CBD becomes one of the most sought-after natural alternatives to conventional treatments for a wide range of health concerns. People are using CBD oil for different reasons, from sheer supplementation to serious deficits in their well-being.
For many consumers, CBD oil reduces stress, while others take it to improve their quality of sleep, regulate mood, and improve productivity.
However, the skyrocketing popularity of CBD has created ripe opportunities for fly-by-night companies to take advantage of unaware consumers — it’s difficult to distinguish between a good and bad CBD product if you don’t know what to look for.
The amount of information scattered around different sources may seem confusing and overwhelming, so we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to buying CBD oil so that you can make a well-informed decision about your next purchase.
- What CBD is
- How CBD interacts with the body and brain
- How to choose the best delivery method for your need
- What to look for in a high-quality CBD product
- Why third-party lab testing is the only quality proof of your CBD oil
And much, much more.
Let’s get started!
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the most prevalent cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Unlike its psychoactive cousin THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD won’t get you high because it doesn’t affect your cannabinoid receptors in the brain like THC does. CBD is safe and legal in most countries across the world. Even the WHO has acknowledged its safety profile in their official report from 2017. So basically, CBD allows for enjoying the health benefits of cannabis without the psychoactive side.
How does CBD interact with the Body and Brain?
In simple terms, CBD and other cannabinoids are processed through the body’s native endocannabinoid system. This system is arguably the most important neurochemical network in all mammals; it’s responsible for regulating the majority of vital functions like appetite, sleep, fertility, mood, cognition, temperature control, pain signaling, and immune response. The endocannabinoid system keeps the above processes in a state of harmony, allowing us to stay healthy.
A properly functioning endocannabinoid system is crucial for our optimal performance, but its naturally produced molecules (endocannabinoids) aren’t produced in concentrations large enough — and for enough time — to cope with your health problems on their own.
Hence the use of CBD and other cannabinoids.
CBD supports the endocannabinoid system through adjusting it to produce more of its endocannabinoids and maintain their higher levels by blocking an enzyme that breaks them down.
Prolonged use of CBD has been linked to many health benefits in the areas where conventional forms of treatment have failed to deliver the desired effects, according to studies on both animals and humans.
Things to Consider Before Buying CBD Oil
Using CBD oil requires a better understanding of how we react to cannabinoids. And the truth is, everybody reacts differently. Some people find CBD oil more energizing, whereas others claim it makes them feel drowsy. High and low doses of the same product can produce different effects, and the route of administration matters as well.
With that in mind, here are the most important things to take into account before buying CBD oil.
1. Route of Administration
CBD is available in many forms, including oil, paste, vape liquids, edibles, capsules, and topicals. The choice of consumption method is largely dependent on your needs, but remember that the bioavailability (absorption rate) varies from product to product. For example oral CBD products show 4–20% bioavailability; with tinctures, this figure reaches 35%; vapes are the most bioavailable products so far, with absorption rates reaching 56% in some studies. Each delivery method has a different onset. The effects of vaping usually take hold within a few minutes; tinctures kick in after about 20 minutes; edibles, in turn, may take anywhere between 40–120 minutes to produce their effects.
2. Desired Effects
Your reason for taking CBD will determine the choice of your product. Lower doses usually work better when it comes to relieving stress and maintaining focus, while those struggling with poor sleep quality, aches, and different types of physical discomfort find higher doses more effective.
3. Full Spectrum vs. Isolates
There are two main types of CBD products: full-spectrum extracts and isolates.
The “full spectrum” term refers to extracts produced from the whole cannabis plant. On top of CBD, they contain terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids including traces of THC (usually less than 0.3%). According to experts in cannabinoids, full-spectrum extracts are superior to isolated compounds because they produce “the entourage effect.”
The entourage effect refers to the synergistic effects of cannabinoids and terpenes. Simply put, cannabis compounds are more effective together than in isolation, mostly when it comes to their anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, and pain killing properties.
In addition, some cannabinoids can also modulate the effects of each other. For example, CBD is known for countering the psychoactive effects of THC while boosting its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. THC, on the other hand, is believed to unlock the entire potential of cannabinoids at as little as 1%.
The health benefits of the main cannabinoids in hemp:
- CBD — Stimulates bone growth and improves their density. Reduces convulsion. Regulates blood sugar. Boosts immune function. Reduces nausea and vomiting. Dampens pain signaling. Protects neurons. Stops tumor cell growth. Acts as an antibacterial
- CBDa — Reduces cell cancer growth and lowers inflammation
- CBC — Stops the spread of cancer cells. Promotes bone growth. Lowers inflammation. Dampens pain.
- CBN — Acts as a strong sedative. It’s a byproduct of THC’s degradation over time.
- CBG — Relieves stress and anxiety. Acts as an antibacterial. Reduces pain. Muscle relaxant
The health benefits of the main terpenes in hemp
- Myrcene — Promotes sleep. Sedative and muscle relaxant.
- Limonene — Helps with gastrointestinal issues. Relieves anxiety and stress.
- Pinene — Reduces inflammation and bacteria growth. Aids memory. Improves focus.
- Linalool — Analgesic. Reduces anxiety. Promotes sleep. Anti-convulsive.
- Terpinolene — Reduces pain and aids digestion.
