Here at Blessed CBD, we understand that information is an important part of the buying process. A lot of information about CBD online can be vague, misleading, or just plain false. As such, we have put the effort into researching the comprehensive article about CBD, CBD oils, and all related products. Our goal here is to be as objective as possible and equip you with the best possible information so you can make an informed choice. We will cover all the technical terminology, the science behind CBD products, and the various laws and regulations surrounding CBD products.
This particular guide is focused specifically on CBD products in the UK. CBD laws vary from country to country so rules and regulations in one country may not apply to another country. We will say at the offset that CBD products are generally legal to buy and use recreationally in the UK, with some particular rules regarding their use and sale (we will cover those more in-depth below).
What Are Cannabis, CBD, and Hemp?
Pretty much everyone knows what cannabis is. This pungent green plant is one of the most common plants in the world and is grown on every continent, except Antarctica. Humans have been cultivating and growing cannabis plants since the beginning of recorded history.
According to botanists, cannabis originated from central and South Asia thousands of years ago. Records of its cultivation and usage are found in archeological evidence of prehistoric societies. Cannabis has been used to create medicine, clothing, textile, and even rope.
Cannabis plants are usually divided into two main species, C. sativa and C. indica. Some researchers also include a third species C. ruderalis, though this classification is not accepted by everyone. Others argue that there is only one genuine cannabis species C. sativa, of which C. indica and C. ruderalis are subspecies.
CBD is such a widely complex subject, so to learn more, we suggest reading the helpful resources and information on Hypothesis Journal.
CBD vs THC
CBD (also known as cannabidiol) is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant. CBD is a type of cannabinoid—naturally occurring molecules that interact with cannabinoid receptors in the brain. CBD is just one of the many types of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. CBD is generally not associated with any intoxicating effects, unlike its notorious cousin THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is also found in cannabis.
CBD is currently of great interest to researchers due to its potential therapeutic properties. There is some evidence that, when properly administered and controlled, CBD can be an effective supplement to treatment regimens for a wide range of issues. There is evidence that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and that it can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety.
THC is another kind of cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Unlike CBD, THC is associated with intoxicating psychoactive effects. Ingesting THC is associated with a cerebral “high” and is usually associated with increased appetite, relaxation, and sleepiness. In large doses, THC is known to cause acute paranoia and anxiety.
THC is also currently being researched for its therapeutic properties. THC is known to significantly reduce pain, lessen nausea, and might improve neurological activity in certain cases.
Hemp vs. Marijuana
CBD and THC are both cannabinoids and both occur in cannabis plants in varying quantities. Some plants may have a higher CBD concentration while others may have a higher THC concentration. Cannabis plants are often differentiated based on their respective CBD and THC contents.
Hemp and marijuana are two terms used to refer to variants of the C. sativa plant. The term “hemp” usually refers to cannabis plants with less than 0.2% THC content. Hemp plants are often used for industrial purposes. The tough fibers can be fashioned into rope, clothing, and other durable textiles. Hemp seeds and stems are also often used to make oils and blends for culinary purposes.
The term “marijuana”, on the other hand, mostly refers to cannabis plants that have a high THC content. Marijuana is often just called “cannabis” and is mostly used for recreational purposes. Recreational uses of marijuana usually involve smoking or ingesting oils made from the plant.
As a general rule of thumb, hemp has higher quantities of CBD than THC and marijuana might have equal amounts of the two or more THC than CBD. Keep in mind that the terms “hemp” and “marijuana” are not taxonomic classifications and both can both refer to strains of the same species of plant.
Cannabis oils are made from the leaves, seeds, and stems of the cannabis plant. These parts of the plants are crushed up to release the molecules, which are then left to stew in a solvent, usually some kind of oil. Since cannabinoids are fat-soluble, oils are a common choice of solvent. These are illegal in the UK, but available to buy in the Netherlands. CBD brands like Nutra CBD sell cannabis oil (known as wietolie), CBD oils (known as CBD olie), and CBD capsules, so they might be worth looking into.
CBD oils are made from the full body of the plant, including stems, seeds, and leaves. CBD oils often contain a blend of different cannabinoids and other substances such as terpenes. CBD oils are commonly sold as food supplements in the form of cooking oils, liquids, balms, and more. CBD oils can be used in cooking to infuse your food with CBD, so you can get the beneficial effects when you eat.
Various CBD oils are made with blends of different cannabinoids and other substances such as terpenes. Usually, the product that you buy will have information about the proportions of substances.
CBD oils can also be vaped and inhaled, similar to vaporizing other substances. Vaping CB is usually considered an intense process and should only be done by those used to taking large doses of the substance. Alternatively, you can just ingest CBD oil orally via an eyedropper. This is the method of ingestion that most people use.
