CBD Novel Food Update 2021 | What Does It Mean?

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CBD Novel Food Update 2021 | What Does It Mean?

 

Coming into 2021, there will be changes to the CBD that you can buy in the shops/ or online. This will be the first major attempt by authorities to regulate the CBD industry.

It will mean that many CBD products will be taken off the shelves. We have known that this was coming for a number of years and it doesn’t come as a surprise to us, but this may be heartbreaking news for many reading this.

It is a very disappointing time, but there is certainly hope at the end of this.

So, we wanted to take the time to explain what novel food is, and how it may affect the industry as a whole (including us). There are many unknowns, so we will keep this post as up to date, informative and unbias as we can.

 

What is Novel Food?

Over a year or so ago, the food standards agency set a deadline for CBD novel food applications as the 31st of March 2021. So, What is a ‘Novel Food’?

A novel food is defined by being a food (a substance which is eaten) that has not been widely consumed by people in the UK (or EU) before May 1997; meaning that there is no ‘history of consumption’ before this time. Examples include:

  • New Foods | For instance, Phytosterols and phytosterols (plant-based fats) found in Vegetable spreads as a replacement for butter.
  • Traditional Foods Eaten Elsewhere in the World | Baobab extracts and powders (popular as a super-antioxidant), Chia Seeds.
  • New Processed Foods | Bread which has been fortified with Vitamin D using ultraviolet light.

While we may take these foods for granted right now, before 1997, they were not part of our diets in the UK and were subject to testing and analysis before being declared a new safe edible substance.

CBD products, Hemp extracts and Cannabis extracts are currently undergoing the process of a full application to determine them a Novel Food; thus making these available to the public on an open market.

The extracts intended to be used as a novel food will go through a rigorous testing/ analysis regime:

 

‘Part 1

It should contain the administrative data, such as information relating to the applicant.

Part 2

It should contain information specific to the novel food such as:

  • identity of the novel food
  • production process
  • compositional data
  • specifications
  • the history of use of the novel food and/or of its source
  • proposed uses and use levels and anticipated intake
  • absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion
  • nutritional information
  • toxicological information and allergenicity

It should also include a list of all references.

Part 3

It should include:

  • the glossary or abbreviations of terms quoted throughout the dossier
  • the certificates (on the accreditation of laboratories, certificates of analyses)
  • full copies / reprints of all pertinent scientific data (published and unpublished)
  • full study reports
  • scientific opinions of national/international regulatory bodies’ 

source: https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/regulated-products/novel-foods-guidance

 

For CBD products, the extracts and manufacturing methods are to be subject to scrutiny to determine the safety, effectiveness and quality of the extracts used. It seems that any extract with a higher than base level of THC will not be accepted during this process.

The likely extracts to pass will be: Broad-Spectrum and CBD Isolates.

There are many who strongly object to this process as they (rightly) argue that Hemp and Cannabis have been recorded to be consumed in the UK as a foodstuff since King Henry the 8th, and it was only outlawed in the last century (medical use was prohibited in the 1970s). Even last year, the Food standards agency we’re only subjecting CBD isolate to novel food analysis until (allegedly) the home office put pressure on them to include all cannabinoids (according to a Seedourfuture post).

 

How Will This Affect Us?

A novel food licence is not granted across the board to a substance, in this case, each extract that is being used to produce an edible CBD product must be tested and approved. There are thousands of companies who produce an extract, but only a handful will be granted a licence; the implication of this will be that only products produced with approved extracts will be available for sale. All others will be deemed either illegal or will fall somewhere in a grey area.

It is likely that any extract which contains a base level of THC will not be approved, meaning that there is potential for many full-spectrum products to be removed from sale. The law seems to be changing to try and ensure that no full container contains more than 1mg of THC; the size of this container is yet to be determined.

The impact of the legislation may mean that thousands of companies (good, bad or ugly) will find by March the 31st, their products are unsellable or illegal.

We knew that this was coming and we have ensured that our network is a tight ship, yet there are no guarantees. An application will be made on our behalf by our manufacturing partners but which extracts will be accepted, if any is still up in the air. This seems that the approved extracts will not include our true full-spectrum extract, however.

Most likely, our products will undergo some form of reformulation to fall under UK guidelines but we will push the boundary as much as possible, and retail full-spectrum status wherever we can. Our CBD paste will be discontinued until further clarity around full-spectrum products is opened.

There are some positives to be drawn from this:

 

Some Good News

  • After March, the products on sale will be tested and secure making it easier for the consumer to know what they are taking. The extracts will be of high quality and there will be less chance of buying something fake.
  • Good news for us: is that CBD will finally be accepted as a ‘normal’ commodity. Over the years, we have been banned from payment platforms, denied access to bank accounts, loans, and subjected to enormously high payment gateway fees. Hopefully, this process will make it easier for ethical companies to thrive.
  • The Novel Food process will not be for cosmetics or vape products. These will still be left alone.

 

Some Bad News

  • Many great and ethical companies who sell full-spectrum CBD products will likely need to change their oils/extracts. This means that those who have been enjoying the full spectrum extracts will need to either take more CBD or go underground. This may actually lower the effectiveness of products on the market and leave many who rely on these products without for an undisclosed period of time.
  • Those who go searching for full-spectrum CBD will have less protection or accountability. Those who wish to sell the products regardless may face criminal charges/ stock seized as if they are selling fully illegal cannabis.
  • There is no reason why full-spectrum should be withdrawn from sale as it is safe and effective: the last 3 years of trading has been proof of this.

 

The Controversy

Before finishing up the post, it is worth mentioning the controversy behind the scenes. It is no secret that there are many who believe that this process is a way to ‘medicalise’ cannabis so that it can be retained for pharmaceutical companies. We cannot deny the benefits of full-spectrum cannabis extracts, and they know there is money to be made.

It is also no great secret that senior politicians currently in government have strong links with board members of pharmaceutical companies who are involved with the growing and extraction of medical cannabis.

We like to keep a balanced view on this, and hope that common sense prevails. Many in the industry are said to be moving to fight this legally and by small acts of resistance. Could this be the first steps toward full legalisation of cannabis? We shall see.

 

 

What Are CBD Concentrates?

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What Are CBD Concentrates?

As you delve deeper into some of the more serious CBD products out there (particularly if you are interested in CBD vape products), then you may come across a range of products which fall under the umbrella of CBD concentrates. (If you already know what concentrates are, then you can skip on a bit for some more in-depth information)

You may have encountered anything from CBD vape pens to a strange little pot of golden-syrup or a big glass rig for ‘dabbing’. Although CBD concentrates find their origins within the high THC market, there is a growing interest in this bubbling range of vapeable cannabis extracts. Many people see concentrates as a hard-core cannabis sub-culture but it really isn’t – for many, they prefer the fact that concentrates are cleaner, and the taste and effects of the strain is more identifiable. Particularly if you’re interested in CBD vape oil, a concentrate is a much better alternative.

So let us introduce you to the world of cannabis / CBD concentrates.

 

 

What Are Concentrates?

In very simple terms, a cannabis concentrate is a potent extract taken from the cannabis plant. Generally, they are a high potency form of cannabis that is vapourised (or dabbed) using specially designed equipment; you could be as advanced as a £3000 bit of glass or a small electronic vape/dap pen.

There are a variety of ways to extract these concentrates, and they come in an array of different forms, flavours and characteristics. Some come in the form of a powder, others in a crumbly waxy texture, some like sweet syrup and others like diamonds. Although each is extracted in the same way, the process that they undergo after they have been extracted determines which form they will appear in.

There is a huge ‘dab’ culture in the US at the moment, and it is a sub-culture of the larger THC rich cannabis culture. THC is still very illegal in the UK, all legal cannabis concentrates are rich in CBD, and contain very little THC if any at all.

What makes CBD concentrates so popular is their powerful flavours, the fact that they are cleaner than smoking, and the potency of the cannabinoid content is increased hugely. Concentrates are packed with terpenes which are active ingredients which can change the way our body uses cannabinoids (learn more in our Beginners Guide to Cannabis) and have their own aromatic effects (like putting lavender in the bath).

A lot of the concentrates take their flavourings and effects from famous cannabis strains, like Pineapple Express or OG Kush. This makes them a sober alternative to the real thing.

Whether you like to enjoy a couple of puffs ever so often, or a huge dose at once then a CBD concentrate may be what you’re looking for. They are also ideal for those terp-chasers out there who love to try and experiment with all the different flavours and effects.

