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Mind & Body

CBD 101: The Truth Behind The Wonder Ingredient

CBD is the hero ingredient gaining traction in the beauty and wellness industries, but does it actually work? Can CBD really be the ‘miracle molecule’ that eases symptoms of anxiety, depression, chronic pain, digestive issues, and insomnia? We investigate what CBD is, how it works, and whether it lives up to the hype.

What is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol – a type of cannabinoid extracted from the hemp plant, marijuana’s cousin from the ‘cannabis sativa’ plant family. You can’t get ‘high’ from CBD as it contains little to no trace of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – the psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants that creates those mind-altering effects. CBD does, however, boast a heap of therapeutic benefits that can calm the mind, provide pain relief and help you get a better night’s sleep. 

While CBD might be considered a relatively recent discovery, its medicinal healing properties have been used for thousands of years by ancient civilizations. Once considered a taboo, new research, celebrity endorsements and an affinity towards a more natural way of living have seen CBD rise to become a power player in the wellness industry. 

CBD’s high-profile fans include Gwyneth Paltrow – often credited with the introduction of CBD to the mainstream beauty and wellness industry, Kim Kardashian, who claims she’s ‘obsessed’, plus Whoopi Goldberg and John Legend, who both have stakes in CBD brands. 

How does CBD work?

Our bodies contain the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a network of
neurotransmitters our cells use to communicate with each other.
Endocannabinoids and their receptors are everywhere – our brains, immune
cells, connective tissues, glands, and organs – and have an influence
on our nervous system and immune system regulating mood, appetite, pain,
memory, and reproductive health. 

Any imbalances in our ECS can
lead to things like anxiety, stress, chronic pain, nausea, epilepsy, and
even cancer. CBD mimics the natural production of endocannabinoids in
our body, activating the receptors to support healthy bodily function,
hence the long list of CBD benefits for our mind and body. 

CBD
products are now popping up everywhere, so it’s easy to choose one that
suits your lifestyle. Choose from topical treatments in soothing
skincare products like lotions and serums, take orally with CBD oil
tinctures under the tongue or even adding a few drops to your food
and drink, as well as cute edibles in CBD gummies. It’s described
as “nutty” in taste, but it’s so mild that it’s often undetectable. 

CBD benefits for your skin

The natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD mean
clearer, smoother, more nourished skin. CBD calms chronic skin
conditions like eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, broken capillaries
and sunburn, and helps to balance congested, oily complexions to reduce
breakouts. For acne sufferers, it can be a lifeline to mediate pain and
reduce inflammation to soothe and clear skin. CBD helps to regulate
skin’s sebum synthesis meaning fewer pimples and blackheads. 

CBD
not only calms and relieves skin but is also highly effective
for anti-aging. Dr. Michelle Green, a dermatologist based in New York
City says, "It’s a botanical antioxidant, which makes it a powerhouse
for anti-aging, protecting from environmental damage and improving the
skin’s texture and tone." Antioxidants in CBD work by
counteracting free-radical damage to reduce the physical signs of aging
like wrinkles and dullness to reveal a youthful, radiant glow with
smoother, more supple skin.

Flora & Bast,
a cannabis-skincare and wellness brand, says, “CBD also helps increase
the rate at which our skin cells turn over, and upregulates apoptosis,
or programmed cell death, in tissue that is compromised or unhealthy,
resulting in the reduction of everything from lines and wrinkles to dark
spots to saggy skin.” 

Let’s not forget the knock-on effect on
your mood either – if your skin is brighter, complexion smoother, and
hair more luscious, you’ll not only feel calmer but more confident too.

CBD benefits for mental health

Natural and non-toxic, CBD regulates stress responses easing symptoms
of anxiety and stress to help you feel more relaxed. Acting as a
mood-booster, CBD helps you to feel lighter, brighter, and more present
in the moment – a key aspect to mindfulness, and coping mechanism that
healthcare professionals advise as an antidote to improve low mood. 

Mary Biles O’Mahoney, author of The CBD Book: The Essential Guide to CBD Oil,
says, “One of the most popular reasons people take CBD is to help get
better sleep and manage symptoms of anxiety. Thankfully, science is now
backing up these anecdotal reports with a number of preliminary studies
suggesting CBD can indeed reduce feelings of anxiety and improve quality
of sleep.” 

CBD increases happiness and wellbeing by interacting
with serotonin in the brain – the receptor that regulates mood – acting
as a natural anti-anxiety remedy and antidepressant. In 2011, a study on
generalized social anxiety disorder (SAD) found significantly decreased
anxiety for people that were given an oral dose 400mg of CBD compared
to those who received a placebo. 

More people are turning to CBD
as a way to calm the nerves and feel more relaxed in an increasingly
overstimulated, pressurized world. Increased choice and the prevalence
of digital devices and social media seeping into every part of our lives
make it much harder to switch off. Consider this natural route
to self-healing and add CBD to your self-care routine to quieten your
mind and attract some much- needed zen. 

CBD benefits for sleep

Welcome news for insomniacs – CBD
also improves sleep!. Getting enough sleep is crucial to leading a
happy, balanced lifestyle. Between 7-10 hours of sleep per night is
recommended for regulating energy, mood, and focus throughout the day,
increasing productivity levels, and improving cognitive function.
Who doesn’t want to be a brighter, more efficient person with an extra
oomph in brain power? 

CBD can help you to fall asleep faster and
reach a deeper REM sleep, which means less waking up throughout the
night. Insomniacs often have trouble falling to sleep because of stress,
a racing mind, and even anxiety-ridden panic attacks, but in regulating
the stress receptors, CBD promotes relaxation to help you get some
shut-eye and wake up fresh-faced, ready to tackle the day. 

Adding CBD to your night-time routine could be just what you need to help you wind down and chill out before bed. 

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CBD benefits for pain relief

CBD acts as an anti-inflammatory for pain relief
from menstrual cramps to headaches and
migraines, muscular pain to joint pain, arthritis to chronic
pain and fibromyalgia. Emma Franklin, a blogger recovering from chronic
illness, is happy to have discovered a natural healing treatment for
chronic pain. She says, “I have been taking CBD oil for the past two
years to help relieve chronic pain and fibromyalgia due to inflammation
from chronic Lyme disease and mold illness. Since using CBD, I no longer
need high doses of prescription medications for pain relief. I can
manage my pain levels with CBD.” 

Powered by plants, CBD can also
improve gut health to tackle IBS, vomiting, and nausea. Its
anti-inflammatory benefits calm the stomach to soothe digestive
problems and help to re-balance – especially useful during times of the
month when you feel a little off-kilter because of hormone imbalances;
the perfect pick-me-up. 

Pain or anxiety during sex? Botanical
infused lubricants can calm inflammation and regulate stress
receptors promoting muscle relaxation and increased blood flow which
can lead to feeling aroused more quickly. 

Is CBD safe?

CBD affects everyone differently, although The World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2017, reported that
there are no negative side effects to taking CBD and that it is safe to
do responsibly, provided it is not taken with any other medication.
Just look out for the ‘grapefruit warning’ and check the dosage. 

WHO reports (2017) that CBD
could treat Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's
disease, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, psychosis, anxiety, pain,
depression, cancer, hypoxia-ischemia injury, nausea, IBS, inflammatory
disease, rheumatoid arthritis, infection, cardiovascular diseases, and
diabetic complications. 

Multi-purpose, fast-acting, and easy to
manage with a myriad of proven benefits, CBD could be the natural,
calming elixir you need to add to your self-care routine in a busy world
for your mind and body.