Smoking cannabis comes with various complications: stained teeth, stinking of weed, getting to grips with Rizlas and eating your own body weight afterwards. Not to mention paranoia, and oh yeah, the whole being illegal thing. But taking CBD (aka Cannabidiol) is now so Mumsnet you can buy a bottle in Holland & Barrett.
But what is it? CBD comes from the cannabis plant, but it contains only trace elements of THC (the bit that gets you high) meaning it tends to leave you with a lovely, relaxed feeling. It's best known for relieving stress and anxiety, helping with sleep, alleviating depression and relieving pain.
But where is the fun in sitting at home by yourself, dropping CBD oil under your tongue? I say, get out there and enjoy its benefits in croissants, cocktails and chai turmeric lattes!
And so, after extensive in-person research, here is the ultimate guide to CBD in London.
CBD in London beers, cocktails and mocktails
Indie Beer, a bottle shop and tasting room on Holloway Road, is the place to go if you fancy trying a CBD infused craft beer. Run by Clare and Owen, Indie Beer stocks Green Times Brewing's High Flyer, which contains 10mg of CBD per 330ml bottle — although you won't find it on their website. "Our site host won't allow us to list it due to the CBD content" explains Owen. He describes the High Flyer as "quite floral and light" and low in alcohol content at 4.3%. Clare says she can't feel the effect of the CBD, while Owen is undecided. "It's hard to separate the effect of the CBD from the effect of the alcohol, and CBD is subtle anyway unless you have it in large doses.
"I feel it if I have a whole bottle, although it could be the placebo effect."
I share a bottle with my friend Janie, who decides, "it’s relaxing. Like having a glass of wine. It hits you harder than a normal beer — beer doesn't usually relax me.” I feel it too — it has a far stronger effect than half a bottle of beer usually would, but then, we're not High Flyer's usual customers.
"More men than women buy the High Flyer," says Owen, "I think women are put off by the cannabis logo"
"CBD can give people a different kind of buzz when they're not drinking!"
"Historically, cocktails were remedies to cure your ailments, so CBD fits very naturally with that," says Alex Harris, co-founder of Hackney bar Behind This Wall. The bar offers three CBD infused drinks; the damson gin based Chloe Martini, the Rizla Teeth aperitif, which contains a CBD white wine, and the alcohol-free Chitty-Chitty Bhang-Bhang that's sprinkled with chilli pepper flakes.
"CBD can give people a slightly different kind of buzz when they're not drinking alcohol," says Alex, adding that the Chitty-Chitty Bhang-Bhang is, "the most popular non-alcoholic serve we've ever done — and the Chloe Martini is our most popular ever cocktail."
Maison Bab's Gin & Chronic — a CBD infused gin sour — has been on the menu since the Covent Garden kebab house opened in October last year. Ed Brunet tells me that he and co-founder Stephen Tozer decided to incorporate CBD after discovering its health benefits, choosing to infuse a gin sour because, "it's a very approachable cocktail, which we thought was a good way to get as many people as possible to try it. Loads of people go for it who weren't previously familiar with CBD and it gets a really positive reaction!"
Farmacy on Westbourne Grove, has three 'organic, wildcrafted CBD' drinks on the menu; There's Something About Mary, made with vanilla infused vodka, the non-alcoholic Grass Me Up which contains raw coconut water, and the Acacia rum based Hot Shot.
Nutritionist Clarissa Lenherr says the interaction between alcohol and CBD hasn't yet been thoroughly researched, however: "The more alcohol you drink, the stronger the effects, and the same goes for CBD, so it's best to exercise moderation when it comes to CBD and alcohol mixes."
CBD in London coffees, hot chocolates and smoothies
If CBD calms you down, and caffeine revs you up, what happens when you drink a CBD latte? Nutritionist Clarissa says it depends on the dosage of the CBD because, "at low doses, CBD is a stimulant, but in high doses it can have sedative effects — so it's not as simple as one cancelling out the other."
However, as caffeine can increase anxiety, "perhaps taking CBD with caffeine could reduce the anxiety-provoking impact," says Clarissa, who notes that hot drinks in general may not be the best way to take CBD because, "research has shown that CBD’s effectiveness can be reduced when it's exposed to heat."
"This may be the hangover cure we've all been looking for..."
Reservations about temperature aside, Planet Organic's CBD Oil Coffee may just be the hangover cure we've all been looking for. After spending the day in bed, suffering the after-effects of Old Fashioneds followed by red wine, I get up only in time to meet my friend Janie at 4 o'clock in the afternoon.
