Are you one of those people that has always been tempted to use CBD but held back because you didn’t know the facts? Or maybe you just started using it, but are overwhelmed by all the jargon accompanying the products and don’t know how to move forward. Even if you are a regular user who is fairly confident, keep reading!
Can you imagine going to the library, looking up your topic, and searching the shelves for a bunch of books and magazines about cannabis and hemp, CBD facts, etc.? And then checking them out under the watchful eye of a librarian before heading home to read them all, hoping to find and understand the key topics you are looking for? Gen X’ers and above are familiar with this concept. But now you have the internet!
The internet can be full of useful information readily available to the masses from the comfort of your own home! However, not everything found on the internet is helpful. In fact, it can be a headache to find accurate and factual data. Even harder to judge what is or is not. In this article, you will build your knowledge base regarding CBD in a way that will leave you feeling confident that you have the basic information necessary to enjoy your use and not sweat it! Special thanks to the Hypothesis Journal for aiding with our CBD fact checking process!
You’re going to read about basics such as what CBD is and where it comes from, the various forms it comes in today, what happens in your body when you use it, and of course, what is legal in the UK. A guide to how different types of products relate to each other and their effects will also be included.
Armed with all of this knowledge, you should be able to forge ahead with confidence on your own CBD journey. Let’s get started!
The Basics of CBD
CBD or cannabidiol is one of over a hundred cannabinoids found in some plants in the “Cannabis Sativa L” family. It makes up around 40% of the plant’s extract.
CBD is non-intoxicating, meaning that its use does not result in the typical “high” that is commonly associated with cannabis in general. THC, another cannabinoid found in cannabis is responsible for that intoxicating feeling. Since CBD does not give the user the feeling of intoxication, it is considered non-addictive as well, as opposed to the THC found in marijuana and other forms of cannabis.
History And Uses Of Cannabis and Hemp
Human beings have had a long history with CBD. Both cannabis and hemp plants have been used by people in many different ways. These versatile plants have much to offer and mankind has taken advantage of their benefits for thousands of years.
- Hemp Seeds – rich in nutrients, hemp seeds were commonly ground down into flours, pressed for the extraction of their oils, or even eaten whole as part of a healthy diet.
- Rope and Textiles – the most widely known use of cannabis and hemp besides consumption is using their fibres to make textiles and rope.
- Medicinal Benefit – people historically looked to the use of leaves and flowers from the cannabis and hemp plants because of their medicinal benefits.
One thing most people don’t realize is that cannabis and hemp are not the same things. They are both plants within the “Cannabis Sativa L” family. While there are both CBD oils and hemp oils available for purchase today, they are not the same thing.
- The hemp plant variety of the “Cannabis Sativa L” family contains low levels of THC – less than 0.2%
- Hemp oil is created when the seeds from the hemp plant are pressed for extraction
- Hemp oil is high in Omega-3 fatty acids
- Hemp oil can be used to make salad dressings, used as cooking oil or consumed in raw form
- The leaves and flowers of the hemp plant can be used to create food supplements
- Hemp can be used in the production of fuels, bio-plastics, and paints
- Hemp is used in the production of some CBD oil products on the market today
- Cannabis contains much higher levels of THC than hemp
- Because of its high levels of THC, cannabis is intoxicating
- Recreational use is highly associated with cannabis
- Cannabis is used in the production of some CBD oil products on the market today
In What Forms Is CBD Oil Sold Today?
CBD oil is sold in many different forms on the market today.
- It is available as drops, also known as tinctures, which are applied on or under the tongue or added to food or drink.
- Edibles such as gummies or sweets are available to consume as a nice treat.
- E-liquids are for vaping and are inhaled using an electric vaporiser.
- Often combined with other natural homeopathic ingredients, CBD oil is also used to form salves, balms or creams for topical use.
- Capsules of CBD are sold; think your daily vitamin.
- CBD Hemp teas are available for drinking or cooking.
- The spray form of CBD oil is also available and is squirted under the tongue.
We’ll go into each of these forms of CBD oil a bit later in a guide that you can use to help you decide which might be best for you.
How Does CBD Work In Your Body?
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
To understand how CBD works in your body, you first need to understand the Endocannabinoid System or ECS.
The Endocannabinoid System, or ECS, is present in both CBD users and non-CBD-users. It exists within all human bodies. In simple terms, the Endocannabinoid System is an intricate system that directs our cells to perform a particular way. The ECS has many different types of endocannabinoid receptors throughout our bodies. This is emerging science and much research is being done to identify these and how they work.
Our bodies are complex; so many different components working together smoothly to keep us going. The Endocannabinoid System works to help maintain that stable state between our systems and in turn, keep us healthy.
