What is CBD: The Ultimate Guide

What is CBD? The Ultimate Guide

So, what is CBD? Ever since it became legal in the US in 2018, the world has been taken by storm with this intriguing plant derived molecule. Below, we have compiled one of the most comprehensive and accurate guides on CBD. We’ve spoken to experts, read scientific books, trawled through clinical study results and made sense of government statements. Altogether, we believe this is a great, in-depth overview of everything a consumer might want to know about CBD, and then some!


CBD and The Body
1. CBD and The Body

1. CBD and the body

Let’s start with the endocannabinoid system (ECS)

Experts have been unpicking how the human body works for thousands of years. And they’re still going. We can thank science for everything we know about the natural systems that keep us healthy and alive. The three famous systems that we all learned in biology class at school are of course the immune system, the digestive system, and the nervous system. The list goes on though and there are more than ten critical bodily systems that we now know of. However, one less famous system was only discovered within the last 50 years. Enter, the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

In 1988, the ECS was discovered by researchers at the St Louis University School of Medicine in the United States. These scientists not only found the existence of the ECS, but also that it interacts with the body’s nervous and immune systems. Because of this interplay, we know that the ECS has a role to play in a wide range of bodily functions. Examples include appetite, anxiety, mood, pain, and more.

The discovery of the ECS also led to the discovery of the special chemical messengers which carry information across this system. These messengers are a type of neurotransmitter and are called endocannabinoids. This word simply means: a cannabinoid produced from within the body (endo-). These natural chemical compounds interact with the ECS’s cannabinoid receptors, referred to as CB1 and CB2 receptors. Together they play an important role in maintaining homeostasis in the human body.

The Endocannabinoid System
The Endocannabinoid System

Homeostasis and the ECS

Homeostasis refers to the body’s ability to keep the various internal systems operating in harmony despite external factors trying to derail them. A great example of this is body temperature: the human body is able to maintain its temperature around 37 degrees Celsius whether we’re in an ice cold bath or baking in the sun. Internally, we are reacting to the external factor (e.g. cold or hot temperature) and counter-balancing it. If the body did not do this, we would quickly find the various different systems stop operating well. We might become sick or our health might fail.

So, homeostasis is a critical balancing act happening 24-7 in the human body to keep us working at our best. Diseases like arthritis, epilepsy, stroke, obesity, Alzheimer’s, cancer and glaucoma are all conditions that have been linked to a loss of this balance. There is emerging evidence that a healthy ECS helps to maintain harmony in the body.

A Hemp Plant Grown in a Facility
A Hemp Plant Grown in a Facility

So, what is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring plant cannabinoid found in abundance in the hemp and cannabis plants. It is able to help the ECS maintain harmony across the human body’s many complex functions. Contrary to popular opinion, it does not directly bind with the CB1 or CB2 receptors of the ECS like endocannabinoids and other plant derived cannabinoids (such as THC & CBG) do. It actually effects these receptors indirectly, almost acting as a guide to help other compounds bind to the CB receptors. Additionally, CBD protects the body’s natural endocannabinoids that would otherwise be broken down by enzymes.

The scientific community is carrying out a number of studies to explore how CBD could assist with medical conditions relating to inflammation, chronic pain, and anxiety thanks to its involvement in upholding homeostasis. Much of this important and exciting work is still ongoing but shows early promise.

For example, many people who take CBD refer to the feeling of calm and relaxation it creates. This could be down to how CBD helps target the causes of anxiety.


CBD and anxiety

There are already pharma solutions to deal with anxiety, such as Xanax and Valium. So why use CBD over these white coat options? Well, not only are these drugs often addictive, expensive, and inaccessible, but they are not generally intended to be long term solutions. In addition, consumers around the world want natural solutions to health problems, rather than chemical ones. That’s why it has become a popular product among those with anxiety disorders. And yet, this is despite the fact that the scientific evidence is still mostly based off animal and pre-clinical trials.

A 2019 Japanese study explored the use of CBD to treat social anxiety disorder (SAD). 37 Japanese students with SAD received 300mg of CBD daily for four weeks. At the end of the treatment period, the results showed it “significantly decreased anxiety”.

