One of the main concerns about CBD is the lack of regulation of product quality
Unfortunately, many CBD products don't contain what they say they do
Some CBD products also contain THC which can be a problem for some
There are 5 things to look for when selecting CBD
Not all CBD is created equal: Understand your options
CBD products come in one of three varieties: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum and CBD isolate. There are many opinions on which variety is best but the science to support one view over another is still in early stages.
The "Entourage Effect": Make the most of all those cannabinoids
The debate on choosing between full-spectrum, broad-spectrum and CBD isolate is largely centered around a concept known as the "entourage effect", a proposed mechanism by which the many compounds in cannabis, including CBD act synergistically.
The two most common cannabis compounds are CBD and THC. But there are actually more than 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. In addition to the cannabinoids, cannabis also contains terpenes, which are the aromatic molecules that are found in most fruits, plants, and herbs. The idea of the "entourage effect" is that all these compounds work together to deliver a powerful compounding effect.
So far most of the science related to the entourage effect is focused on understanding how CBD and the other cannabinoids act to enhance the medicinal benefits of THC. While the research on whether the other cannabinoids enhance the effects of CBD is still scarce, a 2018 meta-analysis study in Frontiers of Neurology concluded that CBD-rich extracts (i.e. full-spectrum) seem to present a better therapeutic profile than purified CBD (i.e. CBD isolate), at least in the studied population of patients with epilepsy.
Even trace amounts of THC could result in a failed drug-test, leading to disastrous results for some
Would you like some THC with that?
Openness to consuming THC is the other major consideration when choosing between full-spectrum, broad-spectrum and CBD isolate. THC is the compound associated with the "high" from cannabis. The hemp plant and the CBD oil derived from it contain less than 0.3%, so there is no concern of getting a "high" from any hemp-derived CBD products. However, even trace amounts of THC in the bloodstream could result in a failed drug test, leading to disastrous results for anyone whose job or athletic pursuits require them to remain 100% THC-free.
Each of the three main varieties of CBD products is described below. Given the considerations above, choosing the one that is right for you is a personal choice.
These CBD products contain a full range of cannabinoids and offer the promise of benefiting from the entourage effect described above. When the cannabinoids are extracted from hemp, the entire extract is made into a consumable product. These products contain everything the cannabis plant contains, including CBD, other cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and terpenes. These products also contain the trace amounts of THC that is naturally present in the hemp.
This variety is considered the middle ground between full-spectrum and CBD isolates. To create broad-spectrum CBD, full-spectrum oils are put through a refinement process that removes the trace amounts of THC. The belief here is that these products offer the potential benefits of the entourage effect, but with no risk of consuming THC. This requires a bit of a leap of faith since most of the studies on the entourage effect have been focused on THC.
These products contain CBD extracts that have been isolated from the rest of the compounds in the plant. The process involved creates CBD products that should test very high for CBD purity. There are no other cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids in the product.
If passing a drug test is a priority, CBD isolates are the safest bet.
CBD oils, creams, capsules, edibles and vape: Which products are right for me?
CBD is available in many formats, and each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
CBD oils and are usually taken by dropper orally (e.g. under the tongue), but also sometimes by spray. The CBD is diluted with an oil, such as sesame or coconut oil and may also be flavored with mint or other products to improve the taste. The main advantages of this form are that the CBD is absorbed rapidly via the mouth's mucous membrane and it is simple to measure and use.
CBD oils may be the most accurately labeled of the various types of CBD products. A 2019 review of 47 CBD products conducted by Leafly and Confidence Analytics found that all 7 of the 7 tinctures they tested delivered the amount of CBD advertised.
Capsules offer the convenience of a pre-measured dose of CBD that can be taken "on-the-go". The main drawback of capsules is that the CBD is absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract, as opposed to through the mouth like oils, and therefore take longer (up to a couple of hours) to take effect.
Edibles offer many of the same conveniences as capsules, and the potential advantage of tasting good (e.g. gummies). However, many edibles contain only small amounts of CBD. As with all food products, shelf-life is a consideration. Some edibles stay fresh longer. In addition, the food product may affect the way the CBD is absorbed.
Topical Creams and Balms
CBD creams and balms are meant to be rubbed on the skin, for example on sore joints or muscles. As these products must be absorbed through the skin, it's believed that they must contain higher levels of CBD to be effective. This, in turn, can make some products expensive relative to other forms. However, many believe that these products are particularly effective in treating localized inflammation or pain.
Vape Products (Pens, Vape Oils)
Several CBD vendors market vape oil and disposable vape pens. The lungs transport vaped CBD rapidly into the bloodstream, enabling the effects of the CBD to be almost immediate. In addition, some claim that vaping allows up to four times more CBD to enter the bloodstream reducing the dose required to achieve the same effect. However, there is a growing body of evidence of the dangers of vaping in general, and recent public health warnings specific to vaping CBD. All indications are that these warnings should be taken very seriously.
CBD Products for Pets
CBD products for pets include tinctures and edibles. The tinctures (oils) are typically identical to those that are sold for human consumption, with the main differences (if any) tending to be related to flavoring and labeling.
Ensuring the quality of CBD products represents one of the biggest challenges to the safe use of CBD
There are hundreds of CBD products being heavily marketed online and it is difficult to know for sure that the product you buy has active ingredients at the dose listed on the label and that it does not contain other unknown elements.
Because most CBD products are marketed and sold as supplements, not medications, neither the FDA nor other agencies regulate their safety or purity. The onus is on you to ensure that the products you purchase are high quality, safe and authentic.
Know the 5 things to look for when choosing a CBD vendor
Five criteria are important when choosing CBD products. Below, we've explained the criteria and why each is important to consider when selecting CBD products. We've also taken the time to hand-select and highlight a few vendors that meet these criteria from the almost endless number of online CBD vendors.
1.Type of CBD
CBD products come three main types: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum and CBD isolate. Vendors and others have strong opinions on which variety is best, but the science on this is still scarce. Ultimately, the choice of variety is going to be somewhat personal. Read more on this above.
2. CBD from a Trusted Source
The hemp used to manufacture CBD products in the U.S. is either locally grown or imported. Look for products manufactured from hemp sourced locally from farmers that are selected by the manufacturer and subject to the strict guidelines of the U.S. department of agriculture. Some vendors grow their own hemp, offering the advantage of being able to control the quality of their products from "seed to sale".
3. Independently Certified CBD
Mislabelling of CBD products sold online represents a real challenge, with upwards of 70% of products tested in a 2017 study shown to be mislabelled. Reputable manufacturers have their products independently tested for purity. They also make the third-party certificate of analysis (COA) (a lab report on the chemical make-up of their products) easily available to their consumers.
4. Quality Manufacturing
The extraction process is a key step in manufacturing CBD products. The three most common extraction methods are carbon dioxide (CO2), steam distillation, and solvent extraction (hydrocarbon or natural solvents).
CO2 extraction is the preferred method because it is considered a safe means to produce high concentrations of CBD. CO2 extraction is also widely used in to make other products (e.g. decaf coffee). However, CO2 extraction is more expensive than solvent extraction, which may translate into higher prices for these products. Also, look CBD manufacturers that are cGMP compliant, however, this is still somewhat rare among vendors today.
5. Clear Product Labelling
Many CBD product labels will use buzzwords such as "natural" or other marketing slogans that may have little meaning. Look for clear labeling that includes the amount of active CBD per serving, a supplemental fact panel indicating all other ingredients, net weight, manufacturer/distributor name, suggested use, variety (full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate), and batch/date code.
Check out our vendor reviews below for a shortlist of hand-selected vendors that meet the above criteria.
These CBD vendors really stand out from the crowd
We've laid out the five criteria to use when choosing CBD products, and explained why each is important to consider when selecting CBD products. The list below represents some of our favorite brands. These are vendors that meet the five criteria and each also offers something else that makes these vendors stand out from the crowd.
We're constantly updating our list of best vendors, and would love to hear from you on his. Contact us here with your feedback.
The first vertically-integrated CBD company to be certified USDA Organic. Palmetto Harmony grows its own USDA certified organic hemp that is used to manufacture a broad range of organic full-spectrum CBD tinctures, topical creams, capsules, pet products, and other CBD products.
NuLeaf Naturals manufactures full-spectrum CBD tinctures from hemp organically grown and extracted in Colorado.
Sabaidee manufactures broad-spectrum CBD products from hemp organically grown and extracted in Colorado. Sabaidee is committed to product quality, customer satisfaction, and transparency, offering a no-hassle return policy and easy access to third-party test results.
Based in Colorado, CBD Distillery is one of the larger CBD products producers, offering one of the broadest range of full-spectrum and CBD isolates products, including edibles and disposable CBD vape pens.
Medterra produces CBD isolate and broad-spectrum products containing 0% THC. Medterra believes CBD should be available to all those in need at an affordable price.