If you’re new to concentrates, think of them as your own personal aromatherapy.

 

Types of CBD Concentrates

We’re going to list almost all of the important concentrates that you can find but a good chunk of them will be reserved for the THC market. There are some which simply cannot be sold in the UK without having access to illegal substances.

There are two notable types of CBD concentrate: those that are extracted with a solvent (such as CO2 extraction which we use for our oils) and the other is without solvents.

 

CBD Distillate

CBD distillate is potentially the first concentrate that you will encounter. A vape cannabis distillate is thick and oily – which is not unlike golden syrup. The distillate usually contains between 30% and 70% Cannabinoid content and has a powerful terpene flavour. Most of the vape pens and CBD cartridges that you find on the market contain a Distillate. You can also buy refill tubes and vape a distillate using a dab pen or rig.

 

CBD Crumble / Wax

CBD Crumble and wax are pretty much the same thing. One is a little drier than the other. Both are a dry extract which has a soft and waxy texture. They are usually found in little pots and contain a huge dose of cannabinoids, and a really nice, clean terpy flavour. Most people who enjoy CBD Crumble/ Wax are a little more experienced with their dabbing. Although the Crumble can be easy to use, it requires some set-up (whether you use a dab rig or a dab pen).

 

Sauce & Diamonds

Sometimes you see these two as separate, but they are really from the same thing. After the extraction process (more often with certain solvents) the extract needs to rest so the solvent is completely evaporated. While it rests, the cannabinoid content starts to crystalise into diamonds and the terpene content separates into a thick, sticky terp sauce. You can easily separate the two for a tasteless high potency cannabinoid experience – or a powerful terp flavour. The Terp sauce is very popular in the UK for those who like to vape, without the cannabinoid content.

 

CBD Isolate

The isolate debate is hot right now: should it be allowed to be sold or not? Regardless, it is a concentrate that you find quite often. The isolate is a white powder which is fairly cheap to produce, cheap to buy and can be produced in huge batches. If you simply want a pure, tasteless CBD extract then this is what you re looking for.

 

CBD Shatter

The final CBD concentrate we will include is the CBD shatter or glass. The only difference between a CBD shatter and distillate is the texture. As you may expect, the shatter has been set to be hard and brittle so that it is easy to break off a shard to be added to a rig or dab pen.

Liposomal Vs Regular (Water-Soluble) Supplements

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Water-Soluble vs Liposomal Supplements (Vitamin C & Multivitamins)

 

Food Supplements are for sure a way of life now. Whether you heard about them on a trip to the doctors, or you have been converted by a Joe Rogan podcast, food supplements have long been considered an essential part of your daily wellness routine; just as important as brushing your teeth.

 

While a balanced diet is absolutely essential for getting all the essential nutrients and fatty acids, there is only so much you can fit into a morning health smoothy. This opens the door to a food supplement or two.

 

While there are a mind-bending array of health supplements out there (including Neurotropic mushrooms, Omega fats, Cannabinoids like CBD and even Algae) the most common you can find, often in the supermarket, are Vitamin C and a Multivitamin Complex. Whether you prefer a tablet, a juice shot or an effervescent tablet the vitamins are delivered via a water-soluble formula. One of the most well-acknowledged disadvantages of a water-soluble vitamin is its Bioavailability (or lack of) – which is why Liposomal Supplements are becoming increasingly popular across the pond in the states (and the technology is being used in medicine)

 

So, what is the difference between a regular water-soluble supplement and a Liposomal supplement?

 

 

What Makes a (VitaminC) Liposomal Supplement Different?

 

The crux of this blog post is really the battle between a substance that is ‘water-soluble’ and one which is ‘fat-soluble’. Each substance is absorbed differently by our body which ultimately determines how effective the absorption process is.

 

Let’s use Vitamin C as an example as it is a naturally water-soluble substance. When you eat food which is naturally rich in Vitamin C (like an orange) or drink a water-based supplement the Vitamin is absorbed into our cells via a transporter called SCV2 – but this transporter can only deliver so much and our body only needs a small amount at once. This means that there will be a lot of spare Vitamin CBD sloshing about – until it leaves our body in the form of rather expensive urine. In short – it means that if you take 2 1000mg tablets of vitamin C, you will absorb the same amount as if you had one – the rest is peed out.

 

A Liposomal supplement is designed slightly differently to increase our body’s ability to absorb and retail the Vitamins which are naturally water-soluble by changing the delivery system to be absorbed as if it were fat. In very simple terms, Liposomes are microscopic bubbles (which resemble Phospholipids which can be found in human breast milk) of fat which encase the valuable substance. Rather than being absorbed as a liquid, the Liposomes are absorbed into the small intestine very quickly and effectively into the bloodstream. There are plenty of scientific studies which find that the levels of (for example) Vitamin C are much, much higher after consuming a Liposomal Supplement, rather than one that is water-soluble.

 

To add to that, the Liposomal bubbles protect the valuable Vitamin C from the harsh digestive tract and do not need to use the SCV2 transporter to enter the cell, as their structure already mirrors the format of the membrane in the cell. It results in an almost unrivalled delivery system of a Vitamin directly into our cells. Overall, it means that the amount of Vitamin C used by ur body is greatly increased. While exactly how much more effective the Liposomal supplement is, some sources claim up to 5x more effective – also stating that regular supplements are 20% effective, while Liposomal supplements are up to 90%.

 

So Let us summarise these points:

  • Increased Absorption into the Blood Stream
  • Protects Valuable Nutrient from Digestive System
  • More Bioavailability on a Celular Level
  • Less Waste (Less means way more)

 

This is particularly exciting for a number of demographics- including the over 60s who struggle to absorb traditional forms of supplements.

 

Liposome technology is so effective that it is being used as a delivery system for certain medical drugs. Very exciting. Find below and nice little image which gives you a better idea how the Liposomes work:

 

 

In Short, The Liposomal Vitamin C is much more effective than the regular Vitamin supplements that can be purchased at the supermarket. So if you are looking for way more bang for your buck, then you should absolutely invest in a Liposomal supplement. You can find a whole range of these advanced supplements online – while these supplements are a little more expensive than the alternative, they are absolutely worth it!

 

 

Which is the Best CBD Oil for Beginners?

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Which is the best CBD Oil for a Beginner?

 

CBD is absolutely worth the hype. 

… but it is only worth it if the product you purchase is actually CBD, and not some kind of fakery. For most people, the CBD world seems so big and inconsistent that it is really difficult to know what you are looking at, or where to begin!?

You may find this blog post as one of the following three. 

  1. You’re completely new to CBD but you’re unsure where to begin, or how to navigate the mine-feild that is the CBD industry.
  2. You’re looking for a friend, or family member who may benefit from trying CBD.
  3. You’ve tried CBD before but you were not satisfied but you haven’t given up on CBD yet.
  4. None of the above and you’re on an info binge.

Whether you find yourself in the first, second, third or fourth category, you may still be searching for the best CBD oil for beginners?

Let us walk you through some of the options that are best for beginners. 

 

Perfect CBD for a Beginner

The advice we always give to beginners is to start low & slow

There are a few reasons for this; firstly, it helps your body get used to the cannabinoids (and therefore uses them more effectively) but it also ensures that you do not waste money on a strength you do not need. CBD is unlike many other remedies – the idea that ‘more means better’ does not always apply to CBD.

Before you look into product options it is important that you have an understanding of the Endocannabinoid System. This is the network of receptors which uses cannabinoids. As we are all unique, the way in which our ECS used cannabinoids changes from person to person. So one person may need 20% oils while another may only need 2.5%.

Also, if you take too much CBD you may experience some negative side effects. These can include a dry mouth, ‘brain fog’, sleepiness, nausea or a runny-tummy. This happens very rarely and the side effects pass pretty quickly so don’t worry at all! It’s just best to start small. 

We need to be honest here too: as a retailer of CBD we should not (ethically or legally) be making medical claims about our products, so a reputable CBD retailer will not sell a particular strength depending on the medical condition. You may have been given the advice to take the strongest oil you can but that may put you out of pocket. By far the best thing to do is to start with a low concentration and slowly increase until you find your ‘sweet spot’.

 

Which oils do we suggest? 

This is just an informational post and we are trying to be helpful more than anything, but we do have a range of awesome CBD oils for beginners that you may be interested in.