It’s encouraging to see evidence that it does help people with these mental disorders. We look forward to the results of the ongoing studies to support these early results.


CBD and pain or inflammation

Early clinical studies once again suggest that CBD could have some promising benefits when it comes to combating pain.

One arthritis study explored the effects of a CBD gel on a group of rats. The study concluded that “topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviours and inflammation”. It’s a very encouraging sign for people who suffer with arthritis and are looking for a natural alternative to try.

Meanwhile, the Journal of Experimental Medicine also reported that, according to a separate study, CBD was shown to “significantly suppress chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain” in rats. It’s another ray of hope for people who suffer with similar conditions and are looking for a solution.

Numerous further studies show that CBD can help combat inflammation. It engages with the ECS in many organs throughout the body, helping to reduce inflammation systemically. The therapeutic potential is impressively broad, as a wide range of diseases have inflammation at its core.


What are the other health benefits?

As mentioned, there are many potential benefits of taking CBD. Many consumers find it can help combat anxiety, stress, inflammation and more. However, we do reiterate that the evidence is highly anecdotal today, and there are only a few animal and preclinical human studies to rely on. The reason is because it was only until recently that CBD was a not a controlled substance. So, scientific study of it was highly restricted. Today though, there are many exciting ongoing studies , and the results will be released in the coming years.

One of the more high profile benefits of CBD is its ability to significantly reduce the seizure activity of Dravet Syndrome. This is a rare form of infantile epilepsy. In June 2018, a company known as GW Pharma successfully progressed a drug called Epidiolex through clinical trials, which is now FDA approved in the US. The study proved CBD reduced the seizure rate down by nearly 40%. It is essentially 100% isolated CBD and is from hemp rather than the cannabis plant.

GreenBox is unable to make specific claims about what the effects of CBD might be for your health due to the current UK regulatory framework. This is why we suggest consumers carry out further reading to learn more. However, it’s clear this is one promising dietary supplement.

Testing CBD Quality is Important
Testing CBD Quality is Important

Will it get me high?

It won’t. CBD does not have the ability to create a high. It’s more infamous cousin, D9-THC (delta nine-tetrahydrocannabinol), usually extracted from the cannabis plant, offers the mind altering effects. This is because CBD and THC react differently with the body’s ECS. THC binds directly to the CB1 receptor while CBD does not, and it is this function that causes the ‘high’ associated with cannabis. Interestingly, THC can also increase the feeling of anxiety in some people. What we understand today is that the effect is entirely down to a person’s own body chemistry.


Could it show up in a drugs test?

A drugs test is searching for illegal substances in your bodily fluids. Given CBD is legal there are no concerns here. However, the reason why some people might be concerned about this is because some low quality CBD products contain low levels of THC. The quality issue we mentioned earlier is rearing its head again.

As THC is an illegal substance in the UK, if a consumer has been taking a low quality CBD product that still contains some THC, a drugs test could come back positive. To avoid this small chance entirely, buy only quality products and ask for a certificate of analysis to prove the absence of any illegal content.


Are there any other side effects?

GW Pharma’s clinical trials data is a good place to start as the Company looked at the side effects of dosing at 20mg per kg of body weight per day. So, for an average adult human weighing 62 kg, the Epidiolex dose would be 1240 mg per day. This is an extremely high dose and this is partly because the product is a pure CBD isolate. GreenBox recommends starting off at around 50 mg per day. All the same, we believe it’s important consumers are aware of all the facts.

The recorded side effects at this dose included sleepiness, reduced appetite, increased liver enzymes and others. Note however that the dosage was around 25 times higher than the level regular consumers might take CBD for the discussed wellness benefits we have also discussed. In addition, Epidiolex’s main ingredient is 99% CBD, and there are additional compounds formulated into the medicine that could have impact on the side effects the body will endure.

CBD Is Safe & Legal in The UK
CBD Is Safe & Legal in The UK

Is CBD legal?

We can confidently confirm that it is a legal substance and GreenBox conducts testing to confirm we stock only legal brands. However, many products in the marketplace do contain some levels of THC and this is the source of the legality issue. THC is an illegal substance, and if it is found above a threshold level in a CBD product, then the product is illegal.

The HM Government is clear about what makes a product legal in this factsheet. A CBD products is legal as long as it meets the “exempted product” status. To meet this status the product must not:

  • be designed for the sole purpose of administering THC
  • be in a form that is simple to recover the illegal substance
  • contain more than 1 milligram of THC in the product

Most products in the market today pass the first two points, but it is the third point that low quality products fail. Practically, as long as a lab test reveals a product has no THC in it (defined by the scientists as a “non detectable” level), the CBD product is legal.

Many industry participants state that a CBD product is legal in the UK if it contains less than 0.2% THC content. This is totally incorrect! The 0.2% threshold level actually refers to rules for industrial hemp. It is legal to grow industrial hemp in the UK as long as the variety chosen has a THC content in its biomass below 0.2%.


Is CBD safe?

According to the World Health Organization, it is entirely safe to consume and non-addictive. As mentioned earlier, it is safe even if taken at hundreds of milligrams daily, according to the few clinical trials done so far. In fact, up until a couple hundred years ago, hemp was actually a large part of the feed given to livestock. This, in turn, became a consistent part of the human diet.

Regulatory bodies around the world and large consumer products companies are sitting on their hands. They’re waiting to see how the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chooses to regulate this impressive ingredient. Until that time, it’s likely the Coca Cola’s of this world don’t participate. This leaves the market open for smaller brands to establish themselves. At GreenBox we know this can mean quality can be at risk. So, we have gone the extra mile to bring consumers a high quality range of products. See the GreenBox Guarantee for more details.

2. How to Take CBD
2. How to Take CBD

2. How to take CBD

We can consume CBD in many different forms, but what is the best way? From oils and sprays to creams and balms, and many more. The choices can be overwhelming! We’ve put together this guide to help you find the ideal product form to introduce CBD into the daily routine.

High quality CBD is also expensive, so we promote smart consumption to help make your money go further. In addition, GreenBox offers the GreenPoints loyalty programme so customers can enjoy attractive discounts on purchases.


The variety of product types

Different product types offer variations in convenience but also effectiveness. The most important factor is the latter, which is all about bioavailability. The same dosage taken in two different product forms will result in different absorption levels in the body. For example, taking the CBD dose through an intravenous (IV) drip would give 100% absorption. This is because the entire dose hits the bloodstream. That’s great, but it’s not very convenient! Ingesting it, however, means it passes through the digestive system. As a result, the bloodstream only receives a small percentage of the CBD.


Taking CBD Under The Tongue

Taking it under the tongue

To support a daily wellness routine, GreenBox recommends dropping CBD oil under the tongue. This delivers a high absorption rate and a reliable onset of around 60 to 90 minutes. It’s also fairly quick and easy to do. Product forms like oil droppers and sprays are perfect for this. They’re also among the most cost effective ways to consume regularly.


The benefits of edibles

To give yourself a mid-day boost, a wide range of edibles are available. These include chocolates, drinks, gummies and other common edible products. Edibles do offer a lower level of absorption as it must pass through the digestive system, but the benefit is longer onset and true convenience.


Skin and body products

To target a specific area on the body or face, topicals such as balms, lotions, serums and creams are very effective. The advantage of skin application is it can be administered exactly where the discomfort is, so it is possible to get a high level of CBD right on the target area. That’s why skin products are also a popular option.

3. What's The Right Dosage?
3. What's The Right Dosage?

3. What’s the right dosage?

Our bodies are all unique. So the way our endocannabinoid system (ECS) reacts when taking CBD is unique to us too. That’s why GreenBox advises that consumers find their ideal CBD dosage by careful trial and error.


Where to start

It can be hard to figure out how much CBD to begin with, but we are here to help. Many brands provide a daily dose with the product, and this is a fine place to start. For example, top quality German pharma brand Ayucana advises healthy adults take 50 mg of CBD per day. For children aged between 14-18 years, Ayucana advises 40 mg per day.

