Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the latest health craze — but unlike plenty of other health crazes before it, CBD actually seems to have some science backing it up. Research on this natural compound demonstrates that it does, in fact, provide a number of health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, protecting nerves and neurological tissues, interrupting pain and tension and generally promoting relaxation and wellbeing.
However, not all CBD products are created equal. Because of the compound’s novelty and popularity, there are plenty of unscrupulous CBD manufacturers that skimp on the quality of their products for financial gain. Some CBD products tested have been found to lack any CBD content, and others have been found with harmful compounds like formaldehyde and heavy metals.
To reap the rewards of CBD, you need to be certain that you are buying and using high-quality products — and here are some questions to guide your purchasing process.
What Kind of CBD Are You Looking for?
It is a mistake to believe that there is only one type of CBD product. CBD comes in oils, capsules, tablets, gummies, teas and so much more. However, while you might prefer consuming CBD in one form over another, you should be aware that there exists variety even within these categories of consumption.
Most notably, you need to consider how refined you want your CBD to be. There are three levels of CBD extraction which can affect the final product:
CBD isolate. Isolated CBD products have no other cannabinoid compounds, though they might have other added ingredients, like flavor or preservatives. Removing everything from cannabis but CBD is a difficult and expensive process, so isolates tend to be more expensive. The pure form of CBD isolate is a white rock or powder, but you can find isolates mixed into oils and tinctures, too.
Broad-spectrum CBD. These CBD products are slightly less refined than isolate, which means they typically contain terpenes — or aroma-producing compounds — but often lack THC and other psychoactive cannabinoids. You can find a comparison of CBD vs. THC here.
Labels like these demonstrate that a CBD brand is familiar with the process of creating its products and is interested in providing as much information as possible to the end user, so the consumer can make an informed choice for their health. If a product just says “CBD” without any indication of its purity, you should probably stay away.
Where Does the CBD Come From?
If you can find information about how a CBD brand creates its products, the brand is likely a trustworthy source of CBD. Some considerations you might make regarding the manufacturing process include:
Hemp vs. marijuana. Almost all CBD created is sourced from hemp, sometimes called industrial hemp. This ensures a lower level of THC to start, which helps improve the extraction and refinement process. However, you can find CBD products that are made from psychoactive cannabis strains, sometimes labeled as “marijuana.” These are often a bit more expensive and might have higher THC content.
Extraction method. The method of extraction can impact the final CBD product. The cleanest, highest-quality CBD products are made using CO2 extraction, but this method also tends to be more expensive for manufactures. Less costly CBD products often use solvents like butane or ethanol to strip away unwanted compounds, but some of that solvent can remain in the final product. You can read more about the pros and cons of different extraction methods here.
Again, the more information you can find about a product — either on the product’s packaging or on the brand’s website — the more reliable that source of CBD is likely to be.
How Much Does the CBD Cost?
Making CBD products isn’t cheap. Not only does a cannabis business need to be properly licensed to cultivate or purchase raw cannabis, but it needs additional licenses and equipment to refine the CBD. Brands that pay attention to the source of their cannabis, the method of extraction and the purity of their final product are likely to charge higher prices. If you find a CBD product with a price tag that is “too good to be true,” it probably has lower quality than you need and might not even be safe to consume.
You shouldn’t be so swept up in a health craze that you don’t think critically about the products you are purchasing. By researching CBD brands before you buy, you can find safe, effective products.