The 2018 US Farm Bill legalized hemp, making all hemp-derived CBD products legal across all 50 states. Despite this, CBD is still not regulated by the FDA. Part of the reason for this is the lack of firm evidence about the efficacy of CBD to treat specific medical conditions. Many studies have shown CBD to be an effective treatment for numerous conditions, including anxiety, depression, epilepsy, chronic pain, arthritis, skin disorders, cancer treatment relief, and glaucoma. Also, studies show that there are no serious side effects of CBD. Still, more peer-reviewed, clinical research is required for the FDA to feel comfortable approving CBD products. In the meantime, CBD is still legal, and many people are using it.
The lack of regulation can make finding a reliable and safe CBD product somewhat precarious. The biggest safety issue is that companies are free to do as they please, ethical or not. They can introduce dangerous filler substances into their products, the products can be contaminated with pesticides, chemicals, and heavy metals, and they can mislabel CBD quantities and ingredients on the labels, misleading customers and potentially putting them in harm’s way. For instance, the FDA did random tests on some CBD products and found dangerous chemical contaminants, and other tests showed CBD products with less CBD than labeled or none at all.
Keeping that in mind, there are reliable CBD brands out there. You just have to know what to look for. Before purchasing CBD, consult this list of parameters to make sure you’re getting a safe and reliable product.
How clean is the CBD?
The CBD should be labeled as free of pesticides, herbicides, solvents, or other chemical contaminants, such as filler drugs and synthetic cannabinoids. If a product is not labeled this way, it’s not a good sign.
Does it have THC in it?
CBD products can sometimes be derived from marijuana rather than hemp. CBD products derived from marijuana may have trace amounts of THC, the naturally occurring psychoactive chemical in cannabis that makes you feel “high.” That being said, a trace amount of THC in a CBD product will not cause intoxication. The reason for keeping this minuscule portion of THC is because of something called the “entourage effect,” where the medicinal impact of, say CBD, is more effective when THC and other elements of the plant are also present. The plant as a whole works together to provide the therapeutic effects much better than taking CBD alone. The entourage effect has not been proven, but there is evidence to show its validity.
CBD products that include trace amounts of THC, as well as the other natural chemicals in the plant, are labeled full-spectrum. CBD products with no THC but still including the other natural substances in the plant are labeled broad-spectrum. Pure CBD is labeled CBD isolate.
How potent is the CBD?
The label on a CBD product should indicate its strength, regardless of if you’re buying CBD oil, an edible product, a pill, or anything else. For example, the concentration of CBD oil should be labeled to tell you how many milligrams of CBD is in each drop. The bottle of CBD gummies should say how many milligrams of CBD are in each gummy.
Has a third party tested the CBD?
Some CBD brands test their products in-house. Can they be trusted to provide accurate information? That’s hard to say. The most reliable CBD brands out there send their products to a third-party lab for testing to ensure there is no bias in the results.
How much information is on the website about their CBD products?
Generally speaking, the more information a brand provides, the better. Besides being third-party tested, other valuable information includes a complete list of ingredients, the specific carrier oil for CBD oil products, the source of the CBD (which farm did it come from, for instance), and if the product is organic and free of GMOs. Find a brand that discloses all of these things.
How is the CBD extracted?
There are different ways to extract CBD from the cannabis plant that can impact the quality and purity of the product. The purest (and most expensive) extraction method is CO2 extraction. It uses CO2 as a solvent to get the CBD out of the plant. The chance of the final product being contaminated is slim.
It is more common for companies to use ethanol, butane, propane, isopropyl, or alcohol to extract CBD because it is cheaper and faster. However, traces of these toxic substances could be left behind in the CBD.
There is also the possibility for CBD to be extracted using olive oil. It’s a simple, safe, and inexpensive way to extract CBD. This method is not more popular is because olive oil is perishable, thus making the final product perishable as well. This is not ideal for companies or consumers.