To be certain you’re getting test results you can trust, look for a CBD oil that’s been tested by someone other than the company selling it. Independent testing companies stake their reputations on every test, so they’re not biased toward manufacturers. These third-party testers are looking to identify what’s actually in the product, whether the manufacturer likes the results or not.
Finally, in general, we almost always recommend full spectrum tinctures over supplements made from isolates (extracts of CBD alone). Full-spectrum or whole plant tinctures take advantage of the ‘entourage effect’ that comes from combining all the naturally occurring chemicals found in the hemp plant. Isolates are great for cooking with CBD or consumers that are especially sensitive to the taste of hemp extract, but some research suggests they may be less effective for certain uses than full spectrum extracts. All but two of the brands below are made from full spectrum hemp, and the exceptions are clearly noted.
GMP stands for Good Manufacturing Practices, and it covers the practices required to ensure products are produced according to industry standards. The agencies that control the authorization and licensing of the manufacture and sale of these products provide guidelines, and the manufacturer must adhere to these guidelines to make sure their products remain consistent and of high quality from batch to batch.
“The need for enhanced bioavailability of the CBD phytonutrient is paramount”, adds Moriarity, “but tricky to accomplish without synthetic chemicals.” Most CBD products do not offer any bioavailability optimization, so 90 percent of the CBD is lost to first-pass effect, a phenomenon of drug metabolism whereby the concentration of a drug is greatly reduced before it reaches systemic circulation.
But, and there’s always a “but” when it comes to weed in America, unless you’re buying cannabis CBD in a state where weed is recreationally legal or have a medical card in a legalized state, you’re shopping in the unregulated market that is industrial hemp CBD. (Full disclosure: I've worked with restaurants to launch hemp-CBD drinks and am the co-founder of Nice Paper, a site about cannabis.)
There is a growing number of medical cannabis dispensaries offering CBD-rich products in the U.S. Most physical dispensaries are required to operate under state health and safety standards set by law. The state conducts background checks on owner and staff, and dispensaries must meet security requirements and strict licensing guidelines. When buying hemp-based CBD oil (low in THC or/and CBD) you will not need a card, however, to purchase cannabis plant-based CBD oil patients need to be certified by a doctor who is part of their continuing care, and who’s registered with the state’s medical-marijuana program. That, however, applies only to those living in states that have passed medical marijuana laws. It is important for one to visit the dispensaries and get as much information as to whether their products have been tested and undergone clinical trials.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of dozens of non-psychoactive cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. Cannabidiol, and all the other cannabinoids, were patented by the United States Government in 2003 as neuroprotectants and antioxidants (Patent No. 6,630,507). Cannabinoids are characterized by their ability to act on the cannabinoid receptors that are found throughout the body. CBD and other cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds that display potent anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. They can promote the body’s healthy regulation of the central nervous, immune, and endocannabinoid systems.
Watch Out For: Hemp grown in the European Union (EU) and China. Even in countries with agricultural regulations, the list of approved pesticides is far from safe. Thus you are really relying on the specific company’s ethical standards when it comes to hemp cultivation. The reason this is such a big deal with hemp when compared to other plants, is that hemp is a dynamic accumulator plant. Dynamic accumulator is a term used to describe plants that gather minerals – both good and bad – from the surrounding soil and store them in its tissues. So if you’re growing a hemp plant with petroleum-based pesticides in soil that contains heavy metals…you’re inevitably going to have a hemp plant containing both toxic pesticides and heavy metals. This is why many people have poor experiences when first trying CBD – you buy your vegetables organically, why not your hemp? The presence of these toxins is not regulated by any agency and they will end up in your CBD oil if you don’t purchase from the correct company. We like Ambary Gardens because they ensure that all of their CBD products are produced from organically and sustainably grown hemp without the use of pesticides.
“Barely in its infancy, the CBD medical market is still largely unregulated; quality control is meager at best, and consumers are largely unaware what to look for when shopping …,” explains Carlos Frias of the Texas Wellness Center. Frias, who has been with the cannabis industry for more than 15 years, has seen, firsthand, the shadiness that exists in the CBD market.
All this talk about THC lands us nicely in the whole “Full Spectrum vs. Pure Isolate” debate. Once you begin shopping for CBD products, you’ll notice a lot of jargon that gets thrown around without much explanation. Now that we’ve introduced THC into the conversation, we can talk about the difference between, and relative benefits of, Full Spectrum CBD and CBD Isolate (and the lesser-known contender: Broad Spectrum).
You can purchase CBD and hemp oil in specialty retail stores – over the counter (i.e. nutrition stores and smoke shops). Physical stores offer buyers the ability to see the products before they purchase as well as gives them the chance to actively engage with store associates by asking questions and learning about other products that they might be interested in. When you are looking to choose a reputable and high-quality CBD retailer, it is also important to inquire about the product’s third-party test results. This way, you will be assured that you are getting a high-quality and safe product as reputable companies will invest in such tests to gain the trust of their customers.
Look for brands who source their cannabinoids from organic-certified, hemp-grown farms in pristine regions of Europe. “The German regulatory system is strict and enforced, providing confidence in the superiority of their harvest, processes, and extraction quality,” adds Moriarity. Organic hemp grown in Europe must also adhere to EU’s strict organic standards, which are stricter than in the U.S. and highly audited. Also, look for ingredients that are certified organic and wildcrafted.
The range of qualified medical conditions that Marijuana’s cannabinoids help treat, the main being THC and CBD are growing daily. A few of these include MS, seizures, eating disorders, HIV and cancer. Cannabis is also a treatment for mental health issues such as PTSD that many of our proud Texas Veterans are dealing with today. One Texas Veteran said when asked if medical marijuana helped his PTSD, the reply was “Weed is a miracle for PTSD, sometimes I think I smoke a lot, then it occurred to me that I haven’t wanted to hit anyone in 6 months.”
When it comes to CBD oil, cheaper is most certainly not always better because the production of quality CBD oil just isn’t cheap. CO2 extraction utilizes complex equipment and a high level of expertise as opposed to the cheaper and easier chemical extraction processes that can leave residue from toxic solvents like butane, propane, and ethanol in the CBD oil. While the CO2 extraction will generally lead to a higher price tag, it does insure quality, purity, and potency – especially when used to extract CBD oil from hemp that has been organically grown in the United States.