For at least 3 millennia, the cannabis plant has been used in many applications including food, medicine and textiles. In the 19th century, sanctions started being imposed across the world and by the 1920s, the UK had banned the sale of cannabis and its related byproducts. In 1928, cannabis was finally prohibited as a drug under UK law and in accordance with the International Opium Convention. Until 1971, the only way a person could legally use cannabis, was on prescription from a doctor. This all changed that same year, when the Misuse of Drugs Act came into force. Fast forward to present day and we are breaking all previously outdated paradigms, as governments finally start to listen to scientists on what could become the biggest commodity since coffee hit the new world in the 18th century. Currently, the focus of attention is on a compound known as Cannabidiol or CBD. Everyone from scientists to ‘budding’ horticulturists have something to say on the subject - and so far, it’s all good!
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD oil has taken the internet by storm! As well as the countless websites extolling the many benefits of this elixir, trusted health shops around the globe are now fully stocked with CBD products. But there is still some confusion as to what this magical oil actually is, and the grey areas of the law in certain countries don’t allow all products for retail. As an isolated plant compound, CBD or Cannabidiol can be blended with a carrier oil such as hemp seed oil, olive oil or MCT oil to make a tincture and increase absorption. These products can be found on the shelves of stores such as Holland & Barrett and even your local pharmacy.
Where Does CBD Oil Come From?
CBD or Cannabidiol is one of over 100 chemical entities found in the cannabis plant (Hemp and Marijuana), known as Cannabinoids. For clarity at this point, it’s important to note the difference between hemp plants and marijuana plants. Both are of the same species (Cannabis Sativa), and both contain Cannabidiol (CBD). However, Marijuana also contains high levels of the psychoactive compound Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - plants containing high levels of this Cannabinoid also belong to the Cannabis Indica species. Hemp plants differ to Marijuana plants, as they only contain trace amounts of THC, but are relatively rich in CBD. As well as differences in biological structure, these plants also differ in appearance; Hemp plants are tall and slim, with narrow leaves mainly concentrated at the top of the plant. Marijuana plants are short, bushy with broad leaves and dense buds. Interestingly, the species Cannabis Sativa/Indica belong to the same family as Hops (Cannabaceae). Most CBD is extracted from various strains of Hemp, including high quality strains such as Futura 75, Finola and Fedora 17 - this is certainly true for high grade oils manufactured in Europe. Oils manufactured in the USA may be extracted from Marijuana strains, and labels may not always reveal the true composition of an oil (more THC than stated).
Is CBD Oil Legal In The UK?
At this time, CBD oil is legal in the UK but there are limitations on both Cannabinoid content and marketing description. In the UK, Cannabis with any more than 0.2% THC is illegal, this applies to CBD oils and other products. Always ask your CBD supplier for a third party certificate of analysis (COA) to confirm the level of THC and to protect yourself as a consumer.
From a retail point of view, a vendor can offer CBD for sale to the general public as long as they don’t make any medicinal claim. This is because recently the Medicines & Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) classified all CBD products as medicines and thus require any company making such claims to possess a license in order to retail to the public. As long as a company lists the CBD product as a ‘Food Supplement’ and doesn’t make any claims or link to any medical studies on their website, then there is no breach of law. The MHRA aren’t currently granting licenses, as the classification is still in dispute (under novel foods review).
Does CBD Oil Get You High?
Providing you’ve carried out due diligence on a product, there should be no issue with getting high. Trace amounts of THC in a full spectrum oil, will not contribute to a psychoactive effect or get you ‘stoned’. The synergy Cannabinoids have when used together cannot be understated, and for this reason, we advocate the presence of legally safe amounts of THC in a product. When all of the major Cannabinoids are present, a product is said to be ‘full spectrum’ and the synergistic benefits are exponentially superior to an isolated CBD oil. The benefits of full spectrum are also superior to a ‘broad spectrum’ product (usually THC free).
How Does CBD Oil Make You Feel?
The misconception that CBD oil may get you stoned due to its association with Cannabis, has deterred many from wanting to try this magical little elixir. After years of bad press and criminalisation, it stands to reason people are still anxious about the effects. Just to reiterate, CBD oil will not get you stoned; you won’t experience any anxiety or paranoia, in fact, quite the opposite. CBD will help you to relax and unwind; you should feel well-rested, but not tired. The feeling CBD gives you will be different for each person and in relation to the reason why you are taking it. People using small amounts have reported boosts in energy, whilst users dosing on large amounts, feel the calming effects of the oil.
Does CBD Oil Make You Sleepy?