- Humulene — Lowers inflammation.
- Terpineol — Calming. Antiviral and antibacterial.
- Caryophyllene — Dampens pain. Boosts the immune system.
How to Buy CBD Oil for Beginners
No two CBD oil products are made the same. There are lots of poorly-manufactured CBD oils on the market, so it’s important that you know what to look for when choosing your next vendor.
Pay attention to the following:
- The source of CBD (is it hemp or marijuana?)
- The source of hemp
- Extraction method
- The potency of your product
- The cannabinoid spectrum
- Third-party testing
- Shipping & return policy
1. Hemp vs. Marijuana: Where does Your CBD Come from?
While CBD is the same on a molecular level regardless of its source, the effect profile and legal status of your end product heavily depends on whether it’s sourced from hemp or marijuana.
Hemp has high concentrations of CBD and only trace levels of THC (below 0.3%). All hemp products are federally legal if they don’t cross the legal THC limit; you can buy them over the counter as health supplements because they don’t produce psychoactive effects.
Marijuana, on the other hand, has high levels of THC (and low-to-high levels of CBD). THC is still a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it’s illegal on the federal level. Only people in states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use are allowed to legally buy and possess marijuana-derived CBD oil.
2. Okay, so It’s Hemp… But is It Organic?
The source of hemp is paramount for the quality of CBD oil. Hemp is a bioaccumulator; it absorbs everything from the environment it grows in. When cultivated in infertile and polluted soil, the plants will grow low-CBD flowers with lots of hazardous substances inside.
On the other hand, organically grown hemp — in a clean, nutrient-rich soil and without pesticides or growth boosters — will yield clean crops with high concentrations of CBD. Always buy CBD oil from companies that get their hemp from local, organic farms.
3. Steer Clear of Butane-Extracted CBD Oil
Solvents like propane and butane are inexpensive but very dangerous. For one, they’re highly flammable, which increases the risk of fire or explosion during extraction. But more importantly, cheap solvents often leave behind toxic residue at the bottom of the extract. This residue is toxic for your body and can put your life in danger.
Instead, look for CO2-extracted products. CO2 extraction requires expensive high-tech equipment and well-trained staff, but it yields pure and potent extracts. The CO2 is used as a solvent, changing its state from gas to liquid during the process, and leaving a cold liquid extract once it has dissipated.
4. Choose Full Spectrum CBD over Isolate
As mentioned, full-spectrum CBD oil doesn’t require as high doses as isolate to provide the consumer with the desired effects due to the aforementioned synergy. If efficacy is your main priority, then full-spectrum extracts will be your best bet.
However, some people are afraid of having any traces of THC in their product — pregnant women, young mothers, public service officers who can’t fail a drug test — have no other option but to take isolate. CBD isolate is more versatile than full-spectrum CBD because it has no taste and odor. You can take it as is (sublingually), add it to foods and drinks, or use it in your vape liquid for extra potency.
5. Look for Companies with High Level of Transparency
A brand that has nothing to hide will proudly talk about how the source of its hemp, how its products are manufactured, and how they handle potential customer service issues. The more details you can get about your potential vendor, the better. If possible, avoid companies using vague mission statements and salesy slogans instead of sheer facts.
6. Ask for Third-Party Lab Reports
Every company has an option to send a sample of their product to a certified independent laboratory for content analysis. These laboratories test the potency of the end product and its entire cannabinoid profile, and can detect over 200 common contaminants. Third-party lab reports should be available on the company’s website as Certificates of Analysis. If you can’t find them there, contact the customer service via email. They should respond to your request if they manufacture their CBD oil honestly.
7. Stay Away from “Cheap CBD Oil”
The process of making CBD oil — from growing hemp to extraction, testing, and packaging — is a very expensive process, so thinking that a company will sell their products at a loss out of sheer altruism, think again.
Nobody’s that naive.
Of course, many brands have great seasonal deals and loyalty programs for returning customers, but a high-quality CBD product will always be more expensive than your regular vitamin complex.
8. Match the Potency of CBD Oil with Your Dosage
CBD oil is available in different concentrations, from as little as 100 mg to a whopping 5000 mg total CBD. When it comes to using CBD oil, more isn’t always merrier. While certain cases call for using high doses, some people can benefit from ridiculously low amounts.
Dosing CBD is all about the classic trial-and-error. It’s best to start low and slow, testing one dosage for a few days, and adjusting it if necessary. Once you’ve built up your way to the sweet spot, you can continue using this dosage because one doesn’t build up tolerance to this compound.
Final Thoughts on Buying CBD Oil
To sum it up, buying CBD oil requires doing thorough research before you trust any company with your money. With so many factors to keep in mind, it may be overwhelming to choose the best product for your needs.
Once you’ve figured out which form of CBD is best suited for you, compare different brands using the above guide. We also recommend reading reviews from other users to see the brand and its products in a bigger picture.
CBD oil is widely available locally, so chances are there’s a store selling CBD products near you. But if you want to buy high-quality CBD at affordable prices, we suggest that you look for it online. Buying CBD oil online gives you access to a wider range of products, which are less expensive than what you can find in-store.
Not to mention that it’s easier to research your potential supplier using the web.
How do you buy your CBD oil? Give us a shout in the comments!