Would You (or do you) Take Cannabis Illegally to Treat Your Medical Conditions?

I’ve been quite vocal, not only about my strong believe than cannabinoids (and terpenes) found in cannabis are pretty amazing and should be available to all, but also in my anger at the government’s implementation of new legislation that theoretically allows medical cannabis to be prescribed on the NHS.

I, like many others, waited patiently for medical cannabis to become available on prescription. I have wanted to try full spectrum cannabis oil for a long time now but I didn’t want to have to take the illegal route, not because it’s illegal, but because I didn’t feel I could “trust” the safety and potency of the source.

But after being let down so badly by this new legislation I felt I had no option but to try cannabis oil on my own. If the NHS can’t or won’t help me, then I will help myself.

So, I recently started taking THC along with my CBD oil. It’s still early days but I’m writing a diary, and I intend to be very open about my use of this illegal substance.

It shouldn’t be illegal. It should be an option for anyone who wishes to try it. And it should be a right for all to be able to access ‘safe’ cannabis medicine – we shouldn’t be made criminals just because we want some relief from our symptoms.

✔So my question is: Would you (or do you) take cannabis illegally to treat your medical conditions?

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7 Potential side effects of CBD and tips on how to minimise them

People often assume that because CBD, and other cannabinoids, are natural substances, that they do not pose a risk of any side effects. This is untrue. Although the potential side effects of CBD are minimal compared to other treatment options, they do still exist.

CBD is safe for all the family to take on a daily basis. And according to a report published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) “naturally occurring CBD is safe and well tolerated in humans (and animals), and is not associated with any negative public health effects” but there are potential side effects which you need to be aware of before starting CBD.

The following article is not designed to scare you, but rather arm you with all the available information, so you can be prepared. If these adverse effects do occur, I have also included steps you can take to minimise the discomfort you experience.

What is CBD?

First up, a brief introduction to CBD and how to it works.

CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, one of the many cannabinoids, or chemical compounds, found in cannabis and hemp. While beneficial for wellbeing, CBD doesn’t have the psychoactive properties of it’s more famous cousin THC. Even at high doses CBD will not get you high and it’s safe for all the family to use on a regular basis.

CBD is a wonder of health and wellness because of its powerful interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).The ECS regulates many vital functions within the body including; mood, appetite, sleep, hormone production, and even pain, stress and immune system responses. CBD has been shown to positively influence the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to maintain balance and promote good health.

If you would like to read more about how CBD works within the body please read my article; How CBD works. The endocannabinoid system explained.

Potential side effects.

Now let’s move on to discuss the potential side effects of taking CBD. Although CBD is generally well tolerated and considered safe, it may cause adverse reactions in some people. Please note, not everyone will experience these side effects but it is important you are aware of their potential.

1. Dry mouth.

Probably the most common potential side effects of using CBD oil isthe unpleasant feeling of dry mouth. While researchers aren’t completely sure why this can happen, a study published in 2006 showed that the endocannabinoid system receptors CB1 and CB2 are present in the glands responsible for producing saliva. When these receptors are activated, the saliva production can drop, leading to dry mouth.  

This side effect is experienced by quite a few people who use CBD oil. However, it is very easy to overcome by maintaining an adequate level of hydration, so that the dry mouth does not occur at all or becomes very minimal.

2. Dizziness or lightheadedness.

Another potential side effect is dizziness, although this tends to occur with higher doses of CBD. Dizziness, similarly to dry mouth, may appear immediately after taking CBD oil. It may be accompanied by small headaches, blurred or vague vision and problems with maintaining balance. Temporary drop in blood pressure appears to be the cause.

This typically passes within a few minutes on its own, or can usually be resolved by laying down for a few moments, drinking a cup of coffee or tea, or snacking on a little piece of chocolate. But please be mindful of this potential side effect when you first start taking CBD, and don’t drive if you are feeling dizzy or lightheaded.

3. Drowsiness.

After a high dose of CBD oil, some users may experience drowsiness, although some people who are very sensitive to CBD may experience drowsiness at lower doses. The feeling of drowsiness may be in part due to your body relaxing. Many people start taking CBD in an attempt to treat conditions like anxiety or chronic pain. Our bodies are often in a heightened state when battling these conditions, which is exhausting. CBD can help us relax and also reduce pain. When our bodies relax we can often feel drowsy. Listen to your body and rest if you feel drowsy.

It needs to be noted that in some people a completely opposite reaction can occur. Many find CBD stimulating, which gives a feeling of alertness.

When you first start taking CBD, spend a few minutes gauging how your body responds. If you feel drowsy please don’t attempt to drive.

4. Reduced blood pressure.

This is one of the most important potential side effect of using CBD oil, as it affects all other issues. High doses of CBD can cause a small drop in blood pressure in some individuals. This will usually occur within a few minutes of the CBD oil entering your system.

This doesn’t happen to everyone, and the worst you should expect is a few minutes of feeling lightheaded. However, if you have any problems with low or high blood pressure, or are taking any medications for blood pressure, talk to your doctor before trying CBD oil.

5. Diarrhoea and nausea.

Diarrhoea and nausea have been reported as a side effect by some CBD users, although these symptoms are more likely to occur in people who already have pre existing digestive disorders. The cause may not only be CBD, but also the carrier oil which is used e.g. Olive oil or MCT oil, so please check all the ingredients listed. Symptoms normally only last a couple of weeks. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

6. Delay, or even inhibition of certain medicines’ effects.

CBD can also interact with several medications because it inhibits the activity of specific liver enzymes, in particular cytochrome P450, which is responsible for metabolising nutrients.

The way that CBD is metabolised by your body can interfere with how your body normally metabolises other drugs you take. If those other drugs aren’t metabolised properly, they can hang around and stay in your system longer than you want. This can cause negative side effects and complications.

This side effect can normally be avoided by leaving a 2-4 hour gap between your medication and CBD.

If you are taking other supplements or medication please check with your GP or pharmacist about any possible interactions. Typically a 2hr gap is required between CBD and your prescription meds but certain drugs like: Beta blockers, blood pressure tablets, anticoagulants and any other medication that carry a grapefruit warning, generally require a 4hr gap.

This side effect only applies to CBD taken orally as it is metabolised by the liver.

Before you start using CBD oil, discuss it with your doctor to ensure your safety and avoid potentially harmful interactions.

7. Herxheimer Effect or “Herxing”.

Some adverse effects may be caused by a phenomenon called “Herxing”.

People commonly report feeling worse before they feel better, when they first start taking CBD. Common symptoms include headaches, itching and rashes on the skin. These symptoms appear to last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, but they disappear as quickly as they started.

Many believe a phenomenon called “the Herxheimer reaction” or “Herxing” is to blame.

What is Herxing?

Herxing is a short term reaction to the body as it detoxifies. This is common when people take antibiotics and it is sometimes referred to as the “die off effect”. It is quite common to experience flu-like symptoms which can include a headache, joint and muscle pain, body aches, a sore throat, sweating, chills or nausea. If it occurs, it generally lasts a few days but can last for a week or more.

Herxing is actually helpful to your system as it is creating a detoxifying effect. In basic terms, you have ‘herxed’ because the effective treatment releases toxic chemicals from the cell walls of dying bacteria.

Our immune system reacts to these toxins, but we are not able to eliminate them quickly enough. As a result, the toxins are capable of causing some unpleasant symptoms, and the original symptoms may even get worse for a short while.

Many ask why CBD would cause herxing, as it’s normally associated with antibiotic treatments. But CBD has powerful antibacterial and antioxidant properties, so it isn’t really a surprise that it could also lead to the herxheimer effect.

