According to recent surveys, between 4 and 6 million Brits have tried some sort of CBD product in hopes of relieving everything from stress to chronic pain.
Yet, for many people, this non-intoxicating cannabis derivative remains shrouded in mystery.
What is CBD? Is it safe and legal? How do you go about buying it? Here’s what you need to know about the latest health and wellness trend.
What is CBD?
CBD is short for cannabidiol, a natural compound found in the cannabis plant. It’s one of over 113 cannabinoids: the main active component of cannabis.
Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the cannabinoid most people are familiar with — CBD does not cause the mind-altering “high” of marijuana. Consequently, you can use CBD to get the beneficial effects of cannabis without any of the intoxication.
What is CBD oil?
CBD can be used in many forms, but CBD oil is the most common. This food supplement is made by extracting the flowers and other above-ground parts of hemp: a cannabis variety with low THC (<0.2%) levels.
The resulting CBD-rich hemp extract is mixed with other ingredients and sold in a container with a dropper. CBD oil is applied sublingually (under the tongue), allowing the CBD to absorb directly into the blood vessels.
From here, CBD can interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system: a recently-discovered network of receptors, endocannabinoids, and dedicated enzymes. In doing so, CBD may produce some beneficial effects.
CBD oil’s benefits
Since the endocannabinoid system regulates essential processes including mood, sleep, stress, immune function, metabolism, and appetite, CBD oil has the potential to benefit your health in many ways.
Its purported benefits include improvement of anxiety, stress, insomnia, pain, inflammation, headaches, seizures, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and other symptoms and conditions. There’s a varying level of medical research supporting these health applications of CBD, ranging from high-quality clinical trials to animal studies.
Having said that, more research is needed to substantiate the health effects of CBD. Accordingly, CBD oil manufacturers are not allowed to make any health claims and British health authorities stress that it should not be considered a magic cure.
Is CBD oil legal in the UK?
Although CBD oil comes from cannabis, it’s perfectly legal in the UK. However, the UK Home Office notes that it can only be made from hemp — cannabis plants that contain 0.2% or less of intoxicating THC.
Anything over this limit is considered marijuana and is therefore illegal and may cause unwanted psychoactive effects.
Is CBD oil safe?
CBD has been studied for decades, confirming that it’s a remarkably safe substance to ingest. This evidence led the World Health Organization (WHO) to report in 2018 that “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.”
Although CBD can cause minor side effects such as sleepiness, low blood pressure, diarrhoea, dizziness, and dry mouth, these effects are relatively minor.
Also, they have only been reported in studies using high CBD dosages (300 mg and above) and are therefore unlikely to occur at the doses used by most people.
Indeed, CBD is so safe that even doses as high as 1500 mg have not been associated with any significant side effects.
How to buy CBD oil in the UK
CBD oil can be purchased both online and in physical locations such as high-street shops, pharmacies, and health stores. However, most Britons opt for buying CBD oil at online marketplaces thanks to a wider selection, lower prices, and ease of delivery. CBD Shopy has a good review of UK’s top CBD oil products for sale.
It’s highly recommended that you do some preliminary research before buying any CBD product. The CBD market in the UK is largely unregulated, so there isn’t much-preventing companies from selling low-quality products.
To illustrate this, a recent experiment by the UK Centre for Medical Cannabis revealed that out of 29 CBD oil products, only 11 (38%) contained a CBD level within 10% of what was advertised.
The most important factor to look for when buying CBD oil is third-party testing. Performed by an independent lab, these tests confirm that the product you’re buying actually contains as much CBD and THC as the company claims it does.
These tests should be readily available on the website you’re buying CBD oil from. It’s even better if you can find third-party tests for pesticides and other contaminants.
Another useful tip is to find out where the company sources its hemp from and how its products are manufactured. High-quality CBD oils are made in UK facilities from organic hemp cultivated in the EU and extracted using ethanol or carbon dioxide (CO2): the two most efficient, safe CBD extraction methods.
Additionally, you should look for CBD oils and brands backed by high customer ratings and positive reviews. Using these tips will help you find a safe, effective CBD oil product.