Chemical Structure and Properties of CBD vs THC
Interestingly enough, both THC and CBD have the exact same chemical formula. They are both cyclic compounds and both are made from 21 carbon atoms, thirty hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms. The difference between the two is the way that the molecule is structured.
CBD is an organic molecule that consists of 2 benzene rings (rings of 6 carbon atoms), one of which has a hydroxide (HO+) and an oxyhydride (OH-) group. In THC, the hydroxyl group is replaced with a carbon bond, forming a third ring, and the hydrogen atom attaches to a methylene group to form a methane group. This small difference in molecular structure is what gives CBD and THC their different pharmacological properties.
Both CBD and THC dissolve in organic solvents such as lipids and alcohols. This is one reason why oils are often used to make THC and CBD oils because the compounds readily saturate lipid substances like oil.
How Does CBD Interact With the Body?
THC and CBD affect the body by interacting with CB1 receptors in the brain and other nervous tissues. However, CBD and THC affect these receptors differently. THC is a “potent partial agonist” of CB1 receptors, meaning that it fits relatively snuggly into the shape of the CB1 receptors. CBD, on the other hand, is what is called a “negative allosteric modulator” which means that it actually changes the shape of the receptor when it interacts.
This interaction means two things: The differing mechanism of action means that CBD and THC produce different pharmacological effects. CBD technically does not bind to the receptor so it does not produce the psychoactive effects of THC. Second, because CBD changes the shape of the receptor, CBD can effectively make it harder for other substances to interact with the receptors. This means the CBD can regulate any psychoactive effects from THC by partially preventing it from interacting with CB1 receptors.
What Effects Does CBD Oil Produce?
It is hard to say exactly what taking CBD feels like as everyone experiences it individually. CBD is generally considered non-intoxicating. Unlike THC, CBD is not supposed to make you feel “high” and is not known to cause paranoia or anxiety in large doses. Most people report feeling a slight feeling of relaxation and less tension through their bodies. Most importantly, CBD can help you not feel pangs and pains. Many people who take CBD report that it makes them feel loose and relaxed, without clouding their mental space.
Does It Have Side Effects? Is It Safe?
The general consensus among the scientific community is that CBD is safe to take and not habit-forming. CBD usage does not seem to create a physiological dependency and there does not seem to be anything like “CBD withdrawal” or something equivalent. CBD is also not associated with the intoxicating effects of other cannabinoids such as THC.
CBD is usually tolerated well, but it can cause mild side effects in large doses. Common side effects from large doses include dry mouth, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue. In some cases, high doses can cause diarrhea.
CBD is safe to use, but due to its odd legal status, it is not regulated and controlled heavily. That means that many CBD supplements and products out there do not actually contain CBD and may contain harmful ingredients. Studies of various unregulated CBD products have shown that many of them either contain less CBD than advertised or do not contain any CBD at all.
Thus, the most important part of being safe when taking CBD is making sure that you are getting a good quality product that is pure and made safely.
CBD Oil Benefits
CBD oil has been of interest to medical researchers for some time due to its potential therapeutic properties. There is a growing body of evidence that CBD can be used as part of treatment regimens for a wide variety of conditions. CBD is still not considered a medicine, though there are a handful of medicinal uses of CBD that are approved.
CBD oil is considered beneficial because of the large spectrum of cannabinoids and other substances it contains. Before we cover the specific therapeutic benefits of CBD, we need to talk about the endocannabinoid system and how CBD interacts with it.
The Endocannabinoid System
“Endocannabinoid” is the name given the cannabinoids that naturally occur in the human body. Various tissues throughout your spine and nervous system contain receptors for endocannabinoids. This system of chemical receptors and related process forms what is known as the body’s endocannabinoid system. The body produces endocannabinoids in various natural processes. For example, anandamide is a molecule that interacts with the endocannabinoid system that is believed to cause the euphoria associated with a “runner’s” high.”
The endocannabinoid system is believed to be involved in regulating the homeostasis of various bodily systems. These systems work together to make sure that your body is functioning properly. Recently, there is a growing view in the scientific community that various seemingly disconnected disorders and chronic conditions may be linked by an endocannabinoid deficiency.
Normally, when your body is exposed to stresses, the endocannabinoid system works to regulate and fix those imbalances. However, this system can become deficient and can cause all kinds of issues. For example, conditions such as anxiety, inflammation, IBS, fibromyalgia, and migraines, might be linked to a deficiency of endocannabinoids. These kinds of conditions are normally characterized by non-specific chronic pain or dysfunction.
It is believed the CBD and other cannabinoid treatments can be used to stimulate the endocannabinoid system so that it works properly and regulates bodily mechanisms.
