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CBD is short for cannabidiol, one of at least 113 compounds known as cannabinoids that have been identified in the cannabis plant.
Cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system in the human body. The best-known cannabinoid is THC, which has psychoactive effects – the 'high' associated with the marijuana plant. CBD does not cause a high, however.
CBD is extracted from the stems and leaves of industrial hemp plants, which are different from marijuana plants in that they have naturally low levels of THC.
There are several different types of CBD: broad-spectrum, full-spectrum and isolate. Broad and full-spectrum CBD contain a wide variety of the cannabinoids from the hemp plant, while isolate is stripped of all ingredients apart from CBD.
Most CBD is sold in the form of a bottle of CBD mixed with an oil plus other ingredients; Healthspan's is mixed with hemp oil and peppermint oil, to give it a more pleasant taste (CBD oil can taste rather 'grassy'.) The bottle has a pipette, or dropper, on the top, to let you put a number of drops under your tongue.
Healthspan also produces CBD capsules; these avoid the issue of not liking the taste of CBD oil, and also give you precise control over the amount of CBD you're taking.
Some kinds of CBD have added ingredients to help support other aspects of your health. For more information see Healthspan's CBD Support range explained.
Want to know more about CBD and what it can do for you, from the people who use it?
Check out the Healthspan CBD Support group on Facebook.
CBD oil products come in various strengths. In bottles, this is expressed both as a percentage of CBD oil in the product, such as 2.75%, and as a total amount of CBD, such as 260mg.
When it comes to capsules, look for the total amount in the pack, as well as the amount per capsule. For example, Healthspan's starting CBD product has 6.4mg CBD in each of its 60 capsules, for a total of 384mg CBD in the whole pack.
When it comes to choosing a CBD product, our advice is always low and slow: start with a small dosage of a lower-strength product, then move to higher strengths if you need to. For more information see What strength CBD should I take?
The hemp plants that CBD comes from have been specially bred to contain high levels of CBD and extremely low levels of THC. What's more, only trace amounts of THC make it through the isolate process.
CBD isolate contains nowhere near enough THC to produce a high, and Healthspan's CBD products are batch-tested to ensure they only have minute traces of THC, and fall within Home Office guidelines. You can download the testing certificates for each Healthspan product from its web page.
Beware of CBD products advertised as 'full-spectrum', as they may contain significant amounts of THC.
CBD is safe to consume and is not addictive; an addiction to marijuana comes from a psychological dependency on the psychoactive effects of THC, and as CBD comes from a different plant and contains only trace amounts of THC, addiction is not possible.
Those in special circumstances, such as competing athletes or those in professions where workplace testing takes place, should check with the relevant testing facility as to whether consumption of CBD may result in a false positive for THC.
Dr Sarah Brewer is Healthspan's Medical Director and holds degrees in Natural Sciences, Surgery and Medicine from the University of Cambridge. Having worked as a GP and hospital doctor, Dr Sarah now holds an MSc in Nutritional Medicine from the University of Surrey and specialises in nutrition. She is also an award-winning writer and author.