New to CBD? We tell you what CBD is, how it works and how to buy the best CBD products on the market.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol — also known as CBD — is one of the multiple chemical compounds found in hemp (cannabis sativa) or marijuana plants. It is also known as medical cannabis, which is a broad term used to encompass any product, treatment, or medicine that includes cannabis-derived ingredients.
It is not however, the same as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in marijuana and contains none of the psychoactive properties associated with it, which means CBD won’t get you “high”.
Hemp vs Cannabis: What’s the Difference?
Different parts of the cannabis plant are either defined as hemp or as cannabis and marijuana.
- Hemp: hemp is the stalks, stems and sterilized seeds of cannabis sativa (“Cannabis Sativa” is the scientific Latin term that defines hemp, cannabis or marijuana plant species).
- Cannabis and Marijuana: the leaves, flowers and viable seeds of cannabis sativa.
The varieties of cannabis that are regulated, legal and available in the UK are those that produce less than 0.2 percent THC. And given the fact that most THC is in the flowers, CBD products are primarily made from hemp (stalks, stems and sterilized seeds of cannabis sativa) which contain very little THC and are safe to consume.
This is why CBD products are legal in the UK if they contain less than 0.2% THC.
Therapeutic Properties of CBD
There has been a lot of interest in CBD from both the research and medical community over the last few years, due to its range of health applications – including but not limited to pain relief, fighting the side effects of cancer medications, alleviating insomnia, lowering stress levels, improving acne outbreaks, counteracting heart disease, or reducing seizures in patients with epilepsy
Products containing CBD come in many different forms, with the most common including CBD oils, CBD gummies, CBD capsules, CBD drinks, CBD vapes and a range of CBD edibles such as cookies or chocolates. Some forms are more fast-acting than others, some have different flavours, some contain differing proportions of CBD extract, and so on, so the type you choose depends entirely upon your personal preferences and the condition you wish to treat.
CBD is viewed as a safe alternative to cannabis. This safety is supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO), who stated in the CANNABIDIOL (CBD) Critical Review Report (June 2018) that:
“CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential … To date, there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
CBD has been proven to have analgesic (pain relief) and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as help people with insomnia.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is simply an oil that is derived from the hemp plant.
To extract the CBD from cannabis sativa, a complex process involving CO2 extraction or solvent distillation (natural solvents like ethanol and olive oils or hydrocarbon solvents like butane or propane) is used, resulting in clean CBD extracts.
Many products use full-spectrum extracts which contain a range of other helpful cannabinoids and terpenes as well as CBD. If using full-spectrum CBD oil, be sure to check that it contains less than 0.2% THC to comply with the UK legislation. Other CBD oils use broad-spectrum CBD, the THC-free version of CBD oil, or CBD isolate, which separates the CBD from every other component for maximum purity. More on this below.
Once CBD has been extracted from the hemp plant – known as “CBD extract” – it is mixed with a carrier oil in various concentrations to create the finished product. The oil carrier is intended to have no effect on the effectiveness of the product but it can alter its taste. CBD oil is sold in bottled form and known as a “tincture”, meaning that CBD has been imbued with an another substance. For example, MCT oil that contains CBD extract.
The main carrier oil used for CBD tinctures include:
- MCT oil (Coconut oil)
- Hemp seed oil
- Olive oil
Although some CBD oils use extracts from marijuana plants (leaves, flowers and viable seeds of cannabis sativa), most brands use hemp extracts to keep the THC level below 0.2 percent and make their products legal for the UK market.
CBD oil can also be flavoured (for example with mint or lemon) which can be beneficial if you don’t like the taste of the pure extract. However, if the grassy or earthy taste of CBD oil doesn’t bother you too much, we would always recommend going for an unflavoured CBD oil.
Different Types of CBD Oils
Before buying CBD oil, it is important to understand the different types of CBD available as each will have different benefits. These formats are known as full-spectrum, broad-spectrum and CBD isolate. Let’s take a look at each of the formats:
- Full-Spectrum CBD: CBD products labelled as “full-spectrum” contain all the phytochemicals that occur naturally in the cannabis plant, including other cannabinoids, terpenes, and oils. It also contains some trace amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive compound in marijuana that produces the “high” effect. However, the total amount of THC for the UK market is limited to 0.2% so full-spectrum CBD products will provide all the benefits of CBD without the “high”. Full-spectrum CBD products are considered the most effective and we have listed here the Best Full-Spectrum CBD Oils.
- Broad-Spectrum CBD: CBD products labelled as “broad-spectrum” contain all the phytochemicals that are in a full-spectrum product, but it does not contain any THC. In terms of UK guidelines, it is not necessary to remove the THC by law, as traces of THC (0.2% or less) are allowed, but broad-spectrum CBD may work well for those interested in benefiting from the ‘CBD entourage effect‘ whilst at the same time ingesting THC-free products. We have listed here the Best Broad-Spectrum CBD Oils.
- CBD Isolate: CBD products labelled as “isolate” is the pure form of CBD and contain no other cannabis plant compounds such as other cannabinoids, terpenes, and oils. CBD isolate is a good option for those who want to take CBD, but who do not want to benefit from the entourage effect of other plant compounds or ingest any tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which are present in full and broad spectrum products. If you take regular drug tests and worry about THC showing up on your results, then CBD isolate is a great option.
CBD Oil Entourage Effect
The entourage effect is the theory that while each botanical compound has a unique role or benefit, its behaviour may change when the presence of another compound is present.
