The ABC of CBD

Words: Amy Newson. Illustrations: Caroline & Brett at Stengun Drawings

CBD: it has to be one of the most talked-about, argued-about and raved-about products of all time. So why all the hype? Experts in the health and wellness community say this functional ingredient can help people feel great. But how does it work, and how can we use it to reap the most benefits, whether we’re adding it to our diets or beauty regimes? We spoke to experts in the world of CBD and picked out a few CBD products to try for yourself…

1 / So, what is CBD?

Illustration by Caroline & Brett at Stengun Drawings

CBD (or cannabidiol, to give it its full name) is one of over 100 naturally occurring chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids, found in cannabis or hemp plants (in the leaves, flowers and stems). Supplementing the body with cannabinoids, such as CBD, has been found to help with conditions such as anxiety, stress, pain and inflammation. In fact, CBD’s anxiety-tackling benefits are of particular appeal to many users, given that the WHO predicts stress and anxiety will be the number-one cause of disease in young people by the end of 2020. And, in case you’re wondering, CBD isn’t psychoactive (i.e. it won’t get you high), as it contains no, or only traceable amounts of, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the principal psychoactive component in cannabis).


We have discovered that our bodies are built to interact with CBD, and I truly believe that it has the power to change the world.

- Rosie Joly, Co-founder of CBD specialist OTO

A few of our favourite CBD products

2 / How exactly does CBD work?

Illustration by Caroline & Brett at Stengun Drawings

CBD mirrors cannabinoids produced naturally by the human body in our endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system’s role is to help keep the body in balance (or, using the technical term, homeostatis) and tackles pain and inflammation, regulates mood and calms anxiety by communicating to the body’s neurone transmitters, cells and hormones. While this doesn’t mean that introducing plant-derived cannabinoids into the body will always make things ‘just right’, it does suggest that we can stimulate the endocannabinoid system by introducing external cannabinoids, such as CBD, into the body.


We’ve seen a huge increase in people purchasing CBD products, doing more research and looking at alternative and natural ways to heal themselves. It’s really a sign of the times, health is at the forefront of everyone’s mind and we live in anxious times.


…And what’s the science behind it?

The science behind CBD is still in the early stages (the endocannabinoid system was only discovered in the 1990s). Scientists are still conducting research, but some have discovered that 40-60mg of CBD per day is the optimal amount needed to stimulate your endocannabinoid system, and therefore help with sleep, stress, and even aches and pains.

3 / How can CBD be used?

Illustration by Caroline & Brett at Stengun Drawings, Product: TRIP drinks

CBD can be consumed as an oil (dropped under the tongue), or in the form of edible foods or even in drinks. These are usually infused with other functional adaptogens (natural substances that help the body adapt to stress, like ginseng) or botanicals (like the green oregano oil in Kiehl’s Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate or the turmeric and cayenne in Pollen’s No Pressure CBD gummies) for added health benefits, including improved immunity, greater focus and reduced stress. As for how long it takes the different forms of CBD to work, edibles and capsules can range anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour to take effect, while tinctures can take up to 20 minutes.


I’ve suffered from lower back pain for a few years and I often slept badly as a result. I bought a CBD oil tincture from Hempen at my local farmers’ market and put two-three drops under my tongue each night. Now, I no longer wake up in pain or in uncomfortable positions in the middle of the night, and my back does not ache first thing in the morning. I guess you can call me a CBD convert!

- Amy Sollitt, Associate Editor

...And how can it be consumed?

The beauty of CBD is that it can be taken in all shapes and forms. From drinking it in your daily coffee to eating it in the form of gummy bear treats or imbibing the oil straight, there are multiple ways you can reap the benefits of CBD. We've picked out a few products on offer here at Selfridges. Why not explore and find out what works for you?

Shop our range of CBD products

4 / What does CBD do when used in our beauty regime?

Illustration by Caroline & Brett at Stengun Drawings, Product: Kiehl's Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate

CBD is said to be a great addition to our skincare regime, as it is naturally derived and causes little irritation, so is suitable for a wide range of skin types. From reducing blemishes, blotchiness and discomfort to relieving and easing discomfort and stiffness in muscles and joints when applied topically to problem areas, it’s a real miracle worker.


The power of cannabinoids has been harnessed in a variety of skincare products to target many issues such as acne, skin ageing and skin sensitivity.

- Dr. Alexis Granite, Kiehl’s Consulting Dermatologist

The uses of hemp

In order to be legally cultivated, hemp must contain less than 0.2% THC (the principal psychoactive component in cannabis). Hemp is also grown as an industrial crop for the use of fibres in textiles and even building materials.

Shop our range of CBD products