Have you heard of CBD? If you have, then you’re probably wondering what it is, what it does, and whether it lives up to the hype. Those who use it swear that it can do everything from relieving pain to reduce stress—and judging by its seemingly sudden popularity, many people are starting to reap its benefits.
But what is CBD? What are its benefits, and what should you look for when shopping for CBD products? How do you know the company you’ve found is reputable? Are there any red flags you should watch for?
In this piece, we’ll cover everything you could want to know about CBD, including:
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is just one of the more than 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis.
In total, both industrial hemp and marijuana naturally contain over 560 different phytochemicals. These include phytocannabinoids—like cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but you will also find various terpenes, flavonoids, and essential oils rounding out the plant’s phytochemical profile.
Cannabidiol is said to reduce pain, relieve stress, reduce inflammation, and elevate mood. However, some people have found it to be useful in regulating sleep, increasing their appetites, and even in combating tumors.
Because cannabidiol interacts with certain neurotransmitters and binds with certain receptors in the endocannabinoid system, it may also help treat symptoms of:
If you’ve gotten this far, you’re presumably interested in at least trying out CBD for yourself, but how can you tell which CBD companies are reputable?
According to the most recent business forecasts, the CBD industry is slated to exceed $20 billion by the year 2024, and because CBD companies are anxious to carve out a piece of this profitable pie for themselves, entrepreneurs, and corporations alike are developing CBD products at a rapid rate.
Thus, it is entirely up to the consumer to do their due diligence when encountering a prospective CBD vendor. SO, what should you be looking for in a reputable CBD company?
First and foremost, any reputable CBD company should make their lab test results and certificates of analysis freely available. Usually, this comes in the form of a downloadable PDF and may even be separated by your product’s batch number. For a great example of that, click here to see Hemlucid’s lab test results.
If a company does not make their certificates of analysis readily available, exercise extreme caution—industrial hemp—from which most CBD-based products are derived—are phytoremediators.
In other words, industrial hemp plants absorb any metals and other contaminants found in the soil around them. While that’s great for cleaning up a radioactive fallout zone, it’s not so great for your tinctures or edibles.
For this reason, at the bare minimum, a certificate of analysis should test for:
Last but not least, you should always ensure these tests have been carried out by an independent, third-party laboratory to guarantee that the test results are impartial.
Another factor you should take into consideration when buying any CBD products is the extraction method. Essentially, there are two main types of extraction—Supercritical CO2 and solvent-based extraction, e.g., ethanol extraction.
For decades, supercritical CO2 extraction has been used in the food and beverage industry to make decaffeinated coffee and tea. Thus, it is a safe and effective method of extracting cannabidiol from industrial hemp. The carbon dioxide used during the extraction process can also be recycled and reused.
Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is a gas at room temperature. However, once subjected to temperatures of about 88 degrees F (31 degrees C) and a pressure of 1,071 pounds per square inch (PSI), carbon dioxide reaches its supercritical state.
Here, it adopts both the properties of a gas and liquid. More specifically, this supercritical fluid can extract compounds from the plant material like a traditional solvent while passing through it like a gas.
Throughout the CBD industry, supercritical CO2 extraction is considered to be the gold standard. It is highly tunable, which means the temperature and pressure can be adjusted to extract specific compounds.
What’s more, carbon dioxide is remarkably stable and can be released or recompressed once the extraction process is complete. It also leaves behind no residual solvents, which yields a CBD oil extract that is pure.
For this reason, many companies selling high-quality CBD oil extracts will almost always state they use supercritical CO2 in their products.
The industrial hemp is packed into an extraction column. Then, supercritical carbon dioxide is passed through the plant material. The CBD oil extract and CO2 pass into a collection chamber, where they separate into their constituent components, after which the CBD oil is ready for further processing, and carbon dioxide can be reused or released.
The second extraction method for CBD oil is solvent-based extraction.
First, what’s a solvent? To put it simply, a solvent is any substance in a solution that is present in a higher concentration.
For example, if you like putting sugar into your morning coffee, sugar and coffee make a solution. Here, the coffee is the solvent, as there is more of it, and the sugar becomes the solute, which is the substance being dissolved.
While there are several different solvents available to manufacturers, the most common options tend to be ethanol and isopropyl alcohol.
While solvent-based extraction is cheaper and more accessible to smaller CBD producers, it doesn’t always yield the best CBD oil extract, and because these substances are highly flammable, extra precautions need to be taken.
