A guide to CBD (Cannabidoil)

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17th June 2019

What’s the story with CBD?

A super exciting new product area, CBD remains broadly misunderstood, despite the huge amount of media coverage in recent months. Early adopters are taking CBD for all sorts of reasons, but many consumers – and even the development teams of existing retail and manufacturing businesses – are wondering how, when (and if!) CBD should be incorporated into their plans.

We’ve had a lot of client interest in CBD recently, so here’s our mini guide for the UK market.

So, what is it?

CBD (or cannabidiol) is a chemical compound from the cannabis plant. It is extracted as an oil from the stalks and seeds of hemp, a classification of cannabis plant used widely in the manufacturing of fabric and rope for centuries.

Will it get me stoned?

Obviously, we don’t know what you mean by stoned, but no, it won’t. The cannabis compound that will (apparently) get you high is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is found in marijuana plants, while CBD is found in hemp – both are types of cannabis plants, but they very different effects on the body. It is – in the UK – completely legal at the moment, so long as it comes from EU-approved industrially produced hemp crops.

Why are they different?

Crucially, THC affects receptors in the body connected with motor control and memory, cognition, emotion and breathing, binding with these in a way that produces quite an extreme reaction. CBD is unable to bind with many of these receptors, but does affect the immune system and a number of biological elements that play a role in the relief of pain.

Tell me the good stuff…what can CBD do?

CBD is thought to help alleviate or prevent a whole host of conditions, including anxiety and PTSD, inflammation and chronic pain, insomnia, Crohn’s disease multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, epilepsy and many more. It can be prescribed in high doses to alleviate symptoms to serious medical conditions, and it can (currently) be bought over the counter in lower-dose formats to suit more lifestyle-related needs.

Recreationally, one or two soft drinks containing CBD can promote feelings of relaxation, one of the reasons why CBD is thought to be gaining ground with the younger generations drinking much less alcohol than generations before.

What’s out there?

Gummy bears, vapes, premium chocolate and confectionary products, tinctures, oils, soft drinks and more. There are simple oils that can be dropped under the tongue or added to food and drinks, as well as tablets and capsules. There’s even a New York chef dropping it into the béarnaise served with his steaks!

Molson Coors and Coca Cola both recently invested very heavily in acquiring CBD businesses, and we have yet to see where large, mainstream F&B businesses will take this new category.

It sounds great! What’s the catch?

While anecdotally there are many positive stories surrounding CBD (and we have some fans here at Food Innovation Solutions), it remains an under-researched area in terms of long-term medical study and analysis. Its effects on our biology and not thoroughly understood, and there are calls for more research to medically qualify many of the claims that surround CBD.

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