You can minimise these unwanted side effects by introducing CBD slowly, and drinking plenty of water.

Biphasic properties of cannabinoids.

Although not a side effect as such, it is important that we acknowledge the biphasic properties of cannabinoids like CBD. But what does “biphasic” mean?

A biphasic medicine or drug is one which can have different effects on the user depending on the concentration levels in the blood. Alcohol is a biphasic drug too, it works by acting as a stimulant until blood alcohol levels reach a certain percentage (0.05%). After this point, the amount consumed acts as a depressant and causes sedation.

When it comes to CBD, low doses may be stimulating while higher doses appear sedating. But with some people low doses may improve conditions like anxiety, while larger doses may actually heighten anxiety. Please be aware of this when you start taking CBD.

This is why we always recommend the “low and slow” approach to introducing CBD. And also why less is often more when it comes to cannabinoid therapy.

“Low and slow” approach to introducing CBD.

Many of these side effects can be avoided or minimised by using the “low and slow” approach to introducing CBD.

I will explain this is more detail in my next post about CBD dosing. But the general advice is to start with 2-3mg of CBD, 2-3 times a day. Stay with this dose for a week, and then gradually increase if necessary.

Please note; this approach is not always suitable. Some medical conditions, like epilepsy, may require higher doses of CBD from the outset.

Is it possible to have an allergic reaction to CBD oil?

While it appears to be a rare side effect, it is possible, as with all substances, to have an allergic reaction to CBD oil. Please check all the ingredients in any CBD product before you buy, against any substances you are known to be allergic to.

When you first start taking CBD, take the smallest dose possible so you can gauge how your body responds. This is particularly important if you suffer from medical conditions like MCAS or are known to have multiple allergies. If in doubt please consult your GP.

Please consult your doctor.

Research has shown that CBD can be an effective treatment option for a myriad of symptoms and medical condition. The reason for this is it’s positive interaction with our native endocannabinoid system.

But although CBD is a safe options for all the family to use on a regular basis, it does come with some potential side effects. These side effects are mild compared to most prescription medication, and can be avoided or reduced by taking some simple steps.

But please be aware of these potential side effects when you choose to start your CBD journey.

Please note; I am not a medical professional. If you have any concerns, please consult your GP before commencing CBD.

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Why I’m not celebrating the introduction of medical cannabis on prescription

Well, today is the day that cannabis-based medicines theoretically become available on prescription. Although many of us had high hopes (no pun intended) that this step would finally allow thousands of patients across the UK to gain access to cannabis treatment, the reality is – the vast majority of us will not qualify.

It appears that the government’s actions have been designed just to appease us, the public, following a few high profile cases of some very sick children with epilepsy – nothing more. We have tried to remain positive and say “it’s the first step” or “at least it’s a step in the right direction” but sadly I don’t even think this is true anymore.

Let me explain my pessimism and highlight the massive flaws in the government’s approach to introducing medical cannabis.

1. Doctors are already saying that they will not prescribe medical cannabis.

As patients approach their doctors about medical cannabis, they are being met with doctors blankly refusing to even consider cannabis as a treatment option.

This is partly due to ignorance and lack of education. Doctors do not want to prescribe something they have not received any training for, and sadly, the endocannabinoid system and cannabinoid therapy are not taught in medical schools.

Also medical cannabis is not yet included in NICE guidelines, which seems to be an excuse used by many doctors.

But unfortunately, doctors personal prejudices are also at play here. The propaganda surrounding cannabis has been rife for years and doctors are just as susceptible to these lies as the rest of us. The lack of knowledge about cannabis can be addressed through education but this will take time. The doctors prejudices over cannabis is sadly something which may take years to overturn.

2. Tight restrictions on eligible medical conditions.

Initially patients suffering from chronic pain conditions were included in the list of eligible conditions. It was then announced that there would not be any restrictions on the medical conditions eligible, which was positive news. But this criteria has changed yet again.

New NHS guidance for doctors in England says it should be prescribed only when there is clear published evidence of its benefit and other treatment options have been exhausted.

The treatments can only be prescribed in cases of:

  • Children with rare, severe forms of epilepsy.
  • Adults with vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy.
  • Adults with muscle stiffness caused by multiple sclerosis.

As a chronic pain patient, I am angered by this last minute shift.

3. There must be an “exceptional clinical need” for cannabis-based medicine and all other treatment options exhausted.
Patients must have exhausted all other treatment options before receiving access to medical cannabis. Doctors will have to prove there is an “exceptional clinical need” and no other medicine would be suitable for their patient. Sadly, for most, this will mean they will not be eligible, and in the very least it will delay cannabis being prescribed for years, along with the suffering and side effects patients endure through most traditional treatment options.

4. The guidelines to clinicians basically amounts to “do not prescribe”

The guidelines to clinicians by NHS England was left until the last minute – it was only released the day before the implementation of this new legislation. The actual guidance is buried within a mountain of bureaucratic doublespeak. Aside from chemotherapy-induced nausea, the guidance amounts to “do not prescribe”. This is extremely disappointing and will contribute further to doctors unwillingness to even look at cannabis as a treatment option.

If you would like to read the guidelines please click here

The NHS have also released patient guidelines.

5. The cost will mean doctors will be dissuaded from prescribing.

Pharmaceutical companies are charging huge sums of money for their licenced cannabis-based medicines. I know it costs a lot to gain a licence and many years of trials, but the figures being quoted, for what many see as an inferior product, are ridiculous

Ultimately this will means doctors will be unwilling, and discouraged from, prescribing something that costs the NHS more money than traditional medication.

6. Very limited choice for licenced cannabis medicines.

To be eligible, cannabis products must be produced and regulated for medicinal use in humans. The development of approved and regulated medicine can cost millions and therefore is only likely to be a viable option for large pharmaceutical companies with the financial backing to carry out the extensive tests and trials needed.

This definition plays into the hands of large pharmaceutical companies who already have approved cannabis-based products including Epidiolex and Sativex, developed and produced by GW Pharmaceuticals.

Unfortunately this limits the options available for patients as large pharmaceutical companies are more focused on isolated cannabinoids and their products are also suspended in alcohol. Single cannabinoid products are seen as far inferior to “whole plant” medicines, and many people are sensitive to alcohol – why mix such a healing substance with alcohol?

I personally cannot take a medicine that is suspended in alcohol. I am intolerant to alcohol and it’s also one of my main pain triggers, and I know I am not alone. It could take years of trials before alternative cannabis-based medicines are licenced and there’s no guarantee they will be “whole plant” or alcohol-free.

7. It’s going to take years.

The reality is, that although this change in legislation has been passed very quickly, the potential benefits will take years to be felt by the vast majority of patients wishing to access legal medical cannabis.

It does allow for children with severe epilepsy to receive the treatment they desperately need (once they have jumped through MANY hoops), although the “whole plant” cannabis medicine which is successfully taken by epileptic children like Alfie Dingley, will not be available – only less effective isolated cannabinoid treatments.

It appears that the only people who will benefit from the legislation change are pharmaceutical companies and their shareholders, many of whom are politicians and their family members. Am I being cynical? I don’t think so – I’m being realistic. Faced with all the facts, this whole farce seems to be a well orchestrated charade designed to appease the general public – while chronic pain patients like myself are left no better off than before the change in legislation.

So where does this leave patients?

I don’t like writing such a pessimistic post but the reality is we have been promised so much and given very little. I am pleased that children with severe epilepsy will (hopefully) be getting a promising treatment option, but what about the thousands of other patients who would greatly benefit from cannabis treatment?

In reality, cannabis-based medicine will only be prescribed in extreme cases, which was already the case before the new legislation came into force – so nothing has changed.

