently trying to determine CBD’s efficiency in treating psychosis and schizophrenia.



All research related to CBD oil’s ability to help with depression has been conducted on animal models. Initial results confirm that cannabidiol has antidepressant properties.


Chronic Pain

As mentioned before, CBD has anti-inflammatory properties which make it an effective alternative for relieving pain. Studies have shown that CBD can help with pain resulting from nervous system damage (neuropathic pain) and with pain resulting from past inflammation or injuries.



A study from 2012 showed that cannabidiol oil can inhibit the metastasis and growth of tumor cells. In addition, it helps relieve the side effects caused by standard cancer treatment, including nausea, vomiting, and pain. Finally, research has shown that the consumption of CBD can prolong life expectancy in people with cancer.


However, it should be noted that there are different cancer types and they respond differently to CBD. So far, CBD has been proven most successful in treating breast cancer. 


Scientists are warning that, although cannabidiol is a perfectly safe cancer treatment, it should not replace prescribed cancer medications and therapies. As most studies have been conducted on animal models, it’s hard to determine how cannabidiol will work in human patients. Studies on human subjects are needed in order to confirm that cannabidiol oil can treat or control cancer.


CBD Oil Side Effects and Risks

When taken in moderate doses, CBD oil can increase energy levels and focus. However, if the dosage is too high, it can act as a mild sedative in some users. Such effects are subtle and very rare and most users feel no discomfort or agitation when using CBD oil.


Even though CBD oil is perfectly safe to use, it can result in some side effects, including:


  • Diarrhea

  • Fatigue

  • Sleepiness

  • Decreased appetite

  • Rashes

  • Insomnia

  • Dry Mouth

  • Infections

  • Lack of energy

  • Liver stress



Is CBD Oil Legal in the UK?

Cannabis has been used for medical purposes for several millennia in countries all over the world, including the Middle East, India, and China. In the past, it was used as medication even in the United Kingdom. In fact, doctors prescribed it to Queen Victoria to help with her period pain.


In the 1920s cannabis was made illegal in the United Kingdom as a result of an international conference on drugs held in Geneva, where the delegate from Egypt managed to convince everyone that it was a dangerous opiate.


Today, there is a great deal of confusion about CBD’s legality in the UK. Most cannabinoids are listed as controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act. This is not the case with CBD, which is completely legal in the United Kingdom provided it is derived from industrial hemp.


For cannabidiol oil to be legal in the United Kingdom, its THC levels need to be under 0.2%. The cannabis-derived CBD oil contains a higher percentage of THC and is illegal in the United Kingdom. The only exception is Sativex which contains equal proportions of CBD and THC and has been approved as a treatment for MS.


Medicinal cannabis remains unlicensed and can only be prescribed if a patient’s ailment can’t be treated with licensed medicines.


Where Can You Get CBD Oil in the UK?

Hemp-derived CBD is becoming widely available in health stores but you need to be careful. Experts are warning that many CBD products sold in health stores contain very low amounts of CBD. In addition, they may contain other cannabis-derived compounds.


Starting from November this year, CBD oil will be available by doctor’s prescription throughout the UK. This means that all diseases will be considered treatable with cannabis and medical professionals won’t have to seek for an expert panel approval in order to prescribe CBD. Doctors will also be able to suggest the most effective strength of CBD oil for your condition.







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