For example, it would be more effective and quicker to produce a play with a team of actors rather than one actor playing all the parts. When each actor has a specific role to focus on, they can learn their lines and direction and support their fellow actors. But one actor alone will take a lot longer to learn their role and may have bouts of low self-esteem.
This is similar to the entourage effect. Essentially, everyone knows their role, but their performance can be enhanced by comradery, which in the end makes for a great night out to the theatre.
But how is this applied to CBD?
We know that CBD products stimulate the endocannabinoid system and make it work more efficiently. But different CBD products affect the ECS differently, depending on its formulation. As previously, discussed there are 3 types of CBD formulation:
- Full-spectrum: No additional extraction, contains all the natural ingredients of the hemp plant, including CBD, THC, terpenes and flavonoids.
- Broad-spectrum: All traces of THC are removed from the oil. Every other ingredient remains.
- CBD Isolate: The oil only contains CBD, everything else is removed.
One of the above formulations has been proven to give better results in reducing pain, inflammation and many other symptoms. Which one of these formulations do you think stimulates the ECS best?
Would it be the most natural substance (full-spectrum), the one with any psychoactive ingredients (broad-spectrum) or the purest form of CBD (isolate)?
According to the entourage effect, it is the full-spectrum CBD because it keeps all the natural components of the hemp plant.
Cannabinoids and Terpenes
The theory of the entourage effect was first introduced by Dr Ethan B. Russo. He thinks that cannabinoids such as CBD and THC work with terpenes (aromatic component) to produce a “synergy.”
In his study “Taming THC: Potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects” (2010) Dr Ethan B Russo suggests:
- The terpene pinene, which gives the scent of pine, may help counteract compromised memory caused by THC.
- CBD and terpene limonene, which gives a citrus scent, might work together to alleviate anxiety.
- A combination of CBD and terpene caryophyllene, offering a pepper smell, may be beneficial in the treatment of addiction.
The possibility of “synergy” of endless but have not yet been categorically proven. For more information read his other study “The Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis: No “Strain, No Gain” published in 2019.
Omega-3, Antioxidants and Nutrients
In addition to CBD, THC and terpenes, full-spectrum CBD oil also contains Omega-3, which is vital to the ECS. Omega-3 is used to maintain the receptor CB1, which regulate pain and memory.
It also aids the absorption of external cannabinoids, as well as making endocannabinoids internally.
Other nutrients and antioxidants have also been discovered in full-spectrum CBD oil, for example, Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble compound that can prevent cataract formation, postpone the appearance of wrinkles and grey hair, boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation.
As you can see CBD oil when first extracted from the hemp plant has a huge list of ingredients. All of them seem to play a part in helping our bodies. We may not know exactly what they all do. But as time passes and research continues, we can learn more.
Is CBD Oil Legal in the UK?
We often get asked “is CBD legal in the UK” and the short answer is “Yes, it is”, as long as the plant which have been grown contain less than 0.2% of THC, the legal limit in the UK. The reason for this is that THC is known to be a psychotropic substance and limiting the amount of THC ensures that CBD is safe to consume and will not have any psychoactive effects. In other words, CBD won’t get you “high”.
You will not be arrested or fined for buying, consuming or carrying CBD products, anywhere in the UK, as long as it has less than 0.2% THC in it.
What is illegal is to grow the hemp plant(s) yourself, at home. Growth for personal use is strictly prohibited by the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971. To do so, could result in up to 5 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.
New Regulations & Guidelines
As CBD is eaten or drunk it falls under “novel foods”, which means that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) oversees CBD products and they can therefore enforce new laws and regulations and they have recently done so.
In 2020, the FSA announced that all CBD products must be approved by March 31st 2021. Failure to do so will result in the products being removed from the shelf. After this date, new companies and products will also need approval before being sold online or in stores.
This request for approval means that the exact ingredients within a CBD will be known, making it safer for the general public.
The new rules will be enforced across the United Kingdom and local authorities will be responsible for policing businesses.
As well as overlooking CBD companies the FSA has also advised the public. They suggest:
- Pregnant women and mothers breastfeeding not to take any CBD products.
- Healthy adults should not take more than 70mg a day.
- People already taking medication should not consume CBD products.
A study conducted by the Centre for Medical Cannabis showed that one in six adults in the UK had tried CBD oil, proving that it is one of the fastest-growing, contemporary, well-being products on the market. Figures also show that the rates of people using CBD oil were higher amongst the under 55 age range. Also, figures were higher amongst females, with 62% of them using CBD to treat anxiety related issues.
Health Benefits of CBD
The health benefits of CBD oil are vast and ever-growing. CBD oil, along with other CBD products, possesses a number of therapeutic properties that are backed by scientific research papers and double-blind studies. Some of the most discussed health benefits include:
CBD for Pain Relief
If you are in pain, you can take CBD for pain relief as CBD has been proven to have strong analgesic properties, meaning that it helps relieve pain. But how?
The human body contains a specialized system called the ECS (the endocannabinoid system), which aims to regulate a variety of functions such as sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. The body also produces endocannabinoids, which are simply neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system.
CBD is believed to interact with specific receptors, specifically the CB1R and CB2R.
- CB1 receptors, which are located in various regions of the body, with a large concentration in the central nervous system and brain, co-ordinate mood, emotion, appetite, and other functions.
- CB2 receptors are more commonly found in the immune system and are responsible for controlling inflammation and pain. CBD stimulates these receptors and induces the body to release serotonin.
Additionally, CBD increases the level of serotonin, or 5-HT, a neurotransmitter that carries signals from one neuron to the other. By doing so, it helps reduce pain and inflammation in the body.
