The 4-Step Guide to CBD
Introduction to CBD
The number of people using CBD is growing at a massive rate. It’s in the news almost every day, and there are now 1.6 million daily UK users, but where do you start? If you’re on the lookout for a simple step-by-step process to talk you through the world of CBD, then look no further.
Key facts first! CBD has a good safety profile with very low toxicology reports—all research conducted so far supports this. Whatever your reason for taking CBD, our extensive batch testing means you’ll feel secure taking CBD.
Our 4-steps for CBD
At Vitality CBD we understand that everyone has different levels of expertise and knowledge about CBD. That’s why we’ve put the whole process into an easy-to-understand 4 stage program, going from learning about CBD all the way through to buying your first CBD oil:
Completely new to CBD? Then just start at step one and follow the journey through to the very end. Feel like you know enough about what CBD is, but want to know the right method to take it? Then hop on at step two. That way you can take in the information whichever way you feel is best.
Talk to us about CBD
If you have any questions throughout, you can head over to our CBD contact page to send us an email, or just pop up on our webchat at any point. Our CBD experts are available there 9am-5pm Monday-Friday. Just click the icon in the bottom right corner of any page!
Right then. Let’s get started!
Step 1: What is CBD?
What is CBD? It’s a question that people across the world have been asking more and more year-on-year. You may have heard it being described as a cannabinoid and cannabidiol, and confusingly those are both correct. Thankfully Vitality CBD are here to outline the basics and do some jargon busting before you buy CBD.
The first and most important thing you need to know is that CBD is short for cannabidiol, a compound found in the cannabis plant. It’s one of over one hundred different cannabinoids that have been identified so far, so-named because they were first discovered in cannabis. Cannabinoids have since been discovered in many other biological systems including our own, but we’ll get to that later.
Where CBD comes from
To understand what cannabinoids are, and why they matter, we first need to discuss CBD’s relationship with cannabis. Cannabis is actually the term for a whole family of plants, which are usually split into two distinct categories: Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. These terms are in turn used as overarching titles for different strains.
Traditionally sativa refers to the tall European plants, and indica to the bushier, shrub-like Indian varieties. For our purposes there are two terms that have far more practical use:
- Hemp refers to strains of cannabis grown for industrial use. These applications include biofuel, rope, paper and CBD.
- Marijuana refers to plants grown for recreational use i.e. getting high. This is why marijuana is often used to refer to cannabis as a drug.
We already know that there are lots of different cannabinoids you can find in the cannabis family, but there are two key ones that help distinguish between hemp and marijuana. The first, and most famous, is THC. This is the compound that induces most of the effects typically associated with smoking cannabis, and is found in high amounts in marijuana.
The second most prevalent cannabinoid is CBD. Research has continuously shown that CBD will not get you high, and is provenly safe for human use. CBD is typically found in high percentages in hemp, while there will be very little THC. All of our CBD products, from our CBD oils to our CBD topicals contain 0% THC.
The human body and cannabidiol
What’s most significant is that CBD is very similar to chemicals your body already produces. These endocannabinoids (a cannabinoid the body produces internally) are part of a network of chemicals and receptors known as the endocannabinoid system.
The ECS acts as the body’s assistant manager, with receptors throughout most of the major organs, the nervous system, and the immune system. Essentially it ensures that the body is operating in a state of balance, known as homeostasis. This involves checking that everything is working between key parameters, such as temperature, metabolism and pressure.
When we introduce CBD into the body, the ECS is its means of interacting with us. In fact, because it’s so similar to other chemicals, CBD is able to integrate quite easily. That’s why we’re so confident in CBD as a natural compound that you can safely introduce to your body.
Step 2: How do I take CBD?
There goes step one! You’ve either learned what CBD is, or skipped ahead (don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone you cheated), and now you’re wondering: what next? It’s all well and good knowing what CBD is, but now you need to figure out how to take it.
CBD ingestion methods have a big impact on how it interacts with your body. That’s why we’ve broken this section down into even smaller steps. First off, we’ll discuss bioavailability and why it matters, before walking through your CBD options.
