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All About CBD Oil [The Comprehensive Guide]

Green Shoppers Written by Green Shoppers
Updated on October 16, 2018

Thinking about purchasing CBD oil? It’s likely that you’ve heard of this substance by now, even if you’re not considering an investment just yet. You might have seen posters for it plastered to the glass windows of pharmacies, or just noticed it written across a label in any health food shops. But what is it?

CBD oil isn’t really talked about much in the UK, making it quite a niche supplement to add to your healthy lifestyle. If you’ve heard about it and are wondering what exactly it is and what it does, well, you’ve definitely come to the right place!

We’ve put together this all-in-one, easy to understand guide to answer all the questions you might have about CBD oil. So, sit back, get comfortable, and get ready to learn everything there is to know about CBD oil.

So, what is CBD oil?

First, it’s necessary to know what CBD is. Cannabidiol, abbreviated to CBD, is a compound found within the cannabis plant. It occurs completely naturally alongside dozens of other cannabinoids, the most infamous of which is THC. Doubtless, whenever you hear about cannabis, you’ll think of a drug that makes the user ‘high’ – this is due to the THC content. CBD, on the other hand, is a substance which is completely non-psychoactive.

In essence, both CBD and THC are important compounds within the cannabis plant, and they both have some sort of effect on the human body. However, there are major differences between these two compounds – for starters, CBD doesn’t get you high.

Is CBD marijuana?

It would be factually to incorrect to say that “yes, CBD is marijuana”, because it’s actually just one part of it. CBD is an active chemical compound found within the cannabis plant, but it isn’t the whole thing.

Instead, CBD has been extracted from the plant and is usually mixed with oils to create CBD oil. There are other ways to ingest CBD rather than just using an oil, but no matter the method, the CBD has been separated from the rest of the marijuana plant – so you can rest assured that it wouldn’t get you high.

What are the effects of CBD?

Since, as we have mentioned, there are no intoxicating effects of THC, it is reasonable to wonder why people take it at all.

Well, there are a number of reasons. Usually, people use it as a food supplement when they are interested in leading a healthy lifestyle. Research is still ongoing into the effects of CBD on the human body, but it is generally used as an antioxidant and a means of relaxation, as well as promoting everyday wellbeing.

Since it is an all-natural ingredient, many people are finding that it is a great addition to their daily routine!

What is the endocannabinoid system?

Before we get into a discussion about how CBD oil does what it does, you need to have a basic understanding of the body’s endocannabinoid system, often referred to simply as the ECS.

The ECS is a naturally occurring biological system that everyone has. It is a network of neurotransmitters and receptors found throughout the human body, and it is the reason that the body reacts to cannabis at all. Believe it or not, the body produces its own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, which are very similar to the ones found in marijuana!

Endocannabinoids work with the ECS receptors throughout the body and interact with various cell and tissue types. As a whole, the ECS is vital to survival, because it helps to mediate, regulate, and control a huge array of bodily functions, including inflammation, immune system function, neurogenesis (new cell production), apoptosis (programmed cell death) and even psychological behaviour. This means that the ECS plays a key role in homeostasis – in other words, it keeps our bodies in balance.

Cannabinoid receptors are so widespread throughout the body that some doctors have labelled this system as perhaps the most “central component of the health and healing of every human being.”

So why haven’t you heard about it before? Well, the ECS was only discovered fairly recently – in the 1990s to be precise, by an Israeli scientist called Dr. Raphael Mechoulam. This means that it is still being researched, and more things are being discovered and understood about this system every day.

How does CBD oil work?

CBD oil interacts with the endocannabinoid system in order to trigger certain effects. The two primary endocannabinoids that the body produces are anandamide and 2-AG (a shortened form of 2-arachidonoylglyerol – but 2-AG is a lot easier to remember!). These compounds bind to corresponding receptors found in the endocannabinoid system, namely the CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found predominantly in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are abundant in organ tissues and the immune system.