As a chronic pain patient myself I feel angry and severely let down. I really wanted to try medical cannabis and I believe it’s a far better treatment option for my chronic pain than any prescription medication currently available.

Maybe it’s time for me to explore medical cannabis on my own?

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The Main Cannabinoids and their Therapeutic Properties

With the multitude of choices available on the market today, how do you choose an effective CBD product for your needs? How do you decide what CBD product is the best for you?

There are many ways to take CBD. Which method of consumption you choose is largely down to personal preference but the bioavailability (absorption rate) varies with each method. But the effectiveness of a CBD product is not just down to the way you take CBD. In fact, arguably the most important aspect when choosing a CBD product for your needs, is the cannabinoid profile. Each cannabinoid has its own individual therapeutic benefits. So buying a CBD oil based on its cannabinoid profile could mean a more effective CBD product for your individual needs.

Think of CBD oil like a multivitamin. Each cannabinoid is like a separate vitamin or mineral. When taking multivitamins you tailor the product to your needs e.g. women of menstruating age may buy a vitamin supplement with higher levels of iron. While someone looking to improve their bone health may take a product with added calcium and vitamin D.

It’s the same with cannabinoids in CBD products. To get the most out of a CBD oil, you choose the cannabinoid profile based on your health conditions and your specific needs.

Now you may be asking; what does “cannabinoid profile” mean? Or how do I find out what the cannabinoid profile of a certain CBD product is? or what cannabinoids should I be looking for? Let’s start by explaining what cannabinoids are.

What are cannabinoids?

The cannabis plant produces as many as 113 different cannabinoids. Among these cannabinoids, THC and CBD are the most prevalent and the most well understood. Each cannabinoid has its own specific therapeutic properties.

Cannabinoids are a diverse class of chemical compounds that occur naturally in the human body and also in some plants, most notably, cannabis. These cannabinoids interact with receptors within our bodies own endocannabinoid system (ECS) to trigger various physiological actions. The ECS plays a essential role within the body and cannabinoids are vital for the ECS to function effectively.

How CBD and other cannabinoids work.

Before going any further I will briefly recap on how CBD and other cannabinoids work within the body.

CBD and other cannabinoids in CBD products, interact with the body’s native endocannabinoid system (ECS) . This system, found in all mammals, is tasked with regulating a wide array of the body’s functions like mood, appetite, sleep, hormone production, and even pain and immune system responses. The endocannabinoid system is regularly adjusting these functions in an effort to keep them in balance.

A properly functioning endocannabinoid system (ECS) is crucial for our health and well-being. It serves the vital purpose of ensuring our cells maintain optimum performance. CBD helps our endocannabinoid system make adjustments to bring our bodies back into balance, or homeostasis.

For a more detailed look at how CBD works within the body and the endocannabinoid system, please click here.

Common benefits of cannabinoids
Now let’s move on to the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids.

While the specific benefits vary from one cannabinoid to the next, many common benefits are found in many types of these compounds. Some of the primary benefits of cannabinoids include:

  • Pain relief
  • Anti inflammatory
  • Antibacterial
  • Appetite stimulant
  • Sedative
  • Nerve and brain cell protection
  • Antitumor effects
  • Antispasmodic
  • Antioxidant
  • Reduce intraocular pressure
  • Antidepressant

The main cannabinoids and their therapeutic effects.

Cannabinoids and their effects are becoming increasingly well known. Although not all of the compounds in the cannabinoid plant have been identified, thanks to recent research we have been able to find out how some of them work and how they are able to benefit well-being.

The following is a list of the most prevalent cannabinoids found it cannabis, along with their therapeutic properties.

CBD (Cannabidiol)

CBD is one of the most abundant cannabinoids found in cannabis and it’s received a lot of attention over the past few years. But it wasn’t until fairly recently that it was recognised for its beneficial therapeutic properties.

Unlike it’s more famous cousin THC, CBD is non-intoxicating, so it won’t get you high. This is because, unlike THC, CBD doesn’t bind to CB1 receptors in the brain. Infact CBD has actually been shown to reduce the unwanted side effects associated with THC.

The list of known benefits of CBD is steadily increasing due to the amount of studies currently being carried out. Research has shown that it can help diseases such as epilepsy, depression, anxiety, mental illness, chronic pain and diabetes as well as many other illnesses.

Potential benefits of CBD include:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Neuron protection against injury and degeneration
  • Mood improvement
  • Pain relief
  • Antipsychotic characteristics
  • Migraine relief
  • Antibacterial properties
  • Promotes bone growth
  • Reduces seizures
  • Reduces blood sugar
  • Reduces vomiting and nausea
  • Relieves anxiety
  • Inhibits cancer cell growth

CBC (Cannabicromene)

CBC does not possess any psychoactive effects and above all it has huge an anti-inflammatory potential.

Research has shown that CBC is an effective painkiller. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties, as well as possible antidepressant effects.

CBC has been found to have potentially therapeutic effects in treating acne. It may also be useful for treating diarrhoea.

Potential benefits of CBC include:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-tumor effects
  • Antidepressant 
  • Mild anti-fungal effects
  • Antibacterial effects
  • Potentially encourages the growth of new brain cells by increasing viability as brain cells develop
  • Pain relief, although not as significant as some other cannabinoids
  • Promotes bone growth
  • Inhibits cancer cell growth

CBG (Cannabigerol)

CBG is a cannabinoid that is found in low concentrations, since it can only be found at the beginning of the plant cycle, especially in the hemp plant.

This cannabinoid has been found to have many therapeutic effects, including pain relief, antifungal and antibacterial effects, reduced inflammation, and neuroprotective effects.

Potential benefits of CBG include:

  • Relief for glaucoma patients due to reduction in intraocular pressure
  • Antibiotic effects
  • Potential therapeutic effects for psoriasis and similar skin conditions
  • Pain relief
  • Antidepressant
  • Mood regulation
  • Antioxidant effects
  • Anti-inflammatory effects
  • Aids sleep
  • Relieves anxiety
  • Muscle relaxant
  • Promotes bone growth

CBDa (Cannabidiolic acid)

CBDa is often referred to as “the raw cannabinoid that fights inflammation”. CBDa is the acidic parent of CBD found in the raw plant.

CBDa is a chemical compound found in the resin glands (trichomes) of raw cannabis plants. In this case, raw means unheated and uncured. CBDa converts to CBD when it is exposed to heat, sunlight, or time. CBDa is non-psychoactive.

Potential benefits of CBDa include:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-nausea  
  • Antioxidant
  • Painkiller
  • Anti-cancer
  • Antibacterial/antimicrobial  
  • Anti-anxiety

“Controlled” Cannabinoids.

The above cannabinoids are found in varying degrees in most high quality full spectrum CBD oils. While THC and CBN have many therapeutic properties, they remain controlled substances in the UK and in many countries around the world. Therefore, they will only appear in trace amounts in legal CBD oils. But this article would be incomplete if I did not discuss them.

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)

Although THC is known for its psychoactive effects it also has many potential therapeutic properties. Currently studies of the interaction between THC and cancer cells are being analysed and it has been found that cannabinoids have anti-tumour effects.

THC acts as a partial agonist at the CB1 and CB2 receptors. The compound is a mild analgesic, or painkiller, and cellular research has shown that it has antioxidant activity.

Potential benefits of THC include:

  • Relaxation
  • Pain relief
  • Appetite stimulant
  • Potential medicinal benefits for Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, cancer and Crohn’s disease
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Prevents nerve damage
  • Antispasmodic effects to minimize spasms or convulsions, such as those in epilepsy
  • Helps minimize vomiting and nausea, making it useful for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy
  • Antioxidant effect

CBN (Cannabinol)

CBN is a degraded form of THC. It is responsible for most of the sedative effects exhibited by the plant. In fact, one of the therapeutic benefits of CBN is its ability to induce sleep. Apart from its usefulness for treating insomnia, it has also been known to be used as an anticonvulsant.

Research has indicated that CBN may have antibacterial properties, anticonvulsant effects, and the ability to increase appetite. It can also help relieve pain, and has a sedative effect.

Potential benefits of CBN include:

  • Sedating properties 
  • Appetite stimulant
  • Effectiveness against antibiotic-resistant strains of MRSA infections
  • Pain relief
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Helps relieve spasms and convulsions
  • Support of bone cell growth
  • Antioxidant
  • Reduces intraocular pressure to benefit glaucoma patients
  • Muscle relaxant

I have covered some of the main cannabinoids along with their therapeutic effects. It’s hoped that in the next few years, thanks to the advancement of scientific studies, more health benefits of the cannabis plant will be discovered.

How do you know what cannabinoids are in each CBD product?

You now know what cannabinoids to look for to maximise the benefits you receive for you specific health situation, but how do you find a CBD product to suit your needs?

High quality CBD products made from “whole plant” will contain a range of cannabinoids (and terpenes too, but I will discuss those in a future post) but if you want to know the exact levels of different cannabinoids you will need to request a lab report.

All reputable CBD companies will be happy to provide a lab report and also answer any questions you might have about their products. Lab reports will contain a breakdown of the cannabinoid profile and some will also contain other information like the terpene profile and contaminant details.

If CBDa is the cannabinoid you are most interested in you will need to buy a “raw” CBD oil or paste. These products are normally advertised as “raw” or high in CBDa or they are sometimes referred to as CBD/CBDa oils. CBDa occurs naturally in the cannabis plant in its raw form, CBD, on the other hand does not. But when CBDa is heated or processed it is converted into CBD. This is why a raw product is needed.

Tailor the cannabinoid profile to meet your needs.

Your goal should be to tailor your cannabinoid therapy to the conditions and symptoms you want to treat. In this article I have discussed the main cannabinoids and their therapeutic properties. Armed with this knowledge you can choose a CBD product to maximise the benefits you receive.

But cannabis-based supplements are a very personal treatment, with every person requiring a different composition for even the same condition. As a result, there is often much trial and error that goes into finding your ideal cannabinoid content.

I personally need a CBD product that also contains CBG to tackle my fibromyalgia pain, anxiety, depression and insomnia. CBG has probably had a bigger positive impact on my health than CBD. But what works for me may not work for you.

Please don’t feel disheartened if you don’t notice benefits straight away. It can take time to find the right CBD product for your specific needs. Experiment with CBD products with different cannabinoid profiles. I know this may seem like hard work but the potential benefits to your health are worth the effort.

If you would like a bit of motivation before starting your CBD journey please read this post. It includes comments from regular CBD users about the positive impact CBD has had on their health.

For more personal stories, reviews, news, inspirational quotes and in-depth discussion, please head over to my Facebook page.

Is CBD legal in my country?

Disclaimer: A lot of time and care has been taken checking that the information in this article is correct, but the laws surrounding CBD are uncertain in many countries, and they change frequently. The information was correct at date of publishing, but please check with the embassy of the country you are visiting before travelling.

The question “Is CBD legal in my country?” crops up again and again. And it’s not surprising that there is often confusion surrounding the correct answer to this question.

The laws regarding the legality of CBD in countries around the world are hazy at best. In fact, most countries governing bodies are themselves unsure whether CBD is legal or not. The truth is, CBD is still a relatively new product and regulations surrounding it have not yet caught up.

So where does this leave residents in countries around the world wishing to try CBD?, or maybe more importantly, how do these rules, or lack of them, affect someone wishing to travel with their trusted CBD oil?

Although definitive laws regarding CBD are scarce, it is possible to put together a list which can act as a guide. For the purposes of this article I will be separating countries into the following categories:

  • Places where CBD is either legal or tolerated.
  • Countries where CBD is most definitely illegal.
  • And countries where it is illegal to enter with CBD, irrespective of whether CBD is legal in that country.

Where is CBD legal or tolerated.

Although the regulations surrounding CBD are vague, or at times non existence, there are a number of countries where CBD is either legal or tolerated. This means that you should be safe travelling around these places with your CBD oil. Although CBD is either legal or tolerated in the majority of EU countries, this is not the case with all of them, so please check before travelling.

The following is a list of countries where CBD is either legal or tolerated. Please note this is not a complete list and is only meant as a guide.

Countries where CBD is either legal or tolerated.

UK, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain (please see edit at the bottom of the article), Sweden, Switzerland.

Mostly tolerated but not advised.

Although CBD has historically been tolerated in the following countries, due to recent incidents linked to CBD products, it is not advised to travel to these countries carrying CBD: Italy, Belgium, Norway.

Where is CBD illegal?

We can also say for certain that there are countries where cannabis-based products, including CBD, are most definitely illegal. For example, in most Muslim majority countries, where Islam is the dominant religion, cannabis-derived products are illegal and the penalties surrounding cannabis related offences can be severe.

It is therefore vital that you educate yourself as best you can before travelling. Here are a few places where CBD is illegal. Again, this is not a not a complete list and is only meant as a guide.

Countries where CBD is illegal.

Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Bahamas, Bahrain, China, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Lithuania, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey.

Countries where it’s Illegal to import CBD.

There are other places, like Australia and New Zealand, where the import laws are so strict, CBD would not be allowed to enter the country.

And then there’s the USA, probably the most confusing place for CBD legality. CBD is consumed in high numbers across the States so you would be forgiven for thinking CBD is legal there across the board.

But although many states have passed laws to legalise CBD and many others “tolerate” its use, CBD remains illegal at federal level. Therefore it is illegal to enter the country carrying CBD products, irrespective of the level of THC contained within them.

If you are travelling to the US, check the legal status and availability of CBD in the state you are visiting. There are still a few states where CBD products are illegal, these states are Alabama (illegal unless you have a valid prescription) Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska and South Dakota. But this situation is changing daily so please check before you travel.

There are plenty of choices for buying CBD in most states. So do your research and consider buying CBD once you are out there.

Countries where CBD is Illegal unless you hold a valid prescription.

There are also a few places where CBD is legal on prescription, but it still remains a controlled substance. This would make it illegal to travel to that country carrying your CBD oil. This is not the same as “legal” and unless you have a valid prescription from within the relevant country, then you are breaking the law. In the following countries CBD is only legal on prescription:

Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Malta, New Zealand.

Tips for travelling with CBD.

Even if it’s legal to take CBD into the country you are visiting, there is still a chance you will be stopped passing through customs. The source of the CBD product you take with you is important. Legal CBD products comply with laws regarding the levels of controlled substances like THC. You must check this with your supplier before travelling.

If you have checked that it is legal to take CBD into the country you are travelling to, then you are doing nothing wrong. But to protect yourself please take the following steps :

  • Only buy from a reputable supplier. THC is still controlled or illegal in most countries so its important the CBD products you travel with only contain legal amounts of THC. If you don’t know your source or don’t trust the information given to you about the product, please don’t risk travelling with it.
  • Transport all CBD products in their original packaging.
  • Print off a copy of the lab report for any CBD products you are travelling with and keep it with your CBD.
  • To be 100% safe, please contact the embassies, the airlines, and/or customs both ends of your trip to find out if the CBD product you wish to travel with will be legal to take in and out of the country.
  • Don’t forget to check all the countries you are visiting on your trip, including any stopovers or connections for long haul flights.
  • Or alternatively, rather than travel with your CBD oil, you could arrange for an order to be delivered to you at the place you are staying while on holiday. You may want to alert the establishment that you are expecting a delivery so they can hold it for you.
  • Please note, CBD and other hemp-based products are not allowed on most international cruises. This is not just due to the number of countries visited and territories that are passed through, but also because of international maritime laws.

The research I have carried out for this article highlights a desperate need for definitive laws and guidelines with regards to the legal status of CBD.

Ultimately, the topic of CBD legality is a complex, ever-changing landscape riddled by false assumptions, outdated rules, and unequal enforcement of the law. The legal status of CBD is complex and constantly changing as more countries accept its safety and efficacy.

For the best possible answer, check with your local government food or drug-regulating agency, or the embassy of the country you are visiting.

For more personal stories, reviews, news, inspirational quotes and in-depth discussion, please head over to my Facebook page.

EDIT: The situation with regards to the legal sale of CBD products in Spain appears to be under scrutiny at the moment. It seems the Spanish government may be reclassifying all CBD “food” products as “Novel Foods” rather than just CBD isolate based ones, and they have sent letters to many CBD distributors within the country. Although there has not yet been an official statement from the Spanish government. This situation is uncertain at the moment and just goes to show the rapidly changing face of CBD legality around the world.

How CBD Works: The Endocannabinoid System Explained

I’ve spoken in depth about my experiences with CBD oil and the positive impact it’s had on my health. But I wanted to start a new educational series about CBD, discussing how to works within the body and why it appears to be effective for so many conditions. I will also try to cover some of the most frequently asked questions about CBD like; is CBD safe?, is CBD legal in my country? and are there any side effects?

If you would like to read about my experiences with CBD please read My CBD Journey.

I would like to begin with introducing CBD and how it works within the body.

What is CBD?

I will start by covering the basics for those of you that are completely new to CBD.

CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, one of the many cannabinoids, or chemical compounds, found in cannabis and hemp. While beneficial for our health, CBD doesn’t have the psychoactive properties of it’s more famous cousin THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). Even at high doses CBD will not get you high and it’s safe for all the family to use on a regular basis.

Unlike many of the 100+ cannabinoids that we are currently aware of, cannabidiol naturally occurs in significant quantities in cannabis, so it is easily extracted from the plant in the form of CBD oil.

What are Cannabinoids?

While reading about CBD you may have come across the terms; cannabinoids, endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids. I think it’s important to explain these terms before going any further.

Cannabinoids are a diverse class of chemical compounds that occur naturally in the human body and also in some plants, most notably, cannabis. These cannabinoids interact with receptors within our bodies own endocannabinoid system (ECS) to trigger various physiological actions. The ECS plays a essential role within the body and cannabinoids are vital for the ECS to function effectively.

When cannabinoids are produced within the body they are commonly called endocannabinoids, ‘Endo’ meaning ‘internal’ or ‘within’.

When cannabinoids are produced by plants they are often called phytocannabinoids, ‘Phyto’ meaning ‘of a plant’.

The Endocannabinoid System.

In the previous section I briefly touched on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). But I will now take a few moments to explain what it is and why a well functioning ECS is so important for our health.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a wide-ranging natural network of cannabinoid receptors that affect virtually all functions throughout the body. The ECS was only discovered in the early 1990’s and it’s still rarely discussed, even in medical schools.

It has been described as ‘The supercomputer that regulates homeostasis in all mammals.’

There are two major cannabinoid receptors within the ECS: CB1 and CB2. These aren’t the only cannabinoid receptors, but they were the first ones discovered and remain the best-studied. CB1 receptors are one of the most abundant receptor types in the brain. CB2 receptors are more abundant outside of the nervous system, in places like the immune system. However, both receptors can be found throughout the body.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is found in all mammals, is tasked with regulating a wide array of the body’s functions like mood, appetite, sleep, hormone production, and even pain, stress and immune system responses. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is regularly adjusting these functions in an effort to keep them in balance or homeostasis.

Homeostasis is the concept that most biological systems are actively regulated to maintain conditions within a narrow range. Our body doesn’t want its temperature to be too hot or too cold, blood sugar levels too high or too low, and so on. Conditions need to be just right for our cells to maintain optimum performance, and intricate mechanisms have evolved to draw them back to the “Goldilocks zone” if they move out. The body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a vital molecular system for helping maintain homeostasis – it helps cells stay in their Goldilocks zone.

When an imbalance is detected, the body naturally produces endocannabinoids to interact with the cannabinoid receptors within the ECS, which in turn stimulate a chemical response that works to return the process that is out of balance back to homeostasis.

Unfortunately, numerous factors such as pollution, poor diet, stress and lack of exercise can lead to our bodies being unable to produce endocannabinoids and the ECS becomes deficient.

As you can see the endocannabinoid system controls many vital functions within the body and this enforces the importance of a “healthy” ECS. If any of these functions are disturbed then our health deteriorates. The sheer number of functions regulated by the ECS may also go some way to explain why CBD appears to be effective for so many health conditions.

The endocannabinoid system is a fascinating subject which you could write a whole book about. I have deliberately kept my description short and accessible, but if you would like to delve more deeply into this topic I would recommend the organisation and website Project CBD.

What is Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED) ?

Interestingly, researchers believe that some illnesses may actually be caused by an underlying endocannabinoid deficiency.

Renowned cannabinoid researcher Dr. Ethan Russo first proposed the theory of clinical endocannabinoid deficiency in 2004. In a study, published in Neuro Endocrinology Letters, Russo suggested that deficient cannabinoid levels might explain why some conditions develop.

The theory of clinical endocannabinoid deficiency suggests that in some cases the body doesn’t produce enough endocannabinoids or enough receptors for the endocannabinoid system to function properly. As a result, the many functions aren’t regulated properly and the body becomes unbalanced, allowing diseases to develop.

In particular, Russo argues that the theory could explain fibromyalgia, migraines, and irritable bowel syndrome. These illnesses are linked in that they all produce pain sensitivity as a symptom, and are also “comorbid” or tend to occur in the same people.

This theory is of particular interest to me as I suffer from all three of these conditions. It may also explain why I find CBD so beneficial.

While more research needs to be done before endocannabinoid deficiency can be proven, the theory could open the door for methods to prevent and manage certain conditions. Dr. Ethan Russo believes cannabinoids from cannabis plants like hemp are essential nutrients that can minimise illness by assisting the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and ensuring that it functions properly.

How can consuming CBD help?

Cannabinoids found in plants like cannabis and hemp, including cannabidiol (CBD), are similar to the endocannabinoids naturally produced by the body. Research shows that they interact with the cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system the same way our bodies own natural endocannabinoids do.

Researchers have found evidence that supplementing with phytocannabinoids, such as CBD, could help the endocannabinoid system to function properly and lead to improved health. CBD may also prevent certain diseases from developing.

So, CBD and other cannabinoids found in cannabis can play an important role in maintaining our health. CBD oil can be seen in a similar way to other popular supplements like multivitamins. By adding CBD to your diet you can boost your body’s natural defenses and possibly prevent illness.

There is still so much to learn about the benefits of cannabinoids like CBD, and the role the endocannabinoid system plays within the body. Unfortunately research within this arena is still sorely lacking. But with the surge in popularity of cannabis-derived supplements, and the potential for growth and treatment options, it’s hoped that investments will be made into discovering more about this natural healing substance.

For more personal stories, reviews, news, inspirational quotes and in-depth discussion, please head over to my Facebook page.

How will the introduction of medical cannabis impact on the UK CBD industry?

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months you will have noticed a lot of talk about medical cannabis in the news. Earlier this year, seemingly from out of nowhere, the UK government dramatically shifted it’s thinking towards the potential medical benefits of cannabis.

Currently steps are being taken to make cannabis available on prescription to eligible patients. We are all eagerly watching these developments as they unfold, and in the past few days the government announced what, in their eyes, defines cannabis-based products for medicinal use.

But many people are concerned about how this will affect the thriving UK CBD market. Will CBD oil still be available to buy from your favourite company, even after medical cannabis becomes available on prescription? How does the government’s definition of a cannabis-derived medicinal product affect you? What products will this cover and what restrictions does this definition place on the cannabis treatment options available? Could CBD oil be classed under this definition?

Summary of recent events.

Before I try to answer these questions let’s first run through a summary of the recent changes in the UK with regards to medical cannabis, where we stand at present, and what the future is likely to hold.

  • Earlier this year, following a couple of high profile cases, the government ordered a review on medical cannabis.
  • An initial review by Dame Sally Davies, chief medical adviser, concluded there is evidence medicinal cannabis has therapeutic benefits.
  • This was further backed by the recommendations put forward by Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to the Home Office about the scheduling of cannabis-derived medicinal products.
  • The ACMD said “doctors should be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis provided products meet safety standards.”
  • Following the recommendations of these reviews a temporary panel was set up to assess applications for licences on a case by case basis.
  • The home secretary, Sajid Javid, added: “Following advice from two sets of independent advisors, I have taken the decision to reschedule cannabis-derived medicinal products – meaning they will be available on prescription.”
  • And most recently the Government announced the definition for cannabis-based products for medicinal use. It’s a broad definition but the wording is important. It states:

There are 3 broad requirements for products before they can be prescribed:

  • the product is or contains cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabinol or cannabinol derivatives
  • the product must be produced for medicinal use in humans
  • it must be a product that is regulated as a medicinal product or an ingredient of a medicinal product

What does this definition mean for patients eager to access legal medical cannabis?

Although this seems a broad definition, the second and third points are important and are likely to place the biggest restriction on the available treatment choices:

  • the product must be produced for medicinal use in humans
  • it must be a product that is regulated as a medicinal product or an ingredient of a medicinal product

This will restrict treatment options but it’s not unexpected. It’s in-line with the current guidelines in place for all prescription drugs and any product that is sold as a medicine. Safety of patients has to come first.

The development of approved and regulated medicines costs millions and therefore only likely to be a viable option for large pharmaceutical companies with the financial backing to carry out the extensive tests and trials needed. This is likely to anger many in the cannabis community.

Large companies who already have approved cannabis-based products including Epidiolex and Sativex, developed and produced by GW Pharmaceuticals, will likely benefit the most.

Unfortunately this also limits the options available for patients, as large pharmaceuticals are more focused on single cannabinoid products. So it doesn’t seem to leave room for the development of new “whole plant” medicines.

Although for many the statement “ingredient of a medicinal product” may be open to interpretation. For example, Sativex, an already approved cannabis-based medicine, contains THC. Therefore it could be argued that, as THC is an ingredient of an already approved medicine, all products that contain THC are eligible under this definition.

Medical Cannabis vs CBD oil.

Firstly, I would like to discuss the difference between medical cannabis and CBD products, like CBD oil. Although there is currently one licenced cannabis-derived medicine in the UK that is CBD only, the majority are THC based. THC is the compound most associated with the treatment of conditions like cancer and some forms of epilepsy. While CBD oil has many beneficial properties it only contains trace amounts of THC.

Unfortunately, there are a few unscrupulous sellers who attempt to misguide consumers into thinking that the CBD oil they purchase from them has the same properties as a full spectrum cannabis oil (including THC). This is not the case. Please do not buy from companies making these claims. Also, if a CBD company is making ANY medical claims they are breaking the law, and I would seriously question their reputation.

Having said that, even after the introduction of medical cannabis under prescription it looks like legal medical cannabis will only be an option for the few, not the majority. Many will simply not qualify under the strict guidelines and limitations which are likely to be placed on the application process. This of course may change.

But for many, medical cannabis also isn’t a favourable option. Concerns over the potential side effects of THC act as a big deterrent to pursuing this treatment option for many. It also needs to be noted that the limited options available for licenced cannabis medicines do not give patients the wide variety of choices available in the thriving UK CBD market.

The stance in the development of cannabis-derived medicines seems to be geared towards isolated single cannabinoid products rather than full spectrum. As many are aware, full spectrum cannabis products, with an array of cannabinoids and terpenes, are seen to be more beneficial than single isolated compounds alone.

However, the potential therapeutic benefits of THC cannot be ignored and may be the best treatment option for a number of patients with a variety of ailments.

How will this affect the current CBD market in the UK?

Many believe there will always be a need for low THC, CBD products. The majority of CBD users are drawn to this natural therapeutic substance due to its safety and minimal side effects. The “high” associated with THC is also a deterrent for many.

But the question whether the introduction of legal medical cannabis will have an affect on the availability of CBD products in the UK still needs to be answered. As CBD oil is derived from cannabis and contains many compounds from the cannabis plant, will it too be subject to the same restrictions?

As the government has stated a cannabis-based medicine must be “regulated as a medicinal product” and “produced for medicinal use in humans”, it appears theCBD industry will be largely unaffected by this change. CBD products are sold and regulated as a food supplement, not a medicine, but could this change?

How does the Cannabis Trade Association (CTA) view the recent changes?

Obviously we can’t predict the future so we cannot say for certain how the UK CBD industry will be affected by the changes surrounding medical cannabis, but we asked Mike Harlington, chair of the CTA, for his thoughts on this matter. Mike sees the recent changes as a positive step, stating:

“The impact of the food supplement industry will be positive, we operate under an entirely different set of rules and regulations and as such totally different from drugs policy.

CBD is coming more and more to people’s general radar for healthy and wellbeing. It’s also possible we will see a slight change in policy to allow slightly different selling conditions.

It does look increasingly likely that CPD (Cannabis Product Directive) will happen in short term creating a fully regulated environment in a public private partnership to ensure quality and safety across the entire sector.”

We eagerly await the next step.

So, it appears likely that the CBD industry in the UK will largely be unaffected by the introduction of medical cannabis on prescription. I believe this is good news for consumers as it means more choice.

There is still little known about eligibility and possible restrictions placed on the application process for accessing a prescription for medicinal cannabis, but we all eagerly await the next step in the journey.

Do you currently take CBD oil to treat an illness? If medical cannabis becomes an option for you, would you try it, or stick with CBD? Do the potential side effects of THC deter you from trying medical cannabis?

For more personal stories, reviews, news, inspirational quotes and in-depth discussion, please head over to my Facebook page.

Could medical cannabis be a treatment option for chronic pain patients living in the UK?

I have suffered with chronic pain all my adult life. I am a fibromyalgia patient who has exhausted all conventional routes for treating my condition. I have been prescribed a multitude of different pain medications over the years, and they have all either been ineffective for my pain, or the side effects have been too severe for my body to tolerate. I currently take CBD (Cannabidiol) oil, which has been somewhat effective for treating my pain, but I still suffer severe pain when my symptoms ‘flare’. I have extensively researched cannabis as a source of pain relief and I see it as a viable option. If CBD is partially effective, it makes practical sense that a full spectrum cannabis product including THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), would be an even more effective solution. But is medical cannabis even a legal option for me at the moment, as a chronic pain patient living in the UK?

How effective is cannabis for chronic pain conditions?

In a comprehensive, Harvard-led systematic review of 28 studies examining the efficacy of exo-cannabinoids (e.g. synthetic formulations or cannabinoids from the plant) to treat various pain and medical issues, the author concluded, “Use of marijuana for chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis is supported by high quality evidence.”

Of the studies reviewed, six out of six general chronic pain studies and five out of five neuropathic pain studies found a significant improvement in symptoms among patients.

The truth is, there is still a lot of research that needs to be done to determine the effectiveness of cannabis based medication for treating chronic pain, and the results from clinical trials are very limited. But cannabis is fast becoming a promising solution for the treatment of chronic pain, offering sufferers pain relief without the side effects associated with opioid use.

Recent developments in the UK.

If you have be keeping up-to-date with the recent news with regards to medical cannabis laws in the UK, you will know that the government has recently shifted it’s thinking towards the potential medical benefits of cannabis. The government’s stance was always that cannabis had no medicinal properties and this was the reasoning behind it’s schedule 1 classification.

Following a couple of high profile cases the government ordered a review on medical cannabis and set up a temporary panel to assess applications for licences on a case-by-case basis. The government also ordered a review into current evidence of the medicinal benefits of cannabis based products and the appropriateness of their place within Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.

The Cannabis Scheduling Review carried out by Dame Sally Davies (CMO) stated:

“Schedule 1 drugs by definition have little or no therapeutic potential. As summarised in this review, there is now conclusive evidence of medicinal benefit of cannabis based products for certain medical conditions, and reasonable evidence of benefit for indications that they may be useful under restricted circumstances.

My recommendation is that cannabis based medicinal products are moved out of Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001. It may be pragmatic for them all to be moved to Schedule 2 pending a fuller review by ACMD that can differentiate different products into the appropriate different Schedules.”

This was further backed by the recent recommendations put forward by Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to the Home Office about the scheduling of cannabis-derived medicinal products.

“The ACMD agrees with the Chief Medical Officer for England (CMO) that there is now evidence of medicinal benefit for some Cannabis-derived products in certain medical conditions for some patients.

The ACMD advises that clinicians in the UK should have the option to prescribe Cannabis-derived medicinal products that meet the requirements for medicinal standards to patients with certain medical conditions. It is therefore appropriate for these medications to not be subjected to the requirements of Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, as amended (MDR)”

Therefore, we can conclude that cannabis is likely to be rescheduled to Schedule 2 from Schedule 1, allowing it to be prescribed where a GP or other health professional deems it applicable, however, the fact remains that there are still few studies into medicinal access and most medical professionals are still not educated enough to prescribe it.

So what does this mean for chronic pain patients who think they may benefit from cannabis based medication? In the future GPs may be in the position to prescribe cannabis but as things stand at the moment, the only option would be to submit an application through the temporary panel that has been set up. What is the likelihood that an application for a medical cannabis licence would be successful for these conditions?

To answer these questions we must first establish the criteria behind the application process, and the potential barriers that have been put in place for patients wanting to access medical cannabis.

Application process and requirements for eligibility.

Who is eligible to apply?

Anyone who feels that they will benefit from taking medical cannabis, has backing from their clinician and has exhausted all conventional medication, in principle, can apply for a medical cannabis licence; no medical conditions have been excluded from this process. But in reality, the conditions of eligibility place significant barriers that make the application process very daunting, and unrealistic for most patients.

The following conditions apply to all licence applications to the panel:

1. You cannot apply yourself.

Patients cannot apply themselves, their clinician must do this. This means that, not only must your clinician have knowledge about cannabis based medication, but they must also be willing to take the time, and risk, to back your application. This is a huge barrier considering the majority of UK doctors are ignorant with regards to cannabis-based medication, not through fault of their own – cannabis science and the endocannabinoid system are not taught in medical schools. You could carry out your own research and try to educate your doctor, but it is unlikely that any doctor would be willing to take on the responsibility of prescribing a substance they have not been trained to prescribe. The lack of evidence about the effectiveness and safety of cannabis based medication is also a barrier.

Sir Mike Penning (MP) stated that “the implication that any prescribing clinician will be taking on personal liabilities” would deter many doctors from agreeing.

2. Doctors will have to prove there is an “exceptional clinical need”.

Patients must have exhausted all other treatment options before receiving access to medical cannabis, which could delay receiving the medication that works for many months. Doctors will have to prove there is an “exceptional clinical need” and no other medicine would be suitable for their patient. If given approval, doctors will then be able to write a prescription.

3. Evidence must be provided.
There is also a requirement that if the medicine has not been tried (by travelling abroad) then it must have been through a clinical trial – which being illegal, most cannabis medicines have not been subjected to clinical trials.

Realistically, travelling abroad, is not possible for the majority of patients, therefore it is hoped evidence from clinical trials and experience from other patients with similar conditions will be sufficient. This highlights another barrier as there are very few, if any, double blind trial results to use as evidence.

4. Cost

The current cost is £3,665 per licence application. It isn’t 100% clear who would be liable to cover this cost but in England it’s likely to be your local CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group), and there is no guarantee that this fee will be authorised. This cost is likely to prohibit many patients from gaining access to medicinal cannabis, although this cost is under review.

What advice is available if you decide to apply?

If you do decide to put in an application, the advice given by Hannah Deacon, who has already gone through the process to access medical cannabis for her son Alfie Dingley is; Educate yourself. Research what options are available. Full spectrum cannabis products are very different to CBD products which are currently legally available in the UK. Don’t assume your doctor will know anything about cannabis – be prepared to educate them. Collect as much evidence as you can and contact the organisation ‘End our pain’, they are in the process of compiling a guide into the application process.

What is the likelihood an application would be successful?

The truth is; no one knows. This process is new to everyone involved so the outcome cannot be predicted. If you can meet the criteria stated, and you have the backing of your clinician, then it’s possible; no medical conditions have been excluded from this process. However, there are a lot of barriers that have been put in place which will prohibit the majority of patients from gaining access to medicinal cannabis. The biggest barrier being; the fact that there are still few studies into medicinal cannabis and the medical professionals are still not educated enough to prescribe it.

The licences granted so far have been for patients with epilepsy. Sativex (nabiximols) has been available to a limited number of MS patients for a while now, but to date no licences have been granted for chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia. But this doesn’t mean it’s not possible, and it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

The current application process is a temporary one and permanent definitive process will eventually be implemented. But no one knows whether ‘temporary’ means weeks, months or even a year.  Is it worth waiting until a permanent definitive process has been implemented? Is it worth waiting for the cost to be reviewed? Possibly, but we don’t yet know what medical conditions will be eligible once this permanent process has been implemented; will there be a strict limited set of conditions eligible or will anyone who’s doctor thinks they will benefit from medical cannabis be allowed to apply?

Personally, I’m going to have to wait and see what the next step is. I don’t have the backing of either my GP or Rheumatologist. Hopefully, once a permanent application process has been implemented, my options will look more promising. Until then, I will continue to treat my pain with CBD oil and and follow developments closely.

For more personal stories, reviews, news, inspirational quotes and in-depth discussion, please head over to my Facebook page.

Product Review – Molytor Hemp Protein Powder

I have been taking CBD oil for nearly 2 years now and I find it very beneficial for my health. Recently I also added a new product to my daily routine – Full Spectrum Hemp protein powder with CBD and CBDa from #Molytor. I was drawn to the protein powder because it combines the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids like CBD and CBDa, and the restoring properties of protein and essential nutrients found in hemp seeds.

When I crash (I have ME/CFS) I struggle to digest solid foods, even the act of chewing is exhausting. I also have a very restricted diet due to many food intolerances. My GP prescribed energy drinks (Ensure) but these are packed full of sugar which, apart from being very unhealthy, are also a trigger for my fibromyalgia pain and IBS. In the past I have struggled to find a healthy drink so I’m really pleased to have this hemp protein powder as an option.

I’m really impressed with this new product from Molytor. It’s easy to incorporate into my diet and I know I am getting a multitude of nutrients along with protein and the benefits of CBD and CBDa. It’s gluten free and contains no added sugar so it doesn’t upset my IBS or trigger my pain.

To get the extra calories I need for my daily intake I just add the hemp protein to smoothies or sprinkle it over food. I also add it to my porridge in the morning – one of the only foods I can digest when I crash. But the powder is so fine it can be added to any food or drink.

Those of you that struggle with the taste of CBD oils may find this product a good option. It has a pleasant nutty taste (slightly grassy) It’s perfect for those who don’t like CBD drops or vapes and it’s much healthier than other CBD edibles like gummies. It contains 3.3mg CBD and 1.3mg CBDA in each teaspoon.

I have already noticed I’m not so ‘stiff’ and my joints are less painful – I think that’s the Omega 3 & 6 working. Another bonus is my skin is less dry and irritated (I have eczema and very sensitive skin) It’s still early days but I’m already impressed with the results so far. It also means I need less CBD oil each day as I’m getting a good chunk of my daily CBD dose through this hemp protein powder.

If you want to find out more about this product please click here: http://www.molytor.co.uk/product-category/hemp-protein-powder/

Why choose hemp protein powder?

Hemp protein powder is made from hemp seeds. Hemp seed is considered by many to be the safest, most digestible, balanced, natural and complete source of protein, amino acids, and essential fats found anywhere in nature, containing all of the 20 amino acids, but also each of the nine essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce.

Hemp seeds also have anti-inflammatory properties  – Hemp seed contains chlorophyll which gives protein powder its green colour.  Chlorophyll is the green pigment found in plants that provides your body with alkaline protection against inflammation. Hemp protein is also rich in potassium, which can help balance your electrolytes and aid in water balance. CBD and CBDA also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Further reading: https://draxe.com/7-hemp-seed-benefits-nutrition-profile/

Why take CBD and CBDa?

Cannabinoids like CBD and CBDa have many potential therapeutic properties. They work with the body’s native endocannabinoid system which regulates a wide array of the body’s functions like mood, appetite, sleep, hormone production, and even pain and immune system responses. The endocannabinoid system is regularly adjusting these functions in an effort to keep them in balance, Cannabinoids like CBD help to maintain this balance – homeostasis.

I have discussed CBD and CBDa many times on my blog so I won’t repeat myself by going into a lot of detail. If you want to find out more please head over to the CBD section on my website, there are lots of interesting articles. https://www.ajourneythroughthefog.co.uk/category/cbd/

Please note: I am not affiliated with this company, I just really like the product and I wanted to share it with you.

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8 Spoonie tips for getting the calories and nutrients we need on our ‘bad’ days.

Food and Nutrition Series – Part 1

I was asked by one of my followers to write a post about food and nutrition. As it’s a very broad subject I have broken it down into a few articles which I will post over the next few weeks. I wanted to start with a problem I know many people with chronic illnesses face – and that is getting enough calories and nutrients when we are too weak to cook or, some days, too weak to even eat solid foods.

8 Spoonie tips for getting the calories and nutrients we need on our ‘bad’ days.

When our energy levels are low we can find it hard, or sometimes impossible, to prepare or cook food. But it is at these times that we need nutritious, healthy, high calorie foods to help our bodies repair and to give us the energy to get through the day. I personally cannot stand long enough to cook, even on good days, but when I crash I struggle even to digest solid foods – the act of chewing is exhausting. My GP prescribed me ‘Ensure’ drinks but these are packed full of sugar which is a major trigger for my fibromyalgia pain and IBS.

There are steps we can take to prepare for these bad days so we can conserve our limited energy for other tasks.

1. Snacks

Firstly, make sure you have a good selection of snacks handy which you can grab on the days you are not well enough to prepare or cook food. I always have snacks by my bed for those really challenging days. Bananas are a great option – they are an excellent source of potassium and vitamin B6, fibre and carbohydrate, and supply some vitamin C. I eat rice cakes a lot, just add a topping of your choice. Cereal/protein bars are another easy way to consume calories but I haven’t yet found one that isn’t packed full of sugar. If you feel well enough on your good days you could make your own – they are simple to make and freeze well.

Simple granola bar recipe:


2. Healthy Protein Powder.

My next tip is to find a healthy protein powder. I need a gluten, dairy and sugar free option, and up until now I have struggled to find anything that meets my needs. Molytor (the company I buy my CBD oils from) have recently launched a hemp based protein powder that is not only packed full of nutrients but it also contains CBD and CBDa, I love this product. I have written about it in a separate post please click here to read it:


Protein powders can be added to smoothies, soups, sprinkled on any food and even added to drinks like hot chocolate. It’s an easy way to add extra ‘healthy’ calories, protein and nutrients. I add it to my porridge – one of the only foods I can digest when I crash.

3. Smoothies

Smoothies are a great option. They are easy to make and easy to digest. This is my favourite smoothie recipe:


You can substitute the almond milk for hemp, coconut or rice milk and you don’t have to freeze the banana if you don’t want to.

Bananas and oats are very soothing on the body – they are gentle on my belly (my IBS always flares when I crash) and they help me relax. You can get someone else to prepare this in advance, it stores well in the fridge. I personally soak the oats in the milk for a couple of hours to soften them.

You could try adding energy boosting foods like chia seeds, bananas, quinoa, oats and almonds but avoid sugar if possible. Or try adding vitamin C rich fruits to boost your immune system.

Here is a link to more smoothie ideas.


4. Batch cook food in advance and store in the freezer for emergencies.

On the days when you feel able, try batch cooking food for the week. Don’t be afraid to buy prepared vegetables and packet mixes – they save a lot of time and energy. Slow cookers are a great option for this – just throw everything in and turn it on. Ask your partner, friend or family member to help you prepare food for the week.

I eat pureed cooked chicken and carrots (we call it chickot) This is easy to digest and soothing, so unlikely to trigger my IBS symptoms. I have a few pots in the freezer at all times. It can be eaten as it is or added to rice, pasta, potatoes etc.

5. Soak food in water to soften.

Chewing can be exhausting when you have a chronic illness like ME/CFS. If you don’t have any pureed or soft foods to hand, why not try soaking the foods you have in water first – I do this with rice cakes. It might sound odd but it works – it softens the rice cakes and makes them easy to digest. I add my chickot (chicken and carrot paste) to the soaked rice cakes.

6. Porridge.

Porridge is my ‘go to’ food when I’m exhausted – it’s soothing, easy to digest and gives me a long lasting energy boost. I add sliced bananas and hemp protein or ground linseed to add protein, fats and other nutrients. You can buy instant porridge that’s quick and easy to make. If you are sensitive to gluten, you can buy gluten free versions.

7. Hydration

When I crash I often struggle to stay hydrated. I’m comatosed for long periods of time, too weak to move. But it’s vital we stay hydrated. I have a glass of water beside my bed at all times. If you struggle to sit up, a plastic bottle with a straw is a good option. Even on good days, I struggle to turn on our taps, so carers fill plastic cups with fresh cold water and place them on a table near my bed, at easy reach.

8. Supplements

You may want to consider taking vitamin and mineral supplements on your bad days. I take an iron rich supplement drink called Floradix, it also contains a selection of vitamins and other minerals. It is worth noting that with the aid of a balanced diet and if you have good health, then there should be no need to take supplements, but sometimes we need the extra boost.

Do you struggle preparing and eating food on your ‘bad days’? Do you have any tips you would like to add?

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