Purchasing cannabidiol (CBD) for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. For those unacquainted with the hemp plant, cannabis and CBD, there is a lot of jargon to get to grips with. Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not involved with the regulation of CBD products, leading some to call the CBD market a ‘wild west’ industry. This means that any claims and statements made about products from brands will not have been evaluated by the FDA. This doesn’t make CBD illegitimate, far from it – but the onus is on the user to find high quality CBD oil, edibles, vape juices and CBD capsules.
This post will serve as your guide to getting effective and good value CBD products. We’ll explain all the key terms that you need to know about, so you can find the most suitable product for your requirements. We’ll also touch on the steps that CBD companies take to prove their authenticity to prospective consumers. All the information provided is based on the current hemp-based CBD market operating in the United States.
Let’s briefly look at the ground we’re going to cover:
- What a CBD-isolate product is
- What a full-spectrum CBD product is
- Why CBD made via supercritical CO2 extraction is better quality
- Why third-party labs test CBD products
- How to use lab-test information to find the best quality CBD oil, capsules and e-liquids
Introducing the two leading types of CBD extract
The CBD legal at federal government level is always made from industrial hemp plant extracts, rather than marijuana. These hemp oil extracts are used because of their rich CBD and low THC content. These hemp-based products deliver the effects of CBD, without the high. However, there are two types of CBD hemp products available: those made with full or broad-spectrum CBD, and those manufactured with CBD-isolate extracts. CBD brands tend to specialize in one or the other, but some companies like to use both for different products.
CBD-isolate products are made with a refined hemp extract that contains only CBD. The extraction separates this cannabinoid from the other compounds (cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids) in hemp, leaving the user with pure CBD. These isolate extracts can then be used to make CBD tinctures, e-liquids, edibles, capsules and syrups, to name just four. There are also CBD concentrates such as crystals, which is essentially just a CBD-isolate extract in crystalline form – CBD levels in crystal concentrates often exceed 99 percent.
CBD-isolate products are the preferred form of CBD for relieving anxiety. This is because the CBD is beneficial as an anxiolytic, but the effects of other hemp compounds – and especially the trace amounts of THC – on anxiety are less certain. CBD-isolate is great for users who want a product that is 100 percent non-intoxicating. While THC levels below 0.3 percent (the legal maximum) aren’t about to get anybody ‘high’, for many, it’s the principle of using a totally non-psychoactive product that appeals.
Then there are users wary about failing a drug test due to THC being detected in the body. This can be a job-ending offense in many workplace environments. And the best way to guarantee that no test, however stringent, picks up any THC in the blood, is to use CBD-isolate products which are THC-free.
Broad or full-spectrum CBD is not just about the benefits of CBD – it brings together all the therapeutic effects that hemp has to offer. CBD and THC aren’t the only two cannabinoids with helpful CBD properties: cannabigerol (CBG) is good for relieving inflammation, and therefore arthritis pain; cannabichromene (CBC) is great for cognitive health, and cannabidivarin (CBDV) alleviates nausea and vomiting symptoms. And best of all, none of these cannabinoids are psychoactive, so are perfectly legal.
The entourage effect is also critical to making full-spectrum CBD stand out. The concept is that cannabinoids are more than simply the sum of their parts when consumed as one, with a unique synergy – the so-called ‘entourage effect – occurring. Cannabinoid scientists are still learning about the subtle effects of CBD, THC, CBG, and more. The ‘entourage effect’ is likely down to how these cannabinoids influence the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Full-spectrum CBD products are completely natural. Whole-plant extracts contain each and every hemp compound. The terpenes in this form of CBD are also very valuable, the exact profile of compound varies from strain to strain. The different terpene combos explain why each hemp strain has a unique taste and aroma.
The only downside for some users is that broad-spectrum CBD does maximize the 0.3 percent THC limit. This means the psychoactive cannabinoid could theoretically be detected in the blood, even though you aren’t getting ‘stoned’. Because of the extra health benefits, full-spectrum CBD is typically more expensive than CBD-isolate.
CBD-isolate + terpenes
This is how CBD brands boost the effects of their products, while keeping the THC level at zero. These CBD products are made by using a regular CBD-isolate extract, and then adding natural terpene essential oils in to give an e-liquid or tincture oil an additional kick. Popular organic terpenes include beta-caryophyllene (BCP) for pain relief, limonene for weight loss, and myrcene for insomnia and general sedative purposes. Terpenes also sweeten CBD products without the need for other natural or artificial flavorings.
