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What is CBD?

Hayley Dawes
1 December 2020

Welcome to the incredible world of CBD

The world of CBD is finally exploding into the mainstream. I couldn’t be happier about people everywhere realising that CBD is nothing to fear, but a substance that has incredible benefits. There are some wonderful products on the market, however sadly there is also a significant number of CBD products selling “miracle cures” and illegal claims.

My personal journey with CBD has spanned several years. I have travelled far and wide, experiencing and testing all kinds of CBD variants, and speaking at length to several farmers and cultivators.

In my first blog I want to provide you with as much information on CBD as I can, leaving you informed and able to make your own decisions about the products you purchase.

So let’s start from the beginning…

Lingo Buster

Before we get started, let’s break down some of the CBD-specific terms we’ll be using throughout to ensure you’re all clued in.


Cannabinoids are a large group of compounds found in cannabis. Of more than 120 variants, CBD is the most common non-intoxicating cannabinoid. It’s effective by activating neurotransmitter systems in the brain, body and immune system.


CBD is an organic chemical compound found in the cannabis/hemp plant. It is found in high concentrations in the flower or bud of the plant, with small amounts in the stalk. CBD is one single chemical compound from the plant. It has immense therapeutic potential and a whole host of medicinal properties in its own right.


THC is another chemical compound found in the hemp plant, but this cannabinoid can get you high.

All CBD products must contain less than 0.2% THC in a finished product to be legal in the UK. At Dreem Distillery, our THC is non-detected- you can read our third party test report here. LINK.

Marijuana/cannabis comes from a different type of cannabis plant and has considerably more than 0.2% THC. This is NOT legal in the UK. Whilst THC can get you high, CBD does not. It is not psychotropic or intoxicating, but it does have an effect on your mood or consciousness.


Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in plants, but most commonly associated with cannabis. That familiar smell of lavender, pine, or cannabis? That’s all down to terpenes. They play a role in the “entourage effect” of broad spectrum CBD.

Flavonoids are a compound found in plants, they are a phytonutrient responsible for the vivid colours in fruits and vegetables, and a powerful antioxidants. Just like terpenes, they contribute to the “entourage effect” of broad spectrum CBD.

What is CBD and how does it work?

CBD stands for cannabidiol. CBD is one of over 120 chemical compounds in the cannabis plant, known as cannabinoids.

CBD is found mainly in the flower of the cannabis plant. There is no CBD found in the seed, so if a product lists cannabis sativa seed oil it might not be what you’re looking for. Whilst cannabis seed oil is special in its own way, don’t be tricked into thinking it’s the same as the more costly compound CBD.

So, the million dollar question—what does CBD do? Enter the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex network involved in regulating almost all bodily processes.

This might sound like little more than buzzwords, but in fact it’s as elementary and natural as can be—right now, your body is producing its own cannabinoids. These interact with the ECS’s receptors all over the human body. This influences all kinds of functions, from sleep to digestion, with many ailments linked to imbalances in the ECS.

Our brain naturally produces endocannabinoid molecules. The ECS is a balancing system (or in lab-speak, homeostatic regulator): it sends neurotransmitters all over the body to check that all the cogs are turning as they should be, rebalancing functions if necessary.

The endocannabinoid system plays a role in many vital systems in the human body, including:

  • Appetite, hunger, and digestive systems
  • Sleep
  • Motor control
  • Pain and pleasure
  • Immune function
  • Effects of other cannabinoids
  • Temperature
  • Mood
  • Memory

For more information got to:

What about THC?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) are the two primary cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. CBD is not psychoactive, meaning that it does not change the state of mind of the person using it. THC is the main psychoactive component of the cannabis plant and is known to give you a mind altering ‘high’, among many other things.  All CBD products must contain less than 0.2% THC in a finished product, otherwise the product is illegal in the UK. You can see our Certificates of Analysis here LINK

What’s the difference between Cannabis, Hemp and Weed?

Truth be told – not much. Cannabis is an umbrella term, and like many other plant species, it can be cultivated to create various sub-plants.

