Despite looking a little wobbly due to Brexit and new novel food regulations, the CBD industry is alive and kicking. The Cannabis Trade Association (CTA) revealed that Europe’s CBD market is currently worth around £480m, and the UK commands the biggest share at around £110m.
That’s perhaps unsurprising when you learn that CBD oil fans are now in their millions and are enjoying the vast array of potential benefits this cannabis-based supplement has to give.
What is CBD?
CBD is cannabidiol – one of more than 140 known cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
Most CBD oils contain much more than just CBD, often including a range of cannabinoids present in the whole cannabis plant, as well as naturally occurring terpenes (aromatic compounds), and wellbeing-boosting flavonoids. These are usually labelled as “full spectrum” or “broad spectrum”. CBD isolate, meanwhile, is a product that contains just CBD on its own.
Will CBD oil get me high?
Although the cannabinoids you’ll find in CBD oil, including cannabidiol, are extracted from the flowers, leaves and stalks of the cannabis sativa (or hemp) plant, the CBD oil you can buy in the UK won’t get you high. This is because, here, the legal limit for THC (the molecule in cannabis that can induce a stoned affect) is so low that the amount allowed in full-spectrum products is not enough to get you high.
What can CBD oil help with, and how does it do it?
CBD oil is reported to promote many other mental and physical changes. Studies have shown it can reduce pain, inflammation, stress, anxiety, fatigue and gut issues as well as promoting better sleep, feelings of joy, raised libido, improved focus, sports recovery and much more.
You might be wondering how one product can possibly do so many things – after all, CBD is a molecule, not a miracle, and it shouldn’t be hailed as a panacea for all ailments. However, it does have the ability to produce a number of different outcomes thanks to its biphasic properties (meaning different doses can yield different results) and by working through multiple pathways, binding to a variety of receptors, and supporting the body in producing our own endocannabinoids – anandamide (AKA “the bliss molecule”) and 2-AG.
These endocannabinoids are synthesised and released as and when needed to bring the body back into balance. This can occur during exercise (they’re partly responsible for the “runner’s high” phenomenon), when you orgasm or when you eat certain foods, such as truffles and dark chocolate. These then activate our full-body regulator, the endocannabinoid system (ECS), via its receptors which can be found throughout the body – from almost every skin cell, in our muscles, organs, joints, brain and even right down to the mitochondrial walls – to restore equilibrium in all areas.
However, many factors such as poor diet, chronic stress, sleep deprivation and illness can prevent the body from producing endocannabinoids as it should. This can then stop the ECS from doing its job, overseeing the function of all other physiological systems, and this can trigger all kinds of problems.
Fortunately, the cannabinoids in CBD oil can also bind to and activate our ECS receptors – supporting the release and efficacy of endocannabinoids and assisting the body in returning to normal, in whatever way is needed. In addition, CBD also directly activates serotonin and vanilloid receptors, which play a huge role in mood, pain perception, sleep and more.
How do I take CBD oil?
It’s very easy to take – just a few drops held under the tongue for a couple of minutes two or three times a day. It’s important to use CBD consistently for at least a month before making your mind up about how it’s affecting you, as this will allow time for your cannabinoid levels to accumulate gradually.
It’s also important to realise that not all CBD oils are made equal – some are much higher quality than others, and some are better suited to different needs, depending on which cannabinoids and terpenes are present and at which levels.
It’s also vital to only ever buy third-party-tested products that have ideally been made using CO2 extraction methods. This is a chemical-free process that allows for a wide range of cannabinoids and terpenes to be extracted without the use of potentially harmful solvents.
How we tested
There are hundreds, if not thousands of options to choose from, but we’ve narrowed it down to some of the very best examples available in the UK.
All products featured were tested individually by at least two people for a minimum of one month. Participants followed dosage instructions as indicated on the product labels.
This reviewer is a CBD and medical cannabis writer, founder of The CBD Consultancy and a CBD columnist for Top Sante magazine. She has tested well over 100 CBD products over the past two years.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Potyque CBD oil 10%, 10ml
If stress or anxiety is what ails you, or if you suffer from any pain or inflammation, Potyque is the CBD oil for you. All of our testers noticed a wash of calm and balance come over them mere moments after taking a few drops of their 10 per cent tincture, and the effect was long-lasting too. After a short stint of regular use, testers with arthritis and chronic pain were singing its praises.
Despite being a fast ascension into a chilled state of mind, it’s a very gentle shift. And, although very apparent, the repositioning of mental and physical state feels very natural without any woozy or sleepy side effects, making it great for daytime use. The flavour is earthy, but mild and very palatable with no harshness in the throat, which quite a lot of people do experience with some CBD oils.
This is a wonderful oil for those both new and experienced with CBD – and the choice of strengths means you can up the potency with each purchase if you wish. It is available in formulations of 5 to 30 per cent, from £50 to £200.
Buy now £75.00, Potyque.com
Ardoa indigo 66 s-drops, 100ml
Having tested well over 100 CBD products, it’s always a thrill for us to find one that is exceptional. Ardoa is producing CBD oil like none other we have ever tried – all of its products are extraordinarily potent and have been carefully formulated using high-strength cannabinoids from plants grown all around the world. The result is a range created by people who really get the cannabis plant, and what it has to give. But be warned, these are heavy hitters with a strong, hemp flavour – especially the indigo 66 s-drops that have been specifically formulated for night-time use.
This range is perfect for those who are in need of something that will make a big difference and, although these drops may seem pricey, they come in a 100ml bottle, as opposed to the usual 10ml or 30ml. One tester of Ardoa’s cerulean 53 drops, who has PTSD, said it felt like a miracle, adding that it stopped the cascade (referring to the “defense cascade”, an overwhelming phenomenon that’s common across a broad range of disorders and clinical presentations, including PTSD) in its tracks. Another tester got a full night’s sleep for the first time in four years after their first dose of the s-drops, and someone else found their grief-induced bad dreams stopped.
If you choose this oil, go low and slow with dosage. We suggest you start with half the recommended dose (if not less) and build up gradually.
Buy now £119.99, Ardoamarket.co.uk
Cannaray oral drops, 30ml
This is one of those rare finds where something low cost is as good as (or better) than its more expensive competitors. These oral drops come in a range of strengths to suit different needs. They’re prepared in an MCT oil base (medium-chain triglycerides are fats that are easy to digest), which makes for a very delicate flavour with just a hint of sweet lime. We think this is a great oil for anyone wanting to add a little peace and happiness to their everyday life.
The recurring notes our testers made about this oil was a noticeable sense of joy – not just a little mood lift, but actual joy. And as an added bonus, a couple of them noticed a libido boost. We found it had a lighter, brighter feel to it – ideal for daytime use and the perfect pick-me-up. Plus, as drops are available in formulations of 1-10%, from £20 to £80, in our eyes it’s a clear winner for best value for money.
Buy now £30.00, Cannaray.co.uk
Amma Life 10% CBD oil boost, 10ml
Natural pain relief is up there as one of the most common reasons for wanting to try CBD, and according to our testers – all of whom were experiencing various forms of pain and inflammation – this was a clear winner. But, interestingly, it wasn’t just physical pain this seemed to affect – it had an impact on emotional pain, too.
The results we saw were incredibly fast: one tester said they found relief from chronic back pain after just one day of use. But everyone metabolises CBD oil in their own way, so as with all these products, we recommend taking a couple of drops two or three times a day for at least a month before you make your mind up. Again, this has a clear hemp taste with no added flavourings, but our testers found it quite pleasant nonetheless.
Buy now £59.99, Ammalife.co.uk
Pure Sport boost oil, 30ml
Think CBD is a sleepy supplement? Think again. A variety of studies have shown that CBD can increase energy for a number of reasons, among them regulating blood sugar levels and soothing adrenal activity and the stress response.
One study even referred to CBD as a “wake-promoting agent”. And this is certainly the case with this excellent oil, which has been blended with natural, energy-enhancing ingredients: lion’s mane mushroom, ginseng and vitamin C. We even gave it the ultimate trial by using it on a day when we had no caffeinated drinks. The results were impressive – it seemed to provide clear, happy energy that left our testers feeling uplifted and focused for hours.
It has an interesting flavour with a mild coffee tone. In fact, you could even pop a pipette into your morning cup for a slow-release alternative to dropping under your tongue.
Buy now £79.99, Puresportcbd.com
The Tonic 3% CBG enhanced CBD oil, 20ml
CBG is the new cannabinoid on the block, and it’s hailed to be the next big thing in the CBD industry. Known as “the mother cannabinoid”, this particular molecule has been found to be even more effective for pain relief than CBD, and many CBG fans say it has a special grounding quality to it.
This oil is a unique one, as it has a 1:1 ratio of CBD and CBG with a total 600mg potency. Our testers found that arthritic aches and pains were reduced while taking this oil, but equally apparent was a strong sense of being grounded – even when they were most definitely not feeling that way before taking it. The easy spray dispenser makes this a handy one for taking on the go.
Buy now £47.99, Thetonictribe.com
Papilio balance oral CBD drops, 10ml
Now, be warned – this oil has a very strong pine taste. You will feel a bit like you’ve swallowed a Christmas tree, but a number of our testers quite liked that. The overall effect, however, made our testers think this oil was well worth it regardless of your flavour preference. We found it to be a great one for acute anxiety relief – one of the many things pinene is known to be good for. It’s the important role terpenes play that makes the Papilio range so interesting – especially the balance oil with added pinene terpene.
Buy now £49.95, Papilioproducts.myshopify.com
Grass & Co ease 500mg CBD oil, 10ml
It would appear that, much of the time, the best CBD oil doesn’t have the best flavour, which can present a problem to those with a picky palate. But this delicious orange offering is an exception to that rule – it tastes great (like an orange sweet) and is very soothing, too.
This is a great choice for someone new to CBD who is perhaps after an overall wellbeing boost, or something to provide some light stress relief, rather than for one issue in particular. The addition of turmeric and ginger also underlines those anti-inflammatory benefits, if that’s something you’re after. The name of the “ease” range is perfect really, and we love that this oil is such a pleasure to take. It’s available in 400-1,000mg formulations, from £31.50 to £72.50.
Buy now £39.50, Grassandco.com
Unique CBD night drops, 10ml
Ordinarily, we’re not huge fans of CBD isolate oral drops – we’re firm believers in various molecules in the cannabis plant working in synergy with each other. However, these pharma-grade CBD isolate night drops are infused with terpenes myrcene (which has a powerful sedative effect) and limonene (uplifting, and aids absorption), and the results are impressive.
The most noticeable effect for our testers was an almost instantaneous wash of calm, which then gradually progresses until you feel ready to climb into bed and drift off completely peacefully. Testers found this CBD not only helped them fall asleep, but stay asleep too. They didn’t experience any grogginess in the morning, either.
The fresh mint taste of this oil, which has been formulated by a neuroscientist, is one of the best we tasted too – not too strong, but just enough to disguise any trace of hemp flavour.
Buy now £114.75, Uniquecbd.co.uk
Lady A evening tincture, 15ml
This delicate, mint-choc-chip infusion is a luxury CBD oil that is wonderfully high quality. The chamomile extract assists an array of cannabinoids in promoting some serious relaxation – exactly what so many of us need to unwind after a hectic day.
Unlike some other, stronger CBD oils made for sleep, we found this one lulled us into a restorative slumber, but in a gentle way. We loved taking this oil almost like an after-dinner nightcap, and the chill factor was unrivalled.
Buy now £60.00, Ladya.health
Kloris CBD oil drops 500mg, 10ml
The most noticeable effect with this one was anxiety relief that lasted. It not only seemed to help with stress in the moment, but with the management of everyday anxiety as well. Despite only trialling a relatively low dose (500mg), this oil was as effective on stress and physical discomfort as much higher potency oils. And the mild, slightly nutty flavour was very enjoyable.
Buy now £46.00, Kloriscbd.com
Dr Ed libido, 10ml
Some studies have shown that cannabis (which CBD is derived from) appears to light up the arousal part of the brain, particularly in women. There’s also evidence to indicate that it can help to relax muscles, increase natural lubricants and reduce performance anxiety. What’s more, CBD also directly activates serotonin and dopamine receptors, which play a key role in libido regulation.
As well as containing 500mg CBD, this libido oil has added organic maca root, amino acid L-tyrosine and a proprietary libido terpene blend, all of which are popular supplements for balancing hormones and boosting sex drive. Our testers certainly had fun with this one! Sex drives were indeed increased and testers enjoyed a sense of almost bubbling excitement, which they said was noticeable within half an hour. If you’re looking for confidence, enjoyment and relaxation in the bedroom, this is well worth a go. Oh, and there’s pretty much no flavour to this one at all.
Buy now £49.00, Annsummers.com
Karma Coast 600mg CBD oil, 10ml
This is an oil that has been made with cannabinoids extracted straight from the flowers of the plant, where they are most concentrated. The full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids here gives the user the benefit of something called the entourage effect – where all molecules support each other in producing a more complete, and potentially more effective, result. There are lots of other full-spectrum products on the market, but many of them also contain chlorophyll, which can make you feel a little queasy and leave a bitter aftertaste. This one doesn’t, although it does have a strong, slightly floral hemp flavour.
This brand has won several awards for their products and it’s clear to see why. Our testers found their oil to be effective for anxiety, chronic pain conditions and sleep problems.
Buy now £35.00, Karmacoastcbd.co.uk
Truth Naturals 1,500mg CBD oil, 30ml
We tested the 1,500mg CBD oil from Truth Naturals on some very tricky cases, and the results were impressive: so much so, that follow-up oils trialled by the same people didn’t even really get a look in. Interestingly, all testers described a very clear feeling of balance.
One tester was undergoing chemotherapy and having a very hard time emotionally with her cancer diagnosis, as well as experiencing pain and having trouble sleeping. After a couple of weeks of taking this oil, she said she slept well for the first time in years. She felt emotionally more at peace with her situation. And her physical pain, while still present, felt more manageable. She also felt her digestion improved. Other testers also found their sleep and stress levels were well improved.
This is a zero-THC formulation, which is a preferred option for some CBD consumers concerned about drug testing, including professional athletes. It uses plants from the spiritual home of CBD, Colorado, where it first rose to fame as an effective treatment for young Dravet Syndrome patient Charlotte Figi. And of course, it’s all organic, independently lab tested and extracted using the best methods. It’s also available in three flavours – lemon, peppermint and natural.
Buy now £90.00, Truthnaturals.co.uk
The verdict: CBD oils
We chose Potyque’s CBD oil as our best buy because it’s such an excellent all-rounder. It’s gentle enough for CBD newbies, with a mild flavour, yet it stands up to anxiety, aches and pains to the extent that it impressed some of our most experienced testers too. If you’re looking for something that really packs a punch for pain, we love Amma Life’s CBD oil, while for value for money, we’d choose Cannaray’s oral drops any day.
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