First, the solvents are passed through the industrial hemp. Because of their chemical composition, they extract everything, including the plant waxes, chlorophyll, and cannabinoids.
While companies want to extract the cannabinoids and other phytochemicals, the inclusion of chlorophyll is less than desirable. Chlorophyll can cause the resulting CBD oil extract to have a bitter, unpleasant taste.
The next thing you are likely to encounter when shopping for CBD products are the terms:
These terms refer to the number of other cannabinoids and phytochemicals present in your CBD oil.
As the name suggests, CBD isolate is pure cannabidiol, and because it’s pure CBD, there will be no psychoactive effects. If you are supplementing your diet with CBD isolate, then you shouldn’t test positive for THC on a drug screen, either.
In broad-spectrum CBD oil extracts, all the original terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids in the industrial hemp have been kept intact. However, during the extraction process, all the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been removed. Most likely, those taking broad-spectrum CBD oil extracts will pass a drug screen.
Unlike either CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD oil extract, full-spectrum CBD oil contains THC. However, because it is derived from industrial hemp, there will be no more than 0.3 percent THC.
According to popular hemp and marijuana lore, full-spectrum oil is best. Because it has all the necessary cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids found in the original plant, these compounds interact synergistically to produce the entourage effect. This simply describes the phenomenon whereby all of the hemp’s phytochemicals work in concert to bring about health and wellness.
Still, it should be noted that this could cause you to fail a drug screen, as they test for THC. For this reason, do be aware when supplementing your diet with full-spectrum CBD oil extracts.
When you first try CBD, you’ll want to read the label and consider a few factors.
First, you’ll want to check the potency of the CBD product you’ve bought or are considering. For example, the label on this NuLeaf Naturals 4,850mg CBD Oil contains:
Once you’ve read the label and accounted for the product’s potency, you’ll then want to consider why you’re using CBD oil extract. This is important because, for instance, someone seeking maximum pain relief is going to need a larger dose of high-potency CBD oil than someone without chronic pain.
Then, you’ll want to consider the type of CBD you’re taking. Generally speaking, while edibles typically have the most prolonged effect, taking CBD via inhalation yields the most bioavailable CBD.
As you’re researching various CBD products, you’ll come across the term bioavailability, but what is it, and why does it matter?
Bioavailability refers to how much of a substance—cannabidiol, in this case—is present in the bloodstream and available to your body. The more bioavailable a CBD product is, the less you’ll need to use for it to take effect.
In general, inhalation yields the most bioavailable cannabidiol. According to a 2007 meta-analysis by Marilyn A. Huestis, taking CBD through something like a vape pen has a bioavailability of about 56 percent.
The next most bioavailable form of cannabidiol occurs in tinctures. Holding a CBD oil extract as a tincture under your tongue has a bioavailability of up to 35 percent.
Unfortunately, as you expand into other methods, such as oral ingestion and transdermal application, cannabidiol’s bioavailability decreases. Oral ingestion through edibles and beverages has a bioavailability of up to 10 percent.
Why? Because anything you ingest passes through the digestive system before it even circulates through your blood. Because both the chloric acid in the stomach and the liver act upon the cannabidiol, CBD products taken through oral ingestion will take longer to produce results and may not be as effective.
So, now that you know what to look for in a potential CBD product, are there any red flags to look out for when buying from the plethora of CBD companies? Yes, and the red flags are less obvious than you would expect.
At the top of this list is the very real danger of ingesting synthetic cannabinoids. These are also known as cannabimimetics, but on the street, they’re more colloquially referred to as K2, Special K, herbal incense, or Spice.
These substances mimic natural cannabinoids by binding with the receptors in your brain. While they produce similar effects to the real thing, they pose a very real danger to anyone with preexisting cardiovascular conditions and can induce acute psychosis.
Because this synthetic cannabis starts impacting the user at much lower doses, anyone unaware of the fact they’re ingesting or vaping something containing Special K will be startled, at the very least.
If you accidentally ingest something with Special K, some of the not-so-nice symptoms are:
Another synthetic additive you should be aware of is dextromethorphan, which is also known as DXM. DXM is most commonly found in cough medicine and other medications used to bring down fevers.
