Is there anything in the wellness sector right now that is as popular as CBD? With everything from CBD bath bombs and protein powder to CBD lube being marketed on every corner of the internet, the business is expanding with what is lovingly referred to as the “green boom.” There’s no need to go for a local dispensary because CBD is legal everywhere and can be purchased with few restrictions online.
When Purchasing CBD Becomes Difficult
Buyers beware: while many excellent cannabis-based health and wellness products are available, CBD is still relatively new and thus unregulated. The FDA does not strictly supervise the manufacture and distribution, similar to nutritional supplements, so brands aren’t under tight scrutiny regarding how they concoct, label, and market their cannabis concoctions.
“There’s a lot of fantastic innovation going on right now,” said Joel Stanley, chairman and one of the creators of Charlotte’s Web CBD oil. “But because it’s a new sector, there are also the fly-by-night entrepreneurs seeking to make a quick profit.” “In reality, the FDA did its investigation on CBD products and discovered that many of them don’t even contain CBD,” he stated. “Knowing what’s in products is the primary purchase worry for novice CBD users, and we believe that regulation and consumer education are critical at this time.”
The study, published in November 2017 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, discovered that roughly 26% of the CBD products they evaluated contained much less CBD per milliliter than the label claimed, which “may nullify any potential clinical response.” To put it another way, it won’t help you with your anxiety or discomfort, nor will it provide you with any of CBD’s science-backed benefits.
NBC New York also chose to test CBD products on the market, and the findings were not promising. Their investigation team purchased five samples of each CBD oil brand and four kinds of gummies to evaluate. They had them tested by a third-party lab and discovered that less than half of the samples stretched contained the stated amount of CBD, that one brand contained no CBD at all, that one brand had a pesticide that exceeded California’s acceptable standards, and that another brand contained four times the amount of lead (!) than the FDA allows.
Most individuals aren’t aware that there are specific red flags or things to look for when shopping for a safe, high-quality, and pure CBD product because the industry is young. How can you know what you’re putting on or in your body is genuine—and even safe?
First and foremost, do not be alarmed. Here, some of the most trusted names in the cannabis industry offer advice on how to acquire CBD properly because, without regulation, you’ll have to do all of the “regulating” yourself. Here’s what to look for, what to avoid, and everything you should know when shopping for CBD.
Purchase from Reputable Manufacturers
In the cannabis industry, getting to know the brand is crucial. Many companies, thankfully, are doing their share by being upfront and providing consumers with the information they require.
“Getting to know the brand is the main distinction [when it comes to buying safe and dependable CBD],” said Kiana Reeves, creator of Foria Wellness (which makes some amazing cannabis products for sexual health). “When looking at any cannabis, CBD, or wellness firm, see how much information they’re putting out—not just openness and ingredients, but forward-thinking [practices] as well.”
“Look for a brand that isn’t just dumping random isolate into a cosmetic product,” said Reeves, “but is doing the study to see what’s the most helpful for the user and showing where the hemp is coming from.” “The more trust and efficacy you can build, the better off you’ll be.”
Stanley shared this sentiment, advising CBD customers to research the brand and its potential to influence the “farm-to-shelf” process. Foria is one of such businesses; as Reeves explained, the company’s employees have “very intimate relationships with growers and manufacturers,” allowing them to be more in tune with the complexities of their manufacturing.
Obtain an Analysis Certificate (COA)
“The label may state anything without a lab result,” says chiropractor Allen Miller, D.C., head of operations at Doctors Cannabis Consulting and advisor at Calm by Wellness Co. When it comes to trust, you should only buy from a provider that provides a COA, or certificate of analysis, as Reeves indicated. This short PDF is confirmation that the product you’re going to buy was evaluated by a third-party, independent lab, which discovered a variety of things, including the following essential ones.
Something to keep in mind: According to Megan Villa, co-founder of the hemp-focused website and shop Svn Space, you’ll want to know the batch number of the CBD product you’re looking at. “Ask for a COA for the batch number of the product you have,” she advised, noting that these items are created in batches. “You must match the batch number to the COA for that batch.”
