CBD is everywhere at the moment. New brands are emerging all over the UK to sell CBD infused products - from gummy sweets, cbd pillows to cosmetic face masks. But what exactly is this mystery compound? Does it actually do anything? How do I know which brands to trust?
At Honest Hemp, we believe in having a completely transparent and honest approach to this topic. We - of course - believe that CBD can be a super powerful tool for many individuals, but we understand that there is still a lot of uncertainty for many people.
In this article, we'll be bringing it back to basics to explain exactly what CBD is. We will talk about the potential effects of CBD, including side effects and safety of use. We will also teach you how to recognise a reputable brand over a potentially iffy one, and what to look out for when choosing a CBD product.
What does CBD stand for?
CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is one of the many chemical compounds found in the hemp variety of the cannabis plant, alongside other cannabinoids such as THC or CBG. These cannabinoids can be extracted from the plant, along with plantoids, lipoids, and terpenes, and infused into various products for human use. CBD has been a subject of scientific study since the 1970s, along with its close relative THC. It is a fascinating compound for many reasons; it's supposed ability to work as a natural remedy for many health ailments seems extraordinary.
What’s CBD used for?
CBD is used in various different products, including oils, edibles, cosmetics, and e-liquids. It is thought to help improve your wellbeing, and potentially have benefits for different health ailments. Research suggests that CBD interacts with the human endocannabinoid system - this is a biological system made of endocannabinoid receptors and cannabinoids. It is responsible for helping to control many bodily functions, including pain, sleep, mood, appetite, and much more. It is thought that using CBD products can help to improve the functioning of this system by restoring balance to it. This could therefore help to regulate these bodily functions.
In addition to this, CBD is thought to be an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, which could potentially provide various benefits when applied to the skin. View our guide to CBD skincare to find out more.
Will CBD get me high?
CBD does not have any psychoactive properties, meaning it will not get you high. THC is an entirely separate cannabinoid also found in the Cannabis plant - this compound does produce psychoactive effects, which is why this misconception about CBD is quite common. THC can be found in the marijuana variety of Cannabis, whereas it is only found in very small amounts in the hemp variety of Cannabis (hemp is used to create CBD products). Marijuana is illegal in the UK, and a THC content of above 0.2% is illegal in any CBD product.
Like we mentioned above, CBD is thought to interact with the endocannabinoid system - other cannabinoids, including THC, are thought to do the same. However, CBD and other cannabinoids activate CB2 receptors, whilst THC activates CB1 receptors. Researchers believe this to be the reason that THC has such hugely different effects on the brain compared to other cannabinoids.
Different types of CBD extract
Different CBD products will be infused with different types of CBD extract: CBD isolate, broad-spectrum CBD, and full-spectrum CBD. We find CBD in the stems, stalks, leaves, and flowers of the hemp plant. But how is CBD extracted from hemp? Firstly, the plants must be cultivated - or grown - in bio soil without any use of toxins or chemicals. Secondly, we use a process called supercritical CO2 extraction to pull all of the beneficial compounds out from the plant. This leaves us with a full-spectrum crude oil. This is a thick, dark-coloured oil which will contain large amounts of CBD, but also many other elements - namely other cannabinoids such as CBG, THC, and CBN, terpenes, plant oils, waxes, fats, and lipids. Next, this crude oil can be further refined to remove or add certain elements. This is what leads us to having different types of CBD extract which we will cover below.
Full spectrum CBD extract (sometimes referred to as pure spectrum) contains all of the compounds naturally found in the hemp plant. This includes CBD, other cannabinoids (e.g. CBG, CBC, THC, THCV), terpenes, and essential oils. Full spectrum CBD is extracted using supercritical CO2 extraction; it’s the most unprocessed and natural type of CBD extract. The other forms of extract will undergo further processing and filtering to reach their final state. We will cover these below.