At pharmacies, you’ll most often see it under these brand names, among others:
However, it may also be found in combination with other medications, such as:
Typically, dextromethorphan is used as a cough suppressant either alone or in conjunction with other chemicals. When taken recreationally, it can produce a range of symptoms, depending on how much a person takes. These include:
While consumers should always, always look for certificates of analysis from any potential company, these won’t help in detecting either DXM or synthetic cannabinoids—labs only test samples for their potency, microbial contamination, heavy metal contamination, and so forth. So, in theory, a CBD business may have legitimate COAs and still contain these substances.
Because the CBD industry is just now coming into its own and not well-regulated, you, the consumer, must work doubly hard to verify a company’s legitimacy. A simple rule of thumb is that if a company yields 20 results from legitimate news outlets and trade journals after a search engine search, then it’s most likely safe.
With that in mind, be wary of review sites that offer coupon codes or have affiliate relationships with the companies in question. Most of the time, the views expressed are honest, but if the review is unusually positive, then you should take the extra step to verify their claims.
As we mentioned earlier, the location from which a CBD company grows or sources its hemp is very important. Because industrial hemp is a phytoremediator, it absorbs everything from the soil in which it is grown. Therefore, if the soil quality was poor, then the resulting CBD oil extract will be inferior as well.
Ideally, a CBD company should disclose the location of the fields where their industrial hemp is grown and the process by which they monitor their plants for quality. Functional Remedies, for instance, owns their farm. What’s more, they’ve developed their proprietary strain of single-origin hemp.
Functional Remedies prides itself on being one of the few, if not only, vertically-integrated CBD companies. This means they have full control over every facet of production, CBD oil extraction, and packaging. Lastly, customers can view certificates of analysis based upon the product’s lot number.
Last, but certainly not least, the ways in which you can use CBD oil are almost endless. From edibles and tinctures to vape pens, topicals, and cosmetics, cannabidiol is seemingly everywhere. Read on as we explore the various ways in which you can incorporate CBD for a healthier, more tranquil life.
As in all other herbal tinctures, a cannabidiol tincture is made by steeping the plant material in high-proof alcohol.
Then, more of the compounds are drawn out by hours of low-heat cooking. Once that process is complete, the liquid is strained, and the high-potency CBD tincture is mixed with a carrier oil.
While some believe carrier oils aid in the body’s absorption of cannabidiol, they also mask the bitter, earthy taste of potent CBD oil. Typically, companies will sell either unflavored tinctures or flavored ones with orange, peppermint, or coconut oils.
For best results, follow the product’s dosing instructions. Usually, CBD tinctures include a dropper and will specify how many drops to take per dose.
When taking a tincture under your tongue, remember to:
Another popular method for using CBD oil is through edibles and beverages. Whether taken in a gummy form or mixed into smoothies or coffee, it’s a convenient, unobtrusive way to incorporate CBD into your daily life.
The ways to incorporate CBD oil extracts into your lunches, morning coffees, afternoon teas, and smoothies are limited only by your imagination, but when cooking with CBD, keep these tips in mind.
That being said, if you want a convenient, flavorless, pre-dosed method of taking CBD, gel capsules, or soft gels like these, are a great option.
The next way of using CBD oil extract is trans-dermally or via topicals, like patches, lotions, and cosmetics.
Products like this CBD-infused Comfort Cream often use CBD oil extract in conjunction with other essential oils for a full-body, therapeutic experience. While some people use CBD-infused topicals to moisturize their skin, most use it to ease muscle pain and joint soreness while facilitating the healing of sports injuries.
But should you want a DIY spa day, there are also CBD-infused topicals that are designed with that in mind too. This body scrub, for instance, combines a CBD isolate with brown sugar, apricot kernel, and rose oils.
Last but not least, inhalation yields the most bioavailable CBD oil. Inhalation provides fast relief, and the vape juice can be flavored, which makes for a pleasant CBD experience.
In vaping, cannabidiol is blended with other terpenes, and in this case, a special blend of other essential oils. Then, this e-liquid is heated by the vape pen’s battery to about 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).
This process turns the e-liquid into a vapor that is inhaled. The heat decarboxylates the cannabinoids, which transforms them into a form more readily absorbed by the body.
To ensure that you’re making the most of cannabidiol, follow these steps when vaping:
CBD oil extract is a versatile, safe health supplement that may help relieve pain, elevate mood, and provide overall feelings of wellness. Whether you choose to take it sublingually, mix it into your food, or use a vape pen, there are many ways to incorporate CBD into your life.
But with so many companies out there, be sure to always do your due diligence before buying. As you come across a potential CBD company, check for: