Shopping for CBD oil, especially when you’re new to all things hemp and cannabis, can feel overwhelming at first. Your questions might include the following: “Do I need CBD pills or CBD oil?” “What’s the best product?” “How many milligrams do I need?” And “Is there THC in this CBD oil?”
The good news: there are many good products on the market from reliable, reputable companies looking to help people find natural solutions to their medical issues. But on the flip side, you need to be a diligent consumer and know that there are also some shady sellers out there looking to make a quick buck from the green boom.
So what can you do? We’ve made a list of 6 key questions you should ask while shopping for CBD. This will allow to know you’re getting a safe, effective product, and one that’s perfect for your needs. Let’s dive into exactly how to shop for CBD, and how to make sure you’re getting a legitimate CBD product.
Where’s the Certificate of Analysis?
You might be thinking, “Wait, what’s a Certificate of Analysis?” Don’t stress! The COA is a document that shows where, when and how a particular product was scientifically tested to ensure safety and quality control. Any legitimate CBD brand will be more than happy to show their COA, which proves that the product you’re looking to purchase was tested by an independent, third-party (read: unbiased) lab. The report shows things like milligrams of CBD and THC, lead and toxin content, and provides details on the testing facilities.
Where was it grown?
There are many reasons to opt for homegrown, American-made products — especially when it comes to hemp. A lot of cheap hemp comes from China, which doesn’t have the highest standards when it comes to agriculture (unfortunately, toxins, lead and pollution get into the plants). Because hemp is a bioaccumulator, it absorbs everything from the soil it’s planted in — the good and the bad. If hemp that has absorbed lead and pollutants gets distilled into a little bottle of oil, guess what’s also in the tincture? Nothing you want to put in your body, that’s for sure.
This isn’t to say that all foreign-grown hemp is bad, but until there are regulations in place that can guarantee you’re getting a safe product, it’s best to opt for a product derived from hemp grown in the USA.
How many milligrams?
Figuring out dosages is tricky, even for experienced CBD users. While 5 milligrams a day works for some patients, some clinical trials have shown efficacy at 800 or even 1,000 milligrams. The rule of thumb from doctors and experts when it comes to cannabis is always this: start low and go slow.
When it comes to shopping, consider a few things: if you use an average of 10 milligrams a day, how many milligrams are in the bottle (whether it’s oil, capsules or a vaporizer cartridge). Consider how many days you’ll get out of the purchase and factor that into the price.
Isolate, full-spectrum or broad-spectrum?
Is your product made with CBD isolate? This means that the CBD compound (called a phytocannabinoid) was extracted and there are no other parts of the cannabis plant in your tincture. Some patients prefer this, as there’s no chance of getting any form of THC or other phytocannabinoids in the product. Furthermore, because they tend to be flavorless, isolates are often preferred for edible products. However, there is a U-shaped response rate with CBD isolate, meaning that after a certain threshold of milligrams, CBD isolate becomes less effective. Research is still ongoing on this subject.
There are benefits to full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD, despite the decidedly more herbaceous taste. Experts claim that the “entourage effect” of the other phytocannabinoids (sometimes including THC) may provide a more powerful synergistic effect. This means that the compounds of the plant work better together, and may deliver better results to the patient than if the CBD were extracted.
It ultimately comes down to preference and what works best for your body, but it’s important to be an informed consumer when making these decisions.
Is there any THC in the product?
Some patients get better results from CBD when it’s used in conjunction with THC, and some patients have an adverse reaction to THC or simply prefer to avoid it. A doctor may prescribe a 20:1 CBD:THC ratio tincture, as CBD may mitigate any of the head-high, euphoric effects of THC while delivering a more effective therapy (read: no high, better results). That said, if you’re looking to avoid THC, it’s best to ask if there’s any THC in the product. Most products have to adhere to the “less than 0.3 percent” rule, so check the COA and make sure that the product is exactly what you want it to be.
Do I need a tincture, oil, vaporizer, gummy or pill?
What’s the best delivery for your ailment? This depends on your body, your preferences and your medical needs. For instance, someone who has trouble swallowing pills may prefer a gummy, but if you need quicker delivery, a vaporizer or sublingual tincture may be the product for you.
Consider how the product gets into your system. A pill, gummy or any other kind of edible will be broken down in your digestive tract, allowing for slow release over time. A product that is absorbed into capillaries (such as tinctures and oils under the tongue and vaporizers into the lungs) will provide much quicker effects.
Oils tend to be in the sweet spot. Because they’re held sublingually and then swallowed, you get the quick delivery to the capillaries, followed by slow release from the remaining CBD that is swallowed and digested.