Many things can throw our bodily functions out of whack. Extreme temperatures that make us exceedingly hot or cold, the stress of working overtime and trying to balance family life, or if you’ve contracted a cold or virus. Any of these factors and more can throw your body off balance.
The ECS helps support your systems while they work hard to get back to that state of homeostasis, which is known to help prevent a large variety of chronic conditions and diseases.
So how does this all relate to CBD? When CBD is used, it binds to the endocannabinoid receptors and proteins known as CB1 and CB2 receptors. These two receptors are located in both our peripheral and central nervous systems.
Although in the early stages, research is showing that when CBD attaches to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, it may help your endocannabinoid system (ECS) work better, and in turn, keep your body in a healthier state.
How Will Using CBD Make You Feel?
One common misconception about CBD is that it is a pain killer. This is untrue. Using CBD usually does not give you an immediate effect. An overall feeling of relaxation and being grounded is typically how users describe the effects of CBD use. The amount of CBD taken and many factors about the person taking it can contribute to the strength of the effects one feels.
Bioavailability is a term that refers to the speed and rate at which CBD is absorbed into your body. It affects how fast you will start to feel the product working, and how long it will remain in your system. You’ll want to keep this in mind when you’re choosing what type of CBD to purchase. It’s a good way to judge if a product has what you’re looking for and what to expect from it. Informed shopping is the way to go. If you don’t know what to expect, you might be left disappointed with your results.
CBD is non-intoxicating, meaning it does not give you the “high” feeling that you would have if you were to use THC. Because of its non-intoxicating properties, it is not likely that someone would form an addiction or dependence to CBD. Regular users of CBD report health benefits similar to common health supplements.
Is CBD Oil Legal For Purchase And Use In The UK?
First, let’s talk about cannabis oil. Cannabis oil is defined as an oil having detectable amounts of THC. This is not the type of CBD oil you find readily available on the market. That’s because this type of oil is not legal. Confused? Here is a little background.
Certain people suffering from MS were the only ones legally permitted to purchase and use cannabis oil before November 2018. And even then, it was highly unlikely such a prescription could be obtained. The cannabis oil had to be prescribed by a medical professional and they were not handed out easily.
A cannabis spray known as Sativex which contained both CBD and THC was available with a prescription, however, the product was expensive and deemed not to be cost-effective by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
Leading up to November 2018, a large campaign was led by families of children suffering from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome, rare forms of epilepsy who were seeking the legalization of cannabis oil to include them as well. These conditions had proven to be drug-resistant, and the families believed that cannabis oil could benefit their children and ease their symptoms.
In November 2018, the UK government announced cannabis oils could be legally obtained by anyone with a prescription from a medical professional.
While the purchase or sale of cannabis in the UK remains illegal without a prescription from a medical professional, most CBD products on the market today are legal. There are strict rules and regulations that manufacturers of CBD oils must follow. These include the ways they produce their products, the contents of their products, and the method in which their products are marketed to consumers.
If you live in Europe, you’re in luck. CBD companies like Nutra CBD sell both cannabis oil (in deutsch, wietolie) and CBD oil (in deutsch, CBD olie) via their official website, but shipping is only inside the Netherlands (where they are based).
In regards to legal marketing in the UK, any manufacturer or seller of CBD oil cannot claim that their product has any medicinal benefits. Any medicinal products sold in or by businesses require that that business must have the right marketing authorisation according to UK guidelines in order to legally be sold, supplied or advertised, unless exempt.
The Misuse of Drug Regulations 2001 (also known as MDR 2001) refers to a specific set of requirements a product must meet if it is to be deemed exempt and in turn, legal. An exempt product would be a food supplement product sold without the intent of medical use or for medicinal benefit or purpose.
Purchase Legal – Criteria To Look For When Shopping For Products
When you’re shopping for products, keep these things in mind. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll ensure that you are purchasing legally.
- The item cannot have the controlled substances THC, CBN (cannabinol), or CBDV (cannabidivarin) recoverable in the product.
- The manufacturer or seller cannot be marketing the product as having medicinal properties or that users can benefit from it medically.
- The item must contain less than 1mg of THC, CBN (cannabinol), and CBDV (cannabidivarin), which are considered controlled substances.
CBD Oils – A Guide – Finding What’s Right For You
Take Your Time And Search For Quality
As with any product, not all CBD products are created equal. While there are many different types of CBD (Isolate, Nano-Isolate, Full-Spectrum, and Broad-Spectrum), there are some things to remember when looking for a good quality CBD oil.
Look For THC Levels Within Legal Limits
Always do your homework! When purchasing CBD products you will want to buy from a business selling a product with a certificate of analysis proving its legality. If there is no certificate, you should continue shopping for one that does.
Look For CBD Content That Is Easily Measurable
You’ll probably notice while shopping that some products boast about certain percentages of CBD (5%, 15%, 20%, etc). These percentages make it more difficult to figure out just exactly how much CBD you are ingesting and can make proper dosing difficult.
