What's the difference between 'CBD oil, 'Medical marijuana/cannabis' and 'Cannabis oil'?
CBD is a huge topic at the moment, but confusion remains regarding the difference between CBD oil, medical marijuana/cannabis and cannabis oil, especially when it comes to the legality of each ingredient. There have been plenty of news reports about the confiscation of CBD-related products at national borders, but inaccuracies in these reports have led to even more uncertainty about what is and isn't legal.
To clarify: medical marijuana, or cannabis oil, can be prescribed by doctors as a licenced product – Sativex is one such example. However, it's illegal for it to be on general sale in the UK. Medical marijuana contains controlled levels of THC, which is the ingredient from the marijuana plant that causes a so-called 'high'. When medical marijuana is prescribed, it is used to help people with conditions such as MS.
One of the reasons CBD is often confused with medical marijuana is that a specific brand of CBD, Epidiolex (a product containing a high concentration of CBD), has recently been approved as a medicine that can be prescribed by doctors in the USA and Canada, but the UK is yet to follow suit. So, if someone coming from the USA turns up at the UK border with this type of CBD, it will be seized because it's not an approved or licensed medicine in Britain.
The concentration of CBD in Epidiolex is well above the level found in CBD nutritional supplements such as those sold by Healthspan. CBD nutritional supplements remain legal in the UK because they only contain trace amounts of THC: far below the level needed to cause the 'high' associated with marijuana. CBD comes from the hemp plant, which is bred specifically for nutritional purposes. It is legal and safe to take, but be aware that even a trace amount of THC may show up in workplace drug tests, and elite competing athletes should steer clear of CBD (see 'Will CBD show up in drug tests?' below).
What's the difference between isolate CBD, full-spectrum CBD and broad-spectrum CBD?
Whereas isolate CBD is a form of CBD stripped of any other ingredients, broad-spectrum CBD contains a wide variety of the cannabinoids found in the hemp plant.
It is believed that the range of cannabinoids work together to increase their effectiveness – the 'entourage effect'. This is why broad-spectrum products are often preferred to isolate. Be careful of 'full-spectrum' CBD, as this may contain significant levels of THC.
Isolate CBD is crystallised in texture, while broad-spectrum CBD tends to be oily. All Healthspan CBD products are broad spectrum, and our CBD oil capsules contain olive oil and hemp oil to aid absorption. The CBD drops products contain peppermint flavouring to disguise the unpleasant taste of hemp.
Is CBD oil legal in the UK?
It is legal to buy and take CBD supplements in the UK. Healthspan is a member of the Cannabis Trades Association UK (CTA UK), a body created to ensure legal and ethical CBD trading standards in the UK. CTA UK works closely with the MHRA, FSA and CTPA to comply with EU and UK legislation and regulations. Only selected companies that meet exceptionally high quality standards are allowed to carry its seal of approval; its members guarantee transparency in trading, registration, batch testing and labelling, with reliable and accurate product information to give consumers peace of mind.
How long does CBD stay in your system?
Dr Sarah Brewer, Healthspan Medical Director, says, "The effects of CBD last for around 3 to 5 hours. After this, the dose will have fallen below levels that produce noticeable benefits, although it will take 1 to 2 days for all the CBD to disappear from the body. For optimal results, you should take CBD at regular intervals throughout the day."
How long does it take for CBD oil to work?
"The speed at which CBD oil works will depend on the delivery method you choose for your intake. Capsules typically have a slower release, while liquid drops of CBD are absorbed more quickly," says Dr. Sarah.
"The absorption of CBD depends on the format, too. CBD oil capsules which contain additional olive oil will aid the absorption of CBD into the body."
Will CBD show up in drug tests?
CBD is a legal ingredient, so is not screened for in tests used to detect illegal drugs. CBD products are made from industrial hemp, which has naturally low levels of THC. The purification process further removes any THC present, but as CBD is derived from cannabis, there will always be minute traces of THC remaining. The THC levels in Healthspan CBD products are within Home Office guidelines, and the product is legal to possess and consume.
However, for people in special circumstances, such as athletes operating under WADA guidelines or those in professions where workplace drug testing takes place, it is advisable to check with the relevant testing facility whether the consumption of CBD capsules or droppers would put you at risk of a false positive.
What should I look out for on the packaging to ensure I'm dosing effectively?
Many CBD products display the percentage of CBD contained in the product, which will be between around 2% and 11% of the total (the rest being made up of hemp oil and other ingredients such as olive oil). However, this can make it tricky to measure your dose precisely.
If you want more control over your dose, try a product that displays the amount in grams. For example, Healthspan's High Strength CBD Oil 60-capsule pack states that there's 384mg of CBD in the whole packet, but also that there's 6.4mg per capsule. Products with this labelling allow you to see exactly how much CBD you're taking with each dose.
You can be sure that the CBD products you buy from Healthspan contain the amount of CBD stated on the pack, as each batch is independently tested by a laboratory whose testing procedures are accredited under ISO standard ISO/IEC 17025:2005. The test results can be downloaded as a PDF from each CBD product's page.
Is CBD addictive?
The simple answer is no. An addiction to marijuana develops out of a person's reliance on the psychoactive consequences of THC: the ingredient in the marijuana plant which causes a high. CBD comes from an entirely different plant – the hemp plant – that contains trace amounts of THC but not enough to cause a high. An addiction to CBD is not possible.
Do not use CBD during pregnancy or when breastfeeding