Buying CBD oils in the UK: sorting the wheat from the chaff

Whilst cannabis and its by-products such as cannabis oils or edibles are rapidly making their way into the mainstream and are without a doubt becoming the latest health supplements discussed with friends during a coffee break or at the local gym, many misconceptions and a general lack of information still surround this new category of products.

In particular, in the UK the CBD (short for cannabidiol) segment of the market is displaying double-digit growth which is showing no signs of slowing down. On the contrary, as household names such as Holland & Barrett introduce CBD based products such as the Jacob Hooy 2.5% and 5% CBD oils, CBD food supplements are gaining legitimacy and are no longer for a select few. The Cannabis Trades Association UK (also known as the CTA UK) recently estimated that over 250,000 British consumers are now using CBD products, with over 1,000 new customers joining the ranks every month.

Amidst this euphoria, a plethora of new brands and products are hitting the shelves of brick-and-mortar stores around the country and the pages of ecommerce sites around the web. With a demand that exceeds supply and very little information available to help consumers make an informed decision, the temptation for certain unscrupulous businesses is rife to market low grade products at premium prices in order to generate a quick profit. We’ve decided to give you three easy-to-follow recommendations in order to help you chose the best CBD oils currently available in the UK.

Tip No.1: Look out for CTA UK membership.

First of all, if you’re a UK resident and looking to purchase CBD food supplements in the UK (oils, capsules, edibles etc.) try to ensure that the brands you are buying or the sellers you are buying from are registered members of the Cannabis Trades Association UK. The CTA UK screens all applications (including a thorough background check carried out by an independent third party) before granting membership. The CTA also works alongside its members to provide guidance on compliance subjects and ensure that their members adhere to UK & EU rules and regulations when it comes to the sale and resale of CBD products in the UK. Also, being member of the CTA UK means that the supplier or seller needs to be able to provide consumers with lab test results which substantiate the product contents displayed on pack. However, we advise that you don’t take a brand’s or a seller’s word for granted. It’s easy to paste a membership logo onto one’s site. Go directly to the CTA UKs website and visit their member directory to check the claim first hand.

Tip No.2: Understand the different types of oils available.

CBD oils and food supplements are just like any other consumer product available on the shelves of your local supermarket: they come in different levels of quality and at different price levels.

If you were to look at the CBD oil segment of the market in terms of a continuum for example, you would have CBD isolates blended with a non-cannabis derived carrier oils at the lower end of the market and 100% full plant Cannabis Sativa. L raw full spectrum CBD oils at the other end of the market.

CBD isolate oils are as their name would suggest, oils which contain isolate CBD (cannabidiol) molecules. These molecules are purchased by suppliers in the form of a powder and then blended to a given ratio into a carrier oil. More often than not this carrier oil is an MCT oil, coconut oil or olive oil. The cheapest brands even use low grade vegetable oil. We recommend steering clear of this type of oil because the offer reduced and completely altered exposure to what the cannabis plant has to offer.

On the other hand, at the more premium end of the market, you will find raw full spectrum CBD oils which are produced from 100% full plant industrial hemp (Cannabis Sativa L.). These oils are made using all the parts of the plant, from seed to flower. It is believed that there are over 80 different cannabinoids and over 400 compounds in total in the cannabis plant such as terpenes (or terpenoids), flavonoids, fatty acids (Omega 3 & 6), vitamins, minerals, waxes, pigments, water etc. Raw full spectrum CBD oils offer a complete exposure to all of these compounds (unlike isolates which offer exposure to only one, ie CBD).

These compounds are believed to work in synergy via a mechanism called the entourage effect, where the effect of each molecule on the human endocannabinoid system is enhanced or demultiplied by the presence of the other molecules.

Moreover, a raw oil is an oil which is minimally processed. This means that the oil doesn’t undergo additional steps during the production process, such as winterisation (removal or waxes and pigments but also of certain other compounds which one would wish to preserve) or decarboxylation (a heating of the oil to transform certain cannabinoid acids). It is believed that with each additional step, certain compounds are removed, destroyed or transformed. We recommend you check out brands such as Cibidoil™ for example. Cibidoil™ specialises exclusively in raw full spectrum CBD oils made from 100% full plant industrial hemp (cannabis sativa l.).

Tip No.3: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

All good things come at a cost. CBD is no exception to that. With a relatively small quantity of quality, legally grown hemp available on the market and an ever-increasing demand, the price of hemp-derived oils is high. Producing high quality oils such as full plant oils requires the use of a large quantity of high-quality plant material. Therefore, if you are offered amazing deals such as 3 bottles for the price of 1 of products which are consistently sold at half the price of other seemingly similar products on the market, there has to be a catch. Based on our research, a good quality raw full spectrum CBD oil 5% 500mg 10ml (which seems to be the most popular concentration due to its strength to price ration) should set you back between £30 – £35.

So, there you have it! Three quick and easy rules-of-thumb that you may wish to follow to increase your chances of purchasing a high-quality CBD oil in the UK. Should you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to comment below 😉.

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