Feel free to use our CBD dosage calculator to easily experiment and arrive at the dose that works for you.

Recall that CBD is entirely safe according to the WHO, even at very high doses. So, it’s important that new CBD consumers find their ideal dose by trial and error to find what is right for them. We are all different on the inside and out! It makes sense that someone with a greater body weight may require a greater dosage than a smaller person to feel the same effects of CBD.


Raise CBD dose slowly

Begin by taking a low initial daily dose or a brand’s advised dose. Then, slowly increase it by 10 mg CBD per day until you begin to feel its effect, if you don’t already. It’s important to explore and find out what works for you. When you are happy with the effect you are feeling, hold that level of dosage from there on.

An easy way to accurately dose is to either use CBD capsules which have a specific concentration of CBD per pill, or use a bottle of CBD oil with a dropper. We always advise dropping the CBD into the mouth in front of a mirror so you can easily count how many drops you’ve applied, as it can be hard to feel them.


CBD on the skin and body

GreenBox offers similar advice when using skin & body CBD products. Apply the product liberally on the problem area as part of your daily routine. Increase the number of times you apply the product per day to increase its effect. CBD is understood to have great anti-inflammatory properties so applying on the skin is an effective method.


FSA advice

The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has stepped in to advise that consumers take no more than 70 mg daily. GreenBox feels it is important to highlight this to our consumers. However, we understand there are many examples today where consumers take much higher doses with no side effects. We believe it is up to our consumers to find out what works best for them.


CBD dosage calculator

What is the right strength for me? What is a low dose compared to a high dose? How much oil should I measure out to deliver my desired CBD dose? These are some very good questions that we frequently field from our customers when it comes to taking CBD. So, we have built a very simple CBD dosage calculator that anyone is free to use. Just follow the link below and have your CBD oil handy. It takes less than a minute and it will calculate the dosage in millilitres (ml) that you can then measure out with a pipette.


Get my CBD dose


Some brands provide the amount of CBD mg in a single drop. This makes it easy to calculate the CBD dose you want to take. Infinity CBD and Ayucana do this, for example. However, many brands don’t do this. Furthermore, many brands also match a product strength to a recommended daily dose like Vitality CBD. The drawback to this is it doesn’t provide the consumer with the information to experiment with the dose. It is important to find the dose that works for you. Hence, a CBD dosage calculator is ideal to help a CBD consumer experiment with the product they have and find their sweet spot.


Speak to your doctor

Cannabidiol CBD is a natural plant based ingredient from either the hemp or cannabis plant, so it is safe to consume. However, it’s important for a first-time consumer’s peace of mind to speak with their doctor if there are medical conditions to consider. This is because drug interactions can take place if you are already taking a prescription. This may effect what CBD serving sizes may be appropriate to proceed with.

How to Buy CBD Online
How to Buy CBD Online

4. How to buy CBD online

Here we explore the most important information about CBD. We hope you feel better equipped to now know what to look for on the shelves, both in-store and online.

GreenBox is all about bettering customer’s health, wellness and fulfilment. CBD is a part of this, and adopting a plant based wellness lifestyle can do even more for health and wellbeing. If you have any further questions about CBD or anything else, we encourage our customers to get in touch! We are always happy to help.

There is a lot of foreign terminology when it comes to CBD. For those that wish to explore further, Healthline provides a great summary on terminology.


Quality and purposeful CBD brands

The CBD market is still very young and so GreenBox has taken a stance on safety and quality to protect its customers. This is to ensure that consumers can buy CBD online from suppliers like GreenBox, with peace of mind in tact. For example, the GreenBox brand approval process involves a sample from each brand range to be sent to an independent laboratory to verify quality and safety. We also request lab reports for every batch we purchase and confirm products are THC-free. This is the GreenBox Guarantee. We pride ourselves in bringing customers only the best in the market, so you can buy CBD online stress free.

If you would like to see a lab report for a specific product, we are happy to send this to you upon request.


This concludes the Ultimate CBD Guide

We hope you find this guide useful. If you have any questions or something doesn’t make sense, please feel free to contact us here.