This consumer guide tells you all you need to know about buying and taking CBD, from finding brands you can trust to getting the right dosage for your needs. High strength, super strength, ultra strength… with so many different types of CBD available, which one is best for your needs? Dr. Sarah Brewer explains.
A Consumer’s Guide To CBD
CBD is becoming more and more ubiquitous, you’re probably even seeing it on the shelves of your local pharmacy, health shop or supermarket. Many people claim CBD aids with their general well-being. They say they gain therapeutic relief from CBD for a multitude of conditions including anxiety, sleep disorders and pain relief.
If you are interested in trying CBD for yourself, there are lots of products available, with each one offering a range of reported benefits. We want to help you explore the world of CBD, so you can find a product that works for you. Whether you are a new or experienced CBD user, you’ve likely asked one or several of the questions listed below. This guide will help you better understand the benefits of CBD and ensure you make a sound choice, whether you’re about to make your first purchase or you’ve decided to switch brands.
What is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is what is known as a cannabinoid. A cannabinoid is a substance that is found within hemp and medicinal cannabis. CBD is often compared to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the main psychoactive component in the cannabis plant. However, CBD has no psychoactive properties, so users can benefit from its effects without feeling “high”.
Hemp has been cultivated for thousands of years and produces strong rope, cloth and paper. Until the craze for CBD products came about, the flowers of industrial hemp were destroyed by farmers. Now it’s the most valuable part of the crop.
People who try CBD are adamant that it has many therapeutic properties which is why it is proving to be so popular. CBD products come in many forms including oils, tablets, drops or balms.
What are the different types of CBD?
By understanding the different types of CBD, you are more likely to find a high-quality product. Here are the 3 main examples of the varying types of CBD available:
Full-spectrum CBD contains most of the compounds found in the hemp plant, including THC. Since THC is not legal in the UK, you won’t be able to find any products with full-spectrum CBD on the UK market.
Broad-spectrum is essentially the same as full-spectrum, minus the THC. While they are the most commonly recognised cannabinoids, CBD and THC are not the only active ingredients in hemp. Having multiple cannabinoids helps support what is known as the ‘entourage effect’ which describes how compounds in the hemp plant can be more effective when working together than when they are isolated from each other.
Isolate is the purest form of CBD out there, with no other active compounds than CBD. While for some people, isolate is the ‘least efficient’ type of CBD, it’s often regarded as the purest and ‘cleanest’. CBD isolate is usually tasteless and odourless and is therefore perfect to use in skincare products.
While these three types of CBD all offer similar desired effects, your experience may be different depending on which exact type of CBD you decide to take. For example, if you switch to CBD isolate having previously taken broad-spectrum, it may seem like the effects are different, almost weaker.
What are the main benefits of CBD?
CBD can be an amazing ingredient to incorporate into your daily routine to help you feel calmer and more balanced.
CBD also has anti-inflammatory properties which can help with different areas of health, such as body aches, skin flare-ups or even gut inflammation. It’s not a miracle ingredient but it can be a serious game changer if you feel like you need a little push to feel more balanced or your ‘full self’ daily.
Will CBD help me sleep?
Absolutely! CBD is an amazing natural sleep aid . Unlike other sleep aids, CBD is not going to help you fall asleep, make you feel drowsy or tired but it will help you get into a deeper and more restorative sleep. While you won’t feel a difference when you take it at night, you’ll wake up feeling recharged and ready for the day ahead.
Is CBD good for stress and anxiety?
Stress and anxiety are the main reasons why people turn to CBD, it has amazing calming properties that will help you feel so much more at peace. A few drops of CBD in the morning can help you take on the day stress-free. You may end up wondering why it took you so long to start taking CBD.
Is CBD good for the skin?
Redness, flare-ups, occasional acne… if you’ve tried skincare products that haven’t delivered results, you might want to try and use a CBD skincare product. If your skin issues have persisted for a long time, it might be time for you to consult a dermatologist who will help you figure out what might be wrong with your skin.
