As cannabis laws become more lenient around the world and research into the effects of CBD and THC continue to grow, the market for cannabis products has blown up. While cannabis, and specifically THC, hasn’t been completely legalized in many states, laws are much more relaxed when it comes to CBD products made from industrial help containing less than 0.3% THC. CBD oils, capsules, creams, and e-Liquids are everywhere now, but with so many to choose from, how do you decide what’s right for you?
Understanding the Plant Materials
Knowing what type of plant a CBD product was made from is the first step in determining if it’s the right product for you. CBD is extracted from cannabis but that could mean it came from a marijuana plant rich in THC or from an industrial hemp plant with negligible levels of THC. Industrial hemp will generally contain no more than 0.3% THC but can still be high in CBD content.
THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the intoxicating effects that get you high. If you’re looking only for the therapeutic effects of CBD without the psychoactive effects of THC, or if you don’t want significant levels of THC in your bloodstream, you may want to choose a product made from a hemp plant extract. This is not to be confused with hemp oil which is extracted from hemp seeds and contains little to no CBD.
Full Spectrum CBD oil extracted from the whole plant will contain CBD as well as many of the other cannabinoids and terpenes found in the cannabis. THC and CBD are the most prevalent cannabinoids found in cannabis but there are countless others that come with their own set of therapeutic properties. Full-spectrum CBD oil will contain some of these other cannabinoids, as well as varying levels of THC. A hemp extract CBD oil will contain very low levels of THC, under 0.3%.
You can also purchase a CBD isolate which will come in the form of a crystalline powder that can be ingested. A CBD isolate will contain only pure CBD with no other cannabinoids or terpenes present. This is a more desirable option for some people while others prefer to receive the full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes in what is known as the “entourage effect”. This notion suggests that the combined effects of the many cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis can work together synergistically to produces greater results.
CBD and THC in Cannabis Oils
For cannabis oils containing any significant amounts of THC, ratios for both THC and CBD will be listed on the label. A hemp extract oil will generally show the amount of CBD per bottle listed in milligrams. Cannabis oils will have both the THC and CBD quantities or ratios listed so you can see how much of each cannabinoid you’re receiving.
THC creates it’s well-known feelings of euphoria by binding with CB1 receptors in the brain. A high enough ratio of CBD to THC will block these receptors and can actually negate the psychoactive properties of THC. Cannabis oils with higher levels of THC than CBD will provide the high associated with marijuana but when the CBD levels are equal or greater the psychoactive effects will be lessened and the medicinal properties of THC will remain.
We have an article that breaks down the differences between CBD and THC in detail.
How Much CBD Does it Contain?
In any bottle of CBD oil, the amount of CBD contained should be listed in milligrams. For CBD capsules, the amount of CBD per capsule will be shown. It’s very easy to determine how much CBD you’re getting per dose with the capsules but with a bottle of CBD oil you may need to do a little math to figure out how much CBD will be in each dose.
Each bottle can contain varying amounts of CBD, some quite low and others very concentrated. It’s important to know how much CBD you’re getting per mL for correct dosing purposes and also to have an idea of the value of your purchase. Take the mg of CBD in a bottle and divide that by the mL of liquid in the bottle. For example, a 30 mL bottle of 150 mg CBD oil will contain 5 mg of CBD per mL. Knowing how much CBD is in every mL will give you a better idea of what you’re buying and how much CBD you’re ingesting.
Method of Delivery
As CBD grows in popularity and continues to flood the market, it can be purchased in an increasingly wide variety of forms. You can buy CBD in face creams, mascaras, protein powders, epsom salts, bath bombs, CBD-infused cocktails, and countless other products. CBD can be swallowed, absorbed sublingually, inhaled, or absorbed through a topical cream, although this last option will not deliver the CBD into your bloodstream.
When it comes to purchasing CBD oils, knowing the methods of delivery you prefer will help you decide what to choose. Choosing a CBD capsule is easy and will give you the exact same amount of CBD with every dose. However, swallowing CBD whole will allow it to pass through your digestive system which may result in some of the product being broken down through first pass metabolism before entering your bloodstream.
Using a CBD oil that is first absorbed under the tongue and then swallowed will allow some of the CBD to enter directly into your bloodstream and bypass the breakdown from first pass metabolism. This method will also allow you to control the exact amount of CBD you want to consume at any given time. CBD can provide different results in higher and lower amounts so being able to control your dosage at different times of the day can be helpful.
Vaping or any other method of inhalation will provide much more immediate results than oral delivery methods but the effects will not last as long. In some cases, such as pain management, it can be helpful to use a combination of methods to receive immediate effects through inhalation as needed as well as the longer lasting results via ingestion.
CBD oil is made without any regulation or official quality control so it’s important to understand the materials and manufacturing processes used by the brand you’re purchasing from. Possible extraction methods include solvent extraction, olive oil extraction, and CO2 extraction.
The solvent methods use ethanol, low-grade alcohol, or butane. These methods can not only destroy some of the therapeutic plant waxes but they can also produce oils that contain harmful contaminants.
Olive oil extraction is much safer than the solvent method but it creates a perishable product that cannot be stored for any extended amount of time and must be used somewhat quickly. It also produces a fairly low yield of CBD.
CO2 extraction is the most expensive method of extraction but it provides the safest and purest results. When purchasing CBD oils you’ll want to look for a brand that uses this method of extraction to ensure you have the highest quality product.
Certificate of Analysis
Due to the lack of regulation that comes with the cannabis industry, many products are advertised with CBD on the label but actually contain very little or none of the cannabinoid. This has made it important for legitimate manufacturers to provide third party lab reports, or a certificate of analysis, so the customer can review a breakdown of the product they intend to purchase. Many manufacturers will supply these upon request or will have them available to view with the product information on their website. Reviewing these reports can help you determine which CBD oil is a high quality product and is worth purchasing.
CBD and all of its amazing therapeutic properties are still being explored and laws are still adapting to redefine CBD’s place in mainstream medicine. CBD regulation is becoming more reliable but there is still room to grow. Knowing what you’re looking for and being familiar the various forms of CBD products with help you to ensure you’re buying a product that suits your needs and can provide all the benefits CBD has to offer.