Here are just a few of the possible benefits that CBD can have. Keep in mind that CBD is not medicine and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment. It is not yet known to function as a cure for any condition. Rather, CBD has various therapeutic properties that may make managing certain conditions more feasible.
Perhaps the most well-researched use of CBD is for pain management. Cannabis has been used to manage pain since at least 3,000 BCE and scientists have discovered that CBD can interact with the body’s nervous system to both reduce inflammation and block pain signaling. Studies show that CBD can interact with cannabinoid receptors and interacts with certain neurotransmitters. There is also evidence that CBD oil can be used to reduce pain from nerve conditions like sciatica.
Most studies on pain relief in CBD have been performed on rats, though many studies have found that products containing CBD and THC are effective for reducing pain related to conditions like arthritis. CBD treatments for pain management are approved for medical use in certain countries.
In the UK specifically, Sativex and Epidolex are two CBD-based medicines that are approved to treat pain from chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. However, CBD treatments are also likely effective for milder forms of pain and discomfort.
One problem with treating anxiety conditions is that many medications are habit-forming and create physiological dependencies. Substances like benzodiazepines can be addictive and have the potential to be abused. There is a growing body of evidence that CBD oil may be an effective way to reduce symptoms of anxiety/depression.
CBD has been shown to have antidepressant-like effects in animals and it is known that CBD can act on the brain’s serotonin receptors. CBD has been used to treat stress and anxiety in PTSD victims. The main benefit is that CBD exhibits these anti-anxiety effects without being habit-forming.
Given the connection between the body’s endocannabinoid system and various chronic neurological conditions, many researchers believe that CBD has several neurological benefits. CBD is used to treat symptoms of epilepsy and multiple sclerosis and can help people regain normal functioning. The drug Sativex has been shown to reduce muscle spasm in people with multiple sclerosis and has been shown to reduce seizures in people with severe epilepsy.
There is also evidence that CBD can be effective for treating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, though research in this area is still lacking. It is known that CBD has anti-inflammatory effects so it is believed that it could counteract neurodegeneration caused by conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
CBD has been linked to benefits for the heart and circulatory system. Specifically, CBD may help reduce blood pressure. Several studies have shown that CBD can be used to reduce sitting blood pressure and reduces blood pressure when confronted with stressful stimuli. It is believed that CBD’s stress and anxiety-relief properties are partially responsible for its effects on blood pressure.
There is also evidence that CBD has antioxidant properties and can reduce cell death from inflammation which is associated with heart and artery disease. Mice studies have shown that it can reduce oxidative stress on the brain and heart.
CBD is also commonly used to manage and treat the side effects and symptoms related to cancer and cancer treatments. Most notably, CBD is used to alleviate pain in people undergoing chemotherapy and is likely more effective at reducing pain than THC alone. CBD also can alleviate symptoms like nausea and vomiting, two of the most common side effects of cancer treatments like radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
The majority of human studies involving CBD and cancer involve using CBD to treat symptoms related to cancer and cancer treatments. However, studies in animals indicate that CBD might have antitumorigenic properties. Some test-tube studies show that CBD can cause apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells. However, there is currently no evidence that CBD is an effective anti-cancer agent in human beings.
More research is needed on these specific points, but there is some evidence that CBD might have the following benefits:
- Antipsychotic effects
- Anti-tumor effects
- Diabetes prevention
Studies performed showing these effects were in rats and not in humans.
Is CBD Legal To Buy and Use in the UK?
In general, yes, CBD products are legal to buy and sell in the UK. However, given misunderstandings and inaccuracies about the substance and a slow legal system, there are several inconsistencies surrounding the sale and usage of CBD products in the UK.
According to law, CBD oil is legal to buy, sell, and use if it is created from hemp plants that have lower than 0.2% THC content A lot of people think this means that as long as the oil has less than 0.2% THC content, it is legal, but this is incorrect. The CBD concentration limit applies to the plant that the oil was made from, not necessarily the oil itself. CBD oils that are legal to sell must be made from a strain of hemp that is approved.
Additionally, if a CBD product is going to be sold in the UK, then it cannot be marketed as medicine unless it has been specifically approved by the MHRA. Currently, there are two CBD-based medicines approved for use in the UK, though other countries have more CBD products.
Here is the exact wording of the rule from the MHRA:
“We have come to the opinion that products containing cannabidiol (CBD) used for medical purposes are a medicine. Medicinal products must have a product licence (marketing authorisation) before they can be legally sold, supplied or advertised in the UK, unless exempt. Licensed medicinal products have to meet safety, quality and efficacy standards to protect public health.”
Notice the presence of the phrase “unless exempt” in the second to the last sentence. This means that some varieties of CBD are exempt from MHRA requirements to sell CBD as medicine. The kind of CBD that you can buy over the internet or from a street vendor stall falls under this “exempt” category. Products in the “exempt” category must be advertised as food supplements and cannot be sold as medicine.
