Na­ture’s balm

Cannabis oil has many heal­ing prop­er­ties, writes Rob Picheta

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - This Week -

IF you want a bet­ter night’s sleep, a treat­ment for anx­i­ety, or some­thing to get rid of your aches and pains, the cannabis plant might not be your first port of call. How­ever, weed has hit the shops in a man­ner of speak­ing, at least. It’s now on sale at Hol­land & Bar­rett (€18.74 for 10ml, hol­lan­dand­bar­rett.ie).

Does it get you high? The short an­swer is ‘no’ — re­gard­less of how much you take. THC is the cannabis plant’s psy­choac­tive in­gre­di­ent, but there are more than 100 other chem­i­cal com­pounds in the plant, of which cannabid­iol, or CBD, is one.

It’s ex­tracted by soak­ing the plant in al­co­hol and then evap­o­rat­ing the liq­uid. And un­like its out­lawed neigh­bour, CBD won’t have you rum­mag­ing for snacks. How­ever, it does come with a long list of promised health ben­e­fits.

A World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) re­port sug­gests CBD oil could be used to treat anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion thanks to its sooth­ing ef­fects, which might ex­plain the prod­uct’s pop­u­lar­ity. Around four in 10 of us feel stressed dur­ing a typ­i­cal week, a sur­vey by Axa found last year.

In true Hol­ly­wood fash­ion, celebri­ties are lead­ing the craze; Jen­nifer Anis­ton is re­ported to be a fan of us­ing the oil for a num­ber of ail­ments. She has been quoted in an in­ter­view with US Weekly say­ing: “CBD helps with pain, stress and anx­i­ety. It has all the ben­e­fits of mar­i­juana with­out the high.”

CBD oil has a lift­ing and re­lax­ing ef­fect on mood with none of the ad­verse psy­choac­tive ef­fects as­so­ci­ated with mar­i­juana, says GP Sarah Brewer. “It acts via the body’s own en­do­cannabi­noid sys­tem to pro­mote feel­ings of well­be­ing. It’s a great choice if you’re find­ing it dif­fi­cult to re­lax, as it’s not habit­form­ing”, she adds, not­ing that the oil is “par­tic­u­larly help­ful for re­duc­ing anx­i­ety, pro­mot­ing re­lax­ation and rest­ful sleep”.

The WHO re­port also states CBD oil’s po­ten­tial ben­e­fits for suf­fer­ers of phys­i­cal ail­ments such as arthri­tis, Alzheimer’s and Parkin­son’s dis­ease. Ev­ery­day aches are claimed to calmed by the mir­a­cle oil, and it’s even been sug­gested that some forms of cancer can be over­come — though ex­perts con­clude that more re­search needs to be done.

So what’s not the love? The taste, for one thing. Hol­land & Bar­rett sug­gests drop­ping it un­der the tongue two or three times per day, but warn that the thick oil has a “dis­tinc­tive” flavour. That might be an un­der­state­ment; you’ll need a glass of wa­ter at the ready if you do choose to go down the di­rect route, be­cause the oil has a pun­gent, earthy taste which isn’t ex­actly sub­tle.

How­ever, there are ways to get your fix that don’t tor­ment your taste buds. Stir­ring a cou­ple of drops into wa­ter is far less of­fen­sive, and blend­ing it into a smoothie can make the taste dis­ap­pear en­tirely. The oil is also avail­able in cap­sules, which have a slower re­lease.

Plenty of health trends go up in smoke af­ter a few weeks, but the pop­u­lar­ity for CBD oil cer­tainly hasn’t gone to pot just yet. It doesn’t come cheap, but it’s be­ing used more and more each day, and it’s worth a try if you’re suf­fer­ing from aches, anx­i­ety, or if you’re toss­ing and turn­ing un­til the early hours.

How­ever, be pre­pared to get cre­ative with how you en­joy the stuff. Even the most pas­sion­ate CBD con­vert would ad­mit it’s some­thing of an ac­quired taste.

PLANT POWER: CBD oil has po­ten­tial ben­e­fits for suf­fer­ers of phys­i­cal ail­ments such as arthri­tis.

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