CBD is everywhere: you can find it on the shelves of pharmacies, supermarkets, natural health shops, and even beauty stores and pet shops. Unfortunately, high quality CBD can be much harder to come by. Some products don’t have the potency they claim to have, while others aren’t easily absorbed by the body. So how do you make sure that the CBD oil you want to buy is up to standards? And what are some things you should avoid? We’ve put together this little guide to help you navigate the world of CBD products.
What you want
To start with, it’s a good idea to look at how the hemp behind your CBD product has been grown. Non-organic hemp will inevitably result in a product that contains chemicals, pesticides, and heavy metals. You may pay a higher price for an organic product—but it’s important in order to ensure that your CBD product is as safe and natural as possible.
CO2 extraction is one of the most expensive ways to extract CBD, but it’s the one you should be looking for. CBD products that have been CO2 extracted don’t contain traces of solvents and they tend to taste better. Whenever possible, aim to choose a product that uses this method of extraction.
A broad-spectrum product
Hemp can be a great medicinal ingredient because of its high CBD content. But CBD is far from being the only compound found in cannabis. There are over 100 different cannabinoids in hemp, as well as terpenes, essential fatty acids and amino acids. All of these compounds work hand in hand, giving you a wealth of health benefits. That’s why broad-spectrum CBD, which contains all of these useful compounds, is generally the best choice.
The only reason you may want to avoid it is that it generally contains small traces of THC. Although these aren’t nearly enough to make you high, they could cause you to fail a drug test.
CBD companies don’t always respect quality standards. For example, they may claim that their product contains more CBD than it actually does. They may also lie about its THC content. In general, you can’t trust what the manufacturer says.
That’s why the most reputable CBD companies all use third-party testing. They send every new batch of CBD oil, extract, or other products that they make to an independent laboratory. The product is then tested for its CBD and THC content, and for traces of solvents or heavy metals. The independent laboratory issues a lab report, which the CBD company should make available to potential clients.
When looking for good quality CBD products, only buy from a company that uses third-party testing. And of course, it may be useful to learn how to read a lab report so you can judge the quality for yourself too.
Bioavailability refers to the ability of a product to be absorbed by your body. Unfortunately, not every type of CBD product is very bioavailable. For example, smoking or vaping CBD is a great way to make sure that it enters your bloodstream fast and reliably. On the other end of the spectrum, something like a CBD capsule has relatively low bioavailability. When you ingest it, only part of it will be processed by your body. The rest will go to waste. So when it comes to choosing the best CBD product, the type of product that you go for matters. Products with high bioavailability include:
- Sublingual drops
- Some sprays (with smaller particles)
- Vaping oils
- Pure CBD flower (to be smoked)
- Transdermal patches
- CBD creams and salves
Products with relatively low bioavailability include:
- CBD oil drops (unless they are placed under the tongue)
- Some sprays (with larger particles)
- CBD capsules
- CBD edibles like gummies or cookies
Dark glass containers
Many CBD consumers don’t know that CBD oil is actually a perishable product. With time, some of its cannabinoids dissipate into the air. To halt that process, you should choose a product that is packaged in a solid glass bottle. Because UV light can also damage CBD, try to choose a product that is packaged in a dark-colored bottle.
Finally, keep in mind that you shouldn’t keep a bottle for more than a couple of months. You may get a better deal on a larger bottle than on a smaller one. But if it takes you a year to go through a larger bottle of CBD oil, it’s not worth it—after six months, the oil will already have lost some of its potency.
What you don’t want
If you can’t find an organic label on your CBD product, it is likely to contain pesticides and potentially harmful chemicals. As much as possible, try to stay away from these and find organic CBD products instead.
CBD extracted with solvents
Solvent extraction is one of the most popular ways to extract CBD from cannabis, mainly because it is a very cheap option. Using that method, alcohol, ethanol, propane or other solvents are used to dissolve cannabis fibers and extract the CBD. Solvent extraction should be avoided because it dissolves the cannabis wax, which contains useful nutrients. It can also leave a chemical residue in your CBD oil, making it less pure.
To sell their products, most CBD companies will claim that it is “top-quality,” “very potent” and “highly bioavailable.” These claims mean nothing without third-party lab reports to back them up. When you come across products that make these claims without linking to independent quality certificates, take it as a red flag. This company may be taking advantage of buyers’ naivete to sell products that are sub-par.
Clear or plastic containers
CBD oil is a product with a shelf life. When packaged in plastic or in clear packaging, it’s likely to lose its potency much sooner. To avoid that, choose a product that is packaged in dark-colored glass.
We know, this is a lot to think about! But if you consider the price you are paying for CBD products, it’s worth making sure that they actually work. There are lots of reputable CBD companies out there. But to be able to find them among hundreds of others claiming to make “the best CBD products,” you’ll have to use some critical reasoning.
To sum things up, good CBD products:
- Use organic hemp
- Use CO2 extraction
- Have a range of cannabinoids and terpenes (broad-spectrum)
- Use third-party testing