More specifically, an “exempt” product means a product that has one or more components that is a controlled substances and where the following three conditions are true:
- The product is not designed to be administered as a drug to humans or animals
- The controlled substance is packaged in a form that makes recovering the controlled substance difficult or unfeasible
- No component of the product contains more than 1 mg of the drug
That last condition includes substances like THC and some other cannabinoids. If a product contains more than one mg of THC, then it cannot be sold legally in the UK.
However, these rules do not mean that you can buy just any hemp product that contains less than 1mg of these substances. It has to be in a form that makes recovering those substances infeasible. This means that you cannot buy hemp with less than 1mg of THC as that THC can be recovered by smoking the plant. The product must be a “preparation” where the parts are not easily separable.
As of 2020, the UK government has passed new rules regarding the sale of CBD products. CBD companies have been given a March 31, 2020, deadline to submit new food authorization applications. After March 31, 2020, only CBD products that have this new authorization can be sold.
Cannabis oil is a different story, however. Buying or selling cannabis oil that contains THC for recreational purposes is illegal in the UK. However, cannabis oils containing THC are prescribed for certain conditions.
How to Pick the Right CBD Oil
If you are shopping for CBD oil, make sure to keep in mind the following considerations.
Clear Packaging With CBD Content
There is not really a standard amount of CBD oil for a serving as it differs with a person’s weight constitutions and other factors. Percentages by themselves also do not tell you much. You should look for a product that gives you the exact amount of CBD in milligrams. If you know that exact amount, you can plan your doses.
You should also make sure that the product does not have an illegal quantity of THC. If you are buying online from a company not in the UK, this might be an issue as different countries have different laws surrounding how much THC CBD products can contain.
Quality is a huge issue in the CBD supplement world. Make sure the product you are buying has been third-party tested for quality/purity. Ideally, the company you buy from should have the testing documents for you to look at before buying the product. Without third party testing, there is no way to know if the product is legit.
Aside from making sure that the product actually contains CBD, third-party agencies test for things like:
- Heavy metals
- Fungus and other mycotoxins
- Microbial pathogens (bacteria, viruses, etc.)
- Volatile organic compounds
It is also important to look at how the oil was made. “Supercritical extraction” involves compressing the plant matter and using liquid CO2 as a solvent. Supercritical CO2 extraction is largely considered the best method for making CBD oils, though it is often a more expensive method.
Pure Blend vs Full-Spectrum
CBD oils can be pure blends or can be “full-spectrum” blends. Pure CBD blends contain only CBD and have all other materials like THC, terpenes, waxes, and oils removed. Full=spectrum blends, in contrast, usually contain a mixture of various cannabinoids.
According to the entourage effect, different cannabinoids can work together to synergistically improve each other’s therapeutic effects. When you are looking for CBD oil blends, make sure that the packaging clearly indicates the proportions of the mixture.
How Do You Use CBD Oil?
CBD is very safe to take so people can experiment with how they take it. As a general rule of thumb, you should not take more than 200mg of CBD per day. If you are just starting out, you should try to take only about 10mg, twice a day. As you get used to the effects, you can slowly double the dosage until you hit an amount that makes you feel comfortable.
The amount of time it takes to feel the effects of CBD depends heavily on the form of ingestion. If you vaporize and inhale it, the effects are almost immediate. If you ingest it orally, then the effects start about 30-45 minutes later.
There are several ways to consume CBD. Here are a few methods of ingestion.
CBD oil is the purest form of CBD and probably the most popular method of ingestion. CBD oil can be dropped on the tongue using an eyedropper and ingested directly. CBD oil can take about 30 minutes to 1 hour to work and can last up to 8 hours. CBD oil can also be mixed with your food or morning coffee.
CBD can also be sold in a spray format where it is diluted with carriers like coconut oil. CBD sprays work like normal mouth spray and are usually used by novices because they are easy to use and have low concentrations.
Topical CBD products like creams and salves can be applied directly to the skin. The CBD is then directly absorbed into your bloodstream.
CBD can also be vaporized and inhaled. This is normally considered the most intense form of ingesting CBD and can create intense effects. When you vape CBD, the chemical hits your bloodstream almost immediately. However, vaped CBD wears off much quicker than CBD ingested in other methods.
CBD oil is one of the newest and most popular therapeutic supplements out there. Evidence supports the claim that CBD can be an effective part of a treatment regimen for a wide variety of conditions. CBD comes in a lot of different forms and can be ingested in several methods.
At Blessed CBD, we are committed to creating the highest-quality CBD products for living a happy and healthy life. Our CBD products are made with cutting edge science and grown on organically licensed farms. Don’t just take our word for it. See our reviews below: