As the CBD market expands, more and more people are starting to use the supplement. Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a compound from the cannabis plant that is used as a daily food supplement. People take CBD as a way of staying on top of their health.
Most often, CBD comes in the form of an oil product. The oil is dropped under the tongue, held there for a few minutes, and then swallowed. The CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream and used in the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system runs throughout the whole body, consisting of a network of cannabinoid receptors which can interact with plant compounds like CBD.
But most people who use CBD know all this already. If you’re a new user, however, you might be concerned about traces of THC in your product. THC is another compound found in cannabis, and it is infamous for its ability to cause a ‘high.’
So, are there traces of THC in your CBD oil? And if there are, can it harm you or cause a reaction? That’s exactly what we’ll be answering in this article, as well as telling you how to avoid THC as much as possible. Read on to find out more…
Where Does CBD Oil Come from?
CBD oil comes from the Cannabis sativa plant. This is important to understand when you are wondering if your CBD oil contains any THC. There are two broad classifications of cannabis plant: Marijuana and hemp. Marijuana is used as a recreational drug because it contains high levels of THC; it is illegal in many parts of the world, including the UK. Hemp, on the other hand, is high in CBD and low in THC. Although restricted, hemp can be grown with a license.
In the UK, CBD oil can only be made from hemp because marijuana is illegal. While it is possible to produce CBD oil using marijuana, this is usually referred to as ‘cannabis oil.’ Cannabis oil contains higher concentrations of THC and is thus illegal.
As a result, any CBD oil you buy in the UK will be derived from hemp. The hemp plant does contain traces of THC, which can be a cause of concern – what if this THC ends up in the final product? The concentration of THC in hemp is extremely low, and is always below 0.3%. Plus, legal CBD oil must be made from EU-approved strains of hemp, which guarantees this low THC content.
Nevertheless, some THC is bound to end up in the end product. To find out whether this is harmful, we need to know a bit about CBD and THC.
What Are CBD and THC?
Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids, meaning they are active compounds produced by cannabis plants. They have the same molecular makeup, but act very differently on the body.
Remember we mentioned the endocannabinoid system? The receptors in this system are designed to work with endocannabinoids, which are like those cannabis compounds except that we produce them ourselves. The endocannabinoids fit into the receptors like a lock and key, activating them to produce different effects.
When THC is imbibed, it can fit into these receptors just like endocannabinoids. It has a particular affinity for CB1 receptors, which are found in the central nervous system and brain. However, it overstimulates the receptors and causes the effects of a ‘high’, which include feelings of euphoria, dizziness, couch-lock, and a reduction in tension. These psychoactive effects are what have led to the ban of THC and cannabis in general.
CBD, on the other hand, does not fit into the receptors directly. Instead, its consumption encourages the production of more endocannabinoids. When the body can produce more of these to keep up with demand, the body can stay in balance much better, and thus CBD supports general health. Plus, CBD is completely non-intoxicating and will never produce a high.
There’s more. Although the ECS and cannabinoids are widely understudied, there are some things we do know. Dr. Ethan Russo has published a study on a phenomenon called the ‘entourage effect.’ This suggests that cannabinoids work better when taken together; i.e., full-spectrum CBD oil works better than an isolate. Russo also suggests that CBD has the ability to inhibit the psychoactive effects of THC. In other words, low doses of THC can be completely cancelled out by a high dose of CBD.
So, CBD and THC are pretty mysterious and interesting compounds. While more studies need to be done on both of them, the general consensus is that CBD is safe and has some health benefits (even the World Health Organisation agrees) and THC is less widely accepted because it gets the user high. Some people are on THC’s side and argue for its benefits, but for now the compound remains illegal. So what happens if it’s in your CBD oil?
Are There Traces of THC in CBD Oil?
The simple answer to this question is yes. Most CBD products will contain trace amounts of THC, and that’s just a fact.
The CBD products sold legally in the UK are made from hemp, which already has a very low concentration of THC. As a result, the legal limit for THC in UK CBD products is 0.3% or less. As a hemp extract, it should not contain more than this anyway.
As we mentioned above, the entourage effect will cancel out the effects of this tiny amount of THC, so using a CBD oil with traces of THC will not get you high at all. You will experience none of the effects of THC, which is why many people still choose a full-spectrum product. This allows you to get a fair dose of CBD, CBG, CBN and other compounds, without any of the effects of THC.
I Don’t Want to Take THC: What Can I Do?
There are many reasons you might want to avoid THC no matter what. The lack of studies worries some people, whereas others are subjected to workplace drug tests that test for evidence of THC. For the record, you would have to be taking an enormous amount of low-THC CBD oil for it to show up on a drug test, but some users are worried about accumulation within the body.
No matter your reasons for doing so, there are some ways you can avoid THC. CBD isolates offer the perfect solution, containing nothing but CBD in the product. Most often, these come as a tasteless powder which can be used in cooking or to make your own CBD oil.
But what if you want to benefit from the entourage effect just without any THC? Some companies offer ‘broad-spectrum’ CBD, which basically means there are multiple cannabinoids in there but the THC has been removed.
The problem here is that the market is unregulated, and many terms are used interchangeably. How can you ensure that a broad-spectrum product, or any product for that matter, really contains little to no THC?
Lab reports. It is extremely important to buy from a company who show lab results for their products. These reports will show the exact cannabinoid content of the product and explain whether any other harmful ingredients are present. With no authoritative body governing the sale of CBD, it is vital to check for third-party lab reports to ensure that what you’re buying is real.
Rounding Up: Is THC in CBD Products?
To summarise, there is usually some THC present in CBD products. The amount is miniscule, and to comply with law it must be less than 0.3%.
Since the market is unregulated, it is important to verify these claims by buying from transparent brands who offer lab reports on their products. Check the THC content as well as other things stated in the report.
If you are really worried about the presence of THC, then we suggest opting for a CBD isolate. There are plenty of brands who sell these products; just make sure you find one you can trust.