When it comes to health products and supplements, it is quite clear that there is a product that’s trending more than any other right now, and that’s CBD oil.
Only a few years back, CBD products were virtually unheard of, whereas today stores and cafes are selling everything from CBD tea to body washes, gummies and vape oil.
Chances are, even a colleague that suffers from depression and/or your uncle with the back pain have mentioned hearing about or using CBD themselves with positive health benefits.
However, the sudden growth in popularity has led to a lot of misinformation around CBD, especially related to what it does and doesn’t do.
If you haven’t been paying too much attention, it might seem like local CBD stores and products have sprung up out of nowhere. Many people in this situation have a lot of questions, for example:
As a result, we’re going to take this chance to answer some of the most common questions about CBD and provides sources with real scientific backing, so you can start to build up a foundation of knowledge.
By the end of the article, you’ll have a good basic understanding of what CBD oil is including whether or not it can help you, and be ready to delve further into the world of cannabidiol and some of our more specialised posts.
First things first, let’s start with the obvious:
CBD is short for Cannabidiol, which is a cannabinoid.
There are over 113 cannabinoids within the cannabis plant, many of which still need further research in order to be understood.
However, the two most well known are CBD and THC.
THC, short for Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive compound in cannabis and the reason why recreational users typically enjoy cannabis.
While it has been found to have some health benefits, THC remains illegal in the UK among many other countries, which has slowed research into these benefits outside of the Untied States.
CBD, however, is not only completely non-psychotropic, and carries no risk of addiction. CBD is legal in many more places than THC, and has also been found to carry a range of health benefits.
If you’d rather continue with the basics, you’re in the right place!
Hemp oil is another term you’ve likely heard thrown around recently, but is it just another term for CBD oil, or something different?
There are two main species of the cannabis plant, known as hemp and marijuana.
Both have CBD content, but marijuana also has high levels of THC, and is used for recreational (along with medicinal where legal) purposes.
Hemp, however, contains less than 0.2% THC content, and is therefore the plant that is used for all industrial purposes and the vast majority of CBD products.
This level of THC presence is so low, that it is not plausible that anybody will experience any psychoactive effects from products made from the hemp plant.
CBD oil can be made from either the marijuana plant or the hemp plant, but CBD products available in the UK will always be made from industrial hemp, as marijuana remains illegal.
Hemp oil is often used interchangeably for CBD oil, but it can also be used by companies retailing products without any CBD content.
Always look at the ingredients, and look for one of either: CBD extract, CBD distillate, hemp extract, hemp paste, CBD paste.
Hemp oil made from one of the aforementioned ingredients is just CBD extract that is made from hemp diluted in hemp seed oil. Although it is important to be aware of the difference between of hemp seed oil and hemp oil too, in order to avoid any confusion.
Hemp seed oil is used in cooking, and is packed with nutrition. However, it contains trace amounts of THC and no CBD, and will not give you any of the effects (due to the lack of CBD content) CBD oil will.
When it comes to CBD oil, however, how should you take it for the best results?
Let’s take a look:
There are a variety of ways to get a dose of CBD oil, but the most popular and likely most effective is simply to add a drop (more more, depending on the CBD concentration) under the tongue and leave it to absorb.
In general, this method provides the second greatest bioavailability (after vaping) and gets cannabidiol into your system the fastest, but there are other methods that may be better for certain people.
For example, vaping CBD oil is very popular. Generally, CBD vape liquids are made from CBD isolate which is made from 99% CBD and doesn’t contain many of the other compounds found in full spectrum CBD oil such as terpenes, flavonoids, and vitamins and minerals.
However, this isn’t always the case, and it is possible to get CBD crumble that uses all of the beneficial ingredients of the plant. This is not only a preferable way to take CBD for some people, but science suggests vaping CBD holds potential for helping people to stop smoking both tobacco and cannabis too.
Edibles such as CBD gummies or brownies are also popular for people who dislike the taste of natural unflavoured CBD oil, and topical CBD ointments provide an opportunity for CBD to be used in both the management of pain and inflammation, and as a skincare product.
As you can see the best way to take CBD does depend on both yourself, and what you’re attempting to help get out of it, but in general simply adding CBD drops under the tongue is usually the easiest way to start your journey!
Unfortunately, the growth in popularity of CBD products has also led to some, less than ethical brands rushing to get on the bandwagon with sub-par products.
If you’re taking CBD oil, you want to be sure you’re getting the good stuff, especially if you’re using it in an attempt to help manage your wellbeing.
Here are some things to look out for:
It’s illegal for a food supplement to claim it treats or helps cure an illness or disease.
If the company does make such claims, it is a prosecutable offence.
It’s crucial for a CBD product to be tested by an independent third party, to ensure both the quality of the ingredients, along for contaminants which can concentrate within the supply chain during production.
Many CBD companies are able to provide third party test results and paperwork to confirm the validity of their ingredients – enough that you shouldn’t waste your money and time dealing with ones that don’t provide this information in a transparent and honest manner.
The appropriate dose of CBD oil can vary wildly depending on individual people, whether the products are full spectrum or made from CBD isolate, the quality of the hemp plant used and more, so there is no “correct” dose to check for.
Despite this, most good CBD products should have understandable guides to CBD dosage.
This is a sign that the manufacturer is aiming to make a high quality product that is used properly and provides the appropriate benefits.
Cannabinoids are said to work better together in harmony, than in silo; this is known as the entourage effect.
So what does this have to do with a broad or full spectrum of something?
Well, CBD comes in many different formats and for the purpose of this post we are going to talk about the main ones: Full/Broad spectrum and CBD Isolate.
Full or broad spectrum products contain multiple cannabinoids, and other essential oils which science suggests makes CBD more effective.
The difference between full spectrum CBD oil and broad spectrum, is that THC levels become non-detectable in broad spectrum; making it ‘THC Free CBD oil’.
CBD Isolate is 99%+ CBD, and it comes in a white powder form which is tasteless. Although, CBD Isolate isn’t used in CBD oil much in the EU, because of the novel foods act, (legislation which bans CBD isolate as a food supplement) CBD Isolate is illegal in food supplements.
Studies have found that, while terpenes (essential oils in cannabis) are not as potent as cannabinoids when it comes to their effects and their interactions with the endocannabinoid system, they are still beneficial parts of the hemp and cannabis plant.
While further studies are required to understand the part terpenes and other ingredients play in increasing the effectiveness of CBD, the fact they do so is pretty well established.
This means that it’s always better to purchase a broad (0% THC) or full spectrum CBD oil that contains other cannabinoids and beneficial ingredients in order to get the most out of your CBD oil.
This is another common concern for those interested in taking CBD oil, especially for those in highly regarded careers or positions that involve heavy machinery.
Although full spectrum CBD oil contains trace THC, this usually isn’t much to be worried about. However, if you are drug tested and frequently use CBD, you can select a broad spectrum CBD oil or CBD concentrates, which contains 0% THC.
Professional athletes may have to be additionally careful as the drug tests taken by them can often be a lot more sensitive, and are subject to cross contamination more so than the standard workplace drug tests.
CBD has been found to have some side effects, however they have thus far been very rare and minor.
Since cannabis causes drowsiness and can even cause people to fall asleep, people often wonder whether CBD can make them drowsy too.
While science suggests CBD can be useful for sleep, people often find CBD slightly energising in small doses, and its lack of psychotropic effects mean it usually won’t make you feel drowsy or less alert with a small dose.
Despite this, it is possible that you could experience mild drowsiness, if you decide to take a large volume during a small amount of time.
Read more about side effects and CBD drug interactions with our guest post from pharmacist Jonny Winship here.
If people take CBD and experience some benefits, they may be tempted to share it with their pets in the hopes of achieving the same results.
But, is this likely to happen or could it be risky?
While research is early, some studies into CBD’s effects on dogs and cats have not only found that it’s extremely low-risk, but have actually found some measurable benefits around osteoarthritis, and epilepsy
A big reason for this is that for decades, cannabis has been illegal across most of the world, making it extremely difficult for thorough research to be carried out anywhere.
It is the recent growing legalisation in numerous locations that has led to new research studies being carried out, and the following growth in popularity of CBD products.
However, if we go right back to before cannabis was outlawed, the plant has thousands of years of history of being used as a health product.
The earliest written record of cannabis use comes from 6,000 BC in China, but the earliest evidence of it being used for health and wellness purposes comes from 2,700 BC.
Such evidence has also been found from the Roman Empire and India, and cannabis has been found buried in tombs in Egypt and Greece. All of this helps paint the picture of CBD as a popular historical treatment for a variety of ailments from as far back as human civilization has existed, which makes it all the more a shame that recent research has been interrupted for so long.
Ideal doses vary wildly by person and it’s impossible to give a single rule that works for everyone.
The best idea is to simply start low and slow by taking one drop of CBD, and increasing it slowly over time until you find your own ideal dosage.
We talk about dosing CBD in some detail in another post, which you can find here.
Since ingredients and doses vary a lot too, switching up your CBD oil from time to time can interrupt any benefits you’re experiencing, or even stop them entirely.
Spend some time doing your research to find a CBD oil you trust that’s ideally both full spectrum and third party tested.
Once you’ve found one you like, and it works, don’t bother looking into any others.
We hope this beginner’s guide to CBD oil, what it is, and what it does, has helped you to get a clearer picture.
We post regular in-depth articles on CBD, so feel free to check back to Nature and Bloom regularly!
Disclaimer: Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Nature & Bloom and its staff. This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention for any disease. Nature & Bloom products have not been evaluated by the MHRA.