According to Researchgate, a study published in November 2019 shows improvement of physical discomforts such as headaches and various signs of physical pain. According to Teitelbaum J, there have been multiple studies showing patients found relief of menstrual pain, back pain, spinal pain, joint pain (e.g. arthritis) or fibromyalgia pain.
Furthermore, a 2018 review of the relevant research also reports that cannabis seems promising as a method of relieving pain, including pain from headache.
CBD for Anxiety & Depression
Mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society. The good news however is that instead of relying on traditional antidepressant which have known side-effects, you can take CBD for Anxiety or CBD for Depression, as it has antidepressant-like properties, but no dependence or side-effects.
Anxiety will manifest itself differently for different people, but symptoms of anxiety tend to include changes in thoughts, behaviour and can also often involve physical feelings such as restlessness, feeling of dread or being on-edge, churning feeling in your stomach, feeling light-headed or dizzy, having pins and needles, experiencing headaches, backache or other aches and pains as well as faster breathing, nausea or hot flushes.
Not only are the symptoms of anxiety varied, but so are the ways in which anxiety can be experienced. Some of the more commonly diagnosed anxiety disorders that CBD can help with include:
- Generalised anxiety disorder – also known as GAD
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder – also known as OCD
- Social anxiety disorder – also known as social phobia or SAD
- Panic disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder – Also known as PTSD
- Health anxiety – people experiencing obsessions and compulsions relating to illness
- Body dysmorphic disorder – Also known as BDD
- Perinatal anxiety – Also known as perinatal OCD
Most people who suffer from anxiety will experience a hyper-active amygdala, a collection of cells near the base of the brain. So when it comes to depression and anxiety-related disorders, it is important to understand the crucial role brain chemistry plays, especially in relation to the hippocampus and the amygdala.
- Hippocampus: The hippocampus is a complex part of the brain that plays a major role in cognitive and emotional functions. There is increasing evidence showing that adult hippocampal neurogenesis – the process by which the hippocampus regenerates thanks to neural stem cells producing new neurons – helps reduce stress and anxiety by boosting the endocrine response. Put it simply, people with attenuated (reduced) hippocampal neurogenesis are more likely to develop anxiety-related behaviours.
- Amygdala: The amygdala is a collection of cells near the base of the brain (there is one in each side of the brain) that is part of the brain’s limbic system. It is the area of the brain where emotions are given meaning and remembered. Research has shown that people who suffer from depression will experience a hyper-active amygdala.
CBD helps to ease the symptoms of depression by regulating the functions of the hippocampus and the amygdala, and therefore their effects on how our brain processes potentially anxiety ridden information or situations.
CBD has been proven to increase cerebral blood flow to areas of the brain associated with memory processing, specifically the hippocampus. The findings identify a potential mechanism for the use of CBD to treat disorders associated with altered memory processing, including Alzheimer’s disease, PTSD, and schizophrenia.
Put it simply, a single dose of cannabidiol (CBD) helped increase blood flow to the hippocampus, an important area of the brain associated with memory and emotion, which means that CBD has been proven by several scientists and medical professionals to help smooth the cognitive processes of this part of the brain.
According to Dr Michael Bloomfield from UCL: “Cannabidiol is one of the main constituents of cannabis and is gaining interest for its therapeutic potential. There is evidence that CBD may help reduce symptoms of psychosis and anxiety as well as improve memory function. Additionally, CBD changes how the brain processes emotional memories, which could help to explain its reputed therapeutic effects in PTSD and other psychiatric disorders.”
These finding have been backed by double blind studies where on different occasions, separated by at least a week, each participant was given a 600mg of oral CBD or a placebo. The doses came in identical capsules, so participants did not know which one they were taking on which occasion (https://neurosciencenews.com/cbd-hippocampus-16806/)
Researchers measured blood flow to the hippocampus using ‘arterial spin labelling’ – an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) brain scanning technique which measures changes in the blood oxygen levels.
In another double-blind study in Brazil, 57 participants received either CBD oil or a placebo 90 minutes before they underwent a simulated public speaking event. The researchers found that a 300-mg dose of CBD was the most effective at significantly reducing anxiety during the event.
CBD for Cancer (Treatment Side Effects)
One of the main side effects of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy is nausea and vomiting. This feeling can last from a few hours after the treatments to a few days and can be quite difficult for cancer patients to manage, especially as they often feel incredibly fatigued immediately after a session.
The good news is that CBD may be able to help as it has been proven to have antiemetic properties, meaning it helps prevent nausea and vomiting.
This discovery has been particularly useful for cancer patients. A study showed that cancer patients who suffered from the various side effects of chemotherapy – including nausea and vomiting – experienced little relief from traditional anti-emetic treatments.
However, patients suffering from chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) were administered a one-to-one combination of CBD and THC via mouth spray. The results showed that chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting symptoms were reduced in comparison to standard treatment alone.
CBD for Arthritis
CBD is known to have great antiarthritic properties, meaning that it does not only reduces pain, but that you can also use CBD for Arthritis, whether you suffer from RA or OA in order to prevent arthritic symptoms.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition wherein a person’s immune system attacks their joints, causing inflammation. It commonly affects the hands and feet and leads to painful, swollen, and stiff joints.
- Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that affects joint cartilage and bones, causing pain and stiffness. It often affects the hip, knee, and thumb joints.
According to a poll conducted by the Arthritis Foundation, 29% of 2,600 patients with either osteoarthritis (52%) or rheumatoid arthritis (45%) for 10 or more years, stated using CBD in liquid or topical form to manage their arthritis symptoms, especially pain.
