There are countless types of CBD oil on the market today. In an industry expected to reach $20 billion by 2024, it may be daunting to distinguish a high-quality product from a subpar one. Various factors can affect the quality and efficacy of a product, from the plant source to the CBD extraction process. Whether you’re a novice or seasoned CBD aficionado, it’s important for all consumers to know what they’re putting into their bodies. Knowing what makes for a legitimate and high-quality CBD oil is crucial in making informed decisions for your health.
To choose CBD of the utmost quality, look closely at the labeling and extraction processes, and ask manufacturers the tough questions. Here are the keys to evaluating CBD products.
Know the Source
CBD oil is typically extracted from the hemp plant, which has a high CBD content and only up to 0.3% THC. Oil extracted from marijuana means that the THC content exceeds 0.3%, which could produce intoxicating effects. But there’s more to a CBD product’s source than whether or not it will get you high. Knowing where and how the hemp is sourced is a key clue to determining its quality.
As a “hyperaccumulator,” the hemp plant easily absorbs toxins and heavy metals from the soil. If the soil is rich in nutrients and low in toxins, the resulting product will reflect those qualities. If a CBD product is certified as “USDA Organic,” it’s a good indication that the growing and processing conditions meet official standards and the product is free of fertilizers, pesticides, heavy metals, glyphosate, GMOs, toxic solvents and more.
Find Out How the CBD Was Extracted
Knowing how your CBD oil was extracted can also be a significant clue in determining its quality. Some suppliers employ problematic methods when extracting CBD oil, such as using especially toxic solvents like butane or petroleum. Safer methods of extracting and processing CBD oils includes cold organic ethanol extraction, which preserves the phytocannabinoids, terpenes, terpenoids, and flavonoids within the plant while leaving behind unwanted lipids, waxes and plant sugars. Other processes include lipid infusion, which preserves the molecular structure of the product, as well as nano-encapsulation, a novel processing method that ultrasonically packages the e CBD compound into very small particles inside of a lipid matrix for higher absorption in the body.
Pay Attention to Labels
To find the right CBD for your needs, start with the product’s label. You may notice the words “whole plant” or “full-spectrum” on some product labels, and “CBD isolate” or “pure CBD” on others. Unlike CBD isolate, which is a refined extract that excludes all other molecules from the cannabis plant aside from CBD, full spectrum CBD products are minimally refined to include terpenes, flavonoids and other phytochemicals, which are believed to produce the “entourage effect.” This is the synergetic effect that occurs when the full spectrum of compounds that naturally occur in the hemp plant are consumed together and are believed to have more useful properties. It might help to think about the difference between eating a whole orange and taking a vitamin C pill — the pill is fine and serves its purpose, but the orange provides B vitamins, potassium, antioxidants, fiber and more. With full-spectrum CBD products, you get the potency of the pill and the myriad benefits of the orange.
Another important consideration is whether a label reads “hemp oil” or “hempseed oil,” which are often used interchangeably to describe products made from hemp seeds and may not contain CBD at all. While hempseed oil is a good source of protein, vitamin E and other important minerals, it does not hold the same health benefits as CBD oil.
Decipher Certifications and Lab Results
Beyond a USDA Organic certification, respectable CBD manufacturers will also display third-party lab results, licenses and certificates of analyses on their websites. These documents will show you the cannabinoid content in the product as well as any contaminants. Since the government does not currently require companies to test their finished products, a brand that takes this extra step is serious about gaining your trust.
If you still have questions after examining your product’s label or a supplier’s website, reach out to them. Whether you want to inquire about lab results, dosing, or which product is best for your needs, a company that produces high-quality products is willing to provide high-quality answers. If you can’t find a contact form, phone number, or a company simply ghosts you, it’s probably a good idea to move on.
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Erica Garza is an author and essayist. Her work has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, The Telegraph and VICE. She lives in Los Angeles.