All CBD products available in the UK are derived from hemp – a branch of the cannabis plant which has naturally very low concentrations of THC (the psychoactive compound that makes people ‘high’).
CBD and THC make up the primary composition of the hemp (around 80-90% depending on the strain) but there are also hundreds of other trace cannabinoids which make up the plant.
The hemp is processed with the aim of removing as much THC as possible in order to make it legal for sale in the UK – something we’ll talk about further on.
During processing, the objective is either to create an ‘isolate’ whereby the end product is as pure CBD as possible, or ‘full spectrum’ which retains a much greater quantity of those additional non-psychoactive compounds.
By taking CBD scientists believe that it stimulates our body’s own endocannabinoid system. This is comprised of many receptors dotted around the body. These are labelled as CB1 (for the brain & nervous system) and CB2 (for smaller organs and the immune system).
Nobody is quite sure how it works and research is still ongoing, but some people report that it may be able to help with various health issues. Be aware that under UK law, nobody can make grandiose or universal claims to what these may be, or if they’ll indeed work. Always be wary of any company that promise specific health benefits or cures.
How Do You Take CBD?
Until quite recently there was a very limited range of methods for taking a dose. The good news is that nowadays there are plenty.
Here’s a quick run through of the four main methods. All of these products come in a wide range of strengths.
The skin provides a great way of absorbing CBD into the system with minimal wastage – but of course, the issue concerns measuring out a precise dose.
Most of the time these tend to be quite low strength but more concentrated versions have recently become available.
Do bear in mind that only products labelled as skincare lotions or words to that effect are suitable for use on the face. Body butters will most likely contain oils that aren’t suitable for facial use, and this can often prove counterproductive.
British law stipulates that the legal maximum limit for THC content in any CBD product is 0.2%.
You’ll notice when shopping around that the best vendors tend to take this extremely seriously; often to the extent of publishing independent ‘batch testing’ results to prove how little is in their product.
There’s not been a single case of any product manufactured in the UK failing in this regard.
If you’re planning on travelling abroad with any CBD product, we’d strongly recommend that you read this article for further advice.
What About Side Effects?
CBD will not make anyone high no matter how much they take. It’s perfectly safe to drive while taking it routinely and once again, to date, there has not been a single incidence of anyone failing a drugs test due to taking these supplements.
A minority of people claim to be allergic entirely to THC but in absolute honesty take those claims with a pinch of salt.
No matter how pure a company claims their extracts are, there will always be a minuscule trace of THC left over.
Will It Help Or Cure Me?
Careful what you’re asking! There are strict – and heavily enforced – limits on what people can say regarding any health giving properties that this supplement may provide.
Even describing it as a ‘health supplement’ is on dodgy ground – which is why ‘food/dietary supplement’ is the preferred description.
Plenty of vendors – even those with great products – go as far as to insinuate that it can help with a wide variety of health issues. They really ought not be doing so.
Why is this so important? It’s essential to understand that everyone’s body chemistry is different.
Some people may find that CBD gives their endocannabinoid system a necessary boost, whilst others may notice no enhancement regardless of how strong a dose they take. So a universal claim that “this will cure your acne” or “it will cure you of your depression” is simply not the case.
The best way to consider this is to do your own research and make up your own mind. There are stacks of resources online where people anecdotally discuss their personal experiences with CBD. You only need to google your condition + CBD to find out if it’s worth trying out for yourself. Just never forget that there’s NO guarantee!
CBD Oil vs Cannabis Oil
At the moment the CBD market is loosely/barely regulated. Consequently, manufacturers can label their products pretty much whatever they like. On the whole, the vast majority do actually market their wares as being CBD oil/e-liquids/balms etc thanks to the exposure that the scene is currently experiencing.
The media still commonly refer to these benign products as being cannabis oil, which despite being created from the same plant is a different thing altogether.
Cannabis oil became legal in the UK at the end of 2018 – but only under prescription and for people in extreme circumstances. To date, very few GPs have handed out prescriptions.
The core difference is that cannabis oil contains much more THC – well above that allowed under governmental rules for the CBD market.
CBD products on the other hand, and regardless of how they are labelled, can be purchased by anyone in total legality. No prescription is required.
What Are Full Spectrum Oils?
Often also referred to as ‘whole plant’, full spectrum oils are refined in a manner to maintain as many of the dozens upon dozens of additional cannabinoids found in quality hemp.
The aim is to reduce the THC content as far as possible (and under the legal limit of course).
It’s a precise science as the further the extraction of the THC goes, the more of these excess cannabinoids are also removed.
Full spectrum oils therefore are going to contain a trace more THC than standard isolates.
“What’s the point?” we hear you ask. Well, there’s a considerable and growing proportion of the CBD community who believe that full spectrum oils are much more effective at absorbing into the body.
Make no mistake – this is far from an exact science so far – but these whole plant oils have considerably expanded recently as people who have not enjoyed success with isolates find these perhaps more effective.
Depending on the manufacturer these can contain anything from just a few cannabinoids to several dozen which is why it’s wise to check out those who provide online test results. It’s always better to know what you are buying! Three to look out for are:
Believed to considerably enhance the effective absorption of CBD. While closely related to THC it retains zero psychoactive effects. While research is ongoing and by no means take this as gospel, it is focusing on the potential that THCV may have for regulating blood sugars and may be of use in diabetic insulin control. Some experts believe it can also potentially help with controlling the nervous system and maybe even stimulate bone growth.
A considerably lesser investigated cannabinoid and one which little is really understood at present. It is believed to help bind other cannabinoids together in what is often referred to as the ‘entourage effect’. While the term may sound like a marketing gimmick, it has actually been in use since the 1970’s among those who have been investigating the potential of medical marijuana.
Even less understood but also considered to be a useful ingredient in full spectrum CBD. Kind of like the quiet guy at the party who sticks around to help tidy up after!
Hopefully this guide will have helped straighten up some of the more confusing aspects of this fascinating supplement.
At present there’s a considerable upswing in the amount of research being conducted into the various potential benefits that it may offer.
If you feel that CBD may be for you then follow one simple rule – always do your homework before making a purchase.
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We launched in 2018 with one simple aim – to offer unbiased, transparent and honest reviews of the best cannabidiol products available in the UK.