Broad spectrum CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant with all of the other plant compounds included, aside from THC. It is essentially identical to full spectrum extract, apart from the fact that it is completely THC free - the crude oil goes through a further refinement process to remove this cannabinoid. It still contains all of the other beneficial naturally occurring cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils found in the hemp plant. This large and diverse amount of terpenes and cannabinoids can produce something called the ‘entourage effect’. This means the therapeutic effects of a product infused with this extract will be maximised due to the synergistic interaction of these compounds.
CBD isolate is the purest variety of CBD extract - it contains no other cannabinoids, terpenes, waxes, lipids, or plant oils aside from CBD. It is extracted using the same process of supercritical CO2 extraction. However, after this, the extract goes through a further refinement process known as ‘winterisation’. This causes the individual remaining compounds to separate, leaving us with pure CBD.
At Honest Hemp, we use broad spectrum CBD extract in our oils and edibles in order to provide our customers with the true entourage effect. In our e-liquids and topicals, we use CBD isolate for maximum purity. We do not use full spectrum extract in any of our products - this is because we believe in being 100% THC free.
What is CBD oil?
CBD oil is the most commonly used type of CBD product. It is usually made by mixing CBD extract with a carrier oil. At Honest Hemp, we use either Hemp Seed oil or MCT oil (which we will cover in more detail below). CBD oils will come in different strengths - this means they contain different amounts of CBD. This strength will usually be displayed as a milligram amount and a percentage, for example: 1000mg, 10%. This tells us that the oil contains 1000mg of CBD extract, and that this takes up 10% of the total product. You use a CBD oil by dropping it under your tongue and holding it there for a minute (ish) before swallowing. This allows it to absorb into the sublingual glands, whereby it can get into the bloodstream - this is known as sublingual administration.
CBD oils tend to have a bioavailability of about 8-16% - this refers to the amount of the compound that actually reaches the bloodstream and can have an effect. Bioavailability will vary between different CBD products due to the way that the product is used and absorbed. CBD oils must pass through the liver before the CBD enters our bloodstream, which causes some of the CBD to be ‘lost’. We will cover the other types of products later on.
What is hemp oil?
The only part of the hemp plant that does not contain any CBD is the seeds - this is where hemp oil comes from. So remember: hemp oil on its own does not contain any trace of CBD. It is extracted by cold-pressing these hemp seeds until the natural oils are expelled. Hemp seed oil is a dark green liquid with a nutty, earthy, hemp flavour - some people love it; some people don’t. It’s a great source of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids which are both very important in the human body. They are vital for many functions, including regulating blood and inflammatory responses. It is also thought that hemp seed oil can benefit the heart and the immune system.
What is MCT oil?
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are a special type of fats found in foods such as coconut oil - they are thought to have various benefits to our health. MCT oil is a supplement that contains many of these fats. It is said to boost the metabolism and increase energy levels which could contribute to weight loss. Additionally, it is said to aid muscle recovery - this could be especially powerful when combined with CBD, which is also said to potentially have this effect. MCT oil is almost flavourless which makes it an excellent alternative for those who don’t like the natural hempy flavour of hemp seed oil.
What is CBD oil good for?
Due to the regulations surrounding the selling and marketing of CBD, companies are not permitted to make factual claims about the benefits of CBD. However, some researchers have suggested that it could be beneficial for many different areas of our health. This includes chronic pain, mood disorders, epilepsy, sleep disorders, and more. Many users of CBD claim that it helps them to feel more relaxed which can also improve their quality of sleep. Others claim that it helps to decrease muscle or joint pain, and help with post-workout muscle recovery.
Does CBD have any side effects?
Some research has suggested that CBD can have small side effects, but these are not dangerous to our health and have only been found under certain circumstances. Namely; when the dosages given were abnormally high, when CBD was taken alongside certain other medications, or when CBD was taken by people suffering from liver or blood pressure problems.
