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CBD (cannabidiol) based products have seen a huge increase in demand in recent years. According to the BBC, there are now an estimated quarter of a million regular users in the UK alone and the wellness trend is only continuing to grow in 2022.
A huge array of products are now lining high street shelves as either a food supplement or beauty product ingredient. A quick 'CBD' search on a few reputable high street websites and you'll come across not only the most common CBD product, CBD oil, but also, CBD-infused bubble bath, moisturiser, chocolate, fizzy drinks and more.
What is CBD oil?
There are two main compounds in cannabis: CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). It is the THC that is the psychoactive constituent and illegal in the UK.
“CBD is a chemical substance found in cannabis that has medical benefits,” explains the NHS website. “It will not get you high, because it does not contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical in cannabis that makes you high.”
The Home Office only allows licences for oils in the UK that are cultivated from hemp plants with approved seed types and contain a THC content of 0.2% or less.
CBD oil, is created from the flowers, leaves and stems of the plant and it's important to note that it's not the same as hemp products, such as cold-pressed oils.
CBD oil is not a medicine and has been sold in the UK as a 'novel food supplement' since January 2019, where all products require authorisation by the Food Standard's Authority before they can be sold legally in Great Britain.
How does CBD oil help?
Research is still under way to prove the health benefits of CBD oil, with the World Health Organization saying it "does not recommend cannabidiol for medical use."
The organisation also said that "initial evidence from animal and human studies (i.e. a controlled study in the New England Journal of Medicine and other reported individual cases) shows that its use could have some therapeutic value for seizures due to epilepsy and related conditions."
The benefits of cannabis-based medicines have, however, been introduced by the NHS, with two cannabis drugs for epilepsy and multiple sclerosis having been “approved” in 2019.
CBD oil taken as a food supplement is mostly praised by users who buy it off the shelves for helping sleep, anxiety and chronic pain.
The NHS website also states that CBD can affect how other medicines work, so you should discuss with your doctor before taking it if you're currently taking any other medication.
How to take CBD Oil?
CBD oil now comes in many different forms, however, the most popular are CBD tinctures, where you put a few drops of CBD oil under your tongue and hold for two minutes while it absorbs.
If you don't like the taste or texture of oil, you can also get CBD capsules, which can be taken once to twice a day as a dietary supplement.
How to choose a CBD oil
When searching for CBD oil it’s important to check that it’s free from pesticides and solvents, includes no more than 0.2% THC and is from a trusted brand.
There are also varying strengths of CBD oil, the lowest being 300mg (3%) ranging to 800mg (8%). It’s suggested you start at a low dosage and gradually build up your tolerance.
When it comes to choosing brands, we suggest always buying from a reputable source and checking out the Food Standard Authorities guidelines, which include advice for healthy adults as well as a list of approved brands. The Cannabis Trades Association UK is also a great resource to use when selecting products.
5 CBD oils tried and tested
CBD Oil Drops Seville Orange (5%) by Green Stem | £30 from Feel Unique
After finishing around four CBD oils over the past year, I was ecstatic when I stumbled upon Green Stem, which has created flavoured CBD oils that don’t share the usual unpleasant earthy taste.
The broad-spectrum hemp blend is THC-free and has been lab-tested for purity. I would definitely join customers who have already given it an overall 4.9 out of 5 rating.
Crops Oil (5%) by Celtic Wind | £34.99 from Celtic Wind
Made from EU-certified hemp crops in Cooley Mountains of Ireland and produced without fungicides, pesticides or herbicides, Celtic Wind is a worthy first-time choice if you’re wanting to try a CBD oil.
It’s advised you take one pipette (0.7ml) once a day, under your tongue. Other brands often allow more drops a day, so I found one drop wasn’t enough for the effects to last the entire day. However, for a CBD newbie who doesn’t want to take it numerous times a day, it’s probably ideal.
It also wasn’t the most pleasant-tasting CBD oil (spoiler alter: CBD oil does not taste good in general, but usually the payoff is worth it).
Cannabidiol Oil (5.6%) by Dragonfly CBD | £29.50 from Boots
Stocked at Boots, Dragonfly CBD is on the more expensive end of the spectrum.
That’s because it’s extracted from organically grown Cannabis sativa plants using a hand-crafted extraction method. The brand is also very transparent with its production, proving organic certification, batch numbers and pesticide testing.
With 5.6% CBD, it’s higher-strength. Taste-wise, I found it a little less oily than others.
CBD Oil Drops 260mg (2.75%) | £15.95 from Health Span
I was lured in by the promise of 'easy-to-use peppermint-flavoured oral drops' – and I was not disappointed.
The hint of peppermint was refreshing, making it another great option for those who don’t like the usual CBD taste. The oil also held a clear consistency, showing the brand’s filter-clear method, which removes unwanted plant – I'd say it's a great option for newcomers to CBD. Health Span is also a member of the Cannabis Trades Association UK (CTA UK).
Raw CBD Capsules by Endoca (10mg per capsule) | from £26 from Endoca
Endoca is a brand that multiple avid CBD users have suggested to me. It contains only full-spectrum hemp oil and CBD. If you can’t stomach the not-so-pleasant tasting oils, these capsules are the solution.
The only downside is that you’re confined to a fixed dosage rather than measuring it yourself using drops.
However, not having to taste the oil made it so, so worth it.