What should I look for when I buy CBD oil and how do I know it is what it says it is on the bottle?

What should I look for when I buy CBD oil and how do I know it is what it says it is on the bottle? Is CBD a completely legal food supplement in the UK? Is it important to check the concentration and strength of CBD oil? Does CBD produce any psychoactive affect? What disorders can the use of CBD oil relieve? Should I choose a recognised supplier of CBD oil who can demonstrate its provenance? What is full spectrum CBD oil?

CBD or Cannabidiol has seen massive growth in its popularity over the last couple of years with people who use it crediting it with helping or relieving a wide range of ailments and disorders ranging from stress and anxiety to Crohn’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), ADHT, depression and even cancer.  

So how is CBD classified?

CBD is completely legal in the UK although it is not classified as medicine but as a food supplement. While this means that it is widely available it also means that there is no real control of what is inside the bottle. On top of that CBD oil is sold in a variety of ways and because of its relatively high price and the fact that you only need a tiny amount as a daily dose, it is diluted in a variety of other oils, e.g. olive oil or hemp oil.  This has led to suppliers selling different concentrations or strengths of CBD oil - as well as choosing different methods to refer to this strength. All of this results in confusion for the consumer. 

But how do you know what you’re getting? 

Well, as in any unregulated industry there are unscrupulous manufacturers and suppliers so the first thing is to choose a recognised supplier who is supplying a quality product and can demonstrate its provenance; where the oil was made and who made it. 

How is it made?

CBD is made by extracting oil from the flowers of Industrial Hemp. This is a variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant which has been used for thousands of years for things like ropes, clothing, food and sails (the word canvas is actually a corruption of the word cannabis). However, unlike what we know as marijuana, it doesn’t give you a “high”. In fact there is absolutely no psychoactive affect. This is because THC, the psychoactive component, is limited in Industrial Hemp by law to 0.3% of the dry weight. The manufacturer of your CBD should be able to demonstrate where the Industrial Hemp was grown and provide test results showing THC is below legal limits. 

Are there various extraction processes?

The next thing to look at is the method used to extract the oil from the flowers. Some smaller or less professional producers might use solvents such as ethanol, butane or isopropyl alcohol. These solvents will extract the oil from the flowers chemically and will then be evaporated off leaving the oil as a residue. The disadvantages of this method are firstly that it’s not very efficient and secondly that the solvent will leave behind a bitter taste in the oil. 

What extraction method is the best?

What you should look for is oil that has been extracted using Supercritical CO2 method. This uses carbon dioxide, which of course is all around us and naturally occurring, has no environmental impact and leaves no residue. The Supercritical CO2 method results in a better tasting oil with the whole range of cannabinoids and terpenes (the good stuff) that you want and much less of the things you don’t want, like the green chlorophyll from leaves. This oil is often referred to as Full Spectrum CBD.

Knowing what you are looking for is key!

Unfortunately often the way the bottles are labelled is also confusing. As I said above, the CBD oil is diluted in a carrier oil like hemp oil or olive oil or now MCT oil which is extracted from coconut oil. All are fine by the way but the MCT is being introduced to improve shelf life and stability. The biggest issue is how much CBD is in how much carrier oil? The confusion around this isn’t helped by the fact that CBD is measured in Milligrams (mg) and the carrier is measured in Millilitres (ml). Some manufacturers have started to label with how much CBD is in each dose in what they say is an attempt to clarify the issue but to me makes it even more confusing. My advice is to learn what % is right for you and what is the matching mg e.g. 10%/1000mg in a 10ml bottle. If you’re new to CBD the best way is to start low and increase the dose until notice positive effects. 



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About the author

Lucy Walker

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I never cease to be excited by business. For me it’s all about the people and the possibilities. It’s about creating something from nothing, making something work better or making something work that was failing. In the last twenty years I have worked with start-ups and century old businesses, public and private, multi-nationals and one man bands. I have started and exited several of my own businesses across several sectors and have advised countless business owners on improving their businesses.

These days my focus is on businesses which have a positive impact on people’s lives. This can be as simple as helping small groups build sustainable income streams or businesses with products or services which improve mental or physical health. 


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