Is there CBD in there, and if so, how potent is it? How much is it? On the COA, look for the words “total cannabinoids” or “total CBD.” “Potency refers to the number of cannabinoids in a substance,” Villa explained. “If [the brand and product] claim 250mg of CBD, then the COA should support that claim.” (She sent a COA for reference, which checks all the requirements.)
Pesticides or contaminants: Was the hemp produced in soil that had been sprayed with pesticides? Did it make it into the finished product? Were solvents used to extract the CBD? Are they included in the package? “Ask for batch testing [results] to ensure there are no pollutants, poisons, heavy metals, or other issues,” Stanley advises. “Every company should not only do in-house testing but also rely on trustworthy third-party laboratories to ensure that the product is devoid of impurities, residual solvents, and pesticides and has the proper CBD concentration.” (See also: Why You Should Get a CBD Massage.)
According to Villa, check for the “Microbiological Testing” portion of the COA. “This assures that the hemp used to create your CBD product is free of mold or germs.”
While hundreds of new CBD firms pop up every day, pharmacist Earl Mindell, Ph.D. of Calm by Wellness Co., advises customers to “look for a company that has been in business for more than three years.” It will be easier for them to demonstrate that the labs they’re utilizing are “GMP” (good manufacturing practice) compliant, as well as “certified organic and frequently audited by the FDA,” according to Mindell.
Stanley concurred: “Is the company GMP accredited by a third party? Are they produced in an FDA-approved facility? Is the product being tested for quality from the farm to the shelf?” All of these are questions you should ask before purchasing a product.
Hemp from the United States is available for purchase.
“You want to know where the hemp used in your product came from,” Stanley explained. “Hemp is an effective phytoremediation crop, meaning it cleans the soil.” (A bio-accumulator is another name for it.)
That means that when hemp is sown, it absorbs everything in its environment, including poisons, heavy metals, insecticides, and nuclear radiation. According to Stanley, you’ll want to make sure the hemp in your product is cultivated responsibly and in soil that has been pre-tested for contaminants. Reeves stressed this, stating that how hemp is farmed is crucial to its safety as a consumer product.
“Look for CBD products made from American-grown hemp (from New York, Colorado, Kentucky, Oregon, Vermont, Tennessee, and other states),” advises Melany Dobson, chief administrative officer at Hudson Hemp, because hemp grown in the United States is generally safer than hemp grown elsewhere.
“Undoubtedly, the ‘green triangle’ in Humboldt County produces some of the best stuff in the world,” Miller says. Ben Odell of Foria Wellness also mentioned California’s market, who mentioned Flow Kana, a California-based sustainable cannabis farming collective made up of artisanal producers.
Obtain CO2-Extracted Products as a goal.
“You’ll want to know how it was extracted in addition to looking at the lab reports for pesticides, how it was cultivated, and the metal levels,” Miller says. “I like CO2 extraction because it’s nontoxic,” says the author. Butane or ethanol-based extraction are alternatives, and both of these substances could end up in your finished product. In the COA, you should be able to see that.
Examine the Label
Because there’s so much governmental grey area (and the FDA isn’t exactly being helpful), CBD labeling is a bit of a shambles right now. However, Odell believes it could be a red flag if a product has “CBD” on it. “The FDA may technically come down on you for printing ‘CBD’ on your goods,” Odell says. “Charlotte’s Web is an example of this; they’re the largest, most reputable brand in the space, and they don’t print ‘CBD’ on their products any longer.”
Due to pressure from the FDA and DEA, many items now claim “hemp extract” because if a product is marketed as a dietary supplement, it cannot contain CBD, according to them (see the previous comment about the FDA not being helpful). Although the label may read “hemp extract” and include milligrams of cannabidiol, most brands have changed their labeling to be safe.
Furthermore, simply printing “CBD” does not appear very informative. “Is it an isolate if it only says CBD? Is there a sample? You have no idea, “Odell stated.