Generally, in a person who has a healthy, well-functioning body, there is a well-maintained ratio of endocannabinoids to their receptors: This is what allows for homeostasis. In fact, in an educational article produced for NORML, endocannabinoids are responsible for ensuring homeostatic regulation on “every level of biological life – from the sub-cellular, to the organism, and perhaps to the communities and beyond.” This serves to demonstrate just how important the ECS is to a healthy life.

However, it is quite common for the human body to tilt off-balance sometimes. Disruptions in the ECS arise when the body experiences sickness of any kind, including physical injury, disease, inflammation, or even hormone imbalances. When this happens, there are not enough endocannabinoids present to bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, and thus the body struggles to maintain homeostasis.

This is where CBD oil comes in. By ingesting the oil, you can restore the natural ratio by adding natural phytocannabinoids (those that come from plants) into your body, thus promoting your overall wellbeing.

Is it safe to take CBD oil?

A lot of medications or food supplements that are prescribed nowadays have some pretty adverse side effects. It’s important to always read the label of any products you buy to find out whether you are risking your health by taking them. Of course, some products that claim to be ‘healthy’ even contain toxic ingredients that will only harm you further!

Luckily, CBD oil seems to be very safe to take regularly. In fact, in 2017, the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a statement to governments worldwide, proclaiming that CBD is effective and is not associated with any adverse side effects. In an official statement released at the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence in November of 2017, they said:

“[…based on evidence from studies, it has been determined that CBD oil is] safe, well tolerated, and not associated with any significant adverse public health effects.”

They also said that the compound is “not associated with abuse potential, does not induce physical dependence, [and is] generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.”

Clearly, this is astounding news. In other words, if a trustworthy source such as the WHO deems CBD oil to be safe, then the quick answer to this question is a resounding yes!

Is CBD oil legal?

Since the cannabis plant is 100% federally illegal, it is only sensible to have questions about the legality of CBD oil. Is it legal to buy, ship, possess, and use? Well, there is a kind of grey area when it comes to answering this question, but we will explain everything to you in full detail below so that you never have to worry about finding yourself in trouble with the law.

It basically comes down to what kind of plant the CBD was extracted from. There are two sub-classifications of the Cannabis Sativa plant (which we will explore in a little more detail later on), and these are hemp and marijuana. Marijuana is a plant containing high levels of THC, whereas hemp does not, and is only high in levels of CBD.

Cannabis is a controlled drug due to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, but in 2001 it was moved to a Schedule 1 drug. This refers to substances that have no medicinal value. However, while the Misuse of Drugs Act recognises most cannabinoids as a controlled substance, CBD is not listed as one of these. The law acknowledges that CBD may have some health benefits, and very recently health secretary Jeremy Hunt has spoken out about the medical potentials of cannabis. As a result, cannabis is currently under review to possibly change its status.

As it stands, marijuana is definitely illegal, and so is THC. However, industrial hemp can be grown under licence in the UK. CBD oil remains completely legal as long as it comes from industrial hemp, and providing that it contains a maximum of 0.2% THC.

In 2016, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) states that CBD products must be licensed if they advertise medicinal benefits. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which issues guidelines to the NHS, gave CBD oil a “do not recommend status” due to it not being cost-effective (CBD oil is currently quite expensive in the UK). This means that CBD oil cannot be issued as a medicine just yet, but it is allowed for personal use as a food supplement.

In other words, CBD oil is legal as long as it remains below the 0.2% THC limit. Furthermore, you have to make sure you buy CBD oil from a reputable source, meaning one that does not promote CBD oil as a medication and instead advertises the product only for dietary supplement and personal use purposes. Finally, the CBD oil must be extracted from industrial hemp and not marijuana. As long as you buy CBD oil which adheres to these rules, it is perfectly legal!

As we mentioned, however, things are currently under review in the UK due to a number of recent cases. In fact, an 11-year-old boy recently became the first UK resident to be prescribed medical marijuana! So, when it comes to the legal status of these products, you will have to watch this space.

What is CBD hemp oil?

We know that it is illegal to purchase CBD oil extracted from marijuana, but buying CBD extracted from hemp is perfectly fine.

Basically, CBD hemp oil is a food supplement that is sold in the UK in order to help you live a healthy lifestyle and promote wellbeing. It refers to an oil made from cannabidiol (CBD) extracted from the industrial hemp plant.

