Updated: Oct 1, 2020
by the evening standard - great informative article
Once a completely banned substance, cannabis has made its way into our everyday lives in the form of CBD oil - extracts taken from the plant parts of hemp that offer relief from a variety of mental and physical health problems without the hard-hitting dosage of full-blown cannabis.
From drinking CBD infused cocktails to buying cannabis treats for your dog – what was once seen as a controversial substance has become a well-established part of popular health culture – but is it worth the hype?
It’s only recently that I decided to try the "miracle medicine" for myself. As someone who has trouble sleeping, relaxing and switching off, I hoped it might provide a natural antidote to the constantly switched-on, anxiety-inducing world we live in.
But where to start? There are so many different strains and strengths of CBD on the market, and the UK seems to be in a constant state of confusion over the legality of these products. Even the CBD producers themselves describe it as “a semi-cowboy market” that “somewhat resembles the Wild West.”
Trial and error is a necessary part of the process to find a product that works for you, because what works for one person won’t necessarily have the same effect on others.
There are also a few very important things to consider before buying CBD oil. So, let’s start with the basics.
What exactly is CBD oil?
CBD oil (also known as cannabidiol) is made from the stalk, stems, leaves and flowers of the hemp plant, which contain high amounts of active, therapeutic cannabinoids.
This is not to be confused with hemp oil used in food and beauty, which is made from the seeds of the same plant.
CBD oil cannot “get you high” as the Home Office "only issues licences for cultivation of plants from approved seed types with a THC content not exceeding 0.2%".
What are the benefits of CBD oil?
As CBD is only just beginning to be taken seriously in the medical industry, there are currently very few conclusive scientific studies on the topic. However, CBD is believed to have significant therapeutic properties.
The World Health Organisation claims that CBD oil is “generally well tolerated with a good safety profile,” and that it may be able to offer relief for victims suffering from:
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Cancer (and related treatments)
Is CBD oil legal in the UK?
According to The Home Office, the legal limit for cultivation is 0.2 per cent TCH and 1mg for products.
Are CBD vapes, tinctures, capsules or edibles better?
CBD oil is available in four main forms in the UK:
Vaping allows you to feel the benefits of CBD the fastest, but scientists warn that we still don’t know what the long term effects of vapes are.
CBD tinctures are the most popular, as they can be used to dispense as many drops of the oil as you wish under the tongue and gradually increase your dosage over time.
Capsules are a great option for those who don’t like the flavour of CBD oil, however they are confined to a fixed dosage.
Edible chocolates, sweets and lozenges can be taken to mask the flavour, but do not allow as much flexibility with dosage.
CBD oil dosage
Our endocannabinoid systems all react differently to various types and strengths of CBD oil. Therefore, if you haven’t taken CBD before, it’s best to start on a fairly low dosage and gradually build it up.
An effective dose can be anywhere between 5 and 75 mg per day. CBD oil is not addictive and you cannot “overdose” on it, however there can be mild side effects if too much is taken.
The real challenge is to find a CBD oil that is as pure and potent as possible. It’s worth spending more money on a strong CBD product that you’ll only need a few drops of each day, than going for something cheap that is likely to be low quality and ineffective.
How to take CBD oil
Use the tincture to dispense droplets under your tongue and hold there for 60 seconds before swallowing. This will help the CBD to enter your system and get to work faster.
What to look for when you buy CBD oil
The first CBD oil I ever bought turned out to be a fake. Lesson learnt: Don’t cheap out. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
To avoid making the same mistake, look out for these buzzwords:
Non-GMO and organic: For the sake of purity, you will want your CBD oil to be free from pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilisers and solvents.
The concentration of CBD: There should be a lab certificate of analysis (either packaged with the product or on the brand’s website) showing the amount of CBD in the product. The lowest is about 300mg (3%), but this personally had no effect on me. Depending on the severity of what you want to treat, I would recommend starting on 600mg (6%) or 800mg (8%).
The percentage of THC: If there is more than 0.2% THC in the product, then it is illegal in the UK and unregulated.
Super critical CO2 extraction: This is generally considered the cleanest, purest, non-toxic and most efficient method of extracting CBD, but it is expensive and can hike the price up.
Full spectrum CBD: This means that a wide range of cannabinoids are present in the oil (including vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, protein, chlorophyll, terpenes and flavonoids) which is thought to be more effective at fighting pain and inflammation, with a longer lasting effect than isolates.
Trusted brand: Always do your research, read reviews and the check the reputation of the brand.