Instead of CBD Isolate, consider full-spectrum or broad-spectrum hemp.
“Ask if it’s a full-spectrum product,” Stanley advises. “Hemp has a wide range of beneficial chemicals in addition to CBD, and all of these components act together to enhance the body’s good response to CBD.”
“Isolate is inexpensive, but it’s not as effective; broad-spectrum is balanced,” Odell continues, describing CBD isolate as having a “U-shaped dose-response curve,” with “as dosage increases, its effectiveness tapers.”
Dobson also believes that hemp oil, rather than isolate, would be a preferable option, citing research that revealed the U-shaped curve and found that “pure CBD is not as helpful in pain and inflammatory management as unisolated CBD, as a full-spectrum cannabis extract.” (See the Best CBD Oil Beauty Products for more information.)
That isn’t to say that CBD isolation isn’t beneficial, but you might want to go with something that contains a full-plant extract. “You won’t kill yourself by receiving an isolate,” Odell adds, “but you do want a whole-plant, broad-spectrum product.”
According to the study mentioned by Dobson, even if it is CBD isolation, it may be more beneficial than aspirin. She claims that “both pure CBD and full-spectrum CBD plus phytocannabinoids were more effective than aspirin in reducing inflammation and discomfort.” (Related: I Was a Complete Skeptic of CBD, But It Helped Me A Lot With My Anxiety)
Full-Spectrum vs. Broad-Spectrum
According to Odell, there is a distinction between broad-spectrum and full-spectrum. When shopping for items, check for the words “broad-spectrum” on the label.
It’s possible that full-spectrum means it contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, or the stuff in marijuana that gets you high). Because THC isn’t allowed everywhere, it’d be indicated on the label—and it has to be under 0.3 percent in most cases—but you’re unlikely to see it outside of a dispensary. (For more information, see the Difference Between CBD, THC, Cannabis, Marijuana, and Hemp?)
“If you’re in the store and a product says ‘full-spectrum,’ it’s a sign that it’s not a trustworthy product,” Odell says.
“The key feature of full-spectrum is that it’s a whole plant extract,” explains Dobson, adding that “nothing is added or subtracted from the plant’s original chemical composition.”
On the other hand, broad-spectrum extracts are distilled. They do eliminate certain chemicals, leaving the section with “a majority percentage of a single cannabinoid (most typically, CBD), with a broad-spectrum of companion cannabinoids and terpenes,” according to Dobson.
Avoid “Hemp Seed Oil” at all costs.
“CBD is not derived from the seed and stalk of the hemp plant because [the chemical] is not present in hemp seed, and barely any CBD is present on the stalk of the hemp plant,” Dobson explained.
Hemp seed oil offered at big-box online stores like Amazon is being branded as CBD, according to Odell and Reeves. In truth, you’re getting stuff that looks more like olive oil than medicine. (Just a heads up: CBD is not available on Amazon.) And, based on what you’ve just read, you shouldn’t want to.)
“If you search for CBD products on Amazon, you’ll see a lot of hemp seed oil—they’re attempting to catch unknowing people,” Odell said. “Hemp seed oil is fantastic; it’s full of omega-3s, is healthy, and has everything, but it has very little (if any) CBD.”
Be aware of your resources.
Each brand you buy from should have a customer service team that can answer your queries and help you through all of the above. With their customer service staff, Charlotte’s Web has set a terrific precedent for this since they can send batch results for the particular product you purchased and provide general CBD education—not just about their goods.
“Don’t be scared to ask questions directly to CBD hemp oil producers,” advises Dobson. “Try another brand if you can’t reach them directly.”
In addition to speaking directly with the brand you’re interested in, Dobson and Miller suggested using internet resources like Project CBD, MG Magazine, and Edibles List magazine to learn about new brands and products and expand your education.
“The most important thing to remember is that it’s your body, so you have to know what’s going into it,” Miller adds. “Don’t be scared to ask as many questions as you need to figure out which product is ideal for you.”