Much of this activity takes place online, so it’s hard to gauge the number of users, but one estimate, from the Cannabis Trades Association UK, suggested that there were 250,000 cannabidiol consumers in this country in 2017, double the number from the previous year. For Horn, CBD is simply the perfect drug for the way we live now. Something to take the edge off. Just as you might find a couple of off-licences on high streets now, Horn believes it won’t be long before there are two shops selling cannabis products.
The ‘high tea’ at Camilla Fayed’s restaurant Farmacy. Photograph: Robin Goodlad
Anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD use skews towards the young and female, but Horn at LDN CBD hasn’t found a gender divide and he has lots of older customers in his shop. He often hears that CBD oil helps with their arthritis, and sometimes that they have been able to open jars for the first time in years. Horn has even got his granny on CBD. He is currently raising funding for two more stores in London, and he would like to have another 10 stores in the major cities of the UK. “Most towns with a Holland & Barrett could have a shop like this,” he predicts.
McGuire concedes that different CBD products will have varying strengths, and he also acknowledges that he cannot say they don’t have an effect – it’s simply that we don’t know for sure either way. And clearly others share his concern. In February, New York became the first major American city to impose a ban on CBD edibles in restaurants. “Until cannabidiol is deemed safe as a food additive,” said a spokesperson from the New York City Department of Health, “the department is ordering restaurants not to offer products containing CBD.” From July, a fine of up to $650 (£500) could be imposed.
‘CBD will change culture’: Aaron Horn at his LDN CBD boutique in Camden. Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The Observer
Dr. Smita Das, chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s Council on Addiction Psychiatry’s cannabis work group, does not recommend CBD for anxiety, PTSD, sleep or depression. With patients turning to these to unproven products, she is worried that they may delay seeking appropriate mental health care: “I’m dually concerned with how exposure to CBD products can lead somebody into continuing to cannabis products.”
Some CBD products may contain unwanted surprises. Forensic toxicologists at Virginia Commonwealth University examined nine e-liquids advertised as being 100 percent natural CBD extracts. They found one with dextromethorphan, or DXM, used in over-the counter cough medications and considered addictive when abused; and four with a synthetic cannabinoid, sometimes called Spice, that can cause anxiety, psychosis, tachycardia and death, according to a study last year in Forensic Science International.
Sleep can be disrupted for many reasons, including depression. Rodents seemed to adapt better to stressful conditions and exhibited less depressive-like behavior after taking CBD, according to a review in Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy. “Surprisingly, CBD seems to act faster than conventional antidepressants,” wrote one of the authors of a new review, Sâmia Joca, a fellow at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies in Denmark and an associate professor at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, in an email interview. Of course, it’s difficult to detect depression in animals, but the studies that Ms. Joca and her colleagues reviewed suggested that in models of chronic stress exposure, the mice and rats treated with CBD were more resilient.
Does CBD help sleep and depression?
While there is hope for treating other conditions with the plant extract, Epidiolex remains the only CBD-derived drug approved by the F.D.A. Most of the research on cannabidiol has been in animals, and its current popularity has outpaced science. “We don’t have the 101 course on CBD quite figured out yet,” said Ryan Vandrey, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
This year, 1,090 people have contacted poison control centers about CBD, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Over a third are estimated to have received medical attention, and 46 were admitted into a critical care unit, possibly because of exposure to other products, or drug interactions. In addition, concern over 318 animals poured into the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Animal Poison Control Center.
But without clinical trials in humans, psychologists say CBD’s effect on depression is still a hypothesis, and not an evidence-based treatment.
More than 60 percent of CBD users were taking it for anxiety, according to a survey of 5,000 people. Does it help?
CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. While CBD is a component of marijuana (one of hundreds), by itself it does not cause a "high." According to a report from the World Health Organization, "In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD."
The evidence for cannabidiol health benefits
Side effects of CBD include nausea, fatigue and irritability. CBD can increase the level in your blood of the blood thinner coumadin, and it can raise levels of certain other medications in your blood by the exact same mechanism that grapefruit juice does. A significant safety concern with CBD is that it is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, not a medication. Currently, the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements. So, you cannot know for sure that the product you buy has active ingredients at the dose listed on the label. In addition, the product may contain other (unknown) elements. We also don’t know the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition.
Cannabidiol (CBD) has been recently covered in the media, and you may have even seen it as an add-in booster to your post-workout smoothie or morning coffee. What exactly is CBD? Why is it suddenly so popular?
Some CBD manufacturers have come under government scrutiny for wild, indefensible claims, such that CBD is a cure-all for cancer, which it is not. We need more research but CBD may be prove to be an option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies we can’t pinpoint effective doses, and because CBD is currently is mostly available as an unregulated supplement, it’s difficult to know exactly what you are getting. If you decide to try CBD, talk with your doctor — if for no other reason than to make sure it won’t affect other medications you are taking.