Recognizing key indicators of quality CBD
Dr. Stan Headley, natural health consultant for Cypress Pharmacy
Cannabidiol (CBD), the darling of health and wellness supplements, is available in a dizzying array of products and places.
CBD is the hemp-derived ingredient thought to have therapeutic benefits to ease the symptoms of conditions including anxiety, sleep and pain. Hemp is a plant that has been used for centuries by many cultures for healing, and unlike its chemical cousin marijuana, hemp-derived CBD oil offers a broad spectrum of beneficial cannabinoids that are non-euphoric. In other words, hemp-derived CBD will not make you high. As a result, this form of CBD oil is available over the counter without a medical marijuana card, provided it contains less than 0.3% THC by dry weight.
The benefits of CBD use relates to the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), made up of receptors that act as messengers to give your body specific directions in regulating anxiety, appetite/hunger, depression, immune function, memory, mood, motor control, pain, pleasure and reward, reproduction and fertility, sleep and temperature. External sources of cannabinoids like CBD can help to balance and maintain the ECS by binding to receptors, providing therapeutic benefits as well as helping regenerate cells and brain function.
While the medical community, including the Arthritis Foundation, are embracing CBD oil for help with various ailments, CBD products are currently unregulated, so it’s up to consumers to be diligent about their sources of CBD in order to get its benefits.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2017 showed 70% of CBD products do not match their label.
Here are some tips to help you save time and money in purchasing effective CBD oil:
- Because the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have many specific guidelines on CBD products yet, third-party testing gives consumers the facts. A good quality CBD oil will have a Certificate of Analysis, usually a third-party report of what’s specifically in the bottle. The analysis should test for microbes, herbicides and other contaminants that can get into the CBD oil. Low-quality products can contain potentially dangerous compounds such as heavy metals, chemical thinning agents, pesticides and solvent residues.
- The amount of CBD oil in a product will have a direct effect on its efficacy, so it’s important to understand how much CBD oil is actually in the product. The certificate of analysis should tell you the milligrams of active product in the bottle, which is important for comparison. Milligrams of active cannabinoids is not the same as the amount of liquid in the bottle. Also, additives are not necessary for CBD products. Make sure any additional flavors are all natural, and that they don’t have any gluten or other potential allergens.
- Methods used to manufacture CBD oil impact the safety and quality of products. How the CBD oil was extracted is important. If extracted using heat, it can mean butane, a hazardous material, was used. CO2 or food-grade ethanol extraction are all-natural and ensure the cannabinoids and terpenes, another element of the plant thought to have therapeutic properties, remain intact.
- For ultimate therapeutic value, look for full-spectrum CBD. There are more than 100 cannabinoids in cannabis. Isolated CBD products contain just one. CBD works better with other cannabinoids, so broad-spectrum CBD amplifies the efficiency of CBD in your system, promoting a greater response at a lower dose. Research supports that full-spectrum CBD is more effective than isolate CBD. In addition, broad-spectrum ingredients help with the absorption of nutrients in the body.
- Just because something is labeled as containing hemp doesn’t mean it includes CBD oil. Hemp seeds contain extremely low levels of CBD. Hemp seed products can be a great source of nutrition, but they are often inadequate for creating CBD benefits. Look for products that specifically list the level of CBD instead of terms like “hemp concentrate” or “hemp extract.”
- Make sure you buy products where hemp is sourced from Europe or the United States, where it is heavily regulated. Hemp plants are bio accumulators, which means they pull contaminants found in soil. Plants could be grown with the use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizer, therefore it’s key to check that products have been tested for heavy metals, mold, mildew, fungus, yeast, bacteria and other harmful materials.
- To ensure the life of your CBD products, choose products in glass bottles over plastic. Glass containers don’t hold onto moisture, and amber-colored containers block UV rays that can impact the effectiveness of the product.
- Like anything you buy, look for companies that have customer support and stand behind their products.
To save time and money from buying inferior CBD products that have no beneficial effect, it’s important to understand how to identify quality CBD oil.