Look for milligram (mg) listed on product labeling (10mg, 15mg, 40mg, etc) instead of percentages. This will make tracking your use much easier and in turn, means you are looking at a more consumer-friendly brand.
Look For CBD Products That Were Extracted Using CO2 Supercritical Extraction
The type of extraction held in the highest esteem is CO2 Supercritical extraction. This extraction is considered best partly because it removes any chemical residues left over from the plant’s time in the soil. It is also because users will benefit from what is known as the entourage effect. This term is widely known in the CBD world. When all of the over 100 different types of cannabinoids and over 300 types of chemical compounds found in a plant are left together, they produce this highly sought after effect, found in Full-Spectrum CBD.
Look For Full-Spectrum CBD
Unlike any other form of CBD extracted, full-spectrum CBD holds the highest number of cannabinoids and terpenes that are found in a cannabis plant. Full-spectrum CBD oil contains other cannabinoids that are known to be beneficial such as CBN (Cannabinol), CBDa (Cannabidiol Acid), CBG (Cannabigerol), and CBGa (Cannabigerol Acid).
Studies are widespread in regards to all of the different types of cannabinoids found within a plant, as well as the waxes, lipids, flavonoids, chlorophyll, terpenes, and other phytonutrients included. When grouped, it is believed that they produce even more beneficial results; known as the entourage effect. If your product is full-spectrum, you’re set. If it contains the whole plant, this is even better!
Look For Third-Party Lab Tests
With all the products on the market with claims on purity and quality, it’s hard to judge which ones pack the punch that they promise. A good way to protect yourself from empty claims is to look for a brand that lists the full ingredients in their product. Reputable brands won’t mind showing you what their products contain right off the bat in their labeling.
Some CBD drops claiming to be good quality are actually synthetically created by a lab. Lab-created, CBD isolates, or crystal isolates are a synthetic form of CBD. None of the other cannabinoids found in a cannabis plant are included which means lower quality effects and definitely no entourage effect.
Look for third-party lab testing. Tests will provide factual data that will call out those synthetic cannabinoids and limited extracts.
Another thing to consider is that plants within the Cannabis Sativa L. family are bio-accumulators, meaning they take in the toxins found in their soil and environment such as heavy metal and other things naturally found in soil, or man-made influences such as farmers using fertilizers or pesticides.
You love data to back up the claims a product makes, right? Third-Party lab testing is the way to go and should show include testing for the following:
- Bacterial contamination
- Dangerous organic compounds
- Presence of pesticides
- Presence of mycotoxins
- Presence of heavy metals
- Presence of all cannabinoids
- Profiles of the presence of terpenes and their levels of potency
Look For CBD That Is Certified Organic and Free Of Toxins
In addition to lab-testing, you’ll want to look for a brand that can prove it is certified organic and free of toxins that can be left from soil contamination and the environment.
Certified organic brands include companies who have used organic seeds and have followed certified organic processes to harvest and extract ingredients, as well as bottling and packaging their products.
A business that is certified organic will have documentation and seals of approval regarding their status. Trustworthy brands are something we always look for regardless of what we’re shopping for. These businesses will take their organic status seriously and be happy to show this documentation loudly and proudly.
One popular brand that follows these principles is Blessed CBD. Their product comes from organically licensed farms, uses the supercritical CO2 extraction method and offers full-spectrum ingredients, separates toxins, and completes third-party lab testing to ensure that the final product is of the utmost quality before it is sent out for purchase. A small family business, Blessed CBD is not worried about the larger competition. They believe in their product and their customers seem to as well. Here’s some of the reviews they’ve received in the media:
The Different Types of CBD Products Available In The UK Today
As consumers, we have a responsibility to make informed purchases when we set out to purchase a product. This is especially important when you are shopping for something that is going to be put into your body.
Right now there are seven main forms of CBD available for purchase in the UK. This guide will tell you about each different type, the methods in which they are used, and their bioavailability (rate and speed of absorption).
The most popular way to consume CBD oil (cannabidiol) is by drops. Drops are taken orally. If taken by mouth, people usually feel the effects between thirty minutes to two hours. Effects could last as long as eight hours.
For use, it’s best to stand in front of a mirror so you can observe what you’re doing. Holding the dropper near your mouth is recommended to avoid any unnecessary spills or misses. You don’t want to waste your product!
For a faster effect, a sublingual application is recommended. To use drops sublingually, it’s best to use them right before a meal. Place your desired amount of drops under your tongue, holding them there for at least sixty seconds, then swallow the drops with a drink. Continue with your meal.
