A 5 Step Guide to Making the Most Informed CBD Oil Purchasing Decision
As medical marijuana and CBD products continue to be legalized across the country, the benefits of cannabinoids are becoming a real solution to treat the symptoms of pain, anxiety, inflammation, sleep disorders, and more. There has also been an insurgence of products sourced from cannabis available on the market which range widely in form, quality, manufacturer, and legality by state or local regulations.
Research continues to develop and finding the right product that alleviates symptoms can be an undertaking in itself. Not enough research has been conducted to truly unlock the full potential of CBD, THC, and other cannabis derived products, but it’s clear that people around the country are finding relief from these products with significantly less risk of side effects than with prescription drugs.
If you’re looking to purchase CBD products, you’ll first need to know the answers to these questions:
- What is CBD Oil?
- What are the Benefits to CBD Oil?
- What Defines Quality of CBD Products?
- Who Makes CBD Oil?
- What is CBD Concentration?
1. What is CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid, or a chemical that is found in a cannabis plant. While there are more than 80 known cannabinoids in a cannabis plant, the other commonly known substance in cannabis products is THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. This chemical is commonly associated with the high and mind-altering feelings from consuming or smoking marijuana. Both marijuana and hemp come from the same cannabis species, but marijuana has been cultivated over generations to have a higher concentration of THC. Both chemicals are naturally occurring in the cannabis plant, but the majority of CBD oil is sourced from hemp.
The differentiation between CBD oil and marijuana products is the concentration of THC. CBD oil must contain less than 0.3% THC to be considered legal in most states. This way, users experience the benefits of cannabis without psychoactive effects of marijuana. Products with more than 0.3% THC are labeled marijuana. Some forms can contain up to 30% THC, because strains have been breed for generations to contain a higher amount of THC.
Especially if you’re in a state where marijuana is legal for recreational or medicinal use, you might find a CBD oil with a higher percentage of THC. As you look to purchase a product, be sure to check for a low THC product if you want to eliminate the high associated with marijuana. Products with a significant concentration of THC are only available for legal purchase at marijuana dispensaries that are licensed or managed by the state, in accordance with the state’s law.
While the law is murky at best for hemp products, it’s widely available in a low concentration of THC without prescription or medical marijuana card. Especially with the passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014, or the Farm Bill, questions on the legality of CBD products have been given more clarity, as restrictions on the production of commercial hemp were removed. here are four states where marijuana-based CBD products are still illegal: Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, and South Dakota.
However, marijuana products remain a Schedule I drug by the DEA, even where legal by state law, meaning it has the potential for abuse and has no medical benefit. While it’s unpoliced and unprosecuted in states that have legalized marijuana, there is still the potential for legal trouble for possession or distribution of products derived from cannabis.
In addition, most drug tests commonly look for THC, not CBD. There are some exceptions, however, and drug test failures may still occur if a person is consuming very large amounts of CBD oil. CBD is in compliance with the the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration guidelines, which most workplaces use as the standard when conducting drug tests.
Therefore, to alleviate legal worry with CBD and to eliminate the risk of psychoactive effects from your product, CBD oil with less than 0.3% THC content made of industrial hemp is your best bet. As always, it’s important to understand your state’s laws and consult with a healthcare professional to make the decision that’s best for your location and your health care needs.
2. What Are the Benefits of CBD Oil?
It’s been believed for centuries that CBD can help with pain symptoms. It was used in ancient Greece, China, India, Egypt and more as a medial remedy for pain. However, by the early 1930s, products sourced from the plant were made illegal in most US states before being federally regulated in 1937. Prohibition stirred fear and public opinion of mind-altering substances and many drugs that were previously available were regulated during this period of American history.
In the past decade, not only CBD but THC products have been legalized in some states for recreational and medical use. While there’s still significant research to be done into products sourced from cannabis, medical research has increased over the past few decades with legalization. Studies have shown that many chronic pain sufferers can benefit from CBD. The cannabinoid is known to interact with neurotransmitters, which can affect the management of symptoms from several conditions.
As research emerges into CBD’s effect on the neurological conditions, promising results have been experienced by patients with epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. CBD is thought to be a neuroprotector, which shields the nervous system from damage and loss. Studies have shown that CBD can reduce seizures in epilepsy patients and improve quality of life for those with Parkinson’s disease.
In the United States, groundbreaking research has lead to a drug called Epidiolex, which was recently approved by the FDA in June 2018. This drug has been approved for treatment of two childhood epilepsy disorders. Patients 2 years and older with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome can now use Epidiolex for the treatment of seizures, making the drug the first approved medication that contains a purified drug derived from marijuana in the United States.
Studies are pointing to CBD as a treatment for pain related to multiple sclerosis, the sciatic nerve, inflammation, arthritis, and more. In fact, several countries like Switzerland have approved an oral spray called Sativex, which has both CBD and THC, for multiple sclerosis patients. Even for non-THC products, chronic pain could be relieved by CBD oil because of the chemical’s known anti-inflammatory properties.
Misuse and addiction to prescription painkillers have become an epidemic, and many people are turning to CBD oil to provide relief without the dangerous side effects of opioids. CBD products have shown a much less risk of side effects, which may include dry mouth, within normal concentrations and dosages of the products. As a natural remedy for pain, CBD is an attractive solution for many chronic suffers in the United States to avoid addition to an opiod drug.
Social Anxiety Disorders
In addition, studies are now emerging about the benefits of CBD for those with anxiety and depression - an alternative to traditional pharmaceutical drugs, which can be cost-prohibitive and have wide ranging symptoms. In one study, patients with a social anxiety disorder who received 600 mg of CBD experienced significantly less anxiety and discomfort during a public speaking exercise than those who received a placebo. CBD is also being tested as an antidepressant, because of its properties as an actor on serotonin and in the brain.
CBD also has the potential to alleviate pain in cancer patients. For example, nausea, pain, and vomiting are often side effects of chemotherapy or radiation, which CBD is known to help manage. More studies are needed to understand CBD’s potential in treating cancer patients, but initial testing is optimistic. Some research is even testing whether CBD and marijuana-derived products can slow the spread of cancer cells.
Some patients also experience better sleep by using CBD oil. People report feeling more well rested without the groggy feelings associated with other sleep aids. Especially for people with anxiety, research is emerging about the calming effects of CBD on the body’s natural systems, aiding healthy sleep patterns.
3. What Defines Quality of CBD Products?
A higher price tag is not always a measure of quality, but it’s an indication that the product was created in the right ways and at a more potent concentration. It costs more money to produce a quality CBD product because of the extraction method, farming practices, testing, and legal compliance needed to ensure quality.
There are several ways to extract CBD, and the CO2 extraction method is quickly becoming a industry-leading technology. While this method of extraction was applied to other products before being introduced to the CBD industry, this process does require more expensive equipment and more specialized knowledge. The CO2 extraction process also does not leave behind solvents that may be harmful to the consumer. For example, some extraction may use propane, butane, or other volatile chemicals. The end product created with these methods can contain trace amounts that could be harmful to the consumer.
In addition, CBD oil may cost more if it was grown organically and domestically in the United States. If not grown organically, there is a risk of illness or side effects from pesticides and other chemicals used to treat a plant. Hemp is particularly susceptible to absorbing chemicals and products that are used on the plant, which can be passed on to the user through consumption. The location of the farm is also essential, because legally, domestic farms are acceptable for CBD products, but those sourced internationally run into more legal ambiguity and risk.
Testing and compliance with laws is also an important part of product development, but will result in a higher priced product. Always choose a product that’s been thoroughly tested to ensure the product’s concentration is listed correctly and is truly CBD oil and not a synthetic substance. Look for products that have been tested by an independent third party, which should inform the consumer of the presence of other substances like pesticides or residue from extraction. In addition, it’s not enough for one test to be performed on a single batch. Reputable CBD will have multiple tests which are ongoing and published.
Therefore, it’s not recommended to simply buy the cheapest product on the shelf, because not all CBD products are created equal.
4. Who Makes CBD Oil?
Since the FDA does not regulate the production of CBD products, you need to do your research on the company producing the CBD you’re looking to purchase. There are so many companies today that produce CBD, and many are new to the market with the uptick of popularity of the product. Your best bet is to find a company that is reputable by looking for transparency in labeling, the website, and old-fashioned methods, like having a phone line and contact information.
Frequent testing and transparent information by the company are the only ways to really know what you’re getting from CBD products. Many reputable companies list results of testing on their websites. Only purchase products with these results readily available to the consumer.
A great way to check a company’s reputation is by looking closely at the label. If the product does not clearly list information, like concentration of CBD and/or THC, the product should not be purchased. Likely, it has a much lower concentration of CBD than a quality product, or it’s made by a company that’s not transparent or honest. It also may contain a synthetic substance and not real CBD oil, which has been known to cause more adverse side effects for the consumer.
It’s also important to look at a company’s claims. There is only one FDA approved prescription drug that is derived from cannabis (Epidiolex), and therefore, specific medical claims are illegal. If a company is making specific claims about a product’s ability to treat anxiety, for example, it’s probably not a reputable company. Not enough testing has been done to provide specific medical claims, so any claims made by the companies are false advertising.
If you’re looking for find more information than what’s listed online or on a label, call the business. Ask questions, like where the hemp was grown, to ensure you’re receiving a domestic product. Reputable companies will be able to tell you more information about their processes and sourcing. If they can’t answer your questions, it might be time to look for a different source of CBD products.
5. What is CBD Concentration?
CBD is extracted as an oil or powder from the cannabis plant is then turned into a variety of products, including isolates, crystals, waxes, oils, creams, liquids, gummies, pills, tinctures, and more. Another benefit of CBD is that it’s easy to take. No matter your preferences, there are several options to administer CBD. While you may find a preferred form of CBD oil, understanding concentration can help you purchase products in a variety of forms or from different brands.
CBD oils are prone to being diluted for cheaper packages. To compare across packaging, first, check to see what the total amount of CBD is contained in the product. Then, see what the total weight or size of the product is. For example, 250 mg of CBD oil in a four ounce bottle is 62.5mg/oz. If you find a five ounce bottle with 500 mg of CBD, you’re getting a higher concentration in the second bottle. Looking at the milligrams of CBD in your product can help you compare between forms and inconsistent packaging sizes.
You also may find that certain forms of CBD are easier to measure than others. For example, CBD pills or oil drops have clear labeling for concentration. But, with a vape or cream, the amount of CBD you are exposed to may vary simply if you are heavy handed in the application or take a longer pull off a vape pen. As you become a more frequent user of CBD, you’ll get to know the forms and concentrations that are right for you. It may take a little work to become comfortable with these features of CBD oil.
Typically, you’ll want to start with lower concentrations and work your way higher as your get comfortable with the product and its effects. It’s also important to consult your health professional on the right course of treatment if you are using CBD oils regularly. A low dosage is typically 250 - 500 mg. Higher concentrations are 1,000 mg or more. The recommended mg of CBD varies by each person’s individual body and reaction to the product. Factors like height and weight can also determine how much is right for a specific person.
Because of the wide variety of products available and the emerging information on CBD, it’s important to do your research. Before you buy, be sure you can answer the five questions in this guide for your CBD oil. When in doubt, it’s always important to consult a medical professional and the company directly to ensure you’re receiving the product that will meet your needs.