CBD and bioavailability
Have you ever considered why hospitals will generally administer drugs straight into your bloodstream? It’s due to something known as bioavailability. Essentially, the bioavailability of any given chemical compound is the percentage of it that the body effectively uses. The higher the bioavailability, the more efficiently the compound has been utilised.
The main factor that affects bioavailability is how quick the compound’s path to the circulatory system is, hence why IV drips are typically the most effective method. So, lets look into how intake affects bioavailability!
CBD Oral Sprays & CBD Oral Drops
One of the most popular and widely recognised methods of using CBD are CBD oils. This covers our CBD Oral Drops and our CBD Oral Spray, both of which are used to apply a CBD oil underneath your tongue. CBD oils are just hemp extract blended with a carrier oil.
The reason for applying the CBD oil beneath the tongue (known as using it sublingually) is, you guessed it, bioavailability. Rather than swallowing your CBD oils and sending it through the digestive system, let it soak into the blood vessels beneath the tongue for around 90 seconds. That way it gets into circulation much faster.
The CBD will generally take around thirty minutes to be absorbed properly, and take six hours to leave the bloodstream. This makes CBD oils a great way to dose if you only want to use CBD intermittently. You can take half your recommended dosage in the morning, and the other half in the evening.
When comparing oral CBD options it’s worth considering the carrier oil. The MCT (coconut) oil in our CBD Oral Spray helps mask the taste of the hemp for those who don’t like its earthy tones, while the hemp seed oil in our CBD Oral Drops works great with CBD to provide a full-bodied hemp experience.
For more on our oral oils, read our CBD oils guide.
CBD vaping has one of the highest bioavailabilities. By turning your CBD e-liquid into vapour you make it more easily absorbed. Since you’re inhaling it into your lungs, the CBD vape juice has a simple, fast route to your circulatory system.
If you want to use a CBD e-liquid, but aren’t familiar with vaping, first thing’s first: you’ll need a vape device. Our Broad Spectrum CBD E-liquid is best used in a easily found mouth-to-lung device, either by itself or as an additive. However, you cannot mix a CBD vape juice with nicotine due to the way nicotine and CBD act as catalysts for one another.
Due to the higher bioavailability when vaping CBD, it only takes 5 minutes to be absorbed, and 4 hours to leave the bloodstream. This is due to the speed with which the body is able to process the compound when vaped. That means vaping is for users who enjoy the process of taking CBD and want to dose semi-frequently throughout the day.
It’s important to note that in some instances bioavailability isn’t the be-all and end-all, largely due to the prevalence of the endocannabinoid system throughout the body. A great example of this would be when looking at CBD topicals, such as moisturising creams and balms.
When applying a cream to your skin the bioavailability is greatly reduced since the compounds must first make their way through the epidermal layer. That means the amount of CBD that actually reaches your circulatory system is very low. However, if you’re looking for a localised external release then the CBD topical will still reach the endocannabinoid receptors in the skin.
That means that CBD topicals definitely have a place in your CBD routine. Our CBD Skin Cream and CBD Muscle Balm both contain a carefully curated blend of essential oils and skincare ingredients designed to support the hemp extract. The key is to be savvy and explore your options thoroughly.
Since the bioavailability of CBD topicals is low, it’s a slower release means of consuming CBD. CBD effects will take around an hour to be asborbed and last for about five hours. Regardless of duration, if you’re looking for an external application then CBD topicals are the obvious way to go.
For more on our CBD cosmetics, read our CBD topicals guide.
One of the most common forms of CBD is CBD edibles. This is where you’ll find CBD Gummy Bears, CBD coffee and even CBD protein bars, alongside more traditional ingestion methods such as CBD Vitamins and lozenges.
While research has shown that ingesting CBD through your stomach reduces its bioavailability, it does make tracking your dosage through the day much easier, and is generally the quickest and most hassle-free way of taking CBD.
CBD edibles and supplements are a great way of, well, supplementing your daily CBD intake. It means that you can just carry a tub of CBD Gummy Bears wherever you go, and dose more discreetly in public. That makes them perfect for being on the go.
With CBD edibles it’ll usually take at least an hour to be asorbed, and roughly six hours to be processed. However, since the CBD first passes through the digestive system this can fluctuate depending on metabolism.
Step 3: What’s my CBD dosage?
You know what CBD is, and you’ve managed to decide on a means of taking it. All settled right? Well you actually still have to choose the strength of your CBD oils or CBD e-liquids, one of the most important factors. That’s why we’ve extensively polled our users to give you the best CBD experience.
Find your CBD dosage
We’ve surveyed our users extensively, and we’ve found that our most satisfied users are generally using 70mg a day. That’s why we recommend that first-time users begin with a 1200mg oil, such as our CBD Oral Spray. By starting at a higher dose, you can easily figure out how CBD works best for you.
After a week of using 70mg a day, you have two options: if you’re satisfied, try decreasing by 20mg a day, and if you’re dissatisfied, increase by 20mg a day. By using your CBD consistently, and experimenting with your dosage, you’re at least 76% more likely to have a satisfying CBD experience.
Using multiple CBD products
Some of our users also find that using multiple products simultaneously best serves their needs. It’s perfectly safe to use our CBD Oral Drops and CBD Muscle Balm at the same time for example, or indeed any combination of CBD oils, so long as you keep your dose relatively consistent. Finding the right method is part and parcel of your journey.
These CBD combinations are so popular in the Vitality CBD office that we’ve actually written an article on two of our favourite product combos. Take a look at our CBD product guide, and see if you can find two products that suit you.
Is CBD safe?
It also bears repeating that CBD has been shown to be demonstrably safe, even at very high dosages. Case studies have been conducted where use upwards of 600mg a day.
Step 4: How do I buy CBD?
Rejoice! You now know everything you need to know about CBD, including what it is, how to take it, and where to start with your dosage—all that’s left now is to buy CBD! Our core recommendation is to look for companies that prioritise testing and quality control.
The CBD market is very new, which also means it’s poorly regulated. That’s why we send all of our product batches to a third-party independent lab in order to ensure they meet the quality we expect. In fact, our central belief in user transparency is why we’ve made all of our CBD lab reports available online. That means you can match the exact report to the bottle in your hand.
If you feel like you’re still confused on anything CBD, reach out to us on our CBD contact page, or give us a message on our web chat (9am-5pm Monday-Friday). Just click the icon in the bottom right corner of each page and one of our CBD experts will be on hand!
Well, what are you waiting for? Go look at our ever-expanding shop, find the section that fits your needs, and buy CBD now!
Tired of wondering: what is CBD? Our goal at Vitality CBD is to make cannabidiol easy to understand, so we've compiled all our CBD knowledge into one spot.
Pharmacist’s Guide to CBD Oil
Natalie M. Treese, MBA, PharmD
Department of Pharmacy Practice
Florida A&M University
College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Institute of Public Health
Mia Flowers, PharmD Candidate 2020
Florida A&M University
College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
US Pharm. 2020;45(3):20-23.
ABSTRACT: Cannabidiol (CBD) is becoming more prevalent, and pharmacists must be knowledgeable about these products in order to counsel patients effectively. CBD laws and regulations are determined at the state level in the United States. Non–FDA-approved CBD products are not regulated and may contain harmful chemicals. Pharmacists must counsel patients on where and how to obtain products and to check the amount of CBD and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in the product. CBD has numerous drug interactions that should be evaluated by a pharmacist. CBD is most promising for treatment-resistant seizures, and more research is necessary to evaluate its use for other indications. Sativex is currently being investigated in the U.S. for treatment of spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia. In general, more studies of CBD are needed.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is gaining popularity across the United States. Pharmacists must be able to answer patients’ questions about CBD and make recommendations. This article will provide specific information about CBD, including laws, how to select a non–FDA-approved CBD product, indications for use, side effects and warnings, drug interactions, dosing and directions, pharmacokinetics, and the future of CBD oil. After reading this article, pharmacists should feel confident about counseling patients about CBD and recommending CBD products.