 

Dina - 500mg CBD oil

1. Dina | 500mg Full Spectrum

Dina is our number one suggested CBD oil to beginners. It is the second lowest concentration we do and is the ideal starting point for most new-comers. What makes the oil special is that it is whole plant, raw (contains the raw CBDa compound too) and full-spectrum which means that the oil contains a wide range of naturally occurring nutritious compounds (including waxes, amino acids & terpenes) which contribute to the synergistic entourage effect.

The formula is exactly how nature intended and contains all the active compounds that are the unsung heros of CBD oils. It does give the oil quite a strong taste but packs a powerful punch above its weight class!

2.5% CBD Oil

2. Cherub | 2.5% (500mgs) Spray

The second option we suggest is the 500mg pharmaceutical ready CBD spray Cherub. The bottle is 20mls so the concentration of the oil is 2.5%. This is the lowest concentration we currently do which is perfect for those who want to start really slow.   

We suspend a broad-spectrum range of cannabinoids in a superior terpene rich MCT oil blend which gives it a light flavour and rapid absorption. Plus, an easy to use spray nozzle. The spray does not contain THC.

This oil appeals to beginners because it is light tasting, easy to use and easy to dose. 

If you are a a sports person, or somebody who is active on a daily basis, then Cherub may be the ideal CBD oil for beginners. 

3. Virtue | 1000mg/5% Pharmaceutical Ready Spray

Much like Dina, this oil has a 5% concentration of CBD. The bottle is 20mls so the whole bottle contains 1000mgs of CBD. Exactly like Cherub, Virtue suspend a broad-spectrum range of cannabinoids in a superior terpene rich MCT oil blend which gives it a light flavour and rapid absorption. Plus, an easy to use spray nozzle. The spray does not contain THC.

Virtue stands as a step up from Dina & Cherub. It has a slightly darker appearance compared to Cherub down to the concentration of hemp vegetable extract. 

1000mg cbd oil uk

4. Diablo | 1000mg/10% Raw & Full Spectrum Oil

For those looking for an oil with a little more weight, then our 1000mg (10%) Diablo is more than enough to itch that scratch. The diablo formula is our most popular product and is a blend that we are extremely proud of. 

Like Dina, it contains a wide range of naturally occurring cannabinoids & petrochemicals and packs quite a punch. As long as you start nice and slow, this oil could be a one-stop-shop for any CBD user, new or otherwise.

Most users of Diablo never look elsewhere for their monthly CBD purchase. 

If you have made it this far, then thank you. Starting your CBD oil journey can be a little confusing and scary so we completely understand if you feel like you need to do a little more exploring before finding the brand that resonates with you. 

If you have any questions or wish to speak to us then get in touch!

When is the Best Time to Take CBD? Morning Vs Evening?

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When is the Best Time to Take CBD? Morning Vs Evening?

CBD is unlike almost any other ‘food supplement’ or product you take daily for your well-being. It is an active compound that interacts with a network of receptors called the Endocannabinoid System which is part of your body’s ability to maintain a healthy internal balance: called Homeostasis.

Just like each of us are almost completely unique, the way in which our body reacts (and uses) bioactives can be completely different. It is partly why it is difficult to make any solid recommendations about which dose is best for a particular situation; it all depends on you and your body.

So, considering that we are all different it almost makes it difficult to answer the question: When is the best time to take CBD? Let us draw out a little bit about the best times to take CBD!

best time to take CBD

The Perfect to Take CBD?

There is not really a ‘perfect time’ to take CBD as this depends almost entirely around your individual routine and needs. What are you using the CBD for? How busy you may be? Or if you’re like us, How forgetful you are. The time you take CBD can also be determined by how it makes you feel.

The best time to take CBD is when it suits you best. Most of the time we suggest that you should take CBD in the morning and the evening (and potentially a couple of drops before lunch if you need more CBD in your day). For most people, this ensures that a steady, and consistent dose it was taken during the most important parts of the day and keeps your levels of CBD up. We leave our bottle of CBD oil by our toothbrush because it is easy to slip into your routine.

CBD also comes in loads of different forms – for instance, a CBD edible may take a lot longer to be absorbed into your body and the effects may last longer. We would suggest that if you take CBD gummies (for example) then they should be taken about 15-30 minutes before you eat so that they can be absorbed with your food. To increase the absorption rate you should eat something fatty (a healthy option is something like eggs).

If you enjoy CBD vape oils, then puffing as and when you need to is ideal. The CBD enters your bloodstream quicker but leaves quicker too.

 

Should I Take CBD in the Morning, Or the Evening?

CBD works differently for each of us so it is important to listen to your body and work out when the best time to take CBD is for you.

If you’re somebody who experiences ‘brain fog’ (feeling a bit fuzzy and tired) when taking CBD, then it may be an idea to decrease how much you take in the morning, and take slightly more in the evening. This way it leans into how CBD reacts with your body. The same principle works the other way too for you feel alive – CBD and coffee are a great combo.

We’d say that the key to ensuring that you get the most out of your CBD is to maintain a regular and consistent dose throughout the day and adjusting your use throughout the day- taking CBD is a purely personal experience. 

 

A Beginners Guide to Cannabis

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Cannabis 101 | A Beginners Guide to Cannabis

 

As you may have noticed, our website is all about Cannabis.

While the terminology is different (ie CBD, Hemp etc..) we are talking about the very same plant that you see in piles on crime-watch. The Cannabis plant is widely misunderstood (even by those who use it too) and surrounded in myth, misinformation and outright speculation.

For us, CBD is the keystone on the road to full Cannabis legalisation – which is why big pharma and industrial agriculturists are slowing down the process to get their assets ready to meet demand. We can quite easily look into the future of Cannabis in the UK by looking over the pond into the US; whether you agree or disagree, Cannabis legalisation is around the corner.

When the time comes, we are a little worried that the years of prohibition will have caused a dangerous gulf in knowledge which will ultimately lead to irresponsible use or users who do not respect the power of the plant.

We wanted to take the time to put together a Cannabis 101 | A Beginners Guide To Cannabis to draw out the important aspects of Cannabis to spread learning and respect for the humble-herb.

We are passionate about education and do not advocate that you break the law in the county that you live in. This post is purely informational – Call us Cannabis Sommeliers = we’re not stoners, we just love the complexity. 

cannabis 101

 

History

Cannabis is one of the oldest, most mysterious species of plants that grow on our planet. Evidence of the use of Cannabis in human history dates way back to 8000BC (the Oki Islands near Japan) and the 5th millennium BC in China evidence of Hemp fibre was found. Cannabis is originally from Central Asia and India where it was used as a food source, for its fibres to produce materials (like clothes, rope and a primitive paper), for religious and recreational practices (we all know what that means).

The recorded popularity of Cannabis would spread quickly via the use of edible Hashish from Persia to the Arab world, and then on to Egypt. It would then find its way into southern Africa (via the nomadic Bantu tribes) and taken to western civilisation (via the Spanish, trade and colonisation).

The cultivation of Hemp has been recorded in the UK since 100AC where it was used for a wide range of purposes- and stayed that way for thousands of years.

From humble beginnings, the popularity of smoking, and eating cannabis grew, and its use in textiles and materials would be fundamental in the development of a quickly modernising world. Even in history as recent as the second world war where industrial hemp was used to produce US uniforms, canvas and rope to support the war effort. It’s popularity weaned as new artificial fibres were invented.

Cannabis then started to expand to new populations of western societies – although it was a niche sub-culture, it would start to creep into the mainstream. During the years after the war in the UK, and US, Cannabis was largely used recreationally at night clubs and musical events. It was not until the 1960’s that there was a dramatic surge in Cannabis use among college students and young people- particularly in the 1960’s & 70’s (The Beatles? Pink Floyd Anyone?).

While the origins of criminalisation started in the 1800s (when British colonial rule was concerned about the impact on its workforce), it was not until the US ‘war on drugs’ was there a global shift in general public attitude towards cannabis. Sadly, this had a huge impact on the ability to research the active compounds.

More recently, the understanding of Cannabis is evolving and there is now a growing interest in legalisation and regulation. Afterall, Cannabis has constantly been a firm fixture in mainstream culture and is still one of the most openly consumed illegal recreational drugs in the world and there is no sign of this trend slowing.

