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guide to cbd

Your ultimate CBD oil guide: types, benefits & much more

01 Feb 2021 • 7 min read

Whether you have heard all about CBD oil and would like to try it for yourself, or you are simply CBD-curious, you have come to the right place!

In this guide we will run through all the different ways you can consume CBD oil, as well as the different benefits for each method.

So, let’s get started…

What is CBD?

What is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol, a compound derived from the hemp plant. Not to be confused with marijuana that some people smoke, CBD oil is legal and contains very little or none of the ‘psychoactive’ compound THC.

The hemp cultivated for CBD oil will always be high-CBD and low-THC. With THC only present in trace amounts, this allows the users to enjoy CBD without the psychoactive intoxication that THC is associated with.

6 of the best ways to use CBD oil

CBD comes in a variety of formats, so you should be able to find one that can work for you. Whether it’s straight-up CBD oil you’re interested in, or balms, capsules or beauty products - read about them and how they work below.

1. CBD oil

The original – and maybe – the best? CBD oil is likely the easiest to get your hands on and perhaps the simplest to use. The brand and product type will dictate how many drops or the dosage (e.g. 2ml) per day it is recommended that you take. It’s recommended by the FSA that this is no more than 10mg daily for a healthy adult weighing 70kg.

It’s usually taken under the tongue to help absorption. This could make it somewhat difficult for some people to swallow, so if you have a sensitive palate, a different method could be better for you!

2. CBD beauty products

In a very similar way to CBD balms, the CBD in beauty products like CBD-enriched moisturisers, serums and facial oils gets absorbed through the skin.

What are some CBD cream benefits?
  • It can soothe the skin, especially when it features in a CBD muscle balm
  • It is very moisturising and can help your skin achieve the correct balance of oil production for your skin type
  • It can help to protect your skin

3. CBD capsules

CBD capsules are a great option for people who don’t get on with the Earthy taste of CBD oil. They usually contain similar recommended dosages to CBD oils.

Some CBD capsules also contain added vitamins and nutrients, e.g. B vitamins, so you can enjoy additional health benefits with your dose of CBD.

4. CBD gummies

In the same way as CBD capsules do, CBD gummies take away the sometimes-unpalatable taste of CBD without taking away any of the benefits. If anything, CBD gummies take it one step further, with their fruity flavours.

They’re great for travelling too, as you can take them without a drink. 

5. CBD oral sprays

Quick, simple oral sprays are also an option when it comes to taking CBD. Most have a pleasant flavour or are flavourless – ticking the ‘I don’t like the taste of hemp’ box. In addition, some of them also contain vitamins and other nutrients so you can enjoy even more benefits with each spray.

As it is administered onto the tongue via spray, this CBD will enter your bloodstream faster than capsules and edibles, as they don’t have to pass through the digestive system. You don’t need a drink to ‘wash them down’ either, making CBD sprays perfect for travelling.

  • CBD or cannabidiol is a compound derived from the hemp plant
  • CBD products interact with our endocannabinoid system
  • CBD is available in the following forms: oil, balm, beauty products, capsules, gummies and oral sprays

Why is CBD oil now in beauty products?

Scientists are only beginning to discover the benefits of CBD oil but emerging research shows it has a positive effect on a number of skin concerns. CBD is said to have antioxidant properties, which can help prevent free radical damage.

So, exactly how could CBD oil give your beauty regime a boost? 

It can tackle oily skin and blemish prone skin

While oily skin can be caused by genetics, hormones or your diet, CBD oil may help control it.

Studies have shown that CBD oil has anti-inflammatory benefits when applied to skin. CBD, with its calming benefits may help reactive skin look and feel better. Research also shows that CBD has the potential to decrease excess sebum (oil) production, possibly due to its balancing effect on the flow of skin’s oil.1 CBD may also help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

It may be good for dry or itchy skin

A small study published in 2019 in Clinical Therapeutics2 showed a few people with atopic dermatitis found that a CBD ointment helped clear skin and reduced itch.3

It can soothe sore muscles

High-quality topical CBD might help temporary muscle soreness from workouts. Topical CBD can help during flare-ups, but you're better off taking oral CBD for systemic pain.