Laws Concerning CBD
CBD was first isolated from the Cannabis sativa plant in the 1930s. CBD is a nonpsychoactive part of the plant, whereas delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the major psychoactive part of the plant. In the 1970s, researchers evaluated CBD as a pharmacologic agent. 1 Epidiolex, a 100 mg/mL oral solution with less than 0.01% THC, became the first FDA-approved CBD-containing drug in June 2018. 2 The drug is Schedule V and indicated only as an anticonvulsant for Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome in patients aged 2 years and older. 3
In December 2018, the Agriculture Improvement Act, which removed hemp from Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulation as a controlled substance, was passed and signed into U.S. law. Hemp is defined as a cannabis plant that contains no more than 0.3% THC. (In contrast, marijuana has a higher THC.) Hemp is now regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is legal in all 50 states. Laws and restrictions regarding the selling of hemp products vary by state, making it questionable to travel with CBD products. 2
U.S. laws and regulations concerning CBD are determined at the state level. Currently, 33 states have legalized CBD use for medical purposes, and 10 states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use. In states such as New York, Minnesota, and Connecticut, pharmacists are required to dispense the products in authorized dispensaries. Marijuana-derived CBD oil is still considered illegal under the Controlled Substances Act in accordance with the DEA’s classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance. 2
Selecting a Non–FDA-Approved CBD Product
Pharmacists must educate patients about how to select an appropriate non–FDA-approved CBD product. These products are not tested for safety, efficacy, or quality. 4 The main concerns in picking a non–FDA-approved CBD product are that it may contain harmful chemicals and may not accurately list the correct amounts of CBD and THC it contains. These products could contain harmful contaminants (e.g., pesticides, heavy metals) or have high levels of THC, which would result in a positive urine drug test. 5 The patient should be advised to obtain CBD products from a medical dispensary because these products are regulated. The patient should also consider ordering products from states where CBD is legal because more testing is done in those states. When selecting a product, the patient should check the label to see if it lists the amount of CBD in each dose. 5,6 The manufacturer should provide a Certificate of Analysis, which shows an independent laboratory’s assessment of the product’s potency and the presence of contaminants. 5 When assessing quality, the patient should look for the Hemp Authority seal, which means that the product is legal and the manufacturer is adhering to quality standards. 7
Indications for CBD
As consumer demand in the U.S. has risen, along with the number of dispensaries, the number of studies addressing the therapeutic effects of CBD has increased. The studies performed, however, are insufficient; large randomized, placebo-controlled trials need to be conducted. CBD seems most promising for treatment-resistant seizures. There is limited evidence concerning the use of CBD for psychotic symptoms in Parkinson’s disease and for anxiety related to public speaking. CBD has not been proven effective for pain, nausea, or depression. 4 THC, conversely, is thought to be effective for these conditions because it has a different mechanism of action. THC activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain, and CBD does not. As mentioned previously, CBD does not have psychotropic effects and THC does. These differences are believed to account for the different uses of CBD and THC. 7,8
Patients with early-onset epilepsy who are resistant to conventional therapy may benefit from CBD oil. A trial that investigated the effect of CBD on drop seizures of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome found that CBD 10 mg/kg/day or 20 mg/kg/day, when added to conventional therapy, led to a greater reduction of drop seizures compared with placebo. 9 The most common adverse reactions were somnolence, decreased appetite, and diarrhea. Specific adverse events from CBD included elevated liver aminotransferase concentrations. 9
Clinical findings on the use of CBD oil in Parkinson’s disease (PD) remain unclear. Past studies have evaluated CBD’s efficacy in minimizing nonmotor symptoms of PD, such as cognitive deficits, sleep disturbances, psychosis, depression, and anxiety. 10 The neuroprotective properties of CBD have been studied in animals with PD, with results indicating that CBD appears to reduce psychotic symptoms. 11 Although patients with PD have reported fewer sleep disturbances as well as improvements in quality of life, treatment in humans requires further investigation on a larger scale, with longer durations and more standardized dosing. 12 Most studies have used combinations of CBD and THC extracts, including nabilone, a synthetic CB1 receptor agonist. CBD dosages of 150 mg/day for 4 weeks and titrated by 140 mg/week were found to be safe and well tolerated and did not worsen motor function. 10