 

Strains

The first thing to know about Cannabis is that there are 3 main strains – Indica, Sativa & a Hybrid of the two. It is said in popular culture that an Indica is ‘chilled out’, a Sativa is ‘energising’ and a Hybrid is what it says on the tinfoil packet (a mixture of the two)

The Sativa is generally long and branchy with long life cycles (they prefer colder climates) while the Indica is generally shorter and thicker with shorter life cycles (& prefer warmer climates).

Thanks to prohibition, until recently there was very little understanding as to why these strains had different characteristics which are partly why they have been grouped in the way that they have – it also makes it easier for beginners to understand where to begin. We go into much greater detail into the cannabis strains in our blog post: Indica Vs Sativa.

The strain of the Cannabis does not dictate the experience that the user will have- the overriding influence on experience are the active phytochemicals found in Cannabis; these are Cannabinoids, Terpenes and Flavinoids.

 

Cannabinoids

Hopefully, if you have had a look around our website, you will already be an expert in Cannabinoids. These are active phytochemicals that attach to the network of receptors called the Endocannabinoid System. There are two main Cannabinoids in Cannabis: CBD & THC. There are other cannabinoids (such as CBG, CBC, CBN, CBDa, THCa, THCv, CBDv ) but we will keep it nice and simple for the moment.

 

CBD

CBD you will already know about- it is not psychoactive and has a wide range of well-being benefits. A product that has a very high percentage of CBD will not make you high and these days you’re more likely to find a tincture/ oil or bath bomb. CBD has been somewhat normalised in today’s world in these forms, and it is quite unusual for many to think about CBD in its true form: a cannabis bud.

For a little while, while the CBD industry here in the UK was still maturing, you could very easily find ‘CBD Flower’ in vape shops. This was Cannabis- but they had been cultivated to produce an abundance of CBD. In our book- CBD flower is the first step to full cannabis legalisation and is why there was such a quick effort to shut this aspect of the industry down. Although technically, CBD flower sits in a grey area of the law (it is both legal and illegal all at once) – it looks, smells, feels and tastes almost identical to a high THC strain- only a keen eye could tell them apart (THC crystals form on high THC strains).

 

THC

THC is the cannabinoid that most people are interested in; it is THC that is psychoactive and is the reason why Cannabis is still prohibited in the UK.

All the weird and wonderful side effects that are associated with Cannabis are caused by this Cannabinoid. In small doses, the Cannabinoid can cause a sense of Euphoria, make you hungry and make you feel a little dizzy. In high doses, it can, however, cause paranoia, insomnia, slowed cognitive function and anxiety. Longterm abuse of THC can have a serious impact on your long term health- including slower cognitive function, increased levels of mental health issues, insomnia and an increased risk of psychosis.

These side effects seem worrying right?!.. but think of it this way: Do you enjoy a beer at night? One or two on a Friday night is unlikely to cause too much trouble- now swap the 2 for 20 beers and there is a big difference

The negative impact of Alcohol is longer than most peoples arms- in the short term will cause nausea, slowed cognitive function, anxiety, depression, dizziness and an awful hangover. Longterm it can cause cancer, liver failure, degenerative brain diseases, immune-support failure and mental health issues.

There is an argument that high THC Cannabis should remain illegal- but we must consider that 20 pints of alcohol is a weekend’s entertainment to some. Obviously – both substances demand respect.

The real issue comes with the current underground market of Cannabis: The strains are either too strong, or have been sprayed with other drugs such as Acid, DMT or who knows what else. The street-weed is certainly not always safe, and is not what we would advocate for- we want education and regulation.

 

A Range of Cannabinoids!

The sweet spot is when the strain has a mix of both CBD & THC. They work together in perfect synergy to enhance/ regulate their individual characteristics. A differing ratio of cannabinoids changes the way the Cannabis interacts with our body.

For a really cerebral and ‘spacy’ effect- you go high THC. For a lower more grounded effect you choose a higher CBD strain. We produce two types of oils- a full-spectrum oil (contains THC) and a 0% THC oil – for those who have tried both, they will certainly tell you that there is a big difference.

 

Terpenes

We often refer to Terpenes as the unsung heroes of Cannabis- the effects of Terpenes are often attributed to those of Cannabinoids. They are most commonly known as the phytochemicals which give Cannabis its distinctive smell, taste/ flavour and somewhat contribute to the way experience. This is down to the fact that terpenes also impact the way that our body uses Cannabinoids and have their own important impact on the experience.  There are 8 main terpenes in Cannabis:

Pinene: Just from reading the name you may be able to guess where Pinene gets its name? That’s right, from Pines. You may also find Pinene in rosemary, basil, dill, some citrus fruit peels & pine nuts. It’s aroma is famously woody, deep, rich and earthy. Grab a handful of Pines or Rosemary and rub the pines between your hands; that is the aromas you are looking for.

Myrcene: Is a terpene that is most commonly associated with the Indica strain of Cannabis, but it can be found in Bay leaves, Hops, Thyme, Mangos, Lemongrass and Cannabis. Its is identified by its musky, earthy and herbal aroma that is akin to that of Cardimans and Cinnamon.

Limonene: Now, this one is for those who like the tang of citrus. As the name suggests, Limonene can be found in Lemon, Lime & Grapefruit Rinds (most citrus skins, actually), Peppermint, Rosemary, Juniper and Cannabis. It has a tangy citrusy aroma that is very identifiable. If you scrape a citrus fruit skin with a fork or take in the scents of a freshly peeled orange, then this is the aroma of Limonene. It is partly why adding Citrus rind to cooking or a Cocktail is so popular!

Linalool: Although Linalool is considered as a minor Terepene in Hemp and Cannabis, it is certainly the one you are guaranteed to be one of your all-time favourite scents; Lavander. Linalool is found in over 200 plants including, Mint, Nettles, Sage, Oregano & Thyme, Citrus Rind, Cinnamon, Rosewood and Cannabis. The aroma is distinctly floral in character- get yourself some Lavander oil to put in the bath. Glorious!

Humulene: Is another minor Terepene that has a distinct aroma that IPA lovers will know well. It has a hoppy, woody and deeply earthy. This Terepene can be found in Corriander, Basil, Northern American, Asian and European Hop varieties, Gensing, Ginger, Cloves and Cannabis. Imagine a nice cold IPA on a summers day; Citrus bitterness and a floral punch.

Ocimene: Is most famous for its sweet, herbal and often woody aroma that is very similar to that of Myrcene. This Terepene can be found in a whole host of pungent plants such as Hops, Mangoes, Bergamot (a type of Citrus fruit commonly found in Northern Africa and the Gulf region), Basil, Lavender, Orchids, Pepper, Mint, Kumquats and Cannabis.

Caryophyllene: Is a very interesting compound as it is the only Terpene to act like a Cannabinoid and interact with our Endocannabinoid System. It’s aroma is peppery, spicey and woody- imagine a handful of cloves. Caryophyllene is found in Cloves (surprisingly), Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Hopes Oregano, Rosemary and Cannabis Sativa (Which includes Hemp).

Terpinolene: Last, but certainly not least, Terpinolene is the really the key to making a Sativa CBD Oil different to an Indica Oil; Sativa CBD oils (like our Dina & Diablo) contain much higher levels of Terpinolene. The Terpene’s aroma is floral, piney and herbal, and it can be found in Apple Skins, Cardigans, Tea Tree Oil, Cumin, Lilacs and Cannabis.

 

Consumption Methods

Traditionally (and in history) Cannabis resin was produced to be edible, but as time has passed the favoured method of consumption seem to be either smoking or vaping. You can consume cannabis in a number of ways, and each has a completely different impact on your body/ your experience.

 

Smoking: Smoking seems to be the most popular consumption method, and has been one of the oldest methods of consumption that we cover. A thousand-year-old smoking pipe found in Ethiopia has Cannabis residue in it- and the fumes from cannabis were used in religious rituals way back to the plant’s origins in Asia. These days, you’re more likely to find cannabis in a ‘spliff’. The cannabis is ground and smoked on its own, or cut with tobacco/ other smokable herbs.

The combustion of the cannabis plant decarboxylates the active cannabinoid compounds which are drawn into the lungs with the burned plant matter. It is very common to smoke cannabis using a shisha or bong. Down to the combustion wastage, the experience is less potent, and the effects are quite heady, come and go relatively quickly. Smoking cannabis is not particularly healthy either.

 

Vaping: Similar to smoking, vaping a Cannabis product means that you consume the cannabinoids via your lungs. It means that you will feel the effects quicker, and they will be more intense, but the experience will last a fairly short period of time compared to other consumption methods.