What is hemp?

Hemp is a selectively bred plant that falls under the species of Cannabis Sativa. While another variety of cannabis, known as marijuana, contains plenty of THC and will induce psychoactive effects, the same is not the case with hemp. Marijuana can contain up to 30% THC, while hemp contains less than 0.3% (per dry weight). Hemp also contains more CBD than its psycho-active counterpart.

Hemp has been grown for centuries and used for a variety of different industries. While the seeds are edible, the fibres from the stalk can be used to make rope, clothes and other textiles, and can even be used as an organic construction material.

Industrial hemp is legal to grow in the UK under a licence, and this is where we get the legal CBD oil sold in health food shops.

What is the difference between CBD hemp oil and CBD oil?

Basically, it depends whether the CBD is taken from the hemp plant or the marijuana plant. You can actually buy hemp oil or hempseed oil, which are two different varieties.

Hempseeds have a lot of nutritional value, containing many amino acids and a low level of saturated fats. However, the seeds of the plant also contain very little CBD. If you want a healthy addition to your diet, you could try hempseed oil, which is produced by cold pressing the seeds. But if you want to experience the ECS-boosting effects of cannabidiol, then you should opt for CBD hemp oil, which is produced by extracting CBD from the plant itself (this is usually done via a CO2 extraction process).

CBD oil is produced in a similar way to its hemp counterpart, as CO2 extraction is used to isolate CBD from the marijuana plant. But while they are similar in this sense, there are some important differences. For one, CBD hemp oil is legal, while CBD oil from marijuana is not. This is due to differing levels of THC, since the legal limit in the UK is 0.2% THC – a limit obtained by extracting CBD from industrial hemp.

What are the differences between cannabinoids?

There are over 100 cannabinoids known to exist in the cannabis plant. However, the majority of these phytocannabinoids are “pre-cursor” molecules which contribute to the synthesis of other cannabinoids, including the likes of CBD and THC.

While CBD and THC are the most well-known compounds from the cannabis plant, there are a wide range of cannabinoids that are beginning to be studied. This includes compounds like CBDV, CBN, CBG and CBC. These are not known to produce a high or any psychoactive effects, making THC unique in this property.

Since the majority of these cannabinoids are understudied, the above question is best answered by just describing the difference between THC and CBD. The primary difference is that THC produces a feeling of being ‘high’ because it chiefly interacts with CB1 receptors in the brain. CBD, on the other hand, principally affects the CB2 receptors in organ tissues and the immune system, meaning it does not produce a high but still stimulates the endocannabinoid system.

Does CBD oil make you high?

As we mentioned above, the answer to this question is a confident, resounding “no.” CBD has a negligible, if any, effect on the brain and will not result in any intoxicating effects.

Primarily, CBD interacts with CB2 receptors, which are found throughout the body in the organ systems, tissues, the immune system and the pain response system. This makes it ideal as a food supplement as it could promote the wellbeing of these systems.

This said, it is important to note that CB2 receptors are also found in parts of the body that regulate hormone production and therefore affect mood. As a result, ingesting CBD may have a knock-on effect on the brain by stimulating these receptors. However, this is not to be confused with the intoxicating effects that THC gives by producing a high; instead, CBD possesses a very small ability to influence brain behaviour, but only slightly.

In short, CBD oil definitely won’t make you high.

What is the difference between THC and CBD?

If you have read the above sections of this article, then we won’t need to go into much detail here.

The main, most significant difference between tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), other than molecular makeup, is that THC interacts with CB1 receptors in the brain, and CBD stimulates CB2 receptors elsewhere in the body. This leads to THC having a psycho-active, mind-altering effect, while CBD does not.

Does CBD oil have any side effects?

It would be incorrect to say that CBD does not have any potential side effects. Anything you take could have an effect on your body that you did not expect or desire, including foods – think of allergies!

The NCBI compiled a review paper on the Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol. They found a few potential side effects, all of which are very minor but are worth knowing about if you are thinking of adding CBD to your diet.

