Hemp leaves next to a bottle of CBD oil

What Is CBD Oil? – Use, Benefits, Risks, & Legality Explained

It seems like it doesn’t matter who you speak to, the same three letters are hanging on the edge of everyone’s lips – CBD. Am I right? And like the rest of us, you want to know if the proposed benefits of CBD are legitimate, or just another wonder-drug hype? If the answer’s yes, keep reading. You’re in the right place.

In this article, I’ll give you a complete CBD breakdown. Featuring exactly what CBD is, what CBD isn’t, the benefits, and all the other things you need to know if it’s right for you. It’s long, so grab a coffee and get comfortable. Otherwise just skim through and pick out the important bits you want to know about.

So, without any further hesitation let’s dive right in with the basic facts. First up, what even is CBD? And why are so many people raving about it?

What is CBD? Cannabidiol 101

Cannabidiol aka CBD is one of the the main cannabinoids out of 104 that can be found within cannabis [1]. But, unlike the other key cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD doesn’t get you “high”. Although CBD isolate can be extracted from the cannabis plant, it has no psychoactive effect, which is why many people gravitate towards it.

CBD has been around for a while in the medical world. It’s well known for it’s impressive therapeutic effects, which range from treating inflammation, to helping support mental health. Four conditions it is mostly used for include managing pain, anxiety, sleep disorders, and depression. According to a recent study from 2018, over 60% of users reported using CBD for medicinal purposes like these [2].

Out of all the cannabinoids within cannabis, CBD is present in the second highest amounts. In first place is actually THC, which I’ve just mentioned is the main mind-altering compound. Depending on where you source your CBD you might end up with a product containing THC too.

Person holding bottle of CBD Oil

CBD Benefits

People generally take CBD for a range of purpose with many seeing it as a great natural alternative to pharmaceutical medicines. Another reason people try CBD is because they want to experience the therapeutic pros of cannabis, without any of the psychoactive side-effects.

Even in 2019 there aren’t that many human trials into the effects of CBD. Yet, those that have been carried out have shown a lot of promise. The much more substantial amount of animal studies have too.

According to the research out there, CBD can provide relief from conditions such as;

  • Two rare forms of epilepsy [3]

  • Chronic pain [4]

  • Inflammation [5]

  • Anxiety [6]

  • Certain cancers [7]

  • Acne [8]

  • Multiple sclerosis [9]

  • Depression [10]

One thing to consider is that some pharmaceutical drugs used to treat pain and mental illness can come with unpleasant side-effects. It’s not uncommon for people to become easily addicted too, which is another reason some choose opt for CBD instead [12].

There’s another article coming up that’ll take an in-depth look into the benefits of CBD and exactly how it works. When it’s ready I’ll add in a hyperlink here.

Person holding bottle of CBD Oil

How do you take CBD Oil?

If your interest has got you this far, you’re probably wondering how you actually take CBD? You’ve probably already heard about the most popular option CBD Oil, but what about the rest?

In this section I’ll run you through the four most popular ways to take CBD. Everyday new products break out onto the market, which is why I’ll be writing a whole other article about the best ways to take CBD Oil. Then, I’ll get into the whole business about CBD Oil for pets too, which is still something not that many people know about.

For now though, let’s stick with us humans.


Like I’ve just mentioned, CBD Oil is by far the most popular choice. Strength can vary from product to product, especially since the market it so new and unregulated.

Most CBD Oil is taken by using a dropper to release it under the tongue. It’s versatile, easy to use, and can even come in different flavors. But as I mentioned before, it’s hard to say one dropper will administer the same amount as another. So, it’s always recommended to try one drop and then build up to the suggested amount to find your tolerance.

Creating CBD Oil can be a complicated process. Hence, it isn’t supplement (if you can call it that) out there. You need to first extract the CBD from the hemp or cannabis plant, then dilute it with a different carrier oil. This might be an oil taken from something like hemp, coconut, or arnica oil.

CBD Oil isn’t too difficult to buy either. A lot of health stores sell it straight from the shelf and the internet is filling rapidly with dedicated CBD dealers. I’ll run through some of the most reputable brands soon – stick around for that.

CBD Vape Oil

You’ll also find CBD enthusiasts vaping their cannabidiol. It’s not as popular as regular CBD Oil, but due to the rise of e-cigarettes, vaping is considered a fairly normal thing for people to do.

If you already vape, this might be the way to take CBD oil for you. However, if not, getting started could cost more cash. Unlike regular oil where you only need a tincture to drop the CBD onto your tongue, a whole different set up is required for vaping.

Firstly, you’re going to have to get a vaporizer, which depending on quality is going to cost extra money. You’ll also need to charge it too, and the parts might need replacing at some point.

There are also a bunch of health risks being associated with vaping. Some researchers are saying that when the coils inside the machine get hot small pieces of metal break off and become inhaled. Others also believe that the simple act of filling your lungs with something that isn’t regular air can damage them.

Your lungs are highly-effective at absorbing CBD compared to when you swallow it. The compound can pass straight into your bloodstream via capillaries, rather than have to travel through the gut and liver first.

As a result, you may experience the effects much quicker, meaning your dosing needs to be monitored carefully. Some manufacturers and companies claim that vaping as opposed to other methods can make CBD doses about four times more effective.

CBD Oil Balms and Creams

Have you got pain or inflammation in one specific area? Maybe you’ve got a bunch of niggles from whatever sport you play or your job? If you’re sat there nodding your head then a CBD Oil Balm or CBD Oil Cream might be for you.

These are topical rubs or creams infused with CBD oil, which you apply to your skin. An models have shown topical CBD to work well at reducing arthritic pain and inflammation without noticeable side effects. According to the research team, topical CBD can help to calm both inflammatory and neuropathic pain, which are two of the hardest types to treat. They also say it’s a good idea to apply CBD Oil for pain topically because it’s hydrophobic meaning it has poor oral bio-availability. In short, topical CBD Oil can be utilized by the body easier [13].

However, as you’d expect from a topical supplement, CBD Balm gets to work much slower even if it’s a potent rub. It has to be absorbed through your skin rather than be fast-tracked, but the effects can be both soothing and relaxing. Also, because the CBD doesn’t have to pass through the digestive system, topical balms and creams can provide more constant plasma levels [13].

Another reason to choose a CBD Oil Balm or Cream for localized pain is the other ingredients infused into the product. Many manufacturers will add in extras like eucalyptus, aloe, argon oil, black pepper, and coconut oil for added benefits. This can make CBD Oil Balm or Cream a more holistic product than some of the others.

There is an ingredient vegans need to look out for – beeswax. Beeswax is really common in topical ointments, especially if they’re for a more holistic purpose, so check the label. If you’re in doubt get in touch with the manufacturer and they’ll send you a full product ingredient list.

CBD Oil Capsules

As their name suggests, these are small capsules containing a specific amount of CBD. This means that depending on how reputable and professional the manufacturer is, you’ll be able to measure your doses better.

CBD capsules are also easily filled with other ingredients. I’ve even seen weight-loss CBD products out there containing green tea extract, which is easy to do with a casing. Another interesting idea CBD creators are doing now is including turmeric and black pepper into their capsules for an enhanced anti-inflammatory effect [14] [15].

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, check what the capsule casing is made from first before buying anything. A lot of companies are now using plant-based casing for their CBD capsules, which is ideal for non-meat eaters.

CBD Oil Gummies

CBD Gummies are probably the fourth most popular way to take CBD Oil. They typically look like regular gummy bears to me and you, but with the added benefits of cannabidiol inside.

As you’ve guessed you take CBD Gummies orally. You’re likely to only find around 5-30 mg in them too, making the tasty chews a bit less intense than some of the potent drops or vapes. You can also eat them one at time to gauge your tolerance and control the dose of CBD easily.

CBD Gummies aren’t just popular because of their mellow amounts of cannabidiol or their novel shape. Taste is another reason more and more people are parting with their cash to try this option. Manufacturers of CBD Gummies spend a lot of time and resources trying to make their products sweet and enjoyable, which can make them even more enticing to customers.

A lot of CBD companies who make cannabidiol sweets try to use vegan, non-GMO ingredients to cater for a larger market. Some even boast about their CBD Gummies being environmentally friendly too. However, it’s still common practice to use gelatin and/or GMO ingredients to create CBD confectioneries. So, if you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based customer, check the ingredient label before purchasing.

Cartoon man holding hemp plant leaf to make CBD Oil

Is CBD Oil legal?

CBD itself is in a legal no man’s land. It all mainly comes down to the THC content within it and the actual location your looking to purchase CBD.

Wait, but you just said CBD and THC are different?

Yes, they are. But here’s where things get a little tricky. When CBD is extracted from a plant, it is usually accompanied by an amount of THC. This is where the quality and source of your CBD really becomes important.

When CBD is taken from the hemp plant, you can usually expect to see minuscule traces of THC within. If this quantity is below 0.3% it sits in the strange legal no man’s land. Technically, it’s still illegal under federal law in the US. Yet, under state law, it might be legal.

CBD that’s extracted from hemp has actually only been legal in the US since 2018. This is thanks to the Agriculture Improvement Act, commonly known as the Farm Act, being passed that allows farmers to grow hemp legally. Therefore, as a hemp product, CBD should be legal if sourced from a licensed grower in accordance with the Farming Bill. At the time of writing definite legality can vary from state to state.

However, extracting CBD from cannabis and selling it is still considered a federal offence. On the flip side though, doing the same thing might also be legal under state law, like I just said. At the time of writing many states are trying to drum up plans to regulate CBD a little more tightly to stop this confusion.

Is CBD Oil legal in the UK?

Much like the US, people in the UK have gone crazy for CBD. With over 300,000 citizens using the likes of CBD oils, vapes, and gummies; the industry is predicted to skyrocket 700% by 2020 [17]. The Independent unwittingly described cannabis products as the new avocado on toast.

Anyway, back to things that matter – legality.

Much like in the US, everything is still very confused in the UK. Most cannabinoids such as THC are actually recognized as banned substances under Misuse of Drugs act. Now, this is definitely where the manufacturing process and quality of your CBD comes into play.

CBD itself is 100%. It isn’t a controlled substance, meaning it isn’t an offence to own, buy, or take it. But as always, there’s a catch.

For a CBD product to be legal in the UK it must be, derived from an industrial hemp strain that is EU-approved”, says NetDoctor. And as we mentioned above, it’s these strains taken from hemp plants, not cannabis, that have minuscule THC content. Anything under 0.2% THC should be legal.

Bottle of CBD Oil with dropper and leaves around it

Is CBD Oil Safe and What Are the Side-Effects?

Being concerned about safety when taking something new is natural. It’s also important to know the risks you take and any side-effects that might occur in the process. The short of it is that CBD does have a favorable safety profile – but a lack of studies makes it impossible to say outright that it is.

The point of this entire article is educate you, so I’ll be clear that there have been reported side-effects of taking CBD. At a minor level, these include; fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, and irritability [16] [17]. And while these side-effects are rare, it’s still a possibility you might experience them. That’s why it’s always advised to start with a low dose when beginning to take CBD.

Another more serious point to consider is that CBD can raise your levels of coumadin, a natural blood thinner found in your body, while also altering and increasing the amount of other medications you might be taking. Interestingly, this works as part of the same mechanism that grapefruit juice does [16].

What we need to remember though is that there isn’t sufficient evidence to really put a stamp on safety. Many studies carried out into CBD feature small groups of people, while there isn’t much evidence into long-term chronic use. For example, scientists still aren’t sure how chronic CBD exposure can impact hormones and the immune system [17].

On a more generic scope – CBD Oil isn’t recognized as a medication, but a supplement, meaning it isn’t actually regulated by the FDA. As a result, less reputable companies selling CBD Oil might not be clearly labeling their dosage or their THC content. What’s also concerning right now is that your CBD Oil may contain other unknown substances that aren’t labelled. It’s highly likely that CBD Oil will be recognized as a medication in the not so distant future, hopefully putting an end this unregulated activity.

Bottle of CBD capsules and CBD capsules spilled around it

Conclusion – Should you take CBD Oil?

The final question you’re probably asking is should I take CBD Oil? To answer this, you should ask yourself what your goals are.

CBD Oil has shown a ton of promise in benefiting well being. From helping you to sleep, to aiding patients with chronic diseases fight pain, anxiety, and seizures, CBD seems be the wonder-drug of today. Studies have shown it to be effective at treating many issues, without the negative side-effects of certain prescription drugs on.

For example, CBD Oil may not be as addictive as opium based pain medications. It can also be kinder on the stomach than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and be used as an alternative to some mental health medications. Note: this information isn’t to be taken as medical advice, but as a relay of what has been seen in studies.

Another reason you may want to consider using CBD Oil is if you’re an athlete looking for better recovery. Firstly, CBD Oil’s sleep benefits could help aid protein synthesis, and energy for the next day. Secondly, the anxiety reducing effects may help calm pregame nerves, or help get over certain anxieties in training. And third, CBD Oil has been proven to help fight inflammation, meaning it could help calm preexisting injuries or those sustained during whatever activity you do. For athletes out there with chronic pain CBD Oil could be an option for helping you manage discomfort.

However, you must remember that the CBD Oil industry doesn’t undergo any kind of strict regulation. As a result, you might not know how much CBD Oil you’re actually taking, or if your product is poor. Another issues can be side-effects, which although rare, shouldn’t be disregarded. If you choose to take CBD Oil you accept that you might be taking a risk.

In short, CBD Oil might be for you if you want to experience one or more of the proposed benefits. Try to source any CBD Oil you plant to use from a reputable supplier and it’s advised you start on a low dose and work up.

Good luck out there, team. Keep living that muscle mindset life.


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[2] Corroon, J., & Phillips, J. (2018). A Cross-Sectional Study of Cannabidiol Users. Cannabis And Cannabinoid Research3(1), 152-161. doi: 10.1089/can.2018.0006

[3] Chen, J., Borgelt, L., & Blackmer, A. (2019). Cannabidiol: A New Hope for Patients With Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut Syndromes. Annals Of Pharmacotherapy53(6), 603-611. doi: 10.1177/1060028018822124

[4] Schier, A., Ribeiro, N., Coutinho, D., Machado, S., Arias-Carrion, O., & Crippa, J. et al. (2014). Antidepressant-Like and Anxiolytic-Like Effects of Cannabidiol: A Chemical Compound of Cannabis sativa. CNS & Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets, 13(6),

[5] Hammell, D., Zhang, L., Ma, F., Abshire, S., McIlwrath, S., Stinchcomb, A., & Westlund, K. (2015). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European Journal Of Pain, 20(6), 936-948. doi: 10.1002

[6] Philpott, H., OʼBrien, M., & McDougall, J. (2017). Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis. PAIN158(12), 2442-2451. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001052

[7] Massi, P., Solinas, M., Cinquina, V., & Parolaro, D. (2013). Cannabidiol as potential anticancer drug. British Journal Of Clinical Pharmacology75(2), 303-312. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04298.x

[8] Oláh, A., Tóth, B., Borbíró, I., Sugawara, K., Szöllõsi, A., & Czifra, G. et al. (2014). Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes. Journal Of Clinical Investigation124(9), 3713-3724. doi: 10.1172/jci64628

[9] Flachenecker, P., Henze, T., & Zettl, U. (2014). Nabiximols (THC/CBD Oromucosal Spray, Sativex®) in Clinical Practice – Results of a Multicenter, Non-Interventional Study (MOVE 2) in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis Spasticity. European Neurology, 71(5-6)

[10] Zanelati, T. V., Biojone, C., Moreira, F. A., Guimarães, F. S., & Joca, S. R. (2010). Antidepressant-like effects of cannabidiol in mice: possible involvement of 5-HT1A receptors. British journal of pharmacology, 159(1), 122–128. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2

[11] Brett, J., & Murnion, B. (2015). Management of benzodiazepine misuse and dependence. Australian prescriber38(5), 152–155. doi:10.18773/austprescr.2015.055

[12] Publishing, H. (2019). Painkillers fuel growth in drug addiction – Harvard Health. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/painkillers-fuel-growth-in-drug-addiction

[13] Hammell, D. C., Zhang, L. P., Ma, F., Abshire, S. M., McIlwrath, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Westlund, K. N. (2016). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European journal of pain (London, En

[14] Gupta, S. C., Patchva, S., & Aggarwal, B. B. (). Therapeutic roles of curcumin: lessons learned from clinical trials. The AAPS journal15(1), 195–218. doi:10.1208/s12248-012-9432-8

[15] Nagpal, M., & Sood, S. (2013). Role of curcumin in systemic and oral health: An overview. Journal of natural science, biology, and medicine4(1), 3–7. doi:10.4103/0976-9668.107253

[16] Peter Grinspoon, M. (2019). Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t – Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476

[17] Daniel, E., Daniel, E., & Daniel, E. (2019). Following legalisation in Canada, UK CBD use is growing. Retrieved from https://www.verdict.co.uk/uk-cbd-use/

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