Using this method provides the fastest bioavailability rate, which is increased by an additional 36% from that of regular oral use such as mixing with food or swallowing on top of the tongue. When you use sublingually, the mucous membranes under your tongue absorb the CBD oil directly into your bloodstream.
Full-spectrum CBD oil drops that are certified organic and derived from the whole cannabis plant tend to taste strongly of hemp. This flavor is not for everyone. Because of that, you can mix drops inside smoothies or food to mask the taste if it is too strong for you. Another option is taking them right before a meal to help with the aftertaste. Doing this actually can raise the level of absorption.
CBD Capsules are taken orally similar to the way you take a multivitamin. Swallow with a glass of water or as directed and you’re good to go.
Capsules are preferred by certain people for a few different reasons. The strong hemp taste that goes along with drops is considerably less when swallowing capsules. They are also an easier way to track the amount you are taking as opposed to counting drops and making sure the right amount actually lands on your tongue.
The packaging is small enough and sturdy enough to carry with you in a pocket or purse when you’re on the move.
When you swallow capsules, they are absorbed through the GI tract. While this makes the effects a bit slower to take effect than drops, typically between one and two hours, the effect usually lasts longer, around eight hours.
If you have drops that you purchased but can’t stand the taste, empty capsules are usually available for purchase at your local pharmacy. Fill the capsules with your drops so you can use them up instead of pitching them.
- CBD as a Spray
CBD Sprays are, you guess it, sprayed, under the tongue. This is a sublingual application so the oils are being absorbed directly into the bloodstream. They are milder in concentrate, but this method of application promises fast results.
Coconut oil is the most commonly used carrier oil for CBD sprays. CBD oil, which is usually thick, is diluted and thinned in order to be paired with the carrier.
This type of product comes in a wide variety of flavors, adding to their appeal. Hemp taste and hemp breath be gone!
Spray bottles are easy to carry and people prefer the spray bottles over carrying drops because the risk of leakage is reduced.
CBD sprays are diluted so their effects are milder in general, however, strong sprays are starting to pop up on the market. These higher strength sprays are something to watch for sure!
- CBD Vapes and E-Liquids
Vapes and e-liquids are placed into a carrier solution just like sprays, however, the type of carrier for vapes are usually vegetable glycerine. To use a vape or e-liquid, you must purchase an electronic vaporiser. Vaporisers come in a variety of styles.
Vapes and e-liquids offer the highest rate of bioavailability on the market because they are being absorbed directly through your respiratory system. In as little as five to ten minutes, users will start feeling the effects as it enters the bloodstream. While vaping offers the fastest rate of absorption, it leaves the body at a much faster rate, usually within three hours.
Like CBD sprays, vapes and e-liquids come in many different flavours and it is reported that this type of CBD hides that super-strong hemp flavour better than any other method.
CBD gummies and other sweets are also known as edibles. Plain and simple, you eat them. They can be an enjoyable change to other types of CBD and are widely popular. If you’re wanting to get away from the hemp taste entirely, switch it up to gummies.
There is a downside to these; most of them contain added sugars. It’s easy to sit down with a bag of gummies and lose track of just how many you’ve popped into your mouth. Make sure you track them! You don’t want to consume too high of a dose.
The other thing to take into consideration when you purchase gummies or other edibles is that they can often look like candy. Children and even other unsuspecting adults in your household might mistake these for regular candies. If you choose to purchase edibles, safely storing them out of reach of children and keeping the other adults in your household informed is extremely important.
- CBD Hemp Tea
Hemp tea contains high levels of CBDa, another cannabinoid that accompanies CBD. Whether it is seeds, leaves, buds, flowers, stems– dried parts of the cannabis plant can be smoked, inhaled, cooked or even vaporised. You get a different set of those phytonutrients, terpenes, and cannabinoids than you do from oil extracts.
For best results, take a nice cup of hemp tea accompanied by a dose of CBD oil right before a meal that is rich in healthy fats.
Hemp tea is a popular choice because it is extremely affordable and can be introduced into your normal tea taking routine.
Applied topically, CBD balms, CBD creams, or CBD salves are typically combined with other essential oils to boost their effects. They are applied to the skin and absorbed by the blood vessels within. It’s best to apply topicals on damp skin right after a shower because the pores are open and absorb quickly. You can also heavily rub into dry skin. Rubbing will warm the skin and allow the pores to open.
While CBD is generally considered safe, it’s a good idea to start with a low dosage and work your way up until you reach your desired level of effect. Try starting with two 10mg doses per day for a week. If that doesn’t do it, up your dose to two 20mg doses per day for the next week, and so on. Just don’t exceed 200mg, which is the max daily dosage for adults recommended by experts. Anything higher should be a suggestion from a medical professional who can monitor your use.
It may take some experimenting, but you’ll find the type of CBD oil that fits your lifestyle and helps you achieve the effects you desire.