  • Inhibition of hepatic drug metabolism: CBD can interact with some pharmaceuticals, as it prevents the activity of cytochrome P450, a type of liver enzyme. This enzyme is what metabolises pharmaceutical drugs; high doses of CBD can neutralise this effect and thus changes the way drugs are metabolised. This is not necessarily something negative, but it is worth knowing.
  • Dry mouth: Many CBD oil users experience a dry mouth after taking the oil. This ‘cotton-mouth’ feeling may be because CB1 and CB2 receptors are found in the submandibular glands which are responsible for saliva production. Not to worry though, it’s nothing a glass of water can’t fix!
  • Low blood pressure: High doses of CBD can cause a small drop in blood pressure shortly after administering the oil. This can lead to light-headedness, but it is usually fixable by drinking a cup of tea or coffee.
  • Drowsiness: Some users report feeling drowsy after taking high doses of CBD. If this is the case, then you should avoid driving or operating machinery after taking CBD. However, in many cases, CBD causes you to feel more alert and awake.

The review paper also noted that CBD oil is generally safe and non-toxic, and it does not affect things like heart rate, body temperature or blood pressure in the long term. It was stated that “high doses up to 1,500 mg/day of CBD are reportedly well tolerated in humans.

Simply put, CBD does not possess adverse side effects and is perfectly safe to take. There are a few effects that you may experience as a result of taking CBD oil, but they are all minor, temporary, and do not make the oil any less safe.

What are the benefits of CBD oil?

Research into the full range of benefits CBD might be able to offer are still ongoing. The reason many people take it as a supplement is because of its ability to stimulate the endocannabinoid system in our bodies, helping us to lead a healthy lifestyle by maintaining homeostasis and keeping everything in good balance.

Since CBD is under review in the UK, more direct benefits may be revealed as studies continue to look into the precise effects of cannabidiol.

How do I use CBD oil?

One of the great things about CBD oil is that it’s so easy to take. Generally, it is taken orally. The CBD usually comes with a dropper or pipette attached to the oil, allowing you to precisely measure out a dose.

To take the oil sublingually, all you have to do is place the recommended number of drops beneath your tongue, hold the liquid there for 60-90 seconds, and then swallow. The CBD is absorbed by glands beneath the tongue, and eventually is taken into the bloodstream from there.

Some people find the taste of CBD oil pretty awful, as the earthy flavour can be quite an acquired taste. Although it is possible to get rid of the taste very easily by drinking water as little as 30 seconds after taking the oil, there are alternatives. For example, CBD capsules are available to buy which contain the oil within, meaning you can get all the CBD goodness without the taste!

Where can I get CBD oil?

Both CBD oil and the capsules mentioned above can be purchased from health stores such as Holland & Barrett. Of course, this is a reputable chain which adheres to all UK and EU laws, meaning that anything you purchase will be legal, safe, and of a good quality. Holland & Barrett sells a range of Jacob Hooy CBD oils and capsules to suit your needs.

You can also shop online with Provacan CBD, a company which sells oils, sprays, capsules, and balms infused with CBD. As a UK-based company, they adhere to all the required laws in this country and only sell within the EU.

There are other places to buy CBD oils out there, but you have to be careful and make sure you purchase an organic, non-GMO product that meets all the legal requirements and is good for you. It is a good idea to check for 3rd party lab testing to assure that this is the case. For this reason, we recommend the above sources as a place to purchase CBD products in the UK.

Final thoughts on CBD oil

We hope that this article has been very informative and served as an enlightening FAQ source for all your queries about CBD oil. Now you can consider yourself well-educated on all things CBD, including its legal status, where it comes from, how it interacts with your body and where to buy it.

As a quick summary, CBD is a safe, non-intoxicating substance that can be used as a food supplement in a healthy lifestyle. It works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system in order to help your body maintain a good balance in everyday life. As it stands currently, CBD oil sourced from industrial hemp is perfectly legal in the UK, meaning you can’t get in trouble for using it in your daily routine.

The popularity of CBD oil is beginning to grow, and really it’s no wonder! More research is currently being carried out on the cannabinoid, but even the WHO seems to agree that CBD is safe and a good way of living a complete, healthy lifestyle.

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