If the issues are less chronic and more occasional, try adding a CBD skincare product to your routine. Now, make sure it says CBD on the product and not just hemp or hemp oil, otherwise, you will not see many results.
Are there any other potential benefits of CBD?
CBD is still a fairly new ingredient and supplement that’s still being researched. We’re discovering new potential benefits and effects all the time. And the thing with CBD is that we all have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that responds differently to CBD, mostly based on what our body needs.
If CBD comes from cannabis is it legal?
Growing hemp is legal in Europe, providing you have a license from your government. As hemp plants only contain very low levels of THC, you shouldn’t have any issues buying CBD products.
Will I get high or feel strange when I take CBD?
No, you cannot get high from consuming CBD as it is not “psychoactive”, which as previously mentioned is a term used to describe intoxicating or addictive substances.
Instead, CBD promotes feelings of well-being. Most people who take CBD report feelings of focus, calm and relaxation. As CBD will not get you high, it means it is perfectly safe (and legal) to drive or go about your daily business after consuming a CBD product.
What CBD products are there?
CBD oils : While there are other types of CBD products, CBD oils and tinctures are the most popular and most consumed types of CBD products. It’s a fast-acting and highly absorbing way to take CBD. And bonus, it’s also the most versatile type of CBD product out there. You can take it as a sublingual, drop it in your drinks and even apply it topically.
CBD gummies are meant for those who would rather microdose on their CBD and only take a small amount each time. It’s also a simple and fun way to take CBD. If you’re a CBD beginner, we’d recommend going for gummies, they’re fruity, sweet and pretty low-strength.
Similar to CBD gummies, CBD capsules are also easy to take because the amount of CBD is already pre-measured for you. Most capsules are soft gel capsules, which means that they are filled with CBD oil with everything already pre-measured for you. Capsules are a good option if you’re used to taking supplements and essentially want to make CBD part of your supplement routine.
CBD balms and body oils can serve two different purposes: you can either use them as a skincare product or to help soothe daily pains and aches. Applying CBD topically will help target the area directly and act fast. It’s an amazing product to use after a workout if you’re feeling sore, or even to relax your body at night before going to sleep.
These are the main types of CBD products you can find on the market for now, but just like any other innovative product, we haven’t seen the end of it yet. Right now, we’re starting to see CBD clothing (yes, you read that right) being promoted. Activewear would help reduce inflammation while you are working out. Let’s wait a few years to see the innovations of other types of CBD products that will come out and which ones will stick around!
What CBD product is best for me?
I recommend first buying CBD oil to discover if CBD is right for you. CBD oil is usually sold in a small glass bottle with a dropper. The most cost-effective way to see if CBD oil is right for you is to purchase a 10ml bottle to experiment with.
The percentage of the CBD found within the bottle is marked on the label. Most often CBD oil is 5% or 10% CBD. A 5% oil has half the amount of CBD per drop as a 10% CBD oil so it is cheaper. It’s also worth noting that with a 10% CBD oil you would need to take fewer drops to get the same desired effect as a 5% CBD oil. I advise that you start with a 5% CBD oil and see how your body reacts, before then deciding whether or not to increase your dosage.
How should I take CBD oil?
You consume CBD oil orally. The best way to do this is to put a few drops under your tongue. Don’t swallow right away or drop it on your tongue. You should keep it under your tongue for as long as you can so as much CBD is absorbed into your bloodstream as possible. Start by putting two drops of CBD under your tongue, and keep it there for 5 minutes. You’ll find that it has been absorbed before that time arrives.
How much CBD should I take?
Figuring how much CBD is right for you can be difficult for some. When you buy CBD oil, brands will make it easy for you with as many indications as possible. Most CBD oils have measurements on the dropper to help you have the most precise dosage.
Is it possible to take too much CBD?
As we’ve said earlier, we’re still figuring the ins and outs of CBD and it seems like there are limits to how much CBD some people can take without any side effects. Again, this is not universal as some people can take high amounts and not feel the desired effects. But in the UK, it is recommended to take up to 70mg a day.
Will CBD interact with other medications I’m taking?
Any supplement, CBD included, is meant to help elevate your daily wellbeing and make you feel your best. But it’s recommended to consult a doctor before taking CBD, especially if you’re on a particular course of treatment. We never know if there is going to be an interaction between the different products you take.
Many medications rely on your liver to be processed. As any CBD oil you swallow will also pass through the liver it could potentially alter the effectiveness of your medication. If you are taking medication to reduce your blood pressure or other vital drugs it is essential that you let your doctor know your plans to try CBD.
How many different strengths of CBD are there?
CBD products come in many different forms and strengths. To start feeling effects from a CBD product, a standard dose would be about 20 mg. This could help you feel a little less stressed, more balanced or ease some mild pains and aches.
If you’re looking to buy CBD, minimum strengths tend to range between 300-500mg. You will usually be recommended to take a full dropper to get the standard dosage.
If you’ve never taken CBD before, we’d recommend going for a 500mg CBD oil to start with, or 25mg capsules if this is your preferred method for taking CBD.
How do I find my correct dosage?
The best way to find the dosage that works for you is to start low, monitor the effects and gradually increase until you find a therapeutic benefit. At this point, you will have found the right dosage for you. Keep consuming that dosage until it is time to buy a new bottle.
For example, on day 1 take 2 drops. Continue with this dosage for 2 days and see how you feel. On day 3 increase by a further 2 drops, if you feel you need it. Continue like this until you feel a therapeutic benefit. Congratulations, you have found the best dose for you! The FSA recommends a maximum daily dose of 70mg of CBD per day. LXR 10% CBD oils contain around 4mg of CBD per drop. So this represents a maximum daily dose of 17 drops per day. If you are taking any medication the Foods Standards Agency (FSA) recommend not consuming CBD, especially if you haven’t consulted with a doctor or healthcare professional.
Your dose could vary depending on your weight, sex, genetics or even if you exercised or ate before consuming. Some people are sensitive to CBD whilst others need to consume a lot to feel a benefit. If you experience any adverse effects such as feeling dizzy or lightheaded, stop immediately and talk to your doctor about CBD.
It’s not possible to ‘overdose’ on CBD but there is a point where consuming any more will add no further benefit. Again it is best to start with a low dose and work your way up to avoid consuming more than you need.
Some bottles indicate how many milligrams (mg) of CBD are in the whole bottle whilst others indicate the percentage, I’m confused!
In the UK the recommended maximum dose for CBD is 70mg per day.
The percentage of CBD in an oil can be established by the quantity of the product (for example 10ml) divided by the quantity of CBD (for example 1000mg). 1000mg of CBD is equal to 1ml. So a 10ml bottle of CBD containing 1000mg of CBD is 10% CBD (1ml being 10% of 10ml).
Ideally, the product will be marked with both the percentage and the quantity of CBD in mg to save you having to do the maths. In the example above, a 10ml bottle will hold around 240 drops. This equates to roughly 4mg of CBD per drop (if the product is 10%). That means you’d have to take 17 drops to reach the maximum recommended dose of CBD.
As a guide, 5% CBD is considered low, 10% medium strength and 20%+ a high dose. CBD products are priced accordingly. When comparing prices of CBD products always ensure that you take note of how much CBD is actually in it. A product is often on the cheaper side because it actually contains little CBD.
How do I find a brand that I can trust?
With so many CBD products on the market, it’s important to find brands that you can trust to offer the best quality product. Back in May 2019, The Times newspaper tested 29 CBD oils available in the high street and online. They found that only 38% of them contained the level of CBD that was stated on the label. Consumers deserve to know exactly what is in their CBD, and trustworthy brands will endeavour to be as transparent about the type, strength and quality of their products as possible. There is research you can do to check if what you are buying is worthy of your trust and hard-earned cash. Every time a batch of CBD oil is made it should have a batch number. Each of these batches should be tested by a third-party laboratory. Good manufacturers will display these test results for each batch on their website.
It is illegal for a CBD manufacturer to state any medicinal claims for their product. Therefore, consumers should be wary of any brands that claim that CBD is a ‘wonder cure’ for any manner of illnesses or medical conditions.
Some CBD companies seem to think that as long as the THC content is under 0.2% it is ok. It is not! THC is a controlled substance and it is not legal in any amount without a special license from the Home Office. If a product says it contains “less than 0.2% THC” this is a red flag as it shows not only does the company not understand the law they are actually admitting to breaking it!
There exists an association for the CBD industry called ACI , (Association for the Cannabinoid Industry) which ensures CBD companies are legally compliant and socially responsible. A good sign that a company can be trusted is that they are an ACI member.
About the author
Bill Griffin has been writing about CBD and medicinal cannabis for a decade after he had a medical need for CBD. He is on the Patient Advisory Board of CPASS, who provide support, advocacy and education to patients and healthcare professionals considering medicinal cannabis treatments. Much of Bill’s writing relates to how consumers are being exploited by bad actors in this emerging industry.
He is Managing Director of the CBD company LXR. LXR was created because Bill and co-founders Dr Parveen Bhatarah and Marc Burbidge were fed up of seeing consumers being ripped off. LXR is a member of the ACI and makes 100% natural, high quality CBD products which it sells at an affordable price.
What strength CBD should I take?
High strength, super strength, ultra strength… with so many different types of CBD available, which one is best for your needs? Dr. Sarah Brewer explains.
When you first start taking CBD, you’re usually advised to ‘start low and go slow’. This is because some people appear to metabolise CBD more slowly than others, and need only a low dose to notice an effect.
Gradually increase the dose if you need to; you may want to revisit your dose each week, for example, until you find a level that works best for you. The CBD dose at which you finally arrive will vary depending on the strength of the product, how you respond, and the reason you are taking it.
CBD Support Group
Want to know more about CBD and what it can do for you, from the people who use it?
High strength CBD oil products
Those new to CBD will tend to start with a product that provides less than 10mg per dose. If you prefer to take a capsule, then a typical starting product will provide 6.4mg of a ‘high-strength’ oil in which CBD is blended with olive and hemp oil. If you are taking the product to promote general wellbeing, you may only need to take one of these – for example at night. When necessary, you can increase the dose to two or three capsules, spread at intervals throughout the day.
If you prefer to take drops, then a typical starting product will contain CBD infused into a carrier oil to provide an overall strength of, for example, 2.75%. This means that CBD makes up 2.75% of the total product and the other listed ingredients, such as hemp seed oil, make up the remaining 97.25%. The usual dose ranges from one to eight drops, up to three times daily.
For rapid absorption, hold the drops under your tongue for a couple of minutes before swallowing. If needed, the dose can be increased to the manufacturer’s recommended maximum (e.g. 25 drops daily) taken at regular intervals throughout the day.
If the maximum dose of a high strength product does not meet your needs, you may want to switch to a super strength product.
CBD Oil Drops 260mg
Filter-clear, peppermint-flavoured CBD oil
- 2.75% high-strength CBD oil in easy-to-use drops
- Filter-clear and purified for no yucky taste
- Perfect for newcomers to CBD who dislike swallowing capsules
CBD Oil Capsules 384mg
Perfect for newcomers to CBD
- 6.4mg CBD oil per capsule, 384mg total CBD per pack
- Olive oil carrier aids CBD absorption in the body
- Added vitamin D for muscle health and immunity
Super strength CBD oil products
When it comes to super strength capsules, these usually provide 15mg CBD per capsule, and the recommended dose is one to two capsules taken daily with water. These capsules therefore provide a maximum of 30mg CBD per day.
A bottle of super strength CBD oil drops will typically contain a CBD concentration of around 5%. This means that CBD makes up 5% of the total product and the other listed ingredients, such as hemp seed oil, make up the remaining 95%. Because super strength CBD drops are more concentrated, you get a higher amount per drop.
A typical dose is one to seven drops up to three times daily, which you hold in your mouth for a while before swallowing. Do not exceed the manufacturer’s maximum recommended intake (for example, 21 super strength drops) spread throughout the day.
If you find that you need to take a lot of drops per day, you may prefer to switch to a more concentrated oil. Not only will this reduce the number of drops you need, it will likely save you money.
CBD Oil Drops 520mg
5.5% super-strength CBD oil
- Filter-clear and peppermint-flavoured
- No yucky taste
- Ideal for experienced CBD users who dislike swallowing capsules
CBD Oil Capsules 900mg
Our strongest CBD oil capsules
- 15mg distilled CBD per capsule
- Super strength for experienced users
- Delayed release capsule for improved absorption
Ultra strength CBD oil products
Ultra strength CBD oil drops are usually more than twice as potent as super strength drops and typically have a 10-11% CBD concentration. These are ideal for experienced users who want to increase their dose or take fewer drops or capsules during the day.
The disadvantage of some strong CBD products is that, the more concentrated they get, the stronger and more grassy they taste. You can get around this by choosing a product that is filter-clear: this produces a purified oil with a less strong taste.
Adding a flavour such as peppermint will also help to ensure the CBD oil tastes pleasant. All Healthspan’s CBD drops products are filter-clear and peppermint-flavoured.
See our CBD information page for a comparison of Healthspan’s CBD products.
CBD Oil Drops 1,000mg
Highest strength, best value
- Our strongest CBD oil
- Lowest cost per mg in the Healthspan range
- Peppermint flavour – no yucky taste
Does ultra strength CBD oil get you high?
No, CBD oil does not get you high. CBD (cannabidiol) is extracted from industrial hemp plants that naturally contain only trace amounts of the psychoactive molecule THC, which is responsible for the ‘high’ or ‘stoned’ effects of marijuana.
Good-quality CBD supplements that are made to pharmaceutical standards contain only traces of THC. This will be confirmed by independent laboratory tests for each batch, as well as a certificate of testing provided via a clickable link on the manufacturer’s website.
What is the maximum dose you can take?
In the UK, the FSA recommends that CBD should not be used at doses above 70mg per day. 1
In any case, do not exceed the manufacturer’s recommended dose (such as 30mg per day for Healthspan’s CBD Oil Capsules 900mg) without talking to your doctor.
Always follow the manufacturer’s guidance on the dose and frequency of use of their product, as this guidance is based on the CBD concentration present. Do not exceed the manufacturer’s recommended dose except under medical advice and supervision.
If you have any medical conditions or are taking any prescribed drugs, always speak to your doctor before using CBD and check for interactions with your medication. If you are taking an over-the-counter medicine, ask your pharmacist’s advice. If they are unable to help, there is a useful drugs interaction checker which includes cannabidiol at drugs.com.
If you are subjected to drug testing, for example at work or because you take part in an elite competitive sport, it’s important to know that any CBD product can contain a trace of the cannabinoid THC. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has banned all cannabinoids except for cannabidiol (CBD). 2
A potential substitute for those worried about drug testing is the ‘CBD alternative’ PEA: Healthspan sells this under the name of Elite PEA+ Sport (which is also batch-tested for competing athletes).
16x faster-acting than standard CBD
- 10mg fast-acting NovaSOL® CBD per capsule
- Liquid micellar technology wraps CBD oil in water-soluble spheres, to help absorption in the gut
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.
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