A combination can be especially helpful, ingesting CBD may help relieve pain from the inside out, while applying topical cream can quiet particularly tender areas.4

Check out our page on What is CBD muscle balm? Remember to do a patch-test 24-hours before use, and be aware that CBD effects include interacting with some medications; talk to your GP if you’ve got any questions.

Why can’t I find any health claims on CBD products?

Demand for CBD food supplements has arisen from information generally available to consumers on CBD, based on global consumer experience and emerging science.

In the EU, compliant manufacturers and retailers market their products in accordance with EU Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation and only utilise authorised health claims for the food supplements they sell.

Due to the time and specific format of studies required to gain authorised health claims in the EU, there have been no CBD specific health claims authorised at this time.

Is CBD a medicine?

The most widely available CBD is sold as a food supplement, and no medicinal claims are permitted on these products, as with any other food supplement. CBD food supplements should not be confused with medicinal CBD products for conditions, which are not available for general sale.

Is CBD psychoactive? 

Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive and any residues of THC from the processing of hemp are negligible (<0.05%).

Can CBD make me high?

No. As mentioned above, CBD does not contain the psychoactive component that makes you high.

Are CBD products safe?

The World Health Organisation’s 2018 Critical Review Report on CBD states that CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.18

What is meant by broad-spectrum CBD?

You may have heard this term before which is more commonly used in industry, but broad-spectrum CBD products are manufactured from cannabis plants that have been processed to remove all THC. What you are left with is CBD and other permitted cannabinoids and substances including terpenoids and essential oils.

What is meant by full-spectrum CBD?

Sometimes referred to as ‘whole-plant CBD’, this form of CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant along with THC, all other cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils.

How much CBD should I take?

Like with most things, a ‘one dose fits all’ approach to supplementing CBD is rarely advised. Everybody is different. 

Some people will get on with the ‘average’ dose of CBD just fine, whereas others may need just a fraction of the dose. The Food Standards Agency (FSA), here in the UK, recommends that healthy adults (with an average body weight of 70kg) don’t consume more than 10mg of CBD per day.

We have put together some resources to help you figure out what dose of CBD may suit you best, keep reading to find out more.

1. No health claims can be made about CBD oil, which is sold as a food supplement, rather than a medicinal product
2. CBD is not psychoactive and cannot make you ‘high’ 
3. The World Health Organisation has found CBD to be generally well tolerated, with a good safety profile

What strength CBD should I use?

Our answer: Take things slowly…

If you haven’t taken CBD products before and would like to try, it is recommended that you start off small, e.g. a lower potency product with a small dose.

Then you can start to increase it little by little over a period of time until you reach the daily allowance advised on the label.

Based on new scientific evidence, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is recommending that healthy adults should limit their consumption of CBD to more than 10mg per day.6

Different CBD supplements and different formulations may also influence how much and how frequently you take CBD. Keep reading for more information on that.

How much CBD is in CBD products?

A good way to determine how much CBD you should be taking is by following the FSA recommendations and looking at which products appeal to you, e.g. CBD oil, balms, capsules, gummies, and seeing how much CBD they contain.

How much CBD is in CBD oil?

When you buy a tincture of CBD oil, it’s handy to know that it’s not often pure CBD oil. Instead, the contents are commonly made up of a mixture of hemp oil, hemp paste (leaves and flowers) and an emulsifier which is usually another plant oil.

Concentrated CBD is commonly sourced from the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant. This is why you need to make sure you’re buying CBD oil with a clear CBD content, and not just plain old hemp oil! Not to slate hemp oil – that has its own unique benefits. But it’s the CBD you’re after, right? Well, that’s usually represented by a % shown on the packaging or bottle, i.e 5% – how much CBD is inside.

Let's talk numbers

As well as percentages to show how much CBD is inside, you may also see the CBD content referred to in mgs, e.g. the recommended 10mg.

10mg of CBD per day is about 4-5 drops of 5% CBD oil 7. Meaning, you may have to do a little math depending on the strength of the product you’re using.

Here are some of the CBD oils we sell here at Holland & Barrett, from the lowest to the highest concentration:

Other CBD products and their CBD content

CBD capsules

Another way to take CBD is capsules. If you don’t mind swallowing pills, and would rather that than tasting the CBD oil, capsules could be for you.

Monitoring your dose can be easier with capsules too, as you usually only have to take one or two capsules a day – like taking your multivitamin..

CBD doses

Use the below guide to help you find the right product with the right dosage for you.







Other formats


Why does CBD taste bad?

CBD is derived from hemp plants, so if you are not a fan of the natural flavour, there are many different unflavoured, and flavoured, options available.

Capsules or tablets are a great option if you don’t like the natural hemp flavour. You could also try flavoured sprays or try adding suitable CBD oil to your drinks or food.

Why is CBD expensive?

We believe the costs of our CBD products are fair, given the work that goes into every batch from seed to shelf.

Every CBD product that we stock uses only high-quality hemp species approved by the EU and undergoes several specialist manufacturing processes whilst maintaining the quality of these products at each stage.

After the final product is produced brands also test their products to ensure customers get the best in quality and safety.

How long does it take to absorb CBD?

Sprays and oils will likely work faster as they bypass the digestive system and enter your bloodstream quickly. Whereas capsules and gummies will have to be digested for the CBD to be released.

How long does CBD stay in my system?

How long does CBD stay in my system?

Many different factors will influence how long CBD will remain in the body. These include the form of CBD used (gummies, oral sprays, creams, oils) and the dose you are using. Frequency of use and consumption methods can also impact this.

If you use CBD only once or twice in low-to-moderate amounts, the cannabinoid will stay in your system for a few days and not more than 24 hours for most people.

Regular consumption of CBD means the substance will be detectable in the body for a long time, perhaps several months.8

Are CBD products age-restricted?

All our CBD food supplements and the vast majority of our CBD based beauty products are restricted for sale to those aged 18 years and above.

Can I take them during pregnancy?

CBD is not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women, children, prospective parents trying for a baby or by people taking medication. Before using any CBD products, it’s also best to check with your GP that they are safe for you to use and to make sure they don’t interact with any medication being taken.

Can CBD interact with my medications?

Responsible producers and retailers exercise an abundance of caution towards groups with particular health sensitivities for which there is presently less data on use. Unfortunately, there is no definitive list of medications that are known to interact with CBD, and therefore as a responsible retailer, we would advise that if you are on medication you should always check with your GP first before using any CBD product.

Can CBD products be abused?

The World Health Organisation’s 2018 Critical Review Report on CBD stated that to date, there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health-related problems associated with its use.

Furthermore, individuals cannot readily recover any negligible quantity of THC residues present in quality products. This is due to its near absence in the first place and the technical difficulties that it would pose to obtain a yield that constitutes a risk to health and could therefore be misused.

What about tests for cannabis abuse and CBD?

The responsible CBD industry appreciates that individuals should not be under the influence of substances impairing their judgement during daily duties, and therefore, employs quality controls to ensure that residues of THC in CBD products are negligible – most importantly ensuring that residual levels have no psychoactive effect.

The actual amount of THC residue may vary from product to product and batch to batch. Health and safety considerations demand that individuals in certain roles are subject to substance testing to safeguard colleagues and the public. We are aware that CBD supplements have been subject to monitoring as part of official controls (under (EU) 2016/2115) using tests for THC residues that detect a limit of quantification of 200 ppm.

In light of this limit used independently for testing, we believe that it is unlikely that quality-controlled CBD products should give rise to adverse test results. As both sensitivities of tests and THC content of products can vary, Holland & Barrett cannot take any responsibility for positive test results and we would suggest that this be investigated with the tester before taking CBD.

A final note

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends a daily CBD intake of 10mg (for a 70 kg adult) for products with 98% purity. This advice from FSA is precautionary and relates to long term sustained use of CBD.

H&B recommend customers check labels and consider their daily intake of CBD and length of time they choose to take CBD for, based on this updated FSA advice. For more information please visit the FSA website





Author: Bhupesh PanchalSenior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019

Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry

Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.

After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.

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