The British CBD industry holds a wealth potential both commercially, but also in terms of health. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabis derived molecule, that is in fact, weakly psychoactive. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the main psychoactive element of cannabis and although also psychoactive, is illegal. What distinguishes the two molecules is the strength of their psychoactivity with THC being far stronger.
THC and CBD both influence the endocannabinoid system via the CB1 receptor and exert their effects through this system. Both molecules also share many therapeutic benefits. CBD has become accessible as it is seen as less psychoactive and therefore safer. Drugs such as caffeine in coffee and nicotine in cigarettes are also technically psychoactive, and so we already have access to a range of psychoactive substances in the UK. Many people are unaware of this fact.
The newly established legal status for CBD allows the British population to seek some of the benefits of medical cannabis by utilising CBD. There are, however, a variety of consumer pitfalls that we aim to make you aware of through this article.
There are countless studies describing the vast therapeutic effects of CBD. Although CBD is legal now in the UK, the CBD industry has little to no regulation. A worrying number of CBD manufacturers and merchants are taking advantage of this green rush and the money patients are seeking to source genuine CBD for variety of ailments or health benefits. This article is not here to teach you about the wonders of CBD or the endocannabinoid system, numerous though those benefits may be. It is instead here to ensure that those of you who are already purchasing CBD or are looking to try CBD are informed on CBD products and know how to spot products and companies that are abusing this unregulated market.
CBD has numerous applications and is being explored for its therapeutic properties. Whether that be for anxiety, gastric discomfort or joint pain, it is important to have a clear picture of what it is you are expecting from CBD. Depending on whether you are wanting pain relief or just a general sports recovery aid, there are a going to be several factors to consider when assessing the product choices. CBD in itself is a fantastic molecule but can often be mis-advertised or oversimplified. Your expectations and reason for trying CBD should dictate how you proceed with your purchase. If you are already consuming prescription medications you should speak to your doctor before consuming cannabinoids with these medications as they can influence the body's metabolism of some prescription drugs.
This is seems like a stupid question but unfortunately some CBD products don’t actually contain any CBD. Most CBD reputable brands pride themselves on transparency and as such will provide testing certificates that indicate the contents on their product. This is often overlooked, resulting in customers and sometimes patients purchasing products that do not contain any CBD. This may be replaced with any number of diluents, sometimes this may be hemp seed oil disguised as CBD. Hemp seed oil and CBD are very different products. Hemp seed oil is a nutritious oil derived from the seeds of the hemp plant that contains a variety of essential oils and Omega 3’s. These oils are often falsely advertised as CBD oils and sold for premium prices despite the lack of actual CBD content. CBD is crystalline molecule that is produced in small quantities in industrial hemp but in but higher concentrations in cannabis. These plants are harvested, heated with the oils concentrated down, at which point the CBD is isolated from the remaining plant matter. This is very different from general hemp seed oil.
Customers seeking to utilise CBD for its medical benefits will want to seek products with higher doses of CBD. To give you some insight into what would be a therapeutic dose, medical studies, are using doses of 300 milligrams(mg) per day to treat life threatening medical conditions (Yeshurun et al., 2015). Some CBD products can contain as little as 10-30mg in the whole product which if portioned out as they describe, are nothing more than an expensive gimmick. Products with more substantial content can found, containing in excess of 2500mg. To add to this confusion, the body is notoriously poor at absorbing CBD and other cannabinoids without assistance. Cannabinoid absorption can be as low as 15% and so a variety of methods can be used to assist the absorption (McGilveray, 2005). For this reason, over the counter CBD products tend to contain a mixture of oils to aid in the absorption of CBD. There is a fine line between using the diluents to assist the body in absorbing CBD and using diluents to water down the CBD for higher profit. Unfortunately, many companies fail to strike this balance.
Another consequence of the lack of regulatory structure within the CBD industry is product contamination. Cannabis and Hemp are renowned for their phytoremediative properties, which allows them to absorb heavy metals from soil to rejuvenate contaminated soil (Linger et al., 2002). This property means that as you concentrate the oils of hemp and cannabis, poor quality CBD oils will contain high levels of these toxic heavy metals. Furthermore, these oils can contain residual fungal spores and pesticides. Typically, a brand that is aware of these risks and hazards will state that the products are tested and will likely have documentation to support those claims.
In the United Kingdom the possession of THC remains Illegal. Cannabis products that are improperly sourced may contain illegal quantities of THC. In order to best protect yourself legally, it is best to seek products that offer this testing documentation. This documentation should state that there is zero THC in the product. Despite the perceived <0.02% barrier, some police constabularies have a zero-tolerance policy and could potentially seize your CBD products should they encounter them. Stray quantities of THC in your products could potentially show up on drugs test and result disqualification from your work or sport and so it is key to have awareness of these risks.
CBD is a fantastic molecule which has been proven to provide numerous therapeutic benefits if applied safely and informedly. This article has been written to arm you with the knowledge you need to protect yourself from the temporary perils of the newly emerging CBD market. cannabinoids alone are incredibly safe molecules, the danger therein lays with the production quality of products and their safe consumption. We may soon see this access to cannabinoids expand into a much wider and diverse cannabis industry which will bring with it improved regulation and quality control. Until then, ask yourself these 5 keys questions before purchasing any CBD products.
Linger, P. et al. (2002) ‘Industrial hemp(Cannabis sativa L.) growing on heavy metal contaminated soil: fibre qualityand phytoremediation potential’, Industrial Crops and Products. Elsevier,16(1), pp. 33–42. doi: 10.1016/S0926-6690(02)00005-5.
McGilveray, I. J. (2005) ‘Pharmacokinetics of Cannabinoids’, PainResearch and Management, 10(suppl a), p. 15A–22A. doi: 10.1155/2005/242516.
Yeshurun, M. et al. (2015) ‘Cannabidiol for the Prevention ofGraft-versus-Host-Disease after Allogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation:Results of a Phase II Study’, Biology of Blood and MarrowTransplantation, 21(10), pp. 1770–1775. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2015.05.018.