There are two methods of vaping: a vape oil (which is a normal flavoured/ unflavored vape oil which has been infused with cannabinoids) or a burner/herb vape. The burner/ herb vapes heat up the plant in a pipe/ instrument which vapourises the essential phytochemicals but does not burn the plant- the ‘hit’ is cleaner, stronger and said to be much healthier than full combustion; you simply get all the good stuff.

We can also lump ‘dabbing’ here too – which is using a cannabis ‘resin’ or ‘crumble’ (a cannabinoid extract). This is often a very potent product and contains a high dosage of cannabinoids.

 

Edibles: Edibles are way more common than you think- particularly CBD edibles which are just about everywhere. You can find an array of CBD goodies in high street stores. THC edibles are still illegal in the UK but are particularly popular with elder generations who have long given up on the idea that weed will melt your mind – and when you’re in your twilight, who cares!?

While cannabis is still followed by a stigma, for some it is much more enjoyable and discrete to bake the cannabis into a food-substance. This can be a cake, bread or a fatty substance such as gelatine (gummies) – the fattier the food, the more effectively the cannabinoids will be absorbed.

The experience is much slower, can be more intense and can last for a particularly long time- THC rich edibles should be managed with some caution. Unlike inhaling the cannabinoids, it can take anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes for the cannabinoids to come into effect and up to 2 hours before the effects reach their peak. Plenty of first-timers, or overconfident uses, have been caught out by thinking that the edibles are not working and end up taking way too much (resulting in adverse side effects or getting way more baked than expected – pun absolutely intended).

As you are consuming the Edibles via your stomach you are more likely to feel hungry, the experience is often heavier.

Drinks: Lets class this as a subsector of edibles: you can find cannabis products of all kinds that are drinkable. If you want to go old-school, you can drink Hemp/ Cannabis tea which only requires some hot water. Alternatively, if you want to be more modern, there are a whole range of CBD infused fitness/ fizzy/ sweet and savoury drinks that can be found very easily in supermarkets or online.

 

Micordosing: This is very similar to an edible – and it is important to note that cannabis products are not always taken recreationally. Microdosing refers to the process of taking a carefully-considered amount of something every day. If you are reading this and already take a CBD oil, you are micro-dosing. Cannabis-based products come in a wide range of forms- including tinctures, capsules, dissolvables and even chewing gums. There are many things out there that are micro-dosed by millions of people every day- from CBD oils to Rick Simpson oils and more.

 

Topically: As easy as it sounds- putting some good old oil in your hair or on your skin. Cannabinoids are very easily absorbed into the skin so if it has a high THC concentration you may get high!

 

 

 

What is Spirulina (& It’s Benefits)?

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What is Spirulina (Plus its Benefits)?

 

Spirulina is already a heavy-weight in the superfood supplement world and is by far one of the most popular natural well-being supplements that can be purchased just about anywhere. Whether you look in a high-street whole-foods shop or supermarket, no doubt Spirulina is hiding in the ‘health foods’ section.

So what is Spirulina and what are the benefits (and side effects)?

Spirulina is something pretty spectacular- it is an Algae with a blue/green colour (due to it being full of chlorophyll) and is absolutely packed with natural vitamins, minerals and Omega fatty acids (6 & 9); some say it is natures ‘multivitamin’; it is particularly rich in a full spectrum of B vitamins and gamma-linolenic acid (a Medium Chain Triglyceride). Spirulina is most commonly found to grow on lakes in tropical/ subtropical climates (30 degrees plus) in Africa, Asia (Platnisis) Mexico and South America (maxima).

What interests us the most about natural supplements, besides their benefits, is their use in History. Spirulina was originally a food source for the nomadic Aztecs and Mesoamericans, and was harvested into edible cakes. While the Algae was found in great abundance at Lake Texcoco by French researchers in the 1960’s it seems that after the 16th-century evidence of the Aztecs using the algae a food source disappeared- most likely when the lakes were drained to support modernising agriculture.

From 1520 the Algae was not mentioned in literature again until the 1940’s when it was found to be consumed by the Kanembu tribe who harvested it from Lake Chad. After this discovery, the Algae was put into production in the 1970’s in a lab. Researches knew that Spirulina was an incredibly nutritious food source but modern science has revealed exactly how great it is for us

Nutritious Value

Complete Protein Source | Spirulina has been found to be a completely natural complete protein (great news if you’re vegan) which means that it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids needed by the body. It made up of 70% protein which is easily digestible and used to build muscles, tendons, organs and skin- without proteins, we just simply could not survive.

Full-Spectrum Vitamin B | Plants produce phytochemicals of all different shapes and sizes- all of them work together in synergy. The Algae contains 3 Vitamin B compounds which are vital for healthy central nervous growth, mental agility and cognitive function. The compounds include Vitamin B1 (thiamine), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) and Vitamin B3 (Niacin) all of which are also powerful anti-oxidants for the brain!

Vitamin E Rich | All good for a deep cleanse and detoxification. Much like Lion’s Mane, the algae is used to help cleanse the body of free radicals and help the bodies inflammatory response.

Minerals | The Algae also contains healthy amounts of copper, iron (essential for the formation of haemoglobin and blood health), potassium (relieve tension in blood vessels to lower blood pressure) and zinc (cognitive function)

Other | The Algae also contains just about every other nutrient that our body needs- it is safe to say Spirulina may just be one of the healthiest/ most nutritious substances on earth.

 

Spirulina Benefits

One of the issues with Cannabinoids/ CBD is that the benefits are not yet backed by science; it is why we cannot currently make medical claims as to what the compound can do; Spirulina, on the other hand, has a whole range of benefits that are backed by science. So what are the known benefits of Spirulina?

Anti-oxidant and Anti-inflammatory

Much like Lion’s Mane Mushrooms & Sarsaparilla, Spirulina is found to be one of the most powerful antioxidants in nature. In short, an anti-oxidant helps our body reduce the level of ‘free radicals’ which can build up to increase toxic stress and cause oxidative damage to our DNA. A whole host of chronic illnesses/ inflammatory issues have been attributed to an imbalance between free radical/ antioxidants.

One of the featured active compounds in Spirulina is called Phycocyanin which is what causes the unique blue-green tint. The compound fights free radicals and is found to inhibit the production of our body’s inflammatory signalling molecules which explains the algae’s anti-inflammatory properties. 1, 2, 3 are some studies published which back up these claims with science.

Allergic Rhinitis No More!

If you are reading this, and you’re anything like me, then you will know the pain of hayfever or allergies. Allergic Rhinitis is commonly referred to as the swelling and irritation of the sinuses which cause you to sneeze, drip and struggle during an allergic attack- for me it is anything from pollen to cats – my eyes and nose just go nuts!

According to this study, a group of 127 individuals with Allergic Rhinitis were given a spirulina supplement and found that their symptoms were significantly reduced. Bring it on summer! Although this is fairly good evidence, obviously more work needs to be done to understand the benefits of Spirulina more.

May Be An Answer to Anemia

In short, Anemia is the condition caused by a deficiency in the mineral Iron- this can happen from not having enough Iron in your diet (particularly green leaves like spinach or some meats), you have a chronic deficiency or you’re pregnant. It means that you may be suffering from either one, or all, of these issues:

  • Weakness.
  • Pale skin.
  • Chest pain, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath.
  • Headache, dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Cold hands and feet.
  • Inflammation or soreness of your tongue.
  • Brittle nails.

Good news- spirulina is a great source of Iron and as little as 7gs contains 11% of your recommended daily allowance. A study found that 40 elderly people who had a history of anaemia had increased haemoglobin levels in their red blood cells which in turn improved their immune function. This is one study so the jury is still out, and there also may be other issues which are causing your deciciency in Iron. Taking a daily supplement can’t do you any harm!

May Improve Muscle Strength and Endurance

Longevity! Our favourite natural health and well-being word. Much like Cordyceps, Spirilina may improve muscle strength and endurance. This is down to the anti-oxidant properties of the algae as exercise can cause oxidative stress and damage. There have been a few studies which looked into this and the algae does show some promise.

Secondly, the algae is one of the few natural sources of complete protein. Protein is the building block of growth & repair physically (and cognitively) and is used to build new stronger muscle fibres. So if you’re a vegan and/or a bodybuilder, a Spirulina supplement may be a great natural boost to the protein you are already consuming.

Cholesterol Control

The diet in the modern developed world is certainly regressing- what may taste great is ultimately killing us. Heart disease is currently the worlds leading cause of death, and obesity in the UK is behind a whole range of other chronic and fatal conditions. While there are many risk factors which cause heart disease, the levels of ‘bad cholesterol’ (fats) in your blood is the number one contender.

Research has shown that the algae can lower the total (bad) LDL cholesterol & triglyceride levels while increasing the HDL cholesterol levels (good). One study showed that the level of bad triglycerides was decreased by 16.3% and the levels of LDL was decreased by 10.1%.

As a second point- the fatty structures in our body is particularly susceptible to oxidative damage (called lipid peroxidation) and is one of the main causes of serious illness in humans. To try and put this process into reality, the development of heart disease is part of the oxidation of the LDL cholesterol. The algae’s high level of antioxidants can also help to prevent this process from happening and helps to fight a build-up of bad fats in our body.

 

Our Spirulina Review

To sum up our Spirulina Review and to round up the benefits of Spirulina, it is worth mentioning the taste. It doesn’t taste great- and can be pretty messy. If you are to take our advice, try to avoid the powders and look into purchasing some Spirulina Capsules. This way you can wash the good stuff down with some water and not think about it. Unlike Lion’s Mane powder, this is not a particularly enjoyable addition to a coffee.

Otherwise, Spirulina is a really easy supplement or ingredient to introduce into your daily routine. It is great for superfood smoothies, veg soups or just to be eaten on its own- whatever you think is best!

If you have made it this far, thank you. This blog contains a lot of information!

 

What is Sarsaparilla (& its benefits)?

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What is Sarsaparilla Root (& its benefits)?

 

If you have any interested in natural well-being supplements then you have likely stumbled across Sarsaparilla, which is a woody vine that grows on trees in tropical climates in South America and the Caribbean. There are a fair few species of the Smilax that we will not bore you with but each has a range of well-being benefits and has been a keen fixture of natural well-being predating the 1800’s.

The most common form of Sarsaparilla that you will find online is a capsule but it is traditionally taken as a drink- and was popular in the US during the 1800s. It has a familiar ‘root beer’ flavour that is still popular around the world. A little bit of doom and gloom, but there are a fair few of these ‘Sarsaparilla Drinks’ that are found online do not contain the plant at all, but are artificially manufactured 🙁

Some more doom and gloom: Sadly- much like CBD – one of the main risks that you may face is being miss-informed or sold something that does not contain the active ingredients which make Sarsaparilla so great for our health. Just a disclosure: no, Sarsaparilla supplements do not contain anabolic steroids such as Testosterone (for building muscle at the gym). The confusion comes from the fact that the Sarsaparilla plant can be used to chemically synthesis the steroids however, this has not been found to happen in humans. Also, be aware of Indian Sarsaparilla (Hemidesmus Indicus) – it does is often used in supplements but (apparently) it does not contain the same active chemicals as the Smilax genus.

These days you can find Holland and Barrett Sarsaparilla supplements online or in-store. In this case, for the moment it is preferential to trust a highstreet brand.

Sarsaparilla Root

So, what are the benefits of Sarsaparilla?

The Sarsaparilla root itself has been found to contain a plethora of active phytochemicals that are linked with a fair few well-being outcomes (most of which are also backed by science). These include strong antioxidants and anti-inflammatories-  we have compiled a list of the active ingredients and their benefits here (to make things easier):

Flavonoid Antioxidants: Also found in Cannabis, these are often found in fruits and veg which are bright in colour. These have been linked with skin and eye health, strengthened immune function, reduction in inflammation and longevity (whatever that means…).  The flavonoids in Sarsaparilla are called astilbin which can be found in other botanicals/ herbal remedies such as St John’s Wart, herbal teas and red wines.

Saponins: Identified by a bitter taste, Saponins are the family of anti-inflammatory phytochemicals which help to kill fungus, bacteria and other harmful microbes. They are very similar in effect to the reproductive hormones which we synthesis in our bodies: testosterone and estrogen. The Saponins are partly when Sarsaparilla is good for your skin. Saponins also produce an entourage effect and increase the bioavailability of other herbs!

PhytoSterols: Are great for your gut. They are found in high-fiber foods and have been found to be beneficial to your gut and digestive health, alongside being of benefit to your heart health. The phytosterols which are found in Sarsaparilla are sitosterol, pollinastano, stigmasteroldiosgenin, tigogenin and asperagenin.

Other beneficial Oils, Acids and Minerals: Without getting too bogged down in the specific details of each, the Sarsaparilla Root also contains a range of other beneficial fatty acids, oils and minerals including; Caffeoylshikimic acid, shikimic acid, sarsapic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin, kaempferol, iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc, chromium selenium and aluminium.

 

The Liver & Kidneys!

 

Liver health is supported by Sarsaparilla; from promoting urine production (it is a diuretic), perspiration it has been found to help relieve the retention of fluid; which often causes stomach bloating. This just means that our body has a greater ability to flush toxins out of our body. Make sure that you drink lots of water alongside the herb to keep your hydration levels up!

Traditionally the main purpose of a Sarsaparilla drink was to help ‘clean the blood’ and remove toxins from the body. In more recent years, research has shown that the root may help with detoxification by containing chemicals (flavonoids) which bind to ‘endotoxins’ which are chemicals stored in bacterial cells- the ‘endotoxins’ are released into the bloodstream and cause wider health issues such as liver disease, psoriasis, inflammatory issues and fever.

If you’re looking for a natural detox, then this root may be something to try out!

 

The Skin

One of the main benefits of Sarsaparilla is its ability to help remedy skin conditions, including fungus, eczema, rashes and wounds. Interestingly enough, as the root grows in tropical climates (where lots of bugs that bite live) it was found that the root could help prevent itchiness and infections caused by bites, or fungal infections (which, as you may expect, are quite common in warmer climates). A study suggests that unlike many other modern remedies, the root strengthens us and our skin as well as killing off any invaders; It is referred to as ‘strengthing the host’. A study found that it, out of 100 plants, it was the most effective plant for fighting this kind of infections.

The Sarsaparilla root has been shown to also decrease the swelling, itchiness, redness and peeling of the skin; it is the flavonoid content which is responsible for suppressing our immune system and lowing the bodies inflammatory response. It is almost certainly why the root was used to help sufferers of psoriasis (over 40% of the patients had a huge reduction in symptoms).

 

Hormonal Balance

If you’re of a certain age (like us) you may jump at anything that is a ‘cure for baldness’. Most of the time it is a whole pile of field-fuel, but it seems that there is evidence that the Sterols in the root help to regulate our bodies hormonal balance (as they are similar to our reproductive hormones above). As they are really similar to our hormones, the liver doesn’t need to work to hard to produce human hormones. This means that Sarsaparilla may help to maintain the correct levels of testosterone, and progesterone, which can help with hair growth.

It could also mean some very positive outcomes for those who have premenstrual issues or menopause!

 

Increases Bioavailability

We are all about natural synergy here: from the entourage effect to the synergetic benefits of mushrooms or terpenes, nature works in wonderful ways! It has been found that Sarsaparilla increases the bioavailability of other herbs and enhances their benefits. Bioavailability simply means how easy something is to be absorbed by the body – CBD, for instance, is particularly difficult for the body to absorb because it is an oil-based substance, while Sarsaparilla is water-soluble. This is down to the high concentration of saponins within the roots. Fantastic right? We would be very interested to see the impact that these saponins have on cannabinoids!

 

Side Effects of Sarsaparilla Root

As it stands, there are no side effects of sarsaparilla or interactions with drugs. In saying this, it is maybe best to stay on the side of caution. It may be best to speak to a trusted medical professional before trying any kind of herbal remedy- and also be very aware that these supplements should not be a substitute for any medication that you have been prescribed. If you are nursing or breastfeeding- be on the safe side, and stay away.

 

Holland & Barrett Sarsaparilla

If you have made it this far, we love you. Thank you for reading and (hopefully) enjoying our blog post. We are in the process of producing a range of health and well-being supplements (including Sarsaparilla supplements). In the meantime, you should buy Sarsaparilla from Holland & Barrett if you are interested. They are a high-street brand and offer real supplements. It is better than playing roulette with random brands online!

Cordyceps Sinensis & Militaris Benefits (& Side Effects)

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The Benefits of Cordyceps Sinensis & Militaris (& Side Effects)

Alongside the potential benefits of Cannabinoids, one of the most exciting ‘up-and-coming’ well-being waves is that of the fungi (or mushrooms). Although, the are not quite as up-and-coming as you’d expect; Fungi has been used in Chinese traditional remedies for centuries and has been a centerpiece in the case for natural wellness long before it was fashionable. There is no doubt, that Fungi some extremely good for us, and few are quite as good as the Cordyceps Sinensis (also known as: Caterpillar Mushroom/ Fungus, Yatsa Gunbu, Yarshagumba, Keera Jhar or Dong Chong Xia Cao (Winter Worm, Summer Grass” in Chinese).

The Cordyceps Mushroom (as it is often referred to) isn’t really a mushroom, but parasitic fungi with a pretty grizzly origin story. In short, the fungi grow on (and in) the lave of insects and replace the host tissue and produce long stems which outgrow the host’s body. Weird right!? The image below shows two things- the host (yellow-y body of an insect) and the fungi itself (the long dark strand). This type of Cordyceps is known as a ‘fruiting body’.

The fungi and the rest of the insect remains is collected and ground up. Cordyceps mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for a whole load of health issues: like fatigue, sickness, kidney function, and (of course) sex drive. The ‘fruiting bodies’ are extremely rare and cannot be grown artificially, which makes the natural Cordycups particularly expensive and rare- most of the extracts found are grown synthetically or elsewhere.

There are over 400 species of Cordyceps known, but popularity in the fungi has exploded due to two: Cordyceps Sinensis and Cordyceps Militaris.

Like most things from the traditional and natural remedy world, science hasn’t caught up in terms of human trials. So while most of the evidence is based on Lab or Animal trials, it is clear to see that there is certainly very exciting potential!

So what are the benefits of Cordyceps? (a more detailed scientific study can be found here if you have the time, or love really, really in-depth scientific stuff)

 

Cordyceps

 

Physical Exercise – Cordyceps CS-4

One of the benefits of Cordyceps which has been explored in Humans is its ability to potentially increase performance during exercise, and use oxygen more efficiently.

It has been said that the fungi were discovered by Yak Herders in Tibet (the Folklaw is that yaks grazed on the fungi and became more energetic) and assisted the herders to higher altitudes where oxygen is hard to find. It has since been proved that Cordyceps can actually improve the use of oxygen by cells.

It is thought that the fungi can increase the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which delivers energy to our muscles. A study explored the impact of Cordyceps and exercise found that there was a potential for an improved VO2 max (your maximum lung efficiency/ fitness levels) showing that the fungi may help our body use oxygen effectively. The trial consisted of 30 adults who were given 3 grams of Cordyceps CS-4 (part of the Cordyceps Sinensis family) or a placebo for six weeks. Those who were given the placebo did not show any improvement, while those given the fungi showed a 7% increase in their VO2 max.

From what can be found in the studies, it does not seem as though professional athletes or sportspeople have been used in an experiment, so it is hard to say what impact the Cordyceps CS-4 a have on their ability to perform. It may be worth asking the 1993 Chinese women’s team at the national games broke 9 world records- their secret? Apparently Cordyceps. They won’t hurt right?!

There are other studies showing the same kinds of improvements to VO2 max, or an increase in other indicators used to measure physical performance which shows that this isn’t a one-off. With many things in the natural well-being world, the claims about natural remedies are often speculation or unsubstantiated; but this, is proven in modern science.

So, while Lion’s Mane is for the mind- Cordyceps is for the body!

 

Great for Your Liver & Kidney

Enzymes are essential to the way that you Liver works. There are some murmurings that the fungi normalizes liver enzymes and can inhibit steatohepatitis or retard cirrhosis. According to one study, patients who were suffering from post hepatic cirrhosis saw a dramatic improvement in their liver function after a 3 months trial of daily Cordyceps supplements. Second, to this, kidney function had also shown improvements after a 3-5g dose per day during another study exploring the benefits of Cordyceps Sinensis.

From the research we have come across, the studies have mainly been on mice – which so the same, or similar, results. As far as we can see, there are not enough human trials to say conclusively whether this can be substantiated… although the fungi were associated with kidney function long before modern science became interested.

 

Antioxidant

Much like its fungi cousin, Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps have been found to contain high levels of antioxidants which are essential for our body to reduce the effects of ‘free radicals’. This fact alone means that the fungi may have an impact on a huge array of issues caused by ‘free radicals’.

There have been studies which showed that a regular supplement of Cordyceps has been found to increase the lifespan of a mouse by up to seven months, and increase the life cycles of fruit flies.

There is yet to be any evidence of whether or not Cordyceps has an ‘antiaging’ effect on humans, but we know that they contain plenty of antioxidants which are great for our overall well-being.

 

May Reduce Inflammation

Once again, while the effects in humans are largely unknown, some studies in labs and animals have found that Cordyceps may have huge potential as an anti-inflammatory.

Human cells produce proteins that are part of our body’s inflammatory response; when they are exposed to Cordyceps extract it is found that the production of the proteins is reduced. This can be backed up by a study which provided evidence that inflammation was reduced in the airway of the mice, and can help with inflammation of the skin when applied topically.

Both of these studies show potential and could lead to more in-depth studies that will help us know for sure whether Cordyceps can actually reduce inflammation in humans.

While there is little in the way of human research into the benefits of Cordyceps for humans, it is clear to see that these little fungi will be ideal additions to a healthy lifestyle.

 

May Support Immune System

Our immune system is our body’s layered defense against invading pathogens which can cause us harm. When a pathogen breaks through our physical barriers (like the skin, or into the digestive system) our body triggers its defensive mechanisms and an immune response is activated to protect us from a life-threatening infection; this includes the production and activation of a number of cells to hunt down and battle the infection.

Cordyceps Sinensis has been used as a natural treatment for infections long before modern science understood exactly what the fungi can do. In animal trials, it was found that Cordyceps Sinensis protected mice from the proliferation of bacteria by activating macrophages, and enhanced the activity of natural killer cells (which are both parts of the immune system).The fungi also has been found to promote cellular and humoral immunity which is part of the ‘adaptive immune system’ by aiding the production of a whole range of other cells that at are used in an immune response.

Our immune system lives on a delicate balance, and can sometimes be overactive and attack cells that are part of our body. The naturally occurring Cordyceps Sinensis has been found to also regulate our immune system, and reduced the body’s response to a transplant in mice.

While all of these studies have benefits of Cordyceps in mice, human trials are yet to show promise. While the fungi has been used in traditional natural remedy prescriptions, modern science need to understand further the real impact of the fungi!

 

Happy Gut, Happy Body

The secret to a healthy body is certainly what is given to the gut. After all, food is the most important factor in modern well-being. Not only do we use the food to fuel our bodies, but to absorb essential fatty acids, phytochemicals and nutrients to ensure the maintenance of immune homeostasis. Our gut plays a huge role in protecting our body from pathogens that invade our body through our nose or mouth. If our gut isn’t working

While the fungi have not been found to have a direct effect on the immune system, a hot water supplement of Cordyceps Sinensis improved the balance of happy bacteria (Lactocbacillus) in the lower intestinal tract of mice which can help prevent harmful levels of deadly bacteria like Salmonella or E.Coli.

Our Gut is a delicate ecosystem, and while human studies into the gut-boosting potential of the Cordyceps fungi it is clear to see that the fungi is pretty great for our well-being.

 

Cordyceps Side Effects & Drug interactions

As trials develop in humans, we will start to learn more about the side effects of Cordyceps but there is very little evidence that there are any negative side effects of the fungi at low doses. It is also very safe to assume (certainly after centuries of use in Chinese medicine) that it is non-toxic. There are however, a number of key individuals who should avoid taking a Cordyceps supplement:

  • The pregnant or nursing: While there is very little evidence to suggest that Cordyceps are not safe to use during pregnancy or breast-feeding, it may be best to stay on the safe side
  • Auto-immune Diseases: As discussed above, there is potential for the fungi to increase the activity of the immune system, which may in turn increase the symptoms of Auto-immune issues.
  • Bleeding or Surgery: Cordyceps may slow the clotting process. If you already have a bleeding issue, or are about to go into surgery, it may be best to avoid the fungi too!