Having dragged myself to the Planet Organic off Tottenham Court Road, I find myself perking up immeasurably after their double espresso with butter and CBD oil. "I look forward to coming to work every day so I can drink it," says team leader Alice, who is LOVELY (Note: I may be slightly biased because she blitzed my hangover).
Each coffee has five drops of Hemp Touch CBD oil, and Alice says she feels calm after drinking it, even though it's a double espresso. "I love the butter because it makes it so creamy," says Alice, adding that lots of regulars order it, "especially men before work."
Food therapist Olivia Nottin is the woman behind Chelsea's Matcha and Beyond, which has just launched its Unwind Matcha Latte, containing CBD from Pure Hemp Plus. "It's a high quality, organic, sustainable and ethically sourced CBD with a 10% concentration, compared to the 5% in most of the products on the high street," says Oliva, who adds that the latte comes with a choice of dairy, oat, coconut or almond milk.
"We'll add CBD to anything for £1!"
Muriel's Kitchen in South Kensington serves a range of speciality coffees, such as an activated charcoal latte, an organic matcha latte and a turmeric golden latte. CBD oil (supplied by The Drug Store) can be added to pretty much any of their drinks — including smoothies — for an extra £1.50.
Kalifornia Kitchen on Percy Street serves a beautiful CBD latte in peaceful pink surroundings, and Mortimer House Kitchen which is just around the corner, offers a range of drinks including a Chai Turmeric Latte, to which CBD can be added for an extra £1.
Brickwood Coffee serves a CBD coffee alongside some other enticing menu choices (see below) and Glow Bar on Mortimer Street calms customers with a Golden Moon Milk, a caffeine-free, almond milk based drink that offers the benefits of both turmeric and CBD. It's available iced, and staff are more than happy to add CBD to any of their other Moon Milks.
Farm Girl, with branches in Soho, Notting Hill and Chelsea, serves a Happy Hot Choc made of cacao powder, mint, matcha, CBD oil, date syrup and hazelnut milk. I tried it in their Carnaby Street space above Sweaty Betty, and not only is it delicious, but it immediately calmed me after something of a stressful day.
"It's a natural, alternative treatment for anxiety."
Rose Mann, co-owner of Farm Girl, created the Happy Hot Choc after being impressed by the positive effects of CBD when she took it herself for anxiety. Rose wants to raise awareness of CBD as a natural alternative treatment, and Farm Girl are happy to add CBD to any of the drinks on the menu, including their smoothies.
Chingford’s Feel Good Café boasts a Feel Good Essentials CBD Latte and a Hot Cacao Ceremony with CBD. Run by Idan and Izabela, The Feel Good Café has been open for three and half years, and it was the first vegan café to open in Walthamstow Forest.
They've had CBD on the menu since Idan started taking it himself, two years ago. "It's helped with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia," he says, "I used to be housebound, but I saw improvements after going vegan five years ago, and taking CBD gets rid of aches and helps me to sleep better."
For an extra £1, they’ll put CBD in anything on the menu, but Idan recommends having it with the Hot Cacao because, "cacao is a carrier, which means it delivers things to the body, so the CBD is delivered better to the body." Izabela says that some people have their CBD in cake, but points out, "the best way to take CBD is via drops under the tongue."
CBD in London food
"Early evidence has suggested that taking CBD alongside foods that are high in fat could help increase the bioavailability of the CBD," says nutritionist Clarissa. In other words, when my friend Alexis and I felt relaxed and peaceful after eating the amazing CBD croissants at Glow Bar, it was probably because the fat content of the croissant optimised the effect of the CBD.
So it's perhaps unsurprising that Brickwood Coffee have collaborated with CBD specialists The Drug Store to add a CBD infused espresso butter to the menu, which they'll serve alongside their signature banana bread. The Aussie inspired café, which welcomes well behaved dogs, has branches in Clapham, Balham, Streatham, Tooting and Shoreditch. Specialising in brunch, their CBD scrambled eggs sound like a winner.
Sydney Rocks Artisan Coffee in Southgate serves Marshmallowist's Cannabis, Grapefruit + Pink peppercorn marshmallows, which are infused with CBD. Stavros Michalakis, owner of the independent coffee shop that opened just before Christmas says: "We've carefully selected the finest products from the best producers and we couldn't be happier with the CBD infused marshmallows.
"There's been a huge interest from our customers and they've proved hugely popular!"
Farmacy on Westbourne Grove serves an absolutely divine "High Tea" including CBD infused truffles, and Yogland — just a few doors down from Farmacy — serves a limited edited CBD infused Hemp Matcha Frozen Yoghurt. Keep an eye on their social media for availability!
CBD in London yoga, gong baths, massage... and speed dating
CBD oil from Pure Hemp Plus is included in the Easy Like Sunday Zen Yoga Spa Day Retreat run by Kelly McHugh at Good Yoga Life. It takes place at The Treehouse, a secret garden loft in Shoreditch, and the CBD can be taken at the start of the day, before the 75 minute vinyasa flow class, which is followed by beauty treatments, a yin yoga practise and a gong bath (which is when you lie there while someone bangs gongs — it's more relaxing than it sounds).
I went to Kelly's first — sold out — CBD spa day. It was truly zen, and the idea of combining CBD with yoga was a winner with everyone I spoke to. Tracy, who does yoga regularly, said this was the first time she'd tried CBD, and it made her feel floaty and relaxed; while a woman who takes CBD every night before bed, said it was, "nice to have a ritual at the start of the class."
The next CBD spa day is in May, and if they continue to be popular, they’ll run monthly until September.
Sue Yen Wan is a yoga instructor whose regular classes are listed on her website, but keep an eye on her Insta for news of her one-off events, such as her CBD yin yoga class at the Om Yoga Show at Alexandra Palace in October, and also her CBD gong baths taking place at Evolve Wellness Centre in South Kensington. If their popularity continues, she'll be holding them monthly.
"We do an hour of yoga then a have a cup of CBD tea!"
The Feel Good Café offers hour long weekly yoga sessions, at 8am on a Wednesday. Classes cost £8.50 and a cup of CBD tea is included in the price. They've also launched a monthly speed-dating event, where each time you switch dates, you're served a CBD infused dish. "It could be a cake, a fratata, a vegan sausage roll — anything really!" says Izabela. Keep an eye on the Feel Good Café's Facebook or Insta for updates.
Gymbox has a deep stretch class called "Cannabliss" where CBD patches are handed out at the start of the class to anyone who wants one. The class is available at Cannon Street, Covent Garden and several other venues and you can read more here.
Camden's LDN CBD offers a massage using massage oil infused with CBD, and also a weekly yoga class. They incorporate the CBD oil into the savasana wind-down, and participants also have the option to put CBD oil on their temples and other pressure points at the start of the class.
"I vary the dose of CBD oil, depending on the desired effect."
Joy Ng at Deep Flow Therapy offers an Ayurvedic Yoga Massage using grapeseed oil mixed with various levels of CBD oil concentrates, depending on the client's body weight and the desired effect.
Joy started researching CBD earlier this year, after conversations with a cannabis reliant client who was suffering from skin issues. "I started playing around with different doses and my client gave me feedback," says Joy.
Working from a peaceful studio in Shoreditch, Joy's CBD massage includes assisted yoga stretches, and muscle manipulation using her feet as well as her hands to relieve physical tension, while the CBD oil, "aids in the relief of pain and skin conditions, as well as wound healing." She adds that CBD has, "many therapeutic benefits for the body and mind, and now it's legalised, it's a natural inclusion to my sessions."
Originally from Singapore, Joy is welcoming, calming — and jolly strong. She did something amazing to the back of my ankles, and after a unique cup of tea, I left feeling a lot lighter.
A-Z of where to find CBD in London
Behind This Wall 411 Mare Street, Hackney, E8 1HY
Brickwood Coffee Balham, Clapham, Streatham, Tooting and Shoreditch
Deep Flow Therapy Flat A 3 Gatesborough Street EC2A 4NS
Farm Girl Soho, Notting Hill, Chelsea
Farmacy 74-76 Westbourne Grove, W2 5SH
Glow Bar 70 Mortimer Street, W1W 7RY
Gymbox Various locations
Indie Beer 322 Holloway Road, N7 6NJ
Kalifornia Kitchen 19 Percy Street, Bloomsbury, W1T 1DY
LDN CBD 126 Camden Rd, NW1 9EE
Maison Bab 4 Mercer Walk, Covent Garden, WC2H
Matcha and Beyond 191 Kings Road, Chelsea, SW3 5ED
Mortimer House Kitchen 41 Mortimer St, Fitzrovia, W1T 3JH
Muriel's Kitchen 1-3 Pelham St, Kensington, London SW7 2ND
Planet Organic Various locations
Sydney Rocks Artisan Coffee 32 High Street, Southgate, N14 6EE
The Feel Good Café 49 Station Rd, Chingford, E4 7DA
Yogland 58 Westbourne Grove, W2 5SH
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