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cbd oil

Mythbusting: How CBD Oil Is Different To Cannabis

3 MIN READ • 14th May 2024

Sadie Smith, from private medical cannabis clinic Releaf Dispensary, reveals all you need to know about CBD oil

While CBD is a familiar sight on the shelves of high street and online shops, as well as all over influencers’ Instagram accounts, it’s fair to say that there’s still an element of mystery surrounding this wellness-booster. We all know its benefits: reduced anxiety and pain, improved sleep, reduced inflammation and quicker recovery from sports injuries, but some questions remain around how legal CBD oil differs from cannabis, which remains illegal in the UK. The good news is that there is plenty of advice out there to help guide you on your CBD journey.  

One great source of awareness around CBD are reviews, which help shoppers make informed decisions and increase understanding around the quality and efficacy of the products on offer. When reading reviews, look for detailed information on effectiveness, safety, potency and the quality of the product, evidence of lab testing and certifications, as well as the company’s customer service. Perhaps most importantly, make sure that you are using a credible source for your information. 

Is cannabis legal? 
While cannabis was legally classified as a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, meaning that there are penalties in place for its unauthorised use, possession and distribution, since 2018 there has been an allowance made for medicinal use of cannabis in certain situations. In these instances, specialist doctors will adhere to regulations put into place by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Products containing CBD are legally required to contain less than 0.2% THC and must be derived from an industrial hemp – not marijuana –strain that is EU-approved, and the brands that make them must have a license to do so and comply with the UK’s food and safety laws. 

What are the benefits of cannabis? 
CBD oil is reputed to have therapeutic uses such as reducing anxiety, pain relief and improving sleep. Meanwhile, medicinal cannabis prescribed in the UK can be used for conditions where patients haven’t responded to conventional treatments, such as severe forms of epilepsy, vomiting and nausea caused by chemotherapy, and muscle stiffness resulting from multiple sclerosis. 

What’s in cannabis? 
THC: The compounds that give the cannabis plant its properties are called cannabinoids, and the most potent of these is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). This psychoactive compound affects those who consume cannabis mental and physically and is known to be the element which can make people ‘high’. 

Cannabidiol (CBD): Cannabis also contains cannabidiol (more widely known as CBD) which is non-psychoactive and celebrated for its therapeutic potential. As well as having anti-anxiety properties, CBD can be used for pain management and in anti-inflammatory epilepsy treatment. 

Cannabinol (CBN): This compound contained within cannabis is reported to have mild sedative effects which make it a popular sleep aid, as well as pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Cannabigerol (CBG): Another non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, cannabigerol, is known to have anti-bacterial and muscle relaxation benefits as well as being used as a treatment for IBS. 

How does THC affect the body compared to CBD? 
THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, is a psychoactive compound that produces the ‘high’ commonly associated with cannabis use through its interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system. In contrast, CBD, or cannabidiol, does not produce psychoactive effects and interacts with the body’s system in a way that may offer therapeutic benefits without the high. 

What’s on offer… 
The past few years has seen a huge rise in the number of CBD products on UK shelves. There’s a whole host of products to suit different lifestyles – from oils and tinctures to creams and edible treats, the choice can seem overwhelming for those taking their first steps into the world of CBD.  

And is it safe? 
In a word, yes! The law which prohibits the possession, sale and distribution of cannabis in the UK also states that any CBD products, including CBD oil, must contain no more than 0.2% THC. While ideally we would be able to trust the brands producing CBD products across the board, it is well worth looking for reputable brands who are able to certify the contents and purity of their products. Here’s a list of common CBD products with advice on what to look out for to ensure you’re shopping safely: 

CBD oils and tinctures 
If you’re buying a CBD oil or tincture, make sure that is it labelled with a batch number and offers clarification what the product contains.  

Oral capsules are often used to combat pain and anxiety, and must meet food supplement regulations. 

Topical products 
CBD products which are applied to the skin can treat skin conditions and offer localised pain relief. These items must comply with cosmetic regulations. 

Consumable CBD products such as gummies can help with anxiety and sleep issues. They must be food safe. 

Inhalation of CBD offers quick relief and is often used for recreational use. These products must conform to non-nicotine e-liquid standards. 

It’s no wonder that CBD is storming the shelves – natural, versatile and offering tangible results without the ‘high’ of THC, its therapeutic uses are becoming increasingly popular with wellness shoppers. To enjoy these benefits safely, stay informed and make sure you are confident that you are buying products from a reputable source. 

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