There is also some important information about the potential interactions that Cordyceps may have with drugs:

  • Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar)
  • Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants)
  • Prednisolone

 

Conclusions

After decades of being used in Chinese medicine, it is pretty clear that there is a use for the Cordyceps fungi. While human trials on many of these benefits are light, its use over hundreds of years tells us that it is pretty damn good for our body. What we know for sure is that Cordyceps CS-4 can increase physical performance (& stamina) in humans and has been backed by science. Otherwise, the lab and animal testing show promise as a great food supplement to support our wider well-being.

Lion’s Mane Benefits (& Side Effects)

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Benefits of the Lion’s Mane (& Side Effects)

The more that you look into it, the more you can see that mother nature has produced some rather amazing substances that help our bodies thrive. While there is ongoing research into the benefits of Cannabinoids (particularly CBD & THC), we started our own exploration of other sources of natural well-being; after all, what we eat has a huge impact on how well our bodies work.

After some digging (not literally) we came across one of the most overlooked, yet powerful, natural remedies which many have been cringing at for years. Yes, that well-being trend is fungi (or mushrooms).

For most of us, mushrooms are weird, squidgy, and squashed things that you stay away from because they look, funny and could be harmful. At a closer look, these sprouting fungi are way more beneficial than what meets the eye! The world of fungi is truly a rabbit hole of amazing discoveries that are not yet fully understood…. but let us start small today with one of the most popular medicinal mushrooms in the UK; Lion’s Mane.

So today, we are going to be discussing the benefits of the Lion’s Mane Mushroom (also known as Hericium Erinaceus in gibberish) and why these fungi are particularly special?

What Are Lion’s Mane Mushrooms?

Lion’s mane mushrooms are unlike any mushrooms you can buy at the supermarket- they are large white shaggy growths that look a lot like a Lion’s Mane (hence their name). They grow in spines and are often found on hardwoods in England, North America, Europe and Asia. The fungi have been used for traditional medicinal purposes for centuries in India, China, Korea and Japan but until recently have been largely unknown to western well-being.

The Lion’s Mane mushrooms themselves are often eaten raw (it apparently tastes like crab/lobster), cooked, dried (and ground into a powder) or steeped as tea (huge tradition of medicinal tea in China). What is most interesting to us, is that the Lion’s Mane extract is sold as an over-the-counter health supplement which is mostly to do with the bioactive substances found in the mushroom; many of which can have profound benefits to our cognitive function, our heart health, and digestive system.

So let us delve deeper into what potential well-being benefits the Lion’s Mane Mushroom possesses (and what are the side effects of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms)

May Support Cognitive Function

One of the most interesting and widely-studied benefits of Lion’s Mane mushroom is it’s potential to enhance cognitive function and brainpower. Although there have been very few human studies, it was found that the mushroom acted as a nootropic and improved memory, recognition, and cognition for mice.

It has been found that there are two compounds that are produced in Lion’s Mane which stimulate the regeneration and growth of neurons, and help the production of new pathways in the brain: Hericenones and Diterpenoil Erinacines.

Our cognitive function would not be the same without them. Our brain is like a muscle- the more you use your muscles the stronger, faster, and more resilient they become; our brain works in a very similar way during a process known as Synapse Potentiation. This is the process of the pathways in your brain growing and becoming stronger each time they are used. It is why our ability to learn, solve complex problems and ability to remember details improves when we push our brainpower.

In addition, there have been links drawn between Lion’s Mane as a potential preventative measure to degenerative brain issues in older adults. A study found that cognitive functionality and memory was improved for elderly adults while taking a Lion’s Mane supplement, and then disappeared when the supplement was stopped.

Potential for Nerve Recovery

The more you learn about the body, it seems the less you really know. We often take for granted how complex our body actually is. Our nervous system is such a delicate and important network that sends signals from the brain, to the rest of the body.

While there have been almost zero studies for humans, animal studies have shown that a high dose of Lion’s Mane extract could potentially aid the repair, and growth of nerve cells. The recovery from a nerve injury was found to increase between 23-41% in rats.

It is hard to say whether this actually translates into humans, but the findings are certainly very interesting and bring up a lot of questions.

Digestive & Immune System Support

A happy gut is a happy body. It is a fact. The old saying – ‘Listen to your gut’ – has never had so much forgotten meaning. It is an absolute fact that our gut plays a huge role in the well-being of the rest of our body, and our mind. After all, it is where our body gets the fuel to survive.

Arguably, the cause of a vast array of modern illnesses is caused by our diet of overly fatty, salty, sugary, and processed foods.

A number of studies have looked into the benefits of Lion’s Mane supplements, for the digestive system. They found that the mushroom may help to protect our natural ‘good bacteria’ balance and the health of our gut. Lion’s Mane has been found to reduce the levels of a bacteria called H. Pylori which is a known cause of stomach ulcers. The mushroom extract was also found to protect against alcohol-induced ulcers during animal trials. Interesting, but still better things to come.

There is also speculation as to whether or not Lion’s Mane Mushroom can actually reduce inflammation in the lower digestive system, helping many cope with intestinal and bowel problems. The jury is still out, but some studies have shown than a ‘Mushroom Complex’ (containing lots of mushrooms) can aid against inflammation in the lower digestive system.

Finally, the Mushroom has also been liked to improving our body’s response to pathogens that enter our body in the nose, and mouth by increasing the activity of our digestive immune system. This is found to be due to its ability to keep our gut bacteria balance happy. In animal trials, a mouse infected with the deadly salmonella bacteria lived up to 4 times longer while given a Lion’s Mane extract.

It is important to note that most of the studies included here were not completed on humans; more research is needed!

Inflammation & Oxidative Stress

Every single day of our lives, we experience some level of inflammation. It is a completely natural part of our body’s immune response to potential damage.

While inflammation can be helpful, chronic inflammation can cause some serious well-being issues. Continued inflammation can be caused by what is called ‘oxidative stress’ in the body, which is when your body has more ‘free radicals’ than antioxidants (these are what prevents the free-radicals from damaging your cells). This makes antioxidants very important to ensuring that our body is working normally, and healthily.

Research has shown that Lion’s Mane has the fourth highest levels of antioxidants out of 14 mushroom species studied and is recommended as a potential antioxidant supplement. While the benefits of Lion’s Mane in humans is still undergoing research, studies in animals have been found to be very promising.

Mental Health

As part of its ability to help regenerate cells in the hippocampus (deals with mood in the brain) and it’s anti-inflammatory potential, Lion’s Mane is seen to have mild benefits for improving depression and anxiety. While mice have been the only test subjects for major studies, a human study had found that the mushroom extracts had lowered the anxiety and irritation levels in menopausal women. In animal studies, it was found that the mushroom made changes to the Hippocampus, which when dysfunctioning is the cause of mood disorders.

Mental health is a very serious subject to discuss for us, and we take almost everything with a pinch of salt. What we certainly know is that the benefits Lion Mane holds for our brain function makes total sense. Anecdotal evidence has suggested that regular consumption of Lion’s Mane has lead to a ‘greater clarity’ in mind. While once again, human studies need to be extended, the benefits of Lion’s Mane on mental health could be a huge discovery in regards to natural well-being alternatives.

Lion’s Mane Side Effects & Drug Interactions

Lion Mane extracts have been used in traditional remedies for centuries, so it is fairly safe to assume that the mushrooms are not harmful to humans at any level. Even in high doses, there is no evidence that there can be a toxic or harmful buildup in our body – in saying this, detailed human studies need to be done to discover the real effects of a high dosage.

There are however, a few groups of people who need to be careful when consuming these mushrooms; like all fungi, there is a potential for an allergic reaction. So if you have a sensitivity to mushrooms, you should consider avoiding Lion’s Mane.

For the same reasons, anybody who suffers from a respiratory condition (like asthma), or a bleeding issue should speak to a medical professional, or avoid the mushroom. This advice also extends to those who are nursing or are pregnant, have low blood sugar levels, and those who are due to have surgery.

From what we can find, some people experience nausea & vomiting, diarrhea or a rash.

There are also no known drug interactions when taking Lion’s Mane.

Conclusions

Across the board here, human studies to determine the benefits of Lion’s Mane are thin, however, we can say for certain that the mushroom has been a key feature in plenty of traditional remedies. So while the jury is still out on whether or not the Lion’ Mane benefits can be substantiated, we know for sure that the mushroom is pretty damn good for our health.

The same goes for the Lion’s Mane side effects – it seems that every experience may be different, and based on either a sensitivity to mushrooms or personal experience.

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