What is CBD oil, is it legal in the UK and what are the benefits and risks of using it? We asked a dietitian to take a closer look at this food supplement. Taking CBD oil under the tongue is the most effective way to get the most out of your CBD drops. Discover the benefits of taking CBD oil under the tongue.
What is CBD oil and is it safe to use?
What is CBD oil, is it legal in the UK and what are the benefits and risks of using it? We asked a dietitian to take a closer look at this food supplement.
CBD oil is increasingly popular, both as a food supplement and as an oil to apply topically to the skin. We asked dietitian Emer Delaney to explain what it is, why people use it and whether it’s safe.
What is CBD oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid – a chemical compound that acts throughout the body, including on certain parts of the brain, and is becoming increasingly popular in the health world. It comes from the cannabis plant; however, unlike its counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the ‘high’ from marijuana, CBD, derived from the hemp plant, is non-intoxicating and some believe it may have potential health and wellness benefits. Once extracted from the cannabis plant, it is diluted with a carrier such as olive or coconut oil – this improves its bio-availability.
Is CBD oil legal in the UK?
Contrary to popular belief, CBD oil is legal in the UK as it is not a controlled substance. There are, however, strict restrictions over its THC content. CBD oil that isn’t medically prescribed can only have a maximum THC content of 0.2%. CBD oil products that have a higher THC content may be available to buy online, but not legally
A small number of patients in the UK may be prescribed a cannabis-based medicine to treat epilepsy or nausea during chemotherapy. Visit the NHS website for more information on medical cannabis.
It’s worth noting that there are no CBD products authorised for use in animals in the UK. If you are considering CBD oil for your pet, only a vet can prescribe a legal human CBD product.
What is CBD oil used for?
Supporters of CBD oil believe it may help a number of clinical conditions, including refractory epilepsy, chronic pain, depression, anxiety and acne. However, further robust evidence is required as much of the research is carried out on animal models.
A systematic review looking at the use of CBD for epilepsy concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support the efficacy and long-term safety of using it to treat epilepsy. It does, however, suggest that, albeit in very low numbers, small daily doses were safe in a small group of adults for a short period of time.
There are some suggestions from animal studies that CBD may be beneficial for osteoarthritis, through topical application for inflammation or joint pain, however, it has been difficult to attribute the therapeutic benefits to CBT alone.
One study reported reduced pain and muscle spasms in people with multiple sclerosis.
Early evidence looking into the use of CBD in the treatment of anxiety and depression has found some exciting results – although on very small samples. The first study assessed anxiety links with public speaking; it found a very specific dose of CBD (300mg) showed anti-anxiety effects. The second study was a stand-alone case report of one child with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It found CBD oil helped the child safely reduce her anxiety and improve sleep.
CBD may also have the potential to help reduce acne; however, it is important to note that this research is still in its infancy.
For all the above uses, more human studies are needed before conclusive results may be drawn.
Can I buy CBD oil safely?
Most large health food stores will stock ‘pure’ CBD oil. However, as it is classed as a ‘food supplement’ rather than a ‘medicinal product’, it isn’t regulated in the UK. This means you cannot know for sure that the product you buy contains the ‘active’ ingredients at the amounts listed on the label. Furthermore, the product may contain contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals and other elements. For this reason, the NHS highlights there is no guarantee that these products will be of good quality or provide the intended health benefits.
Is CBD oil safe for everyone?
If you’re considering using CBD oil, you should speak to your GP or other healthcare professional to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for you to do so.
This is particularly important if you are experiencing any concerning symptoms, if you have any pre-existing conditions or if you are taking any medication including statins, blood-thinning medication and calcium channel blockers.
Although the use of CBD is controversial, it does seem to be tolerated by most people. It has, however, caused hypotension and light-headedness in a small number of patients. As it does not contain the THC part of the cannabis plant, the oil will not induce a ‘high’.
CBD oil should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women.
This article was reviewed on 21 March 2022 by Kerry Torrens.
Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a registered nutritionist with a post-graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.
Have you tried CBD oil and if so, did you find it beneficial? Let us know in the comments below.
How To Take CBD Oil For The Best Results
Taking CBD oil under the tongue (sublingually) is the best way to allow the CBD oil molecules to absorb through the surrounding tissue into your bloodstream.
This will help your body to react to CBD oil in the most effective way possible, so you can get the most benefits in the shortest amount of time. Let’s discuss in more depth how to exactly take CBD oil under the tongue, and the benefits it brings to you.
How to Correctly Take CBD Oil Under the Tongue
Though the method of taking CBD sublingually is very specific, it’s also incredibly easy. CBD oil needs to be put under the tongue and held for at least 60 seconds to allow sufficient time for the molecules to diffuse across the epithelial cells.
It’s important to note that the substance must be held under the tongue as different areas of the mouth have different types of cells that might not be permeable enough for diffusion into the bloodstream.
This method remains the same whether you are taking CBD oils or tinctures as well as for different dosages. There is no correct dosage or best time of day to do this as it varies depending on the person and condition being treated.
We recommend holding the CBD under your tongue for up to 1 minute without swallowing.
Additionally, it’s advised not to take the CBD during or directly after a meal as some of the oil may absorb into the food particles and not into the bloodstream.
How Often Should You Take CBD Oil Under The Tongue?
Figuring out how often you should take CBD oil depends on the individual and relates to various factors such as body weight and severity of the condition.
Although it varies, most individuals take CBD oil sublingually once or twice a day, either in the morning or a few hours before bed, or both – though you are not limited to these times.
Speaking to a qualified nutritionist can help you figure out when best to take your CBD oil, according to the benefits you want to bring to your body.
3 Benefits of Taking CBD Oil Under The Tongue
1. Increased Bioavailability
Since sublingual application bypasses the metabolic process of digestion, far less of the raw CBD is lost. The term bioavailability refers to how much of a substance can be utilised by the body and differs depending on the method.
As for CBD products, the only method with higher bioavailability than sublingual is inhalation.
2. Faster to Take Effect
Similarly to increased bioavailability, bypassing the slow digestion process means that the effects of CBD tinctures taken sublingually can be experienced much faster. Whereas it can take upwards of 30 minutes to benefit from oral consumption of CBD, taking CBD oil sublingually can yield results in only a few minutes.
3. Ease of Use
Not having to prepare the product or inhale smoke and vapor makes sublingual application easier. Just place a few drops under your tongue, don’t swallow for a few minutes, and let your body do the rest.
Is Holding CBD Oil Under the Tongue Safe?
Yes. CBD oil is understood to be safe compared to most substances. Taking CBD oil sublingually doesn’t increase the risk of any CBD-related side effects compared to oral consumption.
Furthermore, CBD oil is not going to make you ‘high’ unless it includes THC. If you are taking a certified CBD oil product that contains no THC, you are not going to experience any side effects that are commonly associated with THC.
While a side effect of THC can make someone feel anxious, have an increased heart rate, slower reaction times, and memory loss, CBD oil alone can actually help you relax, getting a deeper night’s sleep, and being able to unwind.
Side Effects of Taking CBD Oil Orally and Sublingually
The potential side effects related to the sublingual application of CBD oil are mild and uncommon, though some people have reported the following:
- Slight numbness under the tongue
- Aversion to the texture of CBD oil
- Aversion to the taste of CBD tinctures
Sublingual CBD Myths Busted
Despite the low risk of mild side effects associated with CBD, there are some unfactual claims about certain supposed side effects that simply aren’t true. The most popular ones are:
CBD stains your teeth
This myth comes from the associations between smoking and stained teeth. Make no mistake, smoking tobacco products, and cannabis alike will definitely stain your teeth over time, but simply putting a few drops of CBD oil under your tongue will not turn your teeth yellow.
CBD makes your breath smell
This myth likely also comes from the associations between smoking and bad breath or potentially from the relatively unpleasant taste of CBD oil.
However, while bad breath is caused by odour-producing bacteria in the mouth, CBD has antibacterial properties that can actually aid bad breath.
If you’re still worried about the potential effect of CBD oil on your dental hygiene, simply take it before bed or in the morning and brush your teeth afterwards, as this will not impact the effectiveness of the product.
The Bottom Line
Taking CBD tinctures under the tongue is far more advantageous than oral consumption of tablets or oils. With its higher bioavailability and speed, while not presenting any higher risk of side effects, sublingual application is one of the best and most effective ways of taking CBD.
Before including CBD in your lifestyle, you should consult your doctor, especially if you are on other medications.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What Happens if You Accidentally Swallow CBD Oil?
Accidentally swallowing the CBD oil won’t pose any risks to your body. However, once you swallow the substance, you are no longer taking it sublingually.
Instead, you are consuming it, which means that it will have to be metabolised through your digestive system before your body can utilise it. Although this isn’t dangerous, it does mean decreased bioavailability and slower onset of effects.
2. Should You Take CBD With Food or an Empty Stomach?
Since sublingual application bypasses the digestive system entirely, there’s no need to worry about taking it with food or on an empty stomach. Neither will change the results.
3. Can You Drink Water After Applying CBD Oil Under the Tongue?
Yes. After the total time is up, the process is complete, and the CBD has diffused into your bloodstream. Drinking water or eating food now won’t prevent the CBD from working, so you are free to do as you please.
However, you might want to give it a few more minutes before drinking any water just to ensure that your body manages to absorb as much CBD as possible.