CBD Oil UK
How to purchase oil in the UK, what it is, and how to buy it?
CBD oil is a fascinating new product that is up and coming in many areas of the world, but is it legally available anywhere? It seems contradictory that many CBD companies only ship to certain countries, why is that? First, let’s dive into what CBD is to better understand this topic, then we’ll get into the one thing you need to know in order to shop successfully for CBD oil in the UK.
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What is CBD?
CBD is short for cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid found in both the cannabis and hemp plants. Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds unique to cannabis that give it its healing and psychoactive properties. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the other most popular cannabinoid, known for its psychoactive effects.
Let’s get into the details. First, the endocannabinoid system explained:
Did you know your body is naturally meant to process cannabinoids? Your endocannabinoid system (ECS) is made up of receptors throughout the central and peripheral nervous system. When cannabinoids enter the body, they bind to these receptors, effecting change in the body. Your body naturally produces cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) and plants produce cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids). More details on the ECS in our in-depth article, here.
How is CBD legal in the UK?
In January 2017, the British Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), an agency under the Department of Health, reclassified CBD as medicine. However, in order to sell CBD products under this classification, businesses must be granted a license that allows them to sell and market CBD as such. The licensing process is strict and expensive and labels these companies as medical distributors.
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Many CBD companies are still selling CBD products labeling them as food or nutritional supplements. This classification puts these CBD products in the wellness category, skirting the medicinal classification and advertising rules applicable to medical distributors, but the products and their components are largely the same.
Although it is legal to purchase hemp derived products in the UK (as long as it has less than .02% THC) it is not legal to grow hemp without a license.
How is CBD extracted from hemp?
CBD is generally extracted from hemp in two different ways. The most common is CO2 extraction. CO2 extraction is considered the industry standard. CO2 methods (supercritical or subcritical) use a combination of temperature and pressure to remove the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant material. This method preserves as much of the CBD extract as possible with minimal damage to the chemical compounds themselves. CO2 extraction requires expensive, advanced machinery and is performed by trained professionals.
But that’s not all.
The other common extraction method is to use solvents. Common solvents like butane and ethanol are passed through the plant material and strip the chemical compounds from the plant. This method is fast and less expensive. However, the heat can alter the chemical compounds damaging their natural state. The solvents also have to be burned off at the end of the process. If this is not done thoroughly, residual solvent matter can remain in the final extract which may contaminate it. This is why it is important to know how the CBD in the products you’re shopping for was extracted and if they were lab tested by an independent third party lab. These lab tests often test for residual solvents.
Color coding CBD: is this real?
You may have noticed that CBD oils are different in color. What is this about? Does this mean anything about quality?
CBD oil color is a based upon a consideration of two things —
1) the extraction method and filtering processes used and
2) the other carrier fluids in the product.
Let me explain.
Immediately after CBD oil is extracted, it’s in its raw form. Raw CBD oil will be dark green or brown in color. Raw oil may contain chlorophyll or plant residue and will taste tart or bitter. Raw oil may contain impurities from the extraction process itself.
If raw oil is filtered, the color will start to lighten. The filtering process brings it to a lighter more gold color. Aptly referred to as “filtered CBD oil,” these products have a higher chance of being free from impurities that may have been picked up during the extraction process. Filtered CBD oil also may taste a little better, with the sour chlorophyll gone. Filtered oil is one of the most popular on the market and is characteristically golden in color.
Lastly, CBD oil can be decarboxylated. What does that mean? Decarboxylation is when CBD oil has undergone a heating process. This is a chemical process in which CBD activated after it’s been heated. This increases the efficacy and potency of the oil. Decarboxylated oil can be dark brown in color. It is common to see decarboxylated oil in syringes.
CBD oil is generally mixed with a carrier fluid like MCT oil, coconut oil, or olive oil. The latter may contribute to a darker yellow tint.
So what’s the one thing you need to know when shopping for CBD oil in the UK? It’s source.
Raw CBD oil is exactly what it sounds like. Once the oil has been extracted, the oil does not go through any more processing and does not get filtered. Raw CBD oil can be green or dark in color because it often contains phytochemicals, chlorophyll, and raw plant material. Raw oil may contain impurities leftover from the extraction process.
Decarboxylated CBD oil means that the CBD will be more active in the body. Decarboxylation is when the oil is heated up to change the chemical components and “turn on” the CBD. This process improves the efficacy and potency of the oil making it easier for the oil to have an impact on the body. Decarboxylated oil is often brown or darker in color.
Filtered oil has been through the most processing. Generally, filtered oil has been decarboxylated and then even further refined by filtering out the phytochemicals and plant materials. This makes the oil gold in color which is often considered the highest quality compared to raw or decarboxylated oil. Filtered oil is commonly referred to as “gold” CBD oil and is very popular among consumers. It also tends to be the most expensive, but this isn’t always the case.
Where does CBD come from?
CBD oil comes from the cannabis plant. Cannabis is the latin word for the plant family that both cannabis (often referred to as marijuana) and industrial hemp come from. Cannabis marijuana is the plant that has been legalized in multiple states in America that can have a high THC content. Industrial hemp is defined as cannabis with less than .02% THC. Genetically, they are different and therefore are classified differently by the government. However, hemp is often referred to as cannabis in the UK.
In the UK, it is legal to buy hemp derived products that contain less than .02% THC. Hemp products and CBD oils are often sourced from hemp grown in other parts of the EU, from China or East Asia, or from the United States.
So what are your options for CBD oil in the UK?
One brand we like is Love CBD. Love CBD is made from hemp grown on farms throughout the EU and is grown without pesticides, herbicides, artificial fertilizers, or harmful chemicals. One of their flagship products, Entourage Oil, is made from a variety of cannabis strains. This is quite a unique product on the market that is named after the entourage effect. The entourage effect states that cannabinoids and terpenes work better together than in isolation. We have yet to see a product that combines different strains of hemp.
Love CBD also makes a product called Dutch Oil. Dutch Oil is made from hemp grown on farms in the Netherlands and contains only hemp extract and olive oil. Love CBD lab tests their products and posts the results online, a voluntary step that manufacturers take to ensure the quality of their products.
So why is it that in some countries it’s legal to receive CBD oil and in others, it’s not? Each country will have its own laws about the cannabis plant. Many countries have distinguished between cannabis containing THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid, and cannabis or hemp derived products with only trace amounts of THC. It’s important to check the laws of your home country before purchasing CBD products.
The rise of the cannabis plant:
The cannabis legalization movement is gaining momentum around the world. As more and more countries distinguish between psychoactive and non-psychoactive products, cannabis as a plant is becoming less stigmatized and more popular. CBD oil is just one example of how cannabis products can impact people in different ways. As scientific research continues to grow and explores deeper aspects of the plant, we are likely to see innovations in plant medicine and cannabinoid science that will change what the legal market looks like.
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