How To Shop For CBD

What to know when shopping for CBD

Preliminary studies suggest CBD might alleviate everything from pain and anxiety to MS and opioid addiction.  CBD has presently been shown to help treat two rare forms of epilepsy as well.

CBD products come in capsule, tincture and in topical form.  A lot of people are very familiar with swallowing capsules and tinctures.  Tinctures, oil or water-soluble, maybe also taken under the tongue to be absorbed sublingually into the bloodstream.  Topical creams and lotions may be rubbed onto the skin where the effects may be felt right away or in some cases not for several hours.

Know the THC Content 

Some research studies suggest that CBD may work better when it’s combined with a little THC; this is called the “entourage effect”.  The mechanism behind the effect proposes that the sum of two ingredients and perhaps other components in a plant is greater than their individual parts.  Less than 0.3 percent THC is the cut-off required for CBD products made from hemp, and this may be all that is needed to enhance CBD’s therapeutic effect. So, if you want a CBD product that has just a little bit of THC but not so much that it will make you high, find one that is made from hemp.  The best way to know if your CBD product has just a little bit is to look on the product label and to confirm that by looking at the products COA or Certificate of Analysis.

Ask for CBD test results

Always ask for a product’s certificate of analysis or COA.  The document is useful to check for contamination and ensure that the CBD content is what the label says it is.  If a COA can not be provided, it is probably best to avoid buying and using that product.  The laboratory that tests and provides the COA needs to meet ISO 17025 standards in order to confirm that the testing methodology is correct and that the results can be trusted.

Look for CBD Products that list the CBD Amount  

Look for products that show how much CBD (or cannabidiol) you get not just in the whole bottle but in each dose. Dosages, which are expressed in milligrams (mg), vary considerably depending on the form of the product, and experts often suggest starting with products that have relatively low doses. For example, with tinctures, consider a product that has just 10 mg per dose, says Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University at Albany, State University of New York

On the other hand, take extra care with products that list only the quantity of total cannabinoids, not specifically how much CBD is in them. Those cannabinoids could include not just CBD, but dozens of other related compounds. Companies may take that labeling approach because they hope it will attract less scrutiny from the Food and Drug Administration.

Some of those products, which don’t include the CBD amount on their label, market themselves as “whole-plant” or “full-spectrum” hemp products or say they are rich in other compounds from the plant, such as various fatty acids. Though it’s possible that those other compounds provide additional health benefits, that’s still uncertain. In those cases, you could check the COA, if they have one, which should list how much CBD or other cannabinoids they contain.

 What other Terms or Ingredients are on the Label?

CBD product labels may say that they were produced with CO2 extraction.  That can mean that the CBD and other ingredients were removed from the plant using high-pressure carbon dioxide gas, not chemical solvents. Depending on the type of CO2 extraction used, the technique might be able to extract not just CBD but other cannabinoids in the plant. However, that approach is not necessarily better, because it’s unclear whether those other compounds provide additional health benefits. And it may not be safer, either, because some forms of CO2 extraction still use solvents. 

Some CBD products also describe themselves as including or coming from hemp oil.  In some cases, manufacturers use that term to mean CBD oil, which is oil-rich in CBD made mainly from the leaves, resin, or flowering tops of hemp plants. But hemp oil refers to oil made from the seeds of the plant, and contains only very small amounts of CBD, says Colleen Lanier at the Hemp Industry Association. That oil is often included in hemp-based soaps, cosmetics, and similar products.

Hand close up of Envy Hemp CBD Capsule with hand

Avoid CBD Products that make Extraordinary Health Claims

Making health claims, even just the ability to treat relatively minor problems like migraines is legal only for prescription drugs, which undergo extensive testing for effectiveness and safety. And the more dramatic the claim, such as the ability to cure cancer or heart disease, the more skeptical you should be. Since 2015, the FDA has cracked down on dozens of companies selling CBD products online for making unallowed health claims.


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