How to choose the best CBD oil for your needs
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a supplement that has been exploding in popularity over the last few years with everyone from celebrities to world-class athletes touting the benefits of its usage and launching their own brands.
There are now countless CBD brands in operation today, each making a wide variety of common (and occasionally unique) CBD products. These products can range in variety from vaporizer cartridges to CBD infused gummies or even body lotions. CBD oil is found in a near limitless number of varieties.
The problem for many consumers is that this variety can make it extremely hard to find the products that are best suited to their needs. With so much noise in the market, it can be difficult to find any sort of clarity.
To help you out, we have put together this simple guide to the world of CBD, the forms it takes, and what you can expect with its usage. By the end you should have a much better idea of the type of CBD oil product that is perfect for you.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found within the cannabis plant and was first discovered in 1940. CBD is only one of over a hundred cannabinoids that scientists have identified within the cannabis plant, to include the other famous compound THC.
THC and CBD are the cannabinoids found most abundant within the cannabis plant, and though they share many similarities they can interact very differently within our bodies. The most obvious difference is that CBD is non-psychoactive and will not cause a “high” while THC is psychoactive and is known for causing the “high” associated with marijuana usage.
- CBD is non-psychoactive and does not cause a “high” feeling.
- According to the World Health Organization: “CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence …. there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with CBD.”
CBD interacts with our body through the receptors in our endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system extends throughout our body, and this is thought to explain the many potential benefits that are ascribed to CBD usage and the way the compound seems to interact with very different parts of the body in meaningful ways.
Marijuana and Hemp
The cannabis plant can be divided between two families of plants. The terms heavily depend on the legal phrasing of the area you are in, but basically marijuana plants have a high concentration of THC and a relatively low amount of CBD while hemp plants have a very low amount of THC and a high amount of CBD.
Cannabis dates back to Central Asia, with the earliest records recording it as far back as 2800 BCE in China. Early in the first millennium, hemp was a huge crop in Europe and it would become a staple of the Americas by the 16th century. The plant can easily grow in most regions of the United States and Europe and can be fashioned into a huge variety of useful products.
Hemp is relatively easy to grow and is a hardy plant, making it a good choice for organic cultivation. Once harvested, hemp plants are kept out of direct sunlight and in a well ventilated area. The flowers are removed and used to create CBD oil. The curing process can take upwards of a month.
From there, the CBD is then extracted from the flowers using one of the processes we will get into later before it is either then bottled and sold or infused into something else, like a food, to create one of the many CBD products on virtual and physical store shelves.
Full-Spectrum CBD or CBD Isolates?
One of the first decisions you will need to make regarding the type of CBD oil you will want, is to decide if a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD, or a CBD isolate is better for your purposes. By answering this question we will also be able to more fully understand how CBD interacts with our bodies.
Product formats you will find involving CBD purity:
- CBD isolate is a product that contains only CBD. This is almost always sold in some form of powder or oil format.
- Broad-spectrum CBD is a CBD product that contains CBD as well as many of the other cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other natural compounds found in the hemp plant. However, broad-spectrum oils will generally have the THC removed.
- Full-spectrum CBD is a CBD product that contains CBD as well as all of the other natural compounds found within the hemp plant (including minute trace amounts of THC).
The Entourage effect
So why would anyone want a full-spectrum product instead of a CBD isolate? Wouldn’t you want more CBD per ounce of product you use in order to maximize the effects? Well the answer may surprise you.
The cannabinoids found in hemp such as CBD, CBG, and THC as well as the flavonoids, terpenes, and other natural compounds have been found to have a unique way of interacting with one another once they are inside of our bodies.
Several studies have shown that these compounds, when taken together, have a synergistic effect and are able to greatly enhance their own natural potency. This unique synergistic effect is known as the entourage effect. What this means, is that a full-spectrum CBD seems to have much more pronounced effects on the body in terms of the desired effects.
While the entourage effect means that a full-spectrum CBD product may have more powerful effects, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the preferable option for all shoppers. Many prefer to stay away from THC altogether and get a broad-spectrum oil (a nice middle ground) while others seek only pure CBD for a variety of reasons.
Does CBD show up on a drug test?
Related to the debate between full-spectrum CBD and isolates are the infamous drug tests. While no drug test tests for CBD, and CBD will not cause you to fail a drug test, THC is another story. Most well-made CBD products do not contain enough THC to cause you to fail a drug test, but there have been cases of faulty made products resulting in drug tests showing certain levels of THC.