More evidence is needed to support the use of CBD for anxiety. Studies have found that CBD 300 mg may be effective for anxiety related to public speaking, and doses of 400 mg to 600 mg may help patients with social anxiety disorder and public speaking–related anxiety. Studies are inconclusive concerning the utility of CBD for anxiety. 13
Side Effects and Warnings
Studies have reported various properties and potential benefits of CBD. Some undesired side effects of CBD use are decreased appetite, dry mouth, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, lightheadedness, orthostatic hypotension, psychomotor slowing, sedation, somnolence, weight loss, and increased risk of liver injury with dosages of 20 mg/kg/day or the use of clobazam or valproate. Monitoring of liver enzymes, weight, and cognitive function may be warranted. CBD can pass through the placenta, so it is recommended that CBD be avoided during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Because CBD oils may contain trace amounts of THC, operating heavy machinery and driving should be avoided when treatment is initiated. 1
CBD is metabolized in the liver, mainly by CYP2C19, CYP3A4, and UGT. This can lead to interactions with prescription drugs, OTC medications, and herbal supplements. 1,14
The inhibition of CYP2C19 by CBD can increase levels of carisoprodol, citalopram, clopidogrel, diazepam, phenytoin, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), valproic acid, and warfarin. As a strong CYP3A4 inducer, CBD may lessen the efficacy of amlodipine, atorvastatin, buprenorphine, bupropion, diltiazem, eplerenone, fentanyl, loperamide, midazolam, paclitaxel, pioglitazone, sildenafil, solifenacin, tamsulosin, testosterone, topiramate, zolpidem, and other 3A4 substrates. 7
More serious effects may occur with concomitant use of central nervous system depressants, such as barbiturates, benzodiazepines, fentanyl, morphine, and propofol. These effects are the result of the synergistic effects of sedation and hypnotic effects at high doses. Increased sedative effects may also be seen with herbal supplements, including kava, melatonin, S-adenosylmethionine, and St. John’s wort. 13,14
Other interactions to be aware of are presented in TABLE 1.
Dosing and Directions
In unregulated dispensaries, CBD oil sold comes in a sublingual formulation known as CBD tincture and is generally available in 30-mL bottles with dropper caps. 15 A bottle costs approximately $20. The concentration of the tincture ranges from about 1,500 mg to 3,000 mg per bottle. If a drop equals 0.05 mL, one bottle contains approximately 600 drops of CBD oil. Drops are usually placed under the tongue, and the patient should let the oil absorb into the lining of the mouth, without swallowing, for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Capsules and gummies are also available. 15
As noted earlier, Epidiolex (CBD) is an FDA-approved oral solution for treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome. The cost of Epidiolex is approximately $2,708 per month. It is supplied as 100 mL of solution containing CBD 100 mg/mL. For both indications, the initial starting dosage is 2.5 mg/kg orally twice daily for 1 week. The dosage may be titrated weekly in increments of 2.5 mg/kg twice daily to a maintenance dosage of 5 mg/kg twice daily. The maximum dosage is 10 mg/kg twice daily or 20 mg/kg/day. Gradual tapering is recommended when Epidiolex is discontinued. 3
Starting at a low dosage is recommended for elderly patients and patients with moderate or severe hepatic impairment. The dosage should be 1.25 mg/kg to 5 mg/kg twice daily or 0.5 mg/kg to 2 mg/kg twice daily, respectively. 3
CBD reaches its maximum concentration in 2.5 to 5 hours. High-calorie and high-fat meals can increase the maximum concentration of drug fivefold and the AUC fourfold. 14 Owing to the first-pass effect, CBD is poorly absorbed, with a bioavailability of 13% to 19%. Better bioavailability has been reported with inhaled CBD (11% to 45%). CBD is 94% protein bound; therefore, interactions may occur with other highly protein bound drugs or in patients who have abnormal albumin levels. The volume of distribution is 20,963 L to 42,849 L, meaning that the drug is largely distributed into the tissues. CBD is metabolized by the gut and primarily by the liver. Epidiolex has an active metabolite, 7-OH-CBD, and is a 2C19 and 3A4 substrate and inhibitor of 2C19, 1A2, UGT1A9, and UGT2B7. Its elimination half-life is 56 to 61 hours. CBD is excreted primarily in the feces and urine. 3
Pharmacist’s Guide to CBD Oil Natalie M. Treese, MBA, PharmD Assistant Professor Department of Pharmacy Practice Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences