Everything You Need to Know About CBD Oil & Related Products
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CBD oil, also known as hemp oil, is creating a buzz in the UK at the moment. It seems hardly a day goes past without a major news story proclaiming CBD benefits. And yet, a lot of confusion remains about this versatile and fascinating nutritional supplement. That’s why we’ve put together this definitive guide to answer any niggling questions you may have, getting you one step closer to finding the perfect CBD oil product for you.
What is CBD?
CBD, otherwise known as Cannabidiol, is a type of cannabinoid, a naturally occurring molecule found in the cannabis plant. There are over one hundred cannabinoids in cannabis, however, and for many years it was the psychoactive cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) that hogged the headlines. Recently, CBD has also been creating its own stir, thanks to an increase in scientific research and greater interest in the medicinal aspects of the cannabis plant.
One particular quality that makes it stand out from other cannabinoids is that it doesn’t create any intoxicating effect when consumed. Quite the contrary, CBD is actually thought to counteract the high caused by THC.
This has meant that whole new swathes of the public are trying cannabis-based and hemp products for the first time, without the worry of feeling stoned or failing a drugs test.
Does it come from hemp or cannabis?
One of the main confusions when it comes to CBD, is whether it is derived from hemp or cannabis, or are they in fact the same thing?
CBD is found in Cannabis Sativa, an annual herbaceous flowering plant originating in India, but now grown throughout the world. However, go back to the 19th century and the terms hemp and cannabis were interchangeable.
Historically, the varieties of cannabis predominating in Asia were wider with more buds and flowers, while those in northern Europe, known as industrial hemp, had taller fibrous stems. The ultra durable fibre found in hemp was used for everything from rope, clothing, oil and paper. There is also a legal difference between cannabis and industrial hemp. Because hemp contains less than 0.2% THC it is not considered a controlled substance. But interestingly, in recent years scientists have discovered that hemp does contain significant levels of CBD.
That said, despite the amazingly versatile benefits of hemp, for many years it had fallen out of favour, until new research into emerged, showing the cannabinoid to hold fascinating, health-promoting properties. This coincided with a deluge of media stories about CBD from across the planet, and hey presto, hemp is back in fashion again.
In basic terms then, the CBD oil available in the UK comes from hemp because it contains less than 0.2% THC. But in other countries like Holland or parts of the United States where medical cannabis is legal, CBD oil might come from CBD-dominant cannabis strains that contain more than 0.2% THC.
Is it legal?
Many people considering CBD for the first time are concerned about whether it is legal. If CBD is derived from hemp or cannabis plants containing less than 0.2% THC, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Not only is it legal, but it is also incredibly safe to consume. There have been very few side effects noted, even at high doses of up to 600 mg.
Just last year, the World Health Organisation found that “CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential,” and that it “is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.
In the UK, the Medical Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has a somewhat confusing position. It has acknowledged that “products containing cannabidiol (CBD) used for medical purposes are a medicine.”
What this means in effect is that any product containing CBD that claims to have health benefits such as reducing pain or easing anxiety, must have a special license.
However, CBD oil products sold as nutritional supplements do not need a license, but they must not make any claims about health benefits. For the moment then, most of these products in the UK are sold as nutritional supplements.
What is CBD oil, or hemp oil?
Ok, so we now know that CBD is a compound found in cannabis and/or hemp… But what is CBD oil, otherwise known as hemp oil?
Cannabinoids like CBD are found in the sticky resin covering the buds and flowers of the cannabis plant. When it is extracted, it makes an oily paste that is difficult for the body to absorb. CBD oil, therefore has been through a filtration process to remove plant waxes and is usually mixed with a carrier oil such as hemp seed oil or olive oil.
CBD oil is sometimes referred to as CBD drops, as it usually comes in a bottle with a dropper to place the oil under the tongue. This allows for better absorption in the body, as the active ingredients pass straight into the bloodstream through the small sublingual capillaries.
How does it work?
When CBD was first discovered, its lack of any intoxicating effect led scientists to believe it had very little effect on the body. This couldn’t have been further from the truth.
It has an extremely complex mechanism of action, working on a number of different receptors in the body at once.
Many people take CBD oil (or hemp oil!) as a nutritional supplement, because it is thought to balance our endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a vast communication network of special receptors and neurotransmitters that regulates our bodily functions. Everything from sleep, appetite, cell growth, reproduction, sexual desire, the immune system, and pain is modulated by the endocannabinoid system. It is often likened to a dimmer switch, regulating cell activity in order to create balance in our systems.
Hemp oil is thought to have an indirect effect on the endocannabinoid system. Unlike THC, it doesn’t bind to the endocannabinoid receptors, but rather increases levels of endocannabinoids by inhibiting the enzyme responsible for breaking them down. So, in effect, CBD allows the endocannabinoids to hang around doing their job for longer.
Why is this important?
Our endocannabinoid systems can become depleted by the stresses and strains of modern life – alcohol, poor diet, lack of sleep and general stress can all negatively impact its effectiveness. In fact, the Neuroscientist and Cannabinoid Researcher, Doctor Ethan Russo believes health conditions typified by over-sensitivity to pain like migraines, IBS and fibromyalgia, could be a result of endocannabinoid deficiency. He suggests supplementing our diets with cannabinoids like CBD as a way to strengthen our endocannabinoid system and promote optimum health.
But this is only one small aspect of how hemp oil acts on the body. Scientists have found that it directly binds with several non-endocannabinoid receptors related to pain, anxiety, and cell growth.
In particular, hemp oil has been found to partially activate the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor responsible for maintaining mood and reducing anxiety.
It also binds to TRPV1 receptors known to mediate pain perception, inflammation and body temperature. And one area of exciting research is into its ability to block GPR55 receptor signalling, which can be responsible for osteoporosis and cancer cell proliferation.
However, most scientists will admit they still don’t really know for sure how CBD works, particularly as it seems to affect several targets at once.
With all this amazing research going on, and the almost daily stories about it in the news, you’re probably expecting us to write a list of CBD benefits as long as our arms.
Unfortunately, because we are not selling CBD oil as a licensed medicine, we cannot make any health claims. We can say, though, that CBD oil taken as a nutritional supplement, is an excellent way to support optimum health.
We recommend customers do their own research about CBD benefits, consulting peer-reviewed academic papers, rather than any “CBD cured my cancer” media stories. Project CBD is an excellent source of scientific research into CBD and particular health conditions. Why not check out some independent review sites such as Trustpilot, where customers share their own experiences about CBD health benefits?
How to choose the best CBD product
Hopefully by now you have a clearer idea about both what CBD is, and how it acts on our bodies. But now comes the difficult bit… Which product should you choose?
When it comes to choosing the best CBD oil product, most people consider first and foremost their pocket – are they getting the best bang for their buck?
In CBD terms, this is akin to asking, how does the maximum you consume get used in the most efficient way by your body? This is called bioavailability.
Hemp oil is quite difficult for the body to absorb because of its oily nature. Not only that, if swallowed in pill or capsule form, the digestive process means only a fraction can be used by the body.
That’s why the most cost-effective delivery methods are CBD oil taken sublingually, which passes straight into the bloodstream, or vape juice, which, on inhalation, allows CBD to pass quickly into the lungs. Many customers also opt for water soluble CBD, solving the bioavailability stumbling block of mixing oil with water.
Another thing to consider is the price per milligram. Many companies sell their oils in larger bottles, thus fooling the customer into thinking they’re getting better value for money. But when you break it down into how much they’re paying per milligram, these products are often much more expensive, because the hemp oil has been over-diluted with a carrier oil.
Another mistake is to assume CBD isolate, a purified form with all the other compounds taken out, is the best CBD to buy. Science has shown that whole plant CBD oils, complete with minor cannabinoids, terpenes (the molecules giving the special aroma) and flavonoids (responsible for the distinctive colour), are far more effective than isolated CBD products. This has become known as the entourage effect.
How to choose the best CBD companies
Right now, CBD companies are booming with new CBD oil and hemp shops opening up online and on the high street everyday. But not all companies are created equal, and so great care is needed in order to choose ones that supply clean, quality, competitively-priced CBD oil and hemp products.
It’s important to know where the hemp used to extract CBD is grown. European is best, and if it is grown using organic farming methods, even better. Next, consider how the CBD is extracted. These days, CO2 supercritical extraction is the cleanest way to extract the active ingredients from hemp, leaving no unwanted chemicals or residues.
It’s also critical to verify that there are no unexpected surprises in the CBD oil product you buy, such as higher than legally allowed THC, pesticides, heavy metals, or mould. The best way to do this is by choosing companies that supply third party lab reports with their products. But if you are in doubt, check with the company direct.
At Hemp2wellness, we go out of our way to create top quality and competitively-priced CBD oil and hemp products to satisfy our customers’ needs. We choose only the cleanest sources of European hemp to make our wide range of products that include whole plant CBD oil, CBD spray, water soluble CBD and CBD vape juice. Why not stop by our CBD oil webshop, or if you want a more detailed explanation, our customer service team will be delighted to answer any questions by phone or email.