If you’re just starting out with CBD and you’re completely unfamiliar with where to start, there’s no need to worry! Everybody has to start out somewhere, and there’s a host of information out there on the internet to guide you on your way – this article is one of those key pieces of information you will need.
First of all, it’s important to point out that CBD oil is not an FDA-approved or regulated medication (other than in the form of Epidiolex for certain types of epilepsy).
As such, it’s crucial you know what you’re doing when buying CBD products so that you can avoid phony companies and potentially dangerous substances.
In this piece, we will be taking a look at 5 key questions you will want to ask yourself before clicking that ‘Add to Cart’ button or traipsing down to your local dispensary. And along the way, you might even learn a little bit extra about CBD oil, in the hopes that you will feel more confident before making your first purchase.
1. Was the CBD oil extracted using supercritical CO2 methods?
Just in case your knowledge is a little rocky when it comes to CBD itself, the acronym stands for ‘cannabidiol,’ which is one of many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
Cannabidiol is known to be non-intoxicating, and it doesn’t have any psychoactive effects – in other words, it won’t get you high. It has, however, been shown to have a plethora of potential health benefits, which is why many people are turning to it for a possible alternative treatment option in many ailments.
In order to get just the CBD compound out of the plant and into the oil, however, it must be extracted from the raw plant material. There are a number of extraction methods that can be used to get the CBD out of cannabis, including:
- The Rick Simpson method: This method involves using 99% ethanol as a solvent, but it typically involves extracting compounds from high-THC marijuana strains, rather than CBD industrial hemp strains. It can be an effective way to produce concentrated oil, but evaporating the ethanol residue is a major problem for most DIY’ers.
- Olive or coconut oil infusion: Another popular extraction method involves using one of these two oils to extract cannabinoids from raw plant material. Although this method is far safer than the Rick Simpson method, it is highly inefficient and usually ends up exposing the CBD (and/or other active compounds) to temperatures above their boiling point, which compromises the therapeutic properties.
As you can see, neither of these methods are totally desirable, with the first being potentially dangerous and psychoactive and the latter creating a less powerful extract.
However, there is a better way to extract CBD: supercritical CO2. This method ensures a very potent, very pure extract that contains the maximum amount of active cannabinoids in the end product.
It involves very expensive, hi-tech equipment that employs high-pressure/low-temperature phases to “pull” the CBD from the ground-up plant material and condense it into a thick, CBD-rich oil.
Supercritical CO2 extractors are incredibly complex (and expensive) machines, and as such only a handful of CBD oil manufacturers are currently using them.
However, if you truly want the safest, most potent, and most efficient tinctures available, it is in all honesty the only option.
2. Is the oil full-spectrum CBD or CBD isolate?
CBD isolate is pretty self-explanatory; it refers to pure CBD that has been isolated from the cannabis plant, containing nothing else.
On the other hand, full-spectrum CBD refers to a product containing other active cannabinoids and terpenes in the raw hemp material.
You might be thinking that CBD isolate is better for you, mostly because of the word ‘pure.’ However, this is not necessarily the case.
Cannabinoids actually carry the ‘entourage effect’, meaning that they work better when used together. The reason for this is not exactly certain, but various studies have shown that CBD tends to have a heightened effect when used with other cannabinoids.
This is not to say that you should only use full-spectrum CBD, however. Although anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests that this may be the superior option for treating conditions, CBD isolate is still a valid option.
With CBD isolate, for instance, it is easier to measure exact quantities of CBD while ensuring you aren’t ingesting anything else. As such, it is sometimes the preferred option for people creating edibles.
What’s more, CBD isolate has less taste due to the lack of terpenes, so some people prefer it if they can’t their taste buds around the particularly earthy and bitter flavor of full-spectrum CBD.
3. Was the CBD oil sourced from industrial hemp?
Industrial hemp simply refers to a variety of Cannabis sativa L that contains very little THC (under 0.03%, to be exact).
This is a strain of cannabis that traditionally has bred for clothing and construction purposes, as its strong fibers provide for excellent tensile strength. The opposite is true of “marijuana” plants, which have been bred purely to contain high amounts of THC (and therefore psychoactive properties).
In recent years, however (particularly since the introduction of the 2014 Farm Bill), legal industrial hemp strains have been bred more and more to contain very high amounts of active CBD, and almost zero THC.
In short, unless you are a medical marijuana patient that can legally purchase from a licensed dispensary, you should only be buying CBD that has been sourced from industrial hemp. Always check the label on products to ensure that this is the case.
4. Is the product actual CBD hemp oil, or is it hempseed oil?
Following on from those points about industrial hemp, you should next investigate whether it is actually CBD hemp oil, and NOT hempseed oil.
Hempseed oil is also a product of the hemp plant, but it (obviously) comes from the seeds, which DO NOT contain therapeutic amounts of CBD (or any other cannabinoids).
Pressing or grinding hemp seeds at a temperature lower than 120°F produces a natural essential oil, which can retain high amounts of nutritional value and flavor. Other than being a great addition to your diet, however, (hemp seeds contain Omega 3 and 6 acids, high protein content, and a low level of saturated fats), this type of oil contains little of the health benefits associated with CBD.
So, while both CBD hemp oil and hempseed oil come from the same plant, they ultimately come from different parts of it; hempseed oil is of course produced by cold pressing the seeds, while CBD hemp oil is produced (ideally) through CO2 extraction of the flowers, leaves, stem and stalk.
In a nutshell (no pun intended), CBD hemp oil is rich in CBD and thus possesses its perceived benefits for the body’s immune system, while hempseed oil is only good for the human diet and nutritional value.
With this in mind, don’t let a company fool you buy selling you “hempseed oil” that has been labeled as a CBD oil. Make sure the label says it contains CBD sourced from industrial hemp, otherwise you’ll be left wondering why nothing is working!
5. Does the CBD oil have a third-party lab report?
Since there really are so many companies out there that might try to pull the proverbial wool over your eyes, you have to make sure the CBD oil you’re purchasing is not only reliable and effective, but safe.
Always purchase CBD products from a reputable source. It’s assumed that you can find out which companies are the best, simply by reading some reviews and doing a little online research.
However, reviews aren’t always the best or most accurate source – especially when it comes to determining whether the CBD oil is a safe product that contains what the label says it contains.
Fortunately, some companies out there get third-party lab testing on their products so that they can verify their labels and claims. The company website should include a third-party lab report for its complete line of products, proving the bottle contains what it says it does on the label.
These lab reports can verify ingredients and plant quality, so you can make sure you are buying a product that is safe, legal, and organic.
Final Thoughts on How to Buy the Best CBD Oil
All in all, it is crucial to ask yourself these five questions before you purchase any CBD oil. The product should:
- Come from industrial hemp
- Have been extracted via CO2 extraction
- State whether it is a full-spectrum or isolate (we recommend full-spectrum, but you can choose an isolate for certain cases)
- Be CBD hemp oil and NOT hempseed oil
- Have third-party lab testing results on their website
As long as you ensure all of the above, you should be able to assume you are safely buying CBD oil from a reputable seller. Now that you have this information, you can relax and have fun shopping around!