Of those using CBD, most reported improvement in physical function, sleep, and well-being:
- 67% reported improvement in their physical function
- Over 30% said it provided relief from morning stiffness and helped them to get moving
- 71% reported improvements in their ability to sleep
- Over 30% said it helped relieve symptoms of fatigue
But CBD also helped those suffering from arthritis improve their overall well-being, with people who used CBD reporting emotional and mental health benefits, in addition to relief of physical pain.
- 41% reported a better overall sense of well-being
- 77% reported a lower level of anxiety
- 67% reported effectiveness in improving depressed mood
CBD for Epilepsy & Seizures
CBD appears to have neuroprotective and anticonvulsant properties, meaning that it helps protect nerve cells against damage and helps prevent or reduce the severity of epileptic fits or other convulsions.
Using CBD for Epilepsy is particularly interesting for patients suffering from neurological disorders such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), or children with Dravet syndrome.
Researchers believe that CBD can act on the ECS (the endocannabinoid system) as well as other brain signalling systems to provide benefits to those patients and early studies show promising results.
When it comes to Epilepsy and according to the Epilepsy Society, medical cannabis has been proven to reduce the number of seizures in patients suffering from epilepsy.
Three separate double-blind randomised controlled trials of pure CBD (CBD isolate) in children and young people with epilepsy have shown a reduction in the number of monthly seizures experienced by patients compared to those that received placebos. Additional studies have shown that it may also have an anti-epileptic effect in the epilepsies in general, not just in children and young adults.
CBD for Heart Health
CBD appears to have anti-inflammatory properties, meaning that it helps reduce inflammation (redness, swelling, and pain) in the body.
But what is inflammation? Inflammation is a natural process occurring in your body whereby your white blood cells and what they produce, protect you from infection from bacteria and viruses.
However, in some people, their own body’s defense system (i.e. their immune system) is deregulated and triggers inflammation when there are no infection from bacteria or viruses to fight off. Called autoimmune diseases, they attack healthy tissues as if they were infected, causing damage to these tissues in the process.
Inflammation can either be acute (i.e. short-lived) and go away within a few hours or days, or chronic (i.e. long-lasting) and last for months or years.
Inflammation is known to lead to many heart related diseases, including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. Inflammation of the heart (myocarditis) may cause shortness of breath or fluid buildup, inflammation of the small tubes that take air to your lungs may cause shortness of breath and inflammation of the kidneys (nephritis) may cause high blood pressure or kidney failure.
There is some evidence that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and that it may be beneficial to the cardiovascular system, with CBD having direct actions on isolated arteries, causing both acute and time-dependent vasorelaxation (reduction of vascular tension).
According to existing studies, CBD protects against the vascular damage caused by a high glucose consumption (sugar), inflammation or the induction of type 2 diabetes in animals. It has also been proven to reduce the vascular hyperpermeability associated with such environments. Vascular hyperpermeability is the excessive leakage of fluid and proteins from blood vessels to the interstitial space which often leads to multiple organ failure resulting in patient death.
A common theme throughout these studies is the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effect of CBD. In the heart, in vivo CBD treatment protects against cardiomyopathy associated with diabetes.
Other studies have shown that CBD can have a protective effect on the heart. This was the case with one study showing the benefits of CBD in rats after a heart attack and in mice with heart damage associated with diabetes.
Studies also indicate that CBD may be beneficial for patients with high blood pressure.
One study of nine healthy men, who were given one dose of 600 mg of CBD oil, found that it reduced resting blood pressure, compared to patients who had received a placebo. The same study got the patients to go through a stress test to assess the impact of the test on their blood pressure. It found that patients who had received a single dose of 600 mg of CBD experienced a smaller blood pressure increase in comparison to those who had received the placebo.
This would suggest that CBD reduces the stress and anxiety of patients, ultimately leading to a lower blood pressure, even when put under a stressful situation.
CBD for Sleep & Insomnia
Whether it’s stress related or the buy-product of our daily habits such as extensive exposure to mobile phones or screens, a growing number of the UK population suffers from poor sleep or insomnia. Whilst traditional sleeping pills can help, they often leave us groggy and can also become quite addictive. using CBD for Sleep is a great way to fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night. But how does CBD help with sleep?
CBD works with the human body to increase calm, decrease stress, and lower anxiety levels. These responses indirectly improve your sleep. In the 1990s, researchers confirmed the body has an endocannabinoid system or ECS. Researchers have only found a link between the cannabinoids found in hemp with the ECS, making it an unusual reaction.
The ECS is a complex cell-signalling system consisting of endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes. Scientists believe it plays many roles, including maintaining balance in the body. When it comes to sleep, the ECS helps regulate sleep and sleep cycles. Also, relating to sleep, a potential function is boosting anandamide to reduce depression and anxiety.
The cannabinoid receptors interact with endocannabinoids and cannabinoids. The CB1 is located in the nervous system and brain. Additionally, the CB2 is found mostly in the immune system and most organs.
A recent surge in scientific publications has found preclinical and clinical evidence documenting value for CBD in some neuropsychiatric disorders, including epilepsy, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Evidence points toward a calming effect for CBD in the central nervous system.
In 2019, a large case series was published in the Permanente Journal about CBD’s calming effects on the central nervous system. The studies showed patients taking CBD saw lower anxiety levels, experienced less stress, and slept better at night. Additionally, most participants experienced no or few side effects.
If you suffer from nightmares and active behaviour such as sleepwalking you may be interested in the 2014 study, which studied the sleep cycle of patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. The study found that CBD was able “to control the symptoms of REM sleep behaviour disorder“.
Other Benefits of CBD
Other ailments CBD is believed to be able to reduce the effects of are nausea linked to motion-sickness and as a side effect of chemotherapy, allergies, acne and menstrual cramps. Below is a list of relevant articles touching on some of the other health benefits of CBD.
What to Expect When Taking CBD?
First-time users may experience relief immediately, as CBD is brand new to your ECS. However, this does depend on the ailment you are trying to improve. For example, one dose of CBD could relieve pain, reduce anxiety and reduce nausea but it wouldn’t stop seizures, cure your depression or diabetes.
If it took you a long time to get the symptom then the same will be said for reducing, preventing or eliminating it.
Immediate Relief (After 24 hours a noticeable difference is seen):
Pain, Inflammation, Migraines, Nausea, Anxiety, Arthritis, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, Stress, Insomnia, Multiple Sclerosis, PTSD, Rheumatism and Motion Sickness.
Short Term Relief (Noticeable between 2-14 days):
Acne, Inflammation, ADD/ADHD, Anxiety, Arthritis, Epilepsy, Depression, Stress, Insomnia, Multiple Sclerosis, PTSD, Rheumatism, Endocrine Disorders, Obesity, OCD, Spinal Cord Injury and Rheumatism.
Long Term Relief (Noticeable between 2+ weeks):
ALS, Addiction, Alzheimer’s Disease, Asthma, Atherosclerosis, Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Cancer, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Depression, Diabetes, Endocrine Disorders, Fatty Liver Disease, Fibromyalgia, Heart Disease, Huntington´s Disease, Kidney Disease, Metabolic Syndrome, Mood Disorders, Neurodegeneration, Obesity, Parkinson´s Disease, Prion Disease, Schizophrenia and Traumatic Brain Injury.
As you can see from the table above, symptoms which occur quickly can be improved in the same short time frame. Progressive illnesses and their more severe side effects require longer exposure to CBD before a real difference can be seen.
This is just a general guide, literally every single person is different. No one person has the same biology, external factors, ailments and lifestyle.
Will I Experience Side Effects?
Some people experience side effects, like nausea and light-headedness, the very first time they take CBD. Your body may need a little time to get used to CBD being in your system. You are more likely to experience a side effect if you start at a dose or potency that is too high for your needs.
Start low and slow.
When taking CBD for the time do it in a safe place like at home and do it in the evening. That way if you do experience the side effects, they won´t impact your day too badly.
How to Take CBD?
CBD can be consumed in may different ways and concentration will often vary from one product to another, so be sure to read the following.
CBD oil can be used for a number of different reasons, including but not limited to pain relief, to improve sleep and insomnia, or for anxiety and depression.
CBD oil is simply an oil that is derived from the hemp plant. CBD extract from the hemp plant is mixed with a carrier oil (MCT oil, hemp seed oil and olive oil are the most common carrier oils for CBD products), in various concentrations to create the finished product.
The oil carrier is intended to have no effect on the effectiveness of the product but can alter its taste. CBD oil is sold in bottled form and known as a “tincture”, literally meaning something that is imbued with an amount of something else – for example, hemp seed oil that contains CBD extract. Most CBD oils come in 10ml bottles, but be aware that some brands sell CBD oil in 20ml and 30ml bottles which will affect the concentration.
CBD oil can be flavoured (mint, orange or lemon) or natural (just CBD and the oil carrier). Whilst flavoured options can be beneficial if you don’t like the taste of the pure extract, we would always recommend going for the natural option if the grassy or earthy taste of CBD oil doesn’t bother, as the less ingredients, the better.
Advantages of CBD Oil
CBD oil has many advantages over other CBD products such as CBD capsules or CBD gummies.
- Increased bioavailability – One of the main advantages of CBD oil over other products is the fact that CBD oil increases bioavailability – which means the amount of product that can be directly used by your body. The faster the CBD is absorbed, the sooner it can get to work. Gummies and edibles will take some time to be processed and broken down by your digestive system, making oil the fastest way to gain the benefits of CBD. When placed under the tongue, it comes into contact with the sublingual gland which speeds up the process of absorption and quickly enters the bloodstream.
- Easy to Consume – When taken orally, CBD oil is very easy to consume and it also gives you the ability to use doses of the exact strength required thanks to the individual droplets.
- Topical Use – CBD oil can in some instances be applied topically to treat joint pain or reduce problems associated with acne. While other forms of CBD can treat these issues, oil can be specifically applied to certain areas to target the treatment.
- No Sugar – When CBD is used in the form of gummies, chocolate or other edible products, it may not be in the best health interests of the person to eat such products. For example, people suffering from diabetes will need to carefully manage the food that they eat, and therefore CBD oil may be a better option.
- No addictive or withdrawal issues – Finally, CBD gummies are a natural remedy that can be taken by almost anyone and possesses none of the addictive or withdrawal issues that other pain management or anxiety medications may present.
Disadvantages of CBD Oil
Whilst there are mainly advantages in using CBD oil to get your daily dose of CBD using, there are unfortunately a few drawbacks which are worth considering.
- Earthy or Grassy Taste – CBD oil can have a very earthy or grassy taste which some will find unappealing. Although CBD oil is one of the fastest-acting forms of CBD, the flavour can deter many from using it to its full potential, and flavoured CBD oils or other forms of CBD such as edibles or capsules may be more palatable.
- Less Convenient – If you need to take CBD while in a public place, using CBD oil can be much less discreet than using edibles. While using CBD is not something that you need to hide, using a dropper to place the oil under your tongue may not be the most practical option when out an about, in which case capsules, gummies or other edibles may be preferred.
- Interaction with other medications – It’s also worth noting that CBD may make it harder for your body to process certain medications, so if you are taking any other medications, be sure to check with your GP before taking CBD products.
- Minor side effects – Finally, CBD can cause side effects in some people including drowsiness, changes in mood, nausea, and changes in appetite. Every individual will be affected differently, and in most cases, there are no side effects to worry about.
If you want to buy CBD oil, check out the below recommendations from the CBD Unboxed team, as we’ve tried and tested over 150 different CBD brands.
Whilst one of the most common ways of taking CBD is by using CBD oil, a growing number of people have turned to CBD capsules as they are often more convenient than CBD oil and won’t leave a strong aftertaste in your mouth and throat.
Unlike CBD edibles and gummies, CBD capsules are usually made from two ingredients including CBD extracts and oil carrier such as MCT oil (coconut oil) or olive oil. The capsule itself is made of either vegetable cellulose (suitable for vegans) or bovine gelatine (not suitable for vegans).
A few products will include additional ingredients such as caffeine, vitamins, polysorbate emulsifiers, beta-caryophyllene, sorbitol, L-theanine, Rhodiola or water.
CBD capsules are one of the most convenient and discreet ways of taking CBD as they are portable, tasteless and contain a fixed amount of CBD per capsule, meaning you won’t need to worry about counting drops, as you would need to do with CBD oil.
Capsules can be bought in bottles containing of 7, 28, 30, 60 and array of concentrations, 5mg – 50mg per capsule.
Advantages of CBD Capsules
CBD capsules have many advantages over other CBD products such as CBD oil or CBD gummies.
- Easy to use and discreet – CBD capsules are incredibly easy to use as it is essentially the same as taking vitamin pills. It is one of the most inconspicuous way to get your daily dose of CBD as all you have to do is swallow a capsule with a glass of water.
- Precise dosage – Dosage couldn’t be easier and more precise than with CBD capsules, as each pill contain an exact amount of CBD (e.g. 10mg per capsule). Unlike CBD oil, you do not need to count how many drops you need to take.
- No nasty aftertaste – Whilst CBD oils tend to have a very earthy or grassy taste, CBD capsules are simply swallowed and do not have any taste at all. For that reason, they are an excellent alternative to CBD oils who often have a strong aftertaste.
- A great alternative – For people who do not like to put CBD oil under their tongue or for those who do not want to consume additives such as sugar present in CBD gummies, CBD capsules are a great alternative as you simply need to swallow them and do not have to chew or leave the oil under your tongue as you would with gummies or CBD oil.
Disadvantages of CBD Capsules
Whilst there are quite a few advantages to getting your daily dose of CBD using CBD capsules, there are unfortunately several drawbacks which are worth considering.
- Less bioavailable – the term bioavailability stands for the proportion of a drug or substance which reaches the systemic circulation. By definition, when a substance is administered intravenously, its bioavailability is 100%. However, when the same substance is administered via other routes (e.g. mouth), its bioavailability is generally lower than that of intravenous due to the fact that it needs to go through the intestines and digestion process. For that reason, CBD oil is more bioavailable than CBD capsules as it comes into contact with the sublingual gland (under the tongue) which speeds up the process of absorption and quickly enters the bloodstream.
- Not fast acting – another problem with CBD capsules is that they are not as fast acting as CBD oil seeing as it will take some time to be processed and broken down by your digestive system. So seeing as the faster the CBD is absorbed, the sooner it can get to work, CBD capsules will usually take between 30-60 minutes to act when CBD oil takes less than 20 minutes.
If you want to buy CBD capsules, check out our article featuring the Best CBD capsules.
CBD gummies are exactly what they sound like – edible gummy bear sweets that contain Cannabidiol (CBD) and that can be used for a number of different reasons, including but not limited to pain relief, to improve sleep and insomnia, or for anxiety and depression.
They are one of the most convenient and discreet way of taking CBD as they are portable, tasty and contain a fixed amount of CBD per gummy bear, meaning you won’t need to worry about counting drops, as you would need to do with CBD oil.
CBD gummies are made in the same way as regular gummies, only with CBD extracts infused into the gelatine as part of the manufacturing process, the quantity of CBD varying depending on the strength of the bottle (from 10mg to 50mg+ per gummy).
A packet or jar of gummies usually has 30 or 60 gummies in it and the CBD strength ranges from 5mg-30mg per gummy. Gummies are not usually safe for vegans as they can contain bovine gelatine, so be sure to check what gelatine they are using.
Advantages of CBD Gummies
CBD gummies have many advantages over other CBD products such as CBD oil or CBD capsules.
- Easy to use and discreet – CBD gummies are incredibly easy to use as it is essentially the same as chewing a regular sweet or gum. It is one of the most inconspicuous way to get your daily dose of CBD.
- Precise dosage – Dosage couldn’t be easier and more precise than with CBD gummies, as each gummy contain an exact amount of CBD (e.g. 10mg per gummy). Unlike CBD oil, you do not need to count how many drops you need to take.
- Great tasting – Whilst most CBD products will have an earthy or grassy taste, CBD gummy bears are essentially normal sweets that have been infused with CBD extracts. For that reason, they taste just like a normal sweet and are an excellent alternative to CBD oils who often have a strong aftertaste.
- A great alternative – For people who do not like to put CBD oil under their tongue or for those who struggle to swallow CBD capsules, gummies are a great alternative as you do not need to swallow them with water like capsules and can simply chew it like a sweet.
Disadvantages of CBD Gummies
Whilst there are quite a few advantages to getting your daily dose of CBD using CBD gummies, there are unfortunately several drawbacks which are worth considering.
- Less bioavailable – the term bioavailability stands for the proportion of a drug or substance which reaches the systemic circulation. By definition, when a substance is administered intravenously, its bioavailability is 100%. However, when the same substance is administered via other routes (e.g. mouth), its bioavailability is generally lower than that of intravenous due to the fact that it needs to go through the intestines and digestion process. For that reason, CBD oil is more bioavailable than CBD gummies as it comes into contact with the sublingual gland (under the tongue) which speeds up the process of absorption and quickly enters the bloodstream.
- Not fast acting – another problem with CBD gummies is that they are not as fast acting as CBD oil seeing as it will take some time to be processed and broken down by your digestive system. So seeing as the faster the CBD is absorbed, the sooner it can get to work, CBD gummies will usually take between 30-60 minutes to act when CBD oil takes less than 20 minutes.
- More sugar – whilst CBD oil or vapes usually contain a limited number of ingredients (CBD extracts from hemp, MCT or olive oil and sometimes flavouring), CBD gummies will use animal gelatin or a gelatinous polysaccharide called “pectin”, flavouring as well as sugar or sweetener. For those reasons, a single gummy bear can contain 2g of sugar which could lead to the average person’s daily sugar intake increasing by 10mg to 20mg depending on the amount of CBD gummies consumed. This can be a problem for people suffering from diabetes and who need to carefully manage the food that they eat.
If you want to buy CBD gummies, check out our article featuring the Best CBD gummies.
CBD Topicals & Creams
If your aim is to improve muscle recovery post workout, treat an inflamed muscle or tendon or simply to look after your skin, then CBD topicals may be a great option for you. Whilst these tend to vary, the most common topicals include:
- CBD body ad massage oils
- CBD infused creams
- CBD balms
- CBD salves
CBD topicals are quickly absorbed to help calm and soothe stressed out skin and tend to be rich in additional compounds such as antioxidants; cannabidiol, fatty acids, vitamin A or vitamin E, which protect the skin from mild irritation, redness and the signs of aging
However, whilst CBD balms are great, they are only for topical use and are often used in conjunction with other CBD products such as CBD oils or capsules.
As the UK population has become more and more health conscious, they have ditched sugary drinks such as sodas in favour of healthier options. And whilst CBD tinctures remain the most common way to consume CBD, CBD drinks have become the perfect alternative to sodas, especially since CBD is known to have several health and anti-inflammatory properties.
It’s important however, to make the difference between homemade CBD drinks and beverages that have been specifically developed by CBD manufacturers.
If you are adding your own CBD to a drink like water or even to your food, the vast majority of the CBD is going to get metabolised in your gut resulting in your intestines and your liver enzymes breaking down most of the CBD you ingested. In other words, your body is only going to absorb a tiny fraction of the CBD you originally added to your drink or food. This makes homemade CBD drinks a poor way of getting your CBD intake as there is a lot of wastage through the digestive system resulting in less than 5% of the CBD being absorbed by the body.
To bypass this problem, companies making CBD infused drinks have had to put another agent with CBD to help it dissolve with the main drink, be it water, wine or coffee.
CBD-infused drinks developed by manufacturers on the other hands, have benefited from years of research to figure out the best way to infuse the drinks with CBD to maximise its absorption. To do so, they have copied emulsion techniques that have been used in the culinary and pharmaceutical industries and use drug-delivery systems such as nano-lipid spheres or emulsifiers to increase the bioavailability of CBD drinks.
These binding agents hold onto tiny droplets of water and CBD oil molecules, which then disperse throughout the liquid in a way that appears completely dissolved. Without this process of ‘nanoemulsion’ the water and CBD oil molecules would separate.
CBD drinks contain on average 15-30mg of CBD per serving size, but new products have recently come onto the market offering 10mg of CBD per serving size whilst other have targeted the upper end of that scale with 40+ mg of CBD per drink.
CBD E-Liquids & Vapes
Whilst CBD vape or vape pens are commonly referred as using CBD oil, it is important to note that the CBD oil used for vaping is different from traditional CBD oil (called CBD tinctures).
This can be quite confusing for people who have never used CBD products before as CBD tinctures and CBD used for vaping or inhaling are both referred to as ‘CBD oil’. The best way to not get mixed-up is to differentiate them by calling CBD tinctures (which are ingested) “CBD oil” and by calling vaping products either “CBD vape oil”, “CBD vape juice” or “CBD distillate”.
CBD tinctures are strictly for ingestion purpose and should not be used for inhalation or vaping as these products were not designed to be exposed to high heats for vaporisation, unlike CBD vape juices and e-liquids.
CBD vape oil is made using a similar process to standard CBD oil in that it is derived from the hemp plant and use CBD extract. However, unlike CBD oil which use MCT or Olive oil as a carrier, CBD vape juices use thinning agents such as Vegetable Glycerin (known as VG), a thick, sweet liquid or Propylene Glycol (known as PG), a much thinner and tasteless liquid. It is the presence of these thinning agents that make the CBD juice ok to vape or inhale.
Products using Propylene Glycol tend to produce more of a “throat hit” than Vegetable Glycerin does, and as a result may simulate the feel of smoking better.
So what are the suitable types of CBD oil that can be used for vaping and inhaling. They broadly fall under five categories, with some products being disposable and others which can be refilled, a more cost-effective option in the long run:
Disposable CBD vape pens
As the name indicates, these CBD vape pens are small cigarette style pens which have been pre-filled with CBD vape oil and are disposable, meaning you will not be able to refill them. They work thanks to a built-in coil and battery. When the person smoking sucks on the mouthpiece of the vape pen, the battery sends a charge to the coil which causes the temperature to rise in the atomizer. This process heats-up the CBD vape oil in the cartridge and transforms it into vapor which can then be inhaled.
CBD vape pens are a great way to start as you do not need to worry about how they work or refilling them. Simply turn them on and start vaping. However, their longevity is usually limited to 100-150 large inhalations which is not idea if you are a heavier CBD smoker.
Refillable CBD vape pens
These work exactly in the same way as disposable CBD vape pens but are rechargeable so you can fill it up with your own CBD vape oil. It is worth noting that refillable CBD vape pens often produce more smoke, vapor and flavour than disposable ones as the built quality is better. Whilst they may require some basic maintenance such as changing the coil or cleaning the tank, they tend to be more cost-effective in the long run. However, they may not be as versatile as CBD pods since the oil inside the cartridge cannot be swapped for nicotine one without having to dispose of the CBD vape oil first.
JUUL e-cigarettes have become incredibly popular and use their own proprietary technology and vape pods. Their e-cigarettes look like small USB keys which can be recharged in an hour via USB port. They are a modern take on e-cigarettes and as such do not use traditional vape oil but small vape pods which are simply inserted into the e-cigarette.
Users can switch between standard nicotine pods (different strengths available) and compatible JULL CBD pods in an instant, making it the ideal solution for those who want to consume both nicotine and CBD without the hassle of having to carry two vape pens or having to refill them.
As with CBD oil cartridges, be sure to choose a product that is compatible with your e-cigarette. Whilst a lot of pods look the same as JUUL pods, be aware that they may not be compatible.
If you want to buy a vape pen, check out our article featuring the Best CBD vape pens.
How To Use CBD Oil?
CBD doesn’t have one-size-fits-all dosing and calculating a proper dosage of CBD can be tough as our bodies react to it differently.
CBD Dosage Table
We would first recommend using the above CBD dosage table to determine how much CBD you should consume on a daily basis.
The four major factors affecting your CBD dosage are:
- Your weight
- The condition being treated (i.e. depression, chronic pain etc)
- The severity of your condition
- The concentration of CBD oil
Most brands recommend customers start with the lowest dose and increase until they find the right serving size that fits their needs. The most common starting amount is between 10mg and 25mg. For anxiety and depression, the dose can vary from 20mg to 50mg or more.
As a rule of thumb, a person weighting between 10.5 and 17 stones (approximately 150 and 240 lbs) may need between 20mg and 40mg of CBD per day depending on the severity of their symptoms.
When using CBD for the first time, we would always recommend starting with one or two drops of the 3% or 6% CBD oil placed under the tongue (sublingual) and holding it there for at least 30 seconds so it can absorb into the bloodstream.
Taking it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to see how your body reacts to it is also recommended. If you are not seeing any major benefits with a single drop, increase your intake by a single drop every 2 or 3 days until finding the right balance to treat your personal symptoms.
Finally, as CBD remains a novel food, it is worth noting that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends that healthy adults do not take more than 70mg a day, unless advised by a medical professional.
How Many CBD Oil Drops?
Whilst it may be confusing at the beginning, it’s incredibly simple to work out how many drops of CBD oil you need to take depending on your daily requirements and the strength of the product you bought.
Most bottles of CBD oil contain 10ml of product and come in strengths ranging from 300mg to 2,400mg – also known as 3% and 24% CBD oils. This simply means that in a 1ml drop of the 300mg bottle, you will have 30mg of CBD, whilst the same 1ml of the 2,400mg bottle will give you 8 times that amount for a total of 240mg of CBD.
So assuming you need to hit 25mg of CBD per day with, you will need:
|CBD / Bottle*||CBD / Drop||# Drops|
*Based on 10ml bottles
Assuming you are using the 500mg CBD oil for a daily dose of 25mg, you will need to take approximately 20 drops per day (25mg divided by 1.25mg per drop). You could break this down throughout the day by taking:
- 8 drops first thing in the morning on an empty stomach
- 6 drops early afternoon
- 6 drops at night before going to bed
If however you bought the 2400mg CBD oil for a daily dose of 25mg, you would only need to take 4 drops per day (25mg divided by 6mg per drop), which you could also spread across the day – 2 in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.
As with everything, start with a small amount of CBD oil daily to make sure there’s no reaction, then increase slowly by a drop every 1-2 days until finding the right balance.
10 Recommended CBD Oils
With over 150 CBD brands on the market, it can be difficult to choose the right CBD product. This is why the CBD Unboxed team has tried and tested most CBD products and brands available in the UK market and assessed them across 7 key areas, including efficacy, taste, value for money, customer reviews, lab certification, product range, shipping & delivery and customer reviews.
Some of the most popular CBD brands we have reviewed to date include:
- Bud & Tender CBD Review
- Blessed CBD Review
- Provacan CBD Review
- Hempura CBD Review
- Endoca CBD Review
- Naturecan CBD Review
- Medterra CBD Review
- Love CBD Review
- Four Five CBD Review
Based on our findings and whilst every person will be different, we would recommend the below CBD oils to start with.
Take the CBD Quiz
Still unsure about what products to choose? Simply take our CBD Quiz which has been designed specifically to identify the product and strength that is best suited to your personal needs.