There is a very slim chance CBD oil could make you feel slightly drowsy, and this is a warning any credible website should include. However, it is extremely unlikely, as the sleepiness usually associated with cannabis is mainly attributed to THC. Cannabis Indica strains high in THC can cause lethargy and a general lack of motivation, which may be down to how THC interacts with dopamine (neurotransmitter). Although CBD oil is often used by individuals looking for a remedy to poor sleep, it won’t ‘put you to sleep’ per se. The calming effect CBD oil induces, will ‘allow’ you to sleep much easier, but it shouldn’t be as a direct consequence of taking the oil itself.
How Should You Take CBD Oil?
The best way to use CBD oil is sublingually (placing drops under the tongue) rather than orally (swallowing). This form of administration is said to be the most effective. Sublingual administration refers to the little almond shaped salivary gland located just underneath the tongue in the floor of your mouth. Absorption here is extremely quick, and higher levels of CBD are achieved in the bloodstream by sublingual routes than by oral routes. This is because the sublingual route avoids any potential destruction by gastric acid and poor metabolism by liver enzymes. If CBD is taken orally, absorption through the intestine results in a plasma concentration significantly lower than the initial dose. The sublingual method of administration will also allow for the CBD to take effect faster than if ingested, as it bypasses digestion and first pass metabolism by the liver. Providing the CBD you are using is of good quality, the bioavailability (the degree and rate at which a substance is absorbed into the bloodstream) should be high.
If there were ever an example of “sometimes less is more”, then CBD oil would be it. The first thing to understand about CBD and other Cannabinoids, is everyone responds differently; there is no one size fits all. This not only applies to dosage, but also strength (in mg or % usually). Assuming a product is full spectrum, then the mg and percentage will matter even less for first time users - it is the quality of the oil that is of paramount importance. We always advise customers to start with a small dose (1-2 drops) once-twice daily. This should be observed over the course of a week and then increased if necessary. There is no need to go through a loading phase with CBD, and any company advising you to do so, is just trying to sell you more oil. The amount you should take will also be very much dependent on why you are using it.
Providing you choose the sublingual route, bioavailability will be increased, allowing you to take less CBD oil whilst benefiting from equal or greater efficacy. As already mentioned, this is because the compounds remain intact when entering the bloodstream. For effective CBD sublingual use, place a few drops of oil under the tongue and hold it there without swallowing for one to two minutes (remember to start small and increase over time).
How Long Does It Take For CBD Oil To Take Effect?
Times for effect will vary according to factors such as type of administration (sublingual/oral) and may be affected by an individual’s metabolic rate (orally - ‘first-pass effect’). The longer you can wait and allow the oil to be absorbed, the more effective your dose will be. Typically, it will take 20 minutes or so for the CBD to take effect.
How Long Do The Effects Of CBD Last?
The effects of CBD may last up to 4 hours, depending on the individual. The half life (time required for a quantity to reduce to half its initial value) of CBD is 2-5 days, according to a study published in May 2016. The study found no difference between men and women, although several other factors will also determine how long CBD stays in the individual’s system; the study can only really be used as a guide. The amount of CBD you have consumed, how you have consumed it, as well as age, weight and metabolism will play a part.
CBD is not on the list of drugs tested for in the workplace. These kind of tests are only looking for drugs that affect your performance and/or judgement. Since CBD has zero psychoactive effects, it’s not considered to be a hazardous substance, and so if it did show up on a drug test, you shouldn’t be penalised. We must stress, this would be up to your employer and we are not giving any guarantees here. It is important to note: our full spectrum oils/pastes do contain very small amounts of THC, and although these amounts are within legal parameters stated in UK law, they may be traceable in a test. For the THC to be traceable, you would need to be taking very large amounts of the CBD oil - a full 10% 10 ml bottle a day for example. Since this is highly unlikely, the amount of THC in the dose you should be taking, won’t have any negative consequences when it comes to a drug test.
In regards to the half life of THC from CBD oil, any amount present would be so small that it will leave quickly. Whereas THC in marijuana itself can take weeks to be expelled from your system, THC present in CBD oils is expected to leave your system within one or two days.
Science tells us the Cannabinoids found in Cannabis Sativa are structurally similar to chemicals our body makes via its own Endocannabinoid system (ECS). These chemicals, referred to as ‘Endocannabinoids’ are involved in regulating a variety of functions including sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. CBD is an appealing option for individuals looking for relief from many symptoms, without the mind-altering effects of Marijuana or certain pharmaceutical drugs. The benefits of CBD are numerous, but as already mentioned, we are not permitted to extol these any further than within the parameters of a “food supplement”. We do advise that you search the internet and read the many positive stories of real people with real problems - these stories are often heartwarming, showing the power and promise of a very misunderstood and under-utilised plant.