What is hemp seed oil?
Hemp seed oil products are also really popular in the wellness industry, nowadays, as a supplement and recipe ingredient. However, products that are simply made with ‘hemp seed oil’ and make no reference to CBD should not be confused for CBD. Hemp seed oil products are still great for your health, as they are teeming with vital omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The reasons for taking omega-3 and CBD supplements are fairly similar. But hemp seed oil doesn’t produce the potent mental and physical benefits that CBD has become renowned for.
What is water-soluble CBD?
Water-soluble CBD products have a higher bioavailability than regular CBD. Revolutionary nanotechnology breaks down each CBD molecule into smaller pieces, so that the cannabinoid can be absorbed by the body in greater quantities. Essentially, this increases the efficiency of CBD consumption. A dose goes much further than it would with standard bioavailability. CBD water is one of the main products right now that uses nanotechnology to make CBD molecules water-soluble. Hemplucid also make a popular water-soluble CBD oil tincture.
Benefits of the supercritical CO2 extraction method
Supercritical CO2 extraction produces cleaner and healthier extracts. CBD products made with solvents have inferior extracts in comparison. But what exactly is CO2 extraction?
CO2 extraction uses carbon dioxide to take the beneficial CBD cannabinoids, and other compounds from the hemp plant. The method works by increasing the pressure on CO2 gas and running it through low temperatures so that it turns into a liquid from a gas. When reheated, the CO2 turns back into a gas but retains many of the qualities that a liquid does. Cannabis or hemp is then exposed to this supercritical CO2, gradually dissolving trichomes so that active compounds in the plant (i.e. CBD) can be separated and captured.
CO2 extraction is complex. But the process makes it easier for scientists and CBD companies to isolate single cannabinoids from the plant. These can then be used to make the CBD-isolate products that have become so popular, and also for research purposes.
Supercritical CO2 extracted CBD products are now the gold standard in the CBD industry. Users favor supercritical CO2 extraction over solvent-extracted products, even though they are more expensive. The former doesn’t contain heavy metals or any harmful byproducts.
Why CBD companies lab-test their products
The FDA does not regulate CBD products – we touched on why earlier. Therefore, when looking for affordable quality CBD oil, it’s important to know what you’re buying. The responsibility has been on legitimate CBD brands to get their products tested – with this separating the best from the worst. In the past, there have been incidents with fake CBD being sold that has a lower amount of CBD than stated, or none at all.
Treat companies that test products themselves with a healthy dose of scepticism. With in-house testing, it’s impossible to truly know whether the claims are accurate. Much better is third-party testing, where manufacturers submit products to an external lab to conduct a thorough analysis.
The most respectable companies make these test results easily available. Ideally, potential customers will be able to access these, in full and for free on the company website. Others only make the report accessible after a purchase. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there is an issue, but it does put a question mark on a brand’s authenticity. Some CBD manufacturers go even further to prove they are up to standard. Green Roads CBD, for instance, make their products in pharmaceutical-grade conditions under a pharmacist’s watch.
Using the lab-test information to purchase authentic CBD products
If purchasing a CBD-isolate product, you’ll want to check for the amount of CBD present and that no THC is detected. For full-spectrum products, ensure that a product meets its requirements on the total milligrams of cannabinoids. Also check that the product has terpenes, and that the THC level is under 0.3 percent.
The best laboratories also test for microbes, heavy metals, pesticides, mold and bacteria, for extra quality assurance. The hemp plant can pick up a few nasty compounds during growth, as it is a bio-accumulator. Non-organic products are also at greater risk of containing harmful byproducts.
How to buy CBD online
How to buy CBD oil? Well, it couldn’t be easier. The process of buying CBD online is as simple as it is with any federally legal product. There are no restrictions on the sale of hemp-based CBD at national level, and nor is a medical cannabis card needed to purchase products.
Just find the e-liquid, edible, oil or concentrate product that you’re looking for, add it to your basket and head to the checkout! Ensure you purchase from a well-known and respected CBD site. The best vendors have lots of reviews to read through. This is a great indication of popularity.
Buying premium CBD really isn’t as difficult as it may sound, once you get an idea about what various products are, and the effects they may have. The wide range of products on the market shows that each form of CBD is unique, and that it holds specific benefits which appeal to certain users.
Is high quality CBD oil for sale offline as well? Yes, many health and grocery stores have started to stock CBD. Although there is generally a much greater selection of products available online. Buying online also gives you more time to compare different products and check over the lab reports. Lots of information about each brand can also be found on the web.