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ABCs of CBD oil in the UK

CBD oil products have been  growing in popularity throughout the UK with a reported 6 million people of the population having tried it already. If you are new to CBD oil, and have no idea where to start, this article will take you through all the main aspects.

What is CBD oil and how does it work?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of over 120 natural compounds known as ‘cannabinoids’, found in the flower of the hemp plant. To understand how it works, let’s start with a quick biology lesson!

In the 1990s, scientists discovered the human endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in your body, which essentially means that everything in your body is stable and balanced.

Your ECS helps to regulate everything from sleep and appetite to pain and immune response. It does this by producing compounds called endocannabinoids (‘endo’ simply means ‘produced internally’), which travel around the body delivering signals and messages.

When you consume external cannabinoids – by taking CBD oil or smoking cannabis, for example – they also affect the cannabinoid receptors around your body. Different cannabinoids affect different receptors, so the effects depend on the cannabinoids consumed.

That’s where some of the confusion and stigma around CBD oil comes in…

Is CBD oil legal in the UK?

The UK’s regulations can be slightly confusing, but rest assured retailers wouldn’t be able to sell you an illegal substance!

Cannabis is a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971, but CBD oil has been legal since 2016 – with conditions. To be legal, CBD oil must be derived from one of 63 approved industrial hemp strains, and it must contain no more than 1mg THC per product.

If you have any concerns about the legality of a CBD oil product, always buy a brand that has been tested by a third party. These laboratory tests verify the strength of the oil and the THC content, so you can be sure you’re getting a quality product that meets legal requirements. If a brand hasn’t been independently tested or does not make its laboratory reports available, don’t take the risk!

Another interesting fact about CBD and cannabis that people don’t know is that cannabis seeds are legal in the UK. Actually you can even buy cannabis seeds online or in physical shops, but since it’s so closely related to the plant people think otherwise.

Will CBD oil get me high?

No! People are often reluctant to use CBD oil because they equate it with cannabis, so let’s clear up the difference.

CBD is just one of many cannabinoid compounds found in the cannabis plant. The ‘high’ feeling that comes from smoking cannabis plants actually comes from another cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

In the UK, the maximum THC content allowed in a CBD oil product is 0.2%, which is nowhere near enough to make you feel high. However, if you’d rather have no THC at all in your CBD oil, there are 0% THC options available.

What types of CBD oil are there?

There are three main types of CBD oil products, each with their own benefits.

Full spectrum CBD oil

CBD is one of almost 500 compounds in the hemp plant, around 120 of which are cannabinoids. The other compounds include flavonoids, fatty acids, terpenes, and vitamins, each of which is believed to have its own therapeutic benefits.

Full spectrum CBD oil contains all of these compounds, just as nature intended. This creates something known as ‘the entourage effect’, which essentially means that the different compounds work together to amplify the effects of the CBD oil.

Broad spectrum CBD oil

Broad spectrum CBD oil contains all of these natural compounds too, with the exception of THC, which is completely removed after the initial extraction process. This is perfect for people who want to experience all of the benefits of CBD oil but, for whatever reason, want zero THC in their systems.

CBD isolate

In CBD isolate, all of the other compounds and plant materials have been removed to create an almost-pure CBD powder, which is then mixed with a carrier solution like MCT oil or vape juice.

While CBD isolate is purer than full spectrum CBD oil, you won’t get the benefit of the entourage effect. That said, it does have advantages.

The lack of fatty acids means that CBD isolate is suitable for vaping, while the removal of terpenes eliminates the strong herbal taste that many people find unpleasant.

How do I choose the right CBD oil?

The first thing you’ll notice when shopping for CBD oil is that the list of options is overwhelmingly long. Each type has its own unique benefits and drawbacks, so choosing the right one for you depends on several different factors. Let’s break them down…

  • Strength – The strength of a CBD oil refers to the concentration of CBD, usually shown as a percentage or in ‘mg’ on the lab report.If you’ve never tried CBD oil before, it’s difficult to predict how it will affect you. For that reason, we advise starting with a small dose for a few weeks so that you can assess how you feel. If you’re satisfied that you can tolerate a higher dose after this time, then build up incrementally until you achieve the effects you want.
  • THC content – Even though the UK’s legal limit for THC in CBD oil is 1mg per product – not enough to get you ‘high’ – some people would rather not consume any THC at all. In this case, a broad spectrum CBD oil or a CBD isolate would be more suitable.
  • Entourage effect – Unlike CBD isolate, full-spectrum CBD oil products include all of the other cannabinoids, flavonoids, fatty acids, terpenes, and vitamins from the hemp plant. When all of these compounds are present and working in tandem, the benefits of CBD oil are thought to be more pronounced. This is called the ‘entourage effect’.
  • Price – The price of CBD oil varies quite a lot between brands, so it might be tempting to go for one of the cheaper options. However, it’s important to keep in mind that cheaper isn’t always better, especially when it comes to your health. It’s worth investing in a quality product from a trusted brand with accredited manufacturing facilities, even if it costs slightly more.
  • Flavour – Thanks to the terpene compounds of the hemp plant, CBD oils naturally have an earthy flavour that not everybody enjoys. If you’re sensitive to taste, there are various flavoured CBD oil options available. You might also prefer a CBD isolate, which has had the terpenes removed.
  • Lab reports – Reputable brands will always readily provide independent, third-party lab reports to verify the quality of their CBD oil products. These reports will also show you the cannabis content and confirm that the product is free of heavy metals, mold, pesticides and other contaminants. In some cases, you’ll even be able to view lab reports for the other ingredients in the CBD oil, such as the carrier oil.If the brand doesn’t use independent, third-party testing, or if they don’t make their lab reports available, then you can’t guarantee what’s in your CBD oil. Steer clear of any brand that doesn’t offer transparency in this area.
  • Organic hemp – The way hemp is grown makes a major difference to the quality of the CBD oil. If you want to avoid pesticides and other hidden surprises, choose a product made from hemp that was grown organically in a regulated jurisdiction.
  • Industry associations – Trade groups like the Cannabis Trades Association promote good practice, provide defined standards, and ensure accountability in the CBD industry. If you want to be assured that you’re buying a top-quality, legally compliant product from a reputable brand, always buy from a business registered with such an association.
  • Health claims – In the UK, the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) mandates that CBD oil is sold as a food supplement rather than a medicine. For that reason, no brand is permitted to make claims about the health benefits of CBD oil, and you should be wary of any company that does so.
  • Manufacturing standards – Look for CBD companies that comply with international standards such as GMP and ISO. This guarantees that your CBD oil has been manufactured in a high-quality facility in accordance with rigorous industry standards.

How do I take CBD oil?

CBD oil drops are taken sublingually, which means you place drops of the oil under your tongue and wait for them to be absorbed directly into your bloodstream.

Sublingual drops are highly bioavailable, meaning the compounds can be used very effectively by the body. The effects begin quickly and last as long as six hours.

How do I buy CBD oil online?

There are 100’s of CBD retailers throughout the UK, so it’s always best to research potential suppliers and check what their customers are saying on third-party review websites. One of the UK’s leading CBD retailers, CBD Shopy are backed by a 5-star rating on Trustpilot from over 540 customer reviews, and offer a wide range of CBD oil for sale from various world-leading CBD manufacturers.

As previously mentioned, further up in this article, please, always remember to check for third-party lab reports, this ensures the CBD oil products you are purchasing contain the advertised doses of cannabinoids, making them safe and legal to consume.