So, CBD does not show up on a drug test but THC does. If your product is poorly made, it may contain amounts of THC that are larger than expected. At the same time, many people do not want to buy a CBD isolate because they still want to benefit from the entourage effect. This is why broad-spectrum products exist as they still contain many cannabinoids and terpenes but the THC has been removed.
CBD oil and hemp seed oil
Another labeling issue that can regularly cause confusion is hemp seed oil versus CBD oil. As we have gone over, CBD is derived from hemp, and of course so are hemp seeds. However, hemp seed oil and CBD are very different products. Hemp seed oil contains many nutrients but has absolutely no CBD or any other cannabinoid for that matter.
CBD oil is taken from the flowers of the hemp plant which are full of terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids.
Choosing a CBD oil product
Now that we understand the basics of CBD and the chemical formats it is found in, we can begin to break down the various types of products that contain CBD oil and what you should look for in a quality brand.
There are a near limitless number of CBD products on store shelves these days. As stated before, there are now hundreds if not thousands of brands all coming out with a variety of products each month. On top of these waves of releases, government oversight is just starting to catch hold so you have to take it upon yourself to ensure the products you're buying are safe.
The best way to ensure a product is safe and a brand can be trusted is to look for companies that offer you the lab reports on their website. When a lab report is offered by a third-party you can be sure that the product you are consuming contains exactly what the label states.
Set your goals with CBD
The first step towards finding the CBD product that suits your needs is to decide exactly why you are taking CBD. The reason for taking CBD will heavily dictate the format, type and amount of CBD you will want to take. While we cannot make any claims towards medical advantages and CBD, there is a great deal of professional literature on the topic published in reputable journals that are easily accessible online.
CBD product types
There are many different product types and ways to consume CBD oil. These are the most common.
CBD edibles are the fastest growing segment of the CBD market and for good reason. CBD edibles are easy to take, can be traveled with and consumed with little fuss, and the effects tend to last longer (although a good amount of the CBD is lost to the digestive system before it enters the bloodstream). There are tons of foods and drinks that contain CBD ranging from sodas to syrups and honeys.
CBD oils and tinctures
CBD oils can be used in a variety of ways, and the same goes for a tincture. A tincture is when you infuse CBD into an alcohol base to form a potent solution. Both CBD oil and CBD tinctures can be taken with food or drinks in an edible format, or can be taken sublingually by being held under the tongue for about a minute. When taken sublingually, the effects of CBD are near immediate.
Interestingly enough, CBD can also be used in topical creams and absorbed through the skin. These CBD creams are very popular amongst athletes and those with various muscle and joint pains. All you need to do is apply the topical cream to the area where you want the CBD to take effect, and you will feel the cream go to work in a matter of minutes.
CBD vapes and smokable flower
While vaporizer and smoking a burning product are very different when it comes to the long-term health of your body, both formats provide CBD that can be absorbed through the lungs and delivered directly into the bloodstream. Like the sublingual method, smoking CBD allows it to take effect within a handful of minutes.
CBD capsules are similar to modern medicines that you swallow with a glass of water. The capsule will then dissolve in the stomach releasing the concentrated CBD contents. CBD capsules are very similar to edibles except you do not need to eat a food in order to benefit from the CBD. Like edibles, capsules can take up to 2 hours to begin to work.
How long do the effects of CBD last?
Something else that may dictate the type of product you opt for, is the amount of time the product will remain in effect in your system. CBD affects everyone differently, but you can make some basic assumptions about the timetables to expect based upon the product type in question.
- CBD tinctures can be expected to last somewhere between four and six hours.
- CBD topicals when applied to the skin will slowly absorb and take effect. These creams can take about 20 minutes to begin to kick in, but can last for up to six hours!
- Smoking and vaping CBD products will take effect almost immediately and can be expected to last for about 2-3 hours.
- Edibles and capsules will take the longest to go into effect, as they must pass through the digestive system before entering the bloodstream, but they will also tend to last the longest, generally upwards of six hours
Choose a CBD concentration
Another important factor to consider is the concentration of the CBD you will be taking. This refers to the potency per volume of CBD you consume. There are many different types of potency with CBD and they are typically measured with milligrams. For some people a small dosage of 5-10mg is plenty, while larger people or those with a natural tolerance may need upwards of 50 mg per dosage.
