Supply famously rises to meet demand — and the CBD industry is booming. UK shoppers have an easier time finding cannabidiol products than ever before and can choose from an amazing variety of different types.
Not all CBD products are the same, though.
Do you value quality above all else? The certifications you may see on CBD products can steer you in the right direction.
Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the best-known components in Cannabis sativa plants. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that will not get you high and isn’t addictive. It is usually extracted from Cannabis sativa plants naturally low in the psychoactive compound THC, which are classed as industrial hemp.
Are CBD Products Legal in the UK?
Authorised CBD products with a THC content of no more than 0.02 per cent are considered novel food products in the UK. A wide variety of cannabidiol products can be found on UK high streets and in UK-based online shops, legally and without a prescription.
Consumers who incorporate CBD products into their wellness routines should, however, note that researchers continue to learn about the effects of cannabidiol. Consumers should not use CBD products to prevent, treat, or cure particular medical conditions — and manufacturers of cannabidiol products can’t make claims about the potential health benefits of CBD.
How to Shop for CBD Products in the UK
People curious about CBD products have a lot to consider before they make a purchase.
Here’s what to look out for.
What Type of CBD Is Best for Your Needs?
CBD products can be divided into three types:
- Full-spectrum CBD
- Broad-spectrum CBD
- CBD isolates
Some CBD enthusiasts actively seek out full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD products. These contain a range of hemp extracts, including flavonoids and terpenes. Full-spectrum CBD may contain up to 0.02 per cent THC. Broad-spectrum CBD only has trace amounts of THC.
CBD isolates are the purest form of cannabidiol. All THC has been removed from CBD isolates.
Which CBD Products Appeal to You?
The thriving CBD market offers an abundance of different cannabidiol products. Where should you start? That depends entirely on your personal preferences, but some of the most common choices include:
- CBD oil. CBD oil is a versatile cannabidiol product. You can add it to your wellness routine by placing the desired dose under your tongue for 60 to 90 seconds and swallowing it. More adventurous consumers might choose to cook with CBD oil or add CBD oil to a relaxing bath.
- CBD gummies. This pre-dosed form of CBD is convenient, portable, and more shelf-stable than CBD oil. CBD gummies have the added advantage of satisfying your sweet tooth.
- CBD tinctures. Unlike CBD oils, tinctures use alcohol as their base. This form of CBD can also be administered sublingually (under the tongue).
- CBD vape liquids. CBD vape products have also become commonplace and offer an easy way for vapers to consume cannabidiol.
- CBD capsules. These softgel capsules are pre-dosed and easy to use.
- CBD creams and lotions. Topical CBD products are absorbed by the skin.
What Should You Know About Extraction Methods?
Manufacturers extract CBD from industrial hemp plants in various ways. Not all are equally safe.
Consumers looking for high-quality CBD products may want to check which extraction method a manufacturer uses before making a purchase. The safest extraction methods include:
- CO2 extraction, which doesn’t use chemical solvents.
- Ethanol extraction, which uses alcohol to remove cannabidiol from industrial hemp.
- Solvent extraction can use various solvents, and olive oil is a safe choice.
Meanwhile, concerns exist about the safety of CBD extraction with butane or hexane.
CBD Certifications: What Should You Watch Out For?
Some CBD products carry third-party certifications that offer more information about their quality. Every consumer will have unique priorities, so let’s take a look at the most common certifications you may see — and discuss what they mean.
CGMP stands for “Current Good Manufacturing Practice”. If a CBD product bears a CGMP label, it means that the manufacturer meets the minimum best practice regulations set forth by the US Food and Drug Administration:
- The methods used during the manufacturing and packaging process are satisfactory.
- Product labels give full and accurate information about the ingredients and the strength or dose.
2. NSF Certification
The international certification organisation NSF offers impartial testing for a wide variety of products. You may come across the blue NSF logo on CBD products. It means that the product has been reviewed and tested by a neutral third party and meets high standards.
3. Third-Party Lab Tested
CBD products may also bear a label indicating that the manufacturer has subjected its products to third-party lab testing. ACS Laboratory is one example of an organisation that performs such services, and third-party lab testing should give consumers greater confidence in the quality of a CBD product.
Several third-party certification organisations offer GMO-free certifications. They include the Non-GMO Project. A non-GMO label informs consumers that the CBD products they buy do not include ingredients derived from genetically-modified crops.
This refers not only to the industrial hemp used to make cannabidiol but also to additional ingredients found in products like CBD gummies or other edibles.
5. Vegan Certification
The most common vegan certification you’ll see on products sold in Britain and the European Union is the V-Label, issued by the European Vegetarian Union. Products bearing this vegan label are guaranteed to be free of animal products.
Vegan certification is especially relevant for vegan CBD consumers looking for gummies, capsules, and other edibles.
6. Gluten-Free Certification
Gluten-free certificates can be issued by a variety of trusted organisations. They include NSF and the Gluten-Free Certification Organisation.
CBD consumers should keep in mind that a gluten-free label doesn’t just apply to additional ingredients used in cannabidiol products like gummies or other edibles, but also to CBD oil. That’s because gluten can potentially be introduced during the hemp growing or harvesting process.
7. Cruelty-Free Certification
Cruelty-free certifications can be issued by a variety of organisations. Many people who are especially concerned about animal welfare choose to trust the cruelty-free labels issued by Leaping Bunny or PETA. If you’re looking for a cruelty-free CBD product, it can help to verify the issuing organisation before buying.
8. Organic Labels
Organically-farmed products produced in the United States may have a USDA organic label to certify that they are organic. An EU organic label also exists.
Some consumers may know that organic certifications are very hard to obtain. Some farmers who implement organic farming principles may not have certification yet. It is up to each individual consumer to decide which products meet their ethical standards.
Understanding CBD Certifications: Some Final Advice
The rising popularity of CBD products has brought a wide variety of options to online shops and high streets near you — but not all CBD products are of equal quality.
Cannabidiol consumers with exceptionally high standards can look for certifications issued by trusted third-party organisations to help them decide which CBD products are right for them.
Which certifications should you look for? That depends on your personal preferences and priorities. Not everyone needs gluten-free products, for example, but everyone benefits from knowing that ingredient and potency labels are accurate.
Certifications can play an integral role in your CBD shopping experience, but you’ll also want to consider customer reviews, availability, and price when shopping for CBD.