The last 10 years has seen a rapid growth of the wellness industry. This increased awareness of, and desire for, a healthy lifestyle is reflected in the size of the industry and the money that changes hands each year. The UK health and wellness industry was worth just under £20 billion in 2020 alone!
This surge in interest has been reflected within the CBD sector as well. As more research is conducted and further health benefits are uncovered, we are seeing more and more products being developed.
This can be somewhat overwhelming for the consumer, who is faced with an abundance of retailers and delivery methods, including CBD patches, oral CBD sprays and CBD vape oils.
This article should provide the clarity that allows you to make a well-informed decision when it comes to buying CBD online.
Let us begin by clarifying exactly what CBD is.
What is CBD?
When it comes to studying the chemistry and composition of the cannabis plant, it can be absolutely mindboggling! There are over 100 different cannabinoids that make up the cannabis plant – and these are just the ones we know exist! For the purpose of this article, we will just focus on two most dominant compounds found within the plant, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
CBD is oft misunderstood by the uninitiated. You may hear many stoner-related quips when it comes to CBD from those who are unaware of the inner workings. However, such views couldn’t be more misplaced.
CBD is a non-psychoactive component. This means that it does not alter the brain functions of the user. Put simply, it does not make you high. This said, it still manages retain a wide range of various health benefits that underpin its burgeoning popularity.
THC, on the other hand is the most dominant psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. This causes the so called ‘high’ that is typically associated with cannabis in popular culture. While trace elements are often found within certain CBD products (more on that later), it is not sufficient enough to make the user high.
What is the legal THC limit?
The legal limit of THC varies in countries around the world yet remains at a fairly similar level worldwide. For example, the THC limit in the US is 0.3%, while in the UK it stands at 0.2%. Neither is enough to get you high.
This would now be an appropriate time to discuss the three main types of CBD that are available to purchase through various delivery methods.
- CBD Isolate – The name itself is self-explanatory here. Isolate is simply CBD that has been isolated from every other cannabis compound.
- Broad Spectrum CBD – Broad spectrum also contains predominantly CBD. However, there is also a range of cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes that each have their own individual benefits to the user.
- Full Spectrum CBD – Full spectrum is pretty much the same product as broad spectrum, but also includes trace elements of THC. As stated, the legal limit for THC varies by country, so make sure you do your research prior to purchasing.
Always Request a COA
A COA, or Certificate of Analysis, is an incredibly important document when it comes to purchasing CBD, particularly if it is your first time. Essentially, a COA is a sign of quality control that confirms whether the product contains the exact ingredients as advertised by the retailer.
When you request this document from the retailer, ensure that this has been produced by an independent third party and not the retailer or manufacturer themselves.
There are three key sections on the COA that you should be looking at. The first of these details the ingredients, namely the CBD and THC levels, alongside other cannabinoids including CBN, CBC and CBDa.
The second section to be aware of is the potential contaminants in relation to pesticides or nefarious microbes. The final section is much the same but focuses on contamination in terms of heavy metals and other such chemicals.
Any online CBD shop should have a COA available for each of their products on their website – it shouldn’t be much hassle to get hold of.
How was the CBD Extracted?
Since American chemist Roger Adams first successfully extracted CBD from the cannabis plant in 1940, methods of extraction have come on leaps and bounds. There are now numerous ways in which CBD can be extracted from the cannabis plant, including ethanol extraction and olive oil extraction.
CO2 extraction, however, is seen as the gold standard – producing a safe, pure end product. This method uses pressurised CO2 (carbon dioxide for those who skipped chemistry) to extract CBD from the cannabis plant before compressing it into a supercritical cold liquid state. This preserves the purity and quality of the end product, while avoiding contamination.
What Delivery Method Should I Choose?
This is a fairly difficult question to answer definitively, as your choice of product depends entirely on which ailments you are trying to alleviate through its use.
For example, CBD patches are a great choice for chronic pain and sleep. This is because they have a high bioavailability (i.e. a high percentage of the CBD makes its way into the bloodstream) and a 24 hour slow release mechanism to ensure a steady dose across an entire day.
CBD vape oil on the other hand works much faster (3-5 minutes) and arguably has the highest bioavailability of any CBD product. On the contrary, it also does not last for a particularly long time. This means that you need to keep vaping consistently throughout the day to maintain your internal CBD levels.
CBD oil is something of an all-rounder. It’s sublingual usage means that part of the product is consumed via the capillaries underneath your tongue, while the rest is swallowed. The majority of CBD passing through your digestive system is likely to be broken down, so it is important to hold the oil under your tongue for at least 60 seconds. The down-side to CBD oil is that it needs to be taken 3-4 times a day, can be a hassle to use and often takes upwards of an hour to take effect.
Topical CBD products on the other hand are a great choice for anyone battling skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. As they are applied directly to the skin, they get straight to work on the local area. The powerful anti-inflammatory properties of CBD can also provide a wonderfully soothing effect for the user. The main difficulties with topical CBD products can be the smell (which is something that is slowly being filtered out with increased research) and the need to regularly reapply.
All in all, there is no ‘best’ CBD product, and it is entirely down the requirements of the individual. It is always wise to try a number of products and find out which one works best for you.
Does the CBD company have a good reputation?
While this can apply to almost any purchase, it remains as true as ever within the CBD industry. It is always useful to gauge the quality of a brand by assessing the experiences of previous customers.
While it is not scientific in nature, a quick Google search or social media search will no doubt shed some light on the actions and reputation of that company. Even better, if they have an independent review system such as TrustPilot, this can be used to assess the anecdotal evidence behind each product.
Finally, look out for CBD websites who also have a brick-and-mortar store. This acts as a further indication of legitimacy and can also be somewhere to go in and chat with an employee face to face about exactly how CBD can be best used for you.
The CBD industry can indeed be a confusing space, particularly for first time users. The biggest piece of advice that can be given is to do your own research. Read as much as possible on the subject and look into medical studies that have been completed.
Most of all, it is important to have fun and experiment with various products to identify which is the right one for you. The CBD industry is an incredibly exciting one that is still in its embryonic form. This means that research and product innovation will continue to gather pace and the ultimate winner will be you – the consumer.