Is the UK getting the message about the benefits of CBD?

Is the UK getting the message about the benefits of CBD?

We wanted to check if the UK public is well informed about CBD and its benefits in 2019. So we commissioned a nationwide study to find out.


Did you see this week’s Horizon documentary on BBC2? Titled ‘Cannabis: Miracle Medicine or Dangerous Drug?’ it was an entertaining and educational look at the wide ranging medical potential of cannabis.


The documentary was hugely positive towards the benefits of CBD in particular. As a standalone cannabinoid, or to help counteract the less desirable effects of its psychoactive counterpart, THC, it is delivering beneficial results for many people. In Israel, where CBD and THC have been prescribed by doctors for years, we were introduced to patients who have found relief from chronic pain without the need for traditional pain medication such as opioids.


I did feel like there was a lack of explanation as to why research into the true potential of cannabis has been so slow until now. Our prejudices towards ‘recreational drugs’, the stigmatising and stereotyping of ‘stoners’, and the punitive approach to anything cannabis related - none of these were explored. Yet it is these very sociopolitical factors that have stunted the kinds of empirical studies that we see in the programme.


These issues also lead to misinformation and confusion. As CBD retailers/advocates, we respond to hundreds of comments and questions every week about the CBD we sell. Often these questions are from people who are concerned that CBD is illegal, addictive, or will make them high.


In order to check how informed (or not) the UK public is about CBD and its benefits in 2019, we commissioned a survey. Over 2000 adults* around the country responded; let’s explore the results so we can clear up any of the incorrect responses.


What is CBD?


Firstly we wanted to check that people know what CBD actually is. Only 19% of respondents correctly identified that CBD is a compound found in plants from the cannabis family. However, 34% answered that CBD is a type of medicine which, although not strictly true, shows that some people recognise that CBD is being used for medicinal purposes.


We were concerned to note that 15% of people think that CBD is a recreational drug. This goes to show that not enough has been done to remove the association of CBD with the high-inducing varieties of street cannabis.


Most people know that CBD has health benefits


Next we gave respondents a list of statements about CBD and asked them to select the ones they believed to be true. We were very encouraged to see that 68% of people chose the answer “CBD has health benefits’.


48% ticked to say that they believed CBD to be a medicine and 41% said that CBD can be prescribed by doctors. Last year, in his role as the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid announced that specialist hospital doctors (not GPs) in the UK will be able to legally prescribe cannabis-derived medicinal products. However, to date, no official licenses for CBD oil as a medicine have been granted. Also, despite the change to the law, doctors are still reluctant to prescribe it for conditions other than severe forms of epilepsy or chemotherapy induced nausea.


We were disheartened to note that 22% think CBD is addictive, 21% think CBD is illegal, and 14% think CBD makes you high. None of these statements are true.


What are the effects of CBD?


Our next question was to check how many people are well informed about the effects of CBD. Again we provided a list of statements and asked respondents to tick all the ones they think are true.


71% of people believe that CBD can provide pain relief and 61% ticked that CBD can help with anxiety disorders. This is great news - the message seems to be getting through.


43% recognise that CBD can help you to relax, and 21% regard CBD as an effective sleep aid. However, 10% of people believe that none of the statements we provided are true which means that there is still work to do to better inform the public. Also 7% think CBD gives you the munchies and 5% think CBD gives you the giggles which tells us that people are still confusing CBD with THC.


What would you do if a friend was using CBD products?


We were pleased to see that 59% of people would assume that a friend or family member was using CBD to help with a medical condition. It was also promising to see that 15% would be interested to try it for themselves.


It was less encouraging that 17% would worry that their friend would become addicted to the CBD (once again, it’s not addictive) and 8% would worry that they would get arrested (once again, it’s not illegal).


Which health conditions can be helped by CBD?


For our final question, we provided a list of 10 common health conditions to see if people recognised which ones could be relieved by CBD.


Arthritis was selected by 47% of respondents, depression got 44%, Parkinson’s Disease and epilepsy both got 38%, and cancer got 31%. All of these conditions are showing positive results in ongoing CBD research.


However, inflammation only got 22% which was surprising. The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD are well publicised (or so we thought) and the main reason that CBD is so effective at tackling chronic pain.


Also, only 5% of people think that CBD is good for acne which tells me that not enough people have read our blog about CBD for skincare from earlier this month ;-)


CBD in the UK takeaways


We have definitely come a long way over the past couple of years with our understanding of what CBD is, and what the potential benefits of CBD are. However, there is clearly still more work to do to ensure people know the difference between CBD and THC. We also need to continue to de-stigmatise CBD use by promoting more studies and success stories to counterbalance the negative press that cannabis receives.


Using the mainstream media to broadcast a positive narrative, like the Horizon documentary did this week, will hopefully help. We will be interested to run our survey again next year to see how the results change. Watch this space.



Using CBD safely


There is no definitive evidence to suggest that CBD oil is harmful to humans. It is a plant based cannabinoid, and cannabinoids are found naturally in our own bodies. Hence, if you decide to try CBD oil to find relief from your particular health condition, even if you don’t find the positive results you were hoping for, you’re unlikely to find any negative ones.


This being said, it’s still recommended that you consult with a doctor before taking CBD oil if you are taking prescribed medication.


Check the ingredients carefully to ensure that your product of choice actually contains CBD and not just hemp seed oil. Furthermore, it’s really important that you purchase your CBD oil from reputable sources. The popularity of CBD is such that many less scrupulous vendors are jumping on the bandwagon. To be sure of the purity of the CBD, and that the advertised dose is the dose you’re getting, do your research and only buy certified products.


The research into CBD continues


As more studies are undertaken, and more research published, we will continue to update you with all the latest findings regarding CBD.


If you still have more questions, we are always happy to help. Just get in touch with any queries you have about CBD or vaping in general.



*The research was carried out online between 23rd August and 27th August 2019. The sample comprised 2,018 UK adults.



The content in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your GP, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a particular medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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  • Nicola Webster

About the author - Nicola Webster

Nicola Webster works as a researcher, consultant, and content creator for Vape UK and Vape UK CBD. She holds a CIM Level 6 Diploma in Professional Marketing and has developed her skills and knowledge of analytics and research over a 12 year career in product marketing. Her research led approach to campaigns and content writing ensures the articles she writes for Vape UK CBD always have a basis in fact and cut through the noise. A strong advocate for CBD, Nicola has first hand experience of how CBD has benefited her and her friends and family. She is keen for others to understand how CBD could make a difference to their lives. Outside of content creation and CBD advocacy, Nicola enjoys watching live music, travelling in Southeast Asia, and exploring the beautiful countryside of the South Downs.