You will want to start small and slow until you begin to understand how the CBD will affect you when you take it. From there you can begin to gradually increase the dosage as time goes along. Be patient and make sure you understand how long it takes for the CBD to begin to act within your body as well so you don't just keep taking the product needlessly.
Comparing your options
Once you have narrowed down your options and decided on the type of product you want, you will then need to decide where you will source this product. In many ways, this can be just as complex as the previous checklist.
Do your research on the brands you buy from
There are a ton of brands in existence today and the quality difference between them can be astronomical. Some brands provide products with meticulously measured ingredients and lab-supported testing, while other brands have been found to be offering products that are nowhere near what the label claims. Make sure you look up the history of the brand in question and their reputation for quality, customer service, and pricing.
What type of Hemp is being used?
Another important factor to consider is the type of hemp that is being used in the product you are consuming. Many people prefer to opt for only organic hemp, since hemp is known to be a bioaccumulator, meaning it readily absorbs many of the nutrients and chemicals in the surrounding soil and air. The best products seem to come from organic hemp farms located in the Western United States or Europe.
Look for certificates of analysis (COA)
As we went over before, a certificate of analysis allows you to see precisely what is in the product down to the exact chemical level so there is absolutely no mystery involved. The most trustworthy brands will offer you this analysis for free on their website and many consumers will not buy a CBD product unless they can see this type of analysis from a third-party laboratory.
You want a COA from a third-party lab because that means that the lab has no financial incentive to make the product they are reporting on look better than it really is.
How was the CBD extracted?
After the hemp is harvested, the CBD must be extracted in order to make the vast variety of products that we have covered. There are actually quite a few ways that CBD is extracted from hemp and each method has its own benefits and drawbacks.
The most common form of extraction is CO2 extraction where pressurized carbon dioxide removes cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant without the need for heating or toxic solvents.
There is also ethanol extraction which is used to make a wide variety of traditional tinctures. The downside is that this method is harder to replicate on a mass production scale and the alcohol is very flammable making packing and shipping more of an issue. However, both ethanol and CO2 extraction provide a very pure and potent CBD product.
Another method, which is also the riskiest and cheapest, is extraction via hydrocarbon solvents. These are potentially harmful solvents that are used to extract CBD and then must be purged from the final product before consumption. These chemicals include butane, and propane. If you opt for a product that uses this extraction type you must be sure to ask for a third-party lab test for safety reasons.
CBD and your diet
Something that is rarely mentioned, but can play a large role in how CBD interacts with you is your diet. Depending on your diet and the foods you take in tandem with your CBD, you may find that some products are either much more or much less potent -especially if you are taking CBD capsules or edibles.
The reason for this is the fact that many foods can tweak how your metabolism and endocannabinoid system are functioning. For example, many experts have speculated that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help to enhance and boost your ECS system, meaning that such a diet will amplify your body's ability to absorb and use CBD.
Consider the foods you eat and do some research into how they may be affecting the potency and absorption rate of CBD. By understanding these types of factors you will be able to better gauge the potency of the products you test.
Why shop for CBD online?
The last thing to consider is where you are purchasing the CBD. Is it better to go to a local shop or to buy the product online? The answer to this will really depend on the shops and brands in question. Many storefronts carry less than reputable bands and many online shops are amongst the eBay of the world.
Something to consider though is that the overhead for an online store is generally considerably less, and therefore so is the mark-up. In most cases, you will be able to get better prices if you source your CBD from a well-researched online shop rather than a local high street establishment. However, regardless of price, many prefer to support their local communities.
You can buy CBD oil products from Blessed CBD/Vibes CBD via the Reader’s Digest CBD shop, or read our buyer’s guides of the best CBD oils and best CBD gummies.
Are you ready to get CBD of your own?
As you can see, finding the perfect CBD for your needs can be a complex decision with many factors and choices to weigh. The secret is to not overthink it. Figure out roughly what you need, and give it a try. From there, you will be able to better adjust your purchases to find the item that is just right for you. It will likely take a bit of experimenting, and your personal tastes are also likely to change over time.
So good luck, and enjoy your CBD experience!
5. Blessed CBD: Available in UK (https://blessedcbd.co.uk), Germany (https://blessedcbd.de), USA (https://blessedcbd.com)
Keep up with the top stories from Reader’s Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.
Loading up next...