The three subspecies form the cannabis plant are cannabis sativa, cannabis indica and cannabis ruderalis. Cannabis sativa and indica are the most commonly known subspecies that produce different ‘strains’; sativa strains are known for their higher THC content and indica strains are known for being more mellow, with a wider variety of cannabinoid ratios.

Essentially, hemp is cannabis grown with a reduced THC content. Hemp is a cannabis sativa plant grown closely together, causing the plants to grow tall and strong, naturally reducing the THC content. CBD is extracted from hemp flowers.

What is Hemp Seed Oil, and is it any different to CBD?

Hemp seed oil is much cheaper to make than CBD, so unfortunately there are some rogue businesses out there who mislead people by insinuating that their hemp seed oil is CBD, usually by adding a mg weight to the label. Unfortunately, 1000mg hemp seed oil is just that—1 gram of hemp seed oil. If you’ve been eyeing up a product on Amazon, it’s likely to just be hemp seed oil as Amazon doesn’t allow CBD products to be sold on their website.

Hemp seed oil probably has more in common with your cooking oil than CBD. It’s extracted in the same way as olive oil, by cold pressing the seeds of the cannabis plant. In fact, you can use it in the same way as olive oil. Hemp seed oil is high in antioxidants and omega-3 and -6 fats, but the seeds of the hemp plant contain no CBD, THC or other cannabinoids.

You might have even seen it on the shelves of your local supermarket—and no, they’re not trying to get you high! Hemp seed oil has been viewed as quite different from other cannabis plant products for quite some time. Whilst hemp seed oil is great for your skin and cooking, it doesn’t have the properties of CBD or other cannabinoids.

CBD comes in many different forms….

There are 3 types of CBD on the market. They’re all very different, and it’s important you understand the form of CBD you are buying and therefore its efficacy.

  1. CBD Isolate – CBD isolate is a crystalline solid or powder that contains 99% pure CBD. A traditional extraction process removes all the active compounds from the cannabis plant, followed by a refinement process that strips away all other phyto cannabinoids, including THC, and any plant matter. This leaves behind nothing but the CBD chemical compound in its purest form.

While CBD isolate might sound like the best approach to CBD for you, keep in mind that there is also a key disadvantage to isolating CBD from other cannabis compounds. It’s generally a less effective form of CBD as it lacks the other plant chemicals that contribute to the ‘entourage effect’, helping to amplify the benefits of CBD.  We’ll go more into the ‘entourage effect’ later in this blog, but basically – scientific research has shown that a combination of cannabinoids and terpenes generates an ‘entourage effect’, a synergistic interaction that boosts the individual effects of each compound involved.

  1. Broad spectrum – This is where CBD retains some of the other plant chemicals, such as the cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes, all of which are key to increasing the effects of the CBD.  Broad spectrum CBD products are ‘THC free’.  The combination of these plant chemicals are thought to be beneficial and form an ‘entourage effect’.

Broad spectrum CBD is also known as CBD distillate and is generally the preferred basis for high quality CBD ingestible oils. It’s mixed with a carrier oil like MCT oil to enable more CBD to reach the bloodstream as CBD and other cannabinoids are fat soluble.

Distillate is generally more expensive to produce as it requires more complex processes to separate the undesired compounds (primarily THC and CBN, which are banned in the UK) from the desirable cannabinoids and terpenes.

  1. Full spectrum – Here, the CBD contains multiple cannabis plant extracts, including essential oils, terpenes, and other cannabinoids, such as cannabinol (the same as broad spectrum).

The Entourage Effect

CBD fans will be familiar with this term coined by two Israeli scientists, Raphael Mechoulam and S. Ben-Shabat. The scientists used the phrase to describe their findings; that taking the entire spectrum of natural compounds found in cannabis work far better together, and are much more beneficial, than only taking a single isolated molecule compound.

Many scientists who have followed this work maintain that all of the natural components of cannabis behave synergistically to produce far greater results.

What are Terpenes and why are they beneficial?

Terpenes are some of the most common compounds in essential oils and botanical ingredients. If you’ve ever wondered where the distinct scent of cannabis comes from, it’s caused by terpenes. They’re a diverse group of organic compounds which heavily contribute to the aroma, colour and flavour of plants in which they are present.

Each terpene is associated with unique effects, typically supported with scientific research or/and anecdotal evidence. Aromatherapists and herbalists have used the science of terpenes for years when formulating plant-based blends to create certain effects on the body and mind, whether to promote relaxation or to stimulate focus and clarity, plus many more effects.  The chemistry of CBD oil and essential oils complement each other, creating a magical synergy.

Terpenes may offer additional therapeutic value as they mediate the body’s interaction with cannabinoids.  Terpenes can interact with the endocannabinoid system in a comparable way to cannabinoids, and early research supports the capability of terpenes to enhance the effect of cannabinoids.  When inhaled or ingested, terpenes act as an assistant to cannabinoids as they work to penetrate the blood-brain barrier.

For example, myrcene is a terpene found in botanical ingredients like juniper and lemongrass essential oils, and is known to allow faster absorption of cannabinoids.  A study in 2002 showed that myrcene promoted muscle relaxation and increased sleeping time.

Terpenes like myrcene and linalool are sedative and calming helping to support a healthy sleep pattern. They are known to influence neurotransmitters in the brain, affecting dopamine and serotonin production.

Caryophyllene is another well-known terpene found in many different essential oils and herbs, known for its capacity to relieve stress, anxiety and to encourage sleep. Nerolidol is a terpene that gives certain cannabis strains a distinctive woody aroma. Besides contributing to the scent profile, nerolidol can also be used as a natural sleep aid. These terpenes are typically found in broad spectrum CBD.

At Dreem Distillery we absolutely believe in the power of terpenes. By blending the right profile of terpenes into our high quality Broad Spectrum CBD, you can watch the real magic happen! And in our case this results in products which are specifically targeted at supporting your sleep.

Does CBD have any negative side effects?

A huge and ever-increasing number of studies looking into CBD are being published on a yearly basis, and the vast majority of them are pointing towards CBD being pretty amazing. But this is still a relatively new science—the ECS was only discovered in the 90s after all—and widespread use of concentrated CBD is a recent thing, so we’re always learning.

So far, the World Health Organisation deems CBD as perfectly safe, without risk of dependence or abuse, and full of promise for a wide range of medical uses.

The only clinical trial showing negative side effects has been through using extremely high doses of Epidiolex, an FDA-approved CBD prescription medication. This looked at daily doses equivalent to 1,360 mg (more than an entire bottle of most CBD products). This trial exhibited only mild side effects such as a dry mouth, decreased appetite and gastrointestinal distress.

That being said, it’s vitally important to be wary of poor quality, unregulated CBD products. When purchasing CBD, always look for organic growing methods and transparent lab reports to ensure you’re putting the very best ingredients into your body.

Your CBD Glossary

And finally, here’s a checklist of what to look for when you buy CBD oil…

Look out for the following buzzwords:
Non-GMO and certified organic: For the sake of purity, you will want your CBD oil to be free from pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilisers and solvents.
The concentration of CBD: There should be a lab certificate of analysis (either packaged with the product or on the brand’s website) showing the amount of CBD in the product. The lowest is about 300mg (3%) but be aware – this doesn’t even touch the sides!
The percentage of THC: If there is more than 0.2% THC in the product, then it is illegal in the UK and unregulated.
Supercritical CO2 extraction: This is generally considered the cleanest, purest, non-toxic and most efficient method of extracting CBD, but it is expensive and can hike the price up. This is what we use.
Broad spectrum or Full spectrum CBD: This means that a wide range of cannabinoids are present in the oil (including vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, protein, chlorophyll, terpenes and flavonoids) which is thought to be more effective at fighting pain and inflammation, with a longer lasting effect than isolates.
Trusted brand: Always do your research, read reviews and check the reputation of the brand.

Over the next few months we will continue to share as much information as allowed on CBD. I personally want you to feel that Dreem Distillery is a place where you can find honest, trustworthy and impartial information.


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