Unless you have been sleeping under a rock this past year, I am sure you have heard of CBD oil – the oil made from the cannabis plant that is being hailed for its many benefits to human health and wellbeing.
Hemp is part of the cannabis family, and has been grown across the world for centuries. Today, the plant fibres are used for many different purposes, such as textiles, paper, plastics and insulation.The plant itself is hailed a bit of wonder plant – it grows extremely quickly, it has hundreds of beneficial uses and is brilliant for the environment, reducing C02 in the air much more effectively than trees.
What is CBD oil?
The hemp plant can also be used for food-related products – such as CBD oil. CBD is an acronym for Cannabidiol, and is one of over 100 different cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that naturally occur in the flower and leaves of the plant. They are also referred to as ‘phytocannabinoids’ due to their existence in plants as opposed to cannabinoids found naturally in the body named ‘endocannabinoids’.
The main impact of CBD in the body is down to its interaction with the body’s Endocannabinoid System – a biological system composed of a network of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 & CB2) and naturally occurring cannabinoids referred to as ‘endocannabinoids’. The ECS is found throughout the body and brain and is actually fundamental to human wellbeing, as it regulates other biological systems and maintains homeostasis – balance – in the brain and body.
If our bodies are ‘off balance’ or knocked off its ‘equilibrium state’ it won’t respond effectively to internal and external challenges, as our Endocannabinoid System is responsible for supporting physical, mental and emotional functions such as digestion, pain, memory, mood, sleep, metabolism, immunity and inflammation responses.
This then, is the science bit behind why CBD oils have proved to have health benefits for so many.
What to look for
Like with most other things, not all CBD oils or products are created equal. If you are eager to test out CBD oils for your own health and wellbeing, I suggest you look for ones that are full-spectrum, as this is the most natural extract available.
Full-spectrum means that the oil contains all the phytocannabinoids, terpenes (aromatic flavours) and flavonoids (nutrients) naturally found in the plant. Scientifically, studies and pre-clinical research have shown that retaining all active compounds through a full spectrum extract enhances the overall effectiveness of CBD, a phenomenon known in science as the “entourage effect”. This means that the compounds work synergistically as nature intended to deliver wide-ranging benefits.
Is it safe?
Simply put – yes. Very safe.
In fact, the World Health Organisation has confirmed that CBD is non-addictive and is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile. However, note that CBD is not recommended if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Always follow recommended daily dosages and please consult your doctor or other medical professional if you are unsure about taking any CBD products.
My experience with CBD
Writing about health and wellness for a living, I had been wanting to road test CBD oil for some time when someone alerted me to Irish company Ethos, and their new range of CBD oils.
I immediately loved how their hemp is organically grown right here in Wicklow, Ireland, meaning their products are entirely pesticide-free, herbicide-free and cruelty-free. As well as that, I love how they make it easy for consumers by having different products, each aimed at different needs. The Natural CBD oil, which is great for an overall wellbeing effect, contains nothing but CBD and some MCT Coconut – maximise absorption.
The Sleep CBD oil is formulated to contribute to quality natural sleep, and has some added Chamomile extract, traditionally used to help unwind and relax before bed.
Finally, the Balance CBD oil is blended with the adaptogenic herb Ashwagandha, which has been used for centuries to support the body’s resistance to stresses and contributes to emotional balance. There is also a little bit of peppermint essential oil added – to provide a refreshing and energising flavour.
I have been using the Sleep and Balance CBD oils for over a month now, and it has honestly made such a huge difference to my daily routine and my wellbeing.
Note that I would describe myself as a pretty healthy and health-obsessed person to begin with. I eat plant-based, I do yoga every day, sometimes I run, I swim in the sea – and I have never been prone to either sleeplessness or burst of anxiety – not until this past year-and-a-half.
Suddenly, with all our lives turned upside-down, routines gone out the window, holidays taken away, being cut off from family (mine are all in a different country), feeling like we were spending all day every day inside the same four walls – I started noticing how small things would make me worry and fret. How I would struggle to fall alseep at night, instead worrying about the craziest small details or things.
Every morning, I would feel tired and groggy, like I hadn’t slept enough, and always feel like I just couldn’t shake this feeling of unease, or worry or feeling like I was procrastinating and getting nothing done.
I think so many of us have been in this boat this past year – it has been intense in so many ways, and I wanted to see if adding CBD oils to my daily self-care routine could change some of this for me.
And it did. It really, really did.
I started with the Sleep oil, taking one full dropper every evening around seven or eight, and somehow it just, after a few days, seemed to make my evenings calmer. After a while of taking it I would start feeling really relaxed and like I was ready for sleep and got into a really good routine of going to bed around 10.30 every night – which normally is early for me, as I am a bit of a night owl.
I slept better too, deeper, and feel like I had gotten more proper rest when I woke up in the morning. Maybe there is a double benefit to this, as I felt by starting to take the Sleep oil every night, I somehow cultivated a really lovely and chill evening ritual around it – and I have no doubt this too helped my sleep improve.
The oil is easy to take – you just fill the dropper and drop it under your tongue, hold for about a minute until it is absorbed (the skin inside our mouths is really thin and a great place to absorb supplements or vitamins), then swallow.
After about a week of taking the Sleep oil, I started to kick off my mornings with a full dose of the Balance oil as well. This oil is blended with the adaptogenic herb Ashwagandha, which is known for its calming effect on the body and mind. Just like the Sleep oil, you take it by dropping a dose under your tongue and letting it absorb.
The Balance oil tastes lovely and earthy, and I feel like I did for my days, mornings in particular, what the Sleep oil did for my nights.
Somehow, after a few days, maybe a week, after I started taking it, I just noticed how much less stressed I felt during the day. Even though work was busy, and having a million things on my plate with my personal life too, and yet I didn’t just spin out and start stressing over it, which would have always been my go-to response when under pressure.
Again, like with the Sleep oil, I made a lovely little morning ritual around taking the Balance oil, and may this ritual, in turn, helped me feel more grounded and relaxed too. But I somehow feel like it would not be quite like this without the oils.
I started my old morning ritual of writing lists again – something I used to always do before, but that I this past year have just felt too stressed or all over the place to do. The lists are just things that needed to be done work-wise, stuff I had to sort out/pay/order/return/organise – but somehow, it…