CBD companies should always recommend that you avoid CBD or speak to your doctor before using it if:
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding
- You are taking other medications
- You suffer from liver problems
- You suffer from low blood pressure
Aside from this, the WHO (World Health Organisation) has stated that CBD is completely safe to use - it does not have dangerous effects, and shows no risk of drug dependence or abuse. Unlike traditional pharmaceuticals which often carry several side effects, CBD is a risk-free product. This means it can be an excellent product to try if you are looking for some benefit to your health without the risk of experiencing adverse effects. Although we cannot guarantee it will benefit you in the way you need, we can guarantee that it won’t be damaging. CBD is naturally produced by the human body, which means that consuming more of it is a completely natural and holistic approach to wellness.
What other CBD products are available?
CBD edibles can come in the form of gummies, chocolate, honey, and pretty much anything else you can imagine! There are also CBD drinks available, such as water or coffee. At Honest Hemp, we offer vegan and non-vegan CBD gummies, as well as CBD soft gel capsules. Edibles have a similar bioavailability to CBD oils - roughly between 8-16%. This is because they must pass through the digestive system before the CBD can reach the bloodstream to have an effect. This also means that it could take a long time for any effects to take place, as digestion is a relatively long process. CBD edibles are a great choice for those who want to add something a bit more exciting to their CBD regime - there are plenty of tasty options available on the market today.
CBD e-liquids have the highest bioavailability out of the different product types available. This is because the product does not need to be digested or pass through the liver. Instead, it enters the lungs and diffuses directly into the bloodstream from there. The bioavailability from this method can reach around 50%, and you could feel the effects up to 60 minutes faster than you would with an oil or edible. At Honest Hemp, we have 4 different CBD e-liquid flavours in 3 different CBD strengths. These are a great choice for those who want a satisfying and fast-working CBD product.
CBD Topicals / Cosmetics
CBD topical products are applied directly to the skin - for example, CBD balms, body butters, or roll-ons. The bioavailability is said to be around 45%, even though the product does not actually ever reach the bloodstream when absorbed through the skin. Instead, the CBD interacts with endocannabinoid receptors deep within the skin surface. At Honest Hemp, we currently have a range of different CBD topicals. These products are a great choice for those who want site-specific relief on the body, or who want anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidising moisturisation for the skin.
What should I look out for when buying CBD products?
When buying CBD products, it can be difficult to know where to go. There are so many different brands on the market today that all seem to be offering pretty similar products. However, there are definitely a few things you need to look out for to ensure that what you are buying is safe, legal, and of a high-quality.
- Do they have third-party cannabinoid testing? A good CBD brand should always have their CBD products lab tested by a third party. They should show copies of these reports on their website. At Honest Hemp, you can view our third-party cannabinoid lab testing results under each product on our site.
- Who is the manufacturer? Do they have necessary accreditations and certifications? You should find out who manufactures the CBD products for the brand you are buying from, and ensure that they are a reputable and experienced company. At Honest Hemp, we manufacture all of our own products from our lab here in the UK - www.svclabs.co. We are ISO 9001 and 14000 accredited, GMP certified, and consistently adhere to quality assurance standards.
Is CBD legal?
Yes - CBD in itself is completely legal in the UK. However, a CBD infused product is only legal in the UK if it contains less than 0.2% THC. We explained the different types of CBD extract previously in the article - full-spectrum extract contains small amounts of THC, whereas broad-spectrum and CBD isolate do not contain any. This means it’s super important to check lab testing reports - especially when buying a full-spectrum product - to ensure that the THC content is below this legal standard. At Honest Hemp, all of our products are 100% THC free.
Will CBD show up on a drug test?
Drug tests will only look for THC in the bloodstream, not for CBD. If you use a full-spectrum CBD product - even with small amounts of THC - there is a chance that this will show up on a drug test. For many athletes or professionals who have to take regular drug tests, this is obviously not ideal! If you would like to avoid this possibility altogether, then make sure you choose a CBD product that uses broad-spectrum CBD extract or CBD isolate. If you stick to products that are 100% THC free, then this will not be flagged up on a drug test.
Make sure you check out our other articles for more CBD information, and head over to the Honest Hemp shop to view our full CBD range.