Cannabidiol (CBD) oil has become increasingly popular as a natural way to help people try to manage pain, reduce inflammation, and cope with anxiety.* Though the number of prescriptions has risen sharply in the United States over the past 20 years, many Americans are trying to limit the number of prescribed drugs they take – instead, searching for all-natural solutions to the aches, pains, and discomfort they begin to face as they age. For many of them, CBD oil is the solution they’ve been looking for. But not all CBD oil is created equal, meaning finding the right CBD oil could just be the most important part of their journey.
1. Where Was the Hemp Grown and What Might Be In It?
Hemp is a bioaccumulator, meaning it is capable of absorbing both the good and the bad from the air, water, and soil in which it’s grown. This makes it all the more important to know that your CBD oil comes from organically grown hemp that can be tracked to its US-grown source. The last thing buyers want is for their CBD oil to have accumulated toxic substances such as pesticides, herbicides, or heavy metals. For decades, farmers have used pesticides to protect crops against insects, disease, and fungi – and have used herbicides to control weeds – but we’ve known for quite some time that chemicals used to harm other species can also be harmful to our own species. That’s one big reason behind the global push to go organic. People are starting to prioritize organic crops, whether you’re talking about fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, livestock feed – even textiles like cotton, wool, and flax.
Types of Cancer Linked to Pesticides/Herbicides1
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Multiple myeloma
- Soft tissue sarcoma
- Cancers of the skin, lip, stomach, brain, prostate
Because of the potential dangers of these chemicals, the list of organic products people should seek out absolutely includes hemp – and the only way you can be sure that the CBD oil you buy is pure and free of foreign substances is by purchasing CBD oil from an organic source that can be traced all the way back to the field.
Key Factors in Sourcing
- Organically grown
- Grown in the United States
- Transparent seller
2. How Much THC Is in the CBD Oil?
For some, having more than trace amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) might not be a big deal, but if you’re being drug tested at work, operating heavy machinery, or fall into a number of other categories, you may want to keep the THC to a bare minimum. In order to qualify as a legal hemp product, CBD oil must contain less than 0.03% THC. Look for CBD oil certified to have low levels of, or zero, THC in them. Many reputable sellers do offer products that have absolutely no THC in them at all, so if you are concerned about keeping even trace amounts of TCH out of your body, it is best to look for those products and sellers.
Benefits of CBD with Less Than 0.03% THC
- No failed drug tests (if zero THC)
- No fear of mind-altering affects
- Complies with the guidelines of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
CBD oil is similar to other products in that it is capable of being “watered down.” Some companies will try to eke out a higher profit margin by fooling their customers into thinking they’re getting more for less. It is important to pay attention to the concentration level of the CBD oil you’re buying in order to ensure you’re getting what you’re paying for. Although concentrations of CBD can vary quite a bit across the broad range of CBD products, a quality product will start off having somewhere between 250mg to 1,000mg per fluid ounce. This matters because if you were to purchase a 4 ounce bottle that contained 250mg of CBD, your concentration would be a mere 62.5 mg of CBD per ounce – hardly enough to reap the full benefits of CBD. It’s always important to look at the concentration level of the CBD you’re buying.
If the concentration of CBD is not listed, use the following formula to help guide your purchase:
- Total amount of CBD (in mg)/volume of container (in ounces) = concentration level
- Example: 1,500mg CBD/4 ounce bottle = 375mg/oz.
4. How Do We Know the CBD is Potent and Pure?
Death and taxes are the only guarantees we have in life, so it’s important not to just take a company’s word for it that their CBD oil is free of contaminants. Having the CBD tested in a third-party accredited laboratory, free of the watchful eye of the company president, is the only way to ensure the safety, quality, and potency of the product.
ISO/IEC 17025:2017 Accredited Laboratories Should Test to Ensure the CBD is Free Of:
- Residual solvents (from the extraction process)
- Bacteria and fungus
- Foreign matter
- Heavy metals
5. How Much Total CBD is in the Product?
This may seem like a repeat of an earlier question, but while that question related to concentration of CBD in the product, this is simply a question of how much you’re getting in total. Most bottles are labeled in a similar way – “1,000mg CBD Oil” or “1,000mg Hemp Extract” – which generally means the entire bottle contains a total of 1,000mg of CBD.
6. How is the CBD Being Extracted?
To get almonds from an almond tree, you can just shake the tree. To get juice from an orange, you can simply squeeze the fruit. But getting CBD oil from hemp is a much more complicated process. The cheapest and easiest ways to extract CBD oil from hemp commonly involve harsh solvents that can leave chemical residue in the CBD oil. The best, and most reliable extraction method, uses carbon dioxide (CO2) under high pressure and extremely low temperatures to pull out as much CBD as possible without introducing contaminants. Once the CO2 is no longer under intense pressure, it simply evaporates, leaving virtually no trace of extraction on the CBD oil.
Benefits of CO2 Extraction:
- Ensures high quality
- Uses no harsh solvents/chemicals
- Free of butane & propane, and ethanol
- It’s a standard solvent, widely used for foods and dietary supplements
7. Is There Any Accountability?
Some companies will hide under a cloak of darkness that the Internet can provide, but it’s a pretty good sign if the company lists an honest-to-goodness phone number you can use to reach real people. The companies with inferior products will often be very difficult to reach. Before ordering, try to reach out to the company. If someone picks up the phone or gets back to you in a timely manner, you’ve probably found a company that not only takes accountability seriously, but cares about their customers and the quality of their products.
8. Is the Company Hiding Something?
It’s important to search for CBD products that are sold legally, with full transparency and accountability. There are myriad shady businesses, false claims, and products of inferior quality in the supplement industry. Finding a transparent CBD company is the first step to finding an ethical CBD company.
9. What Are They Claiming?
It is a strict violation of the Food and Drug Administration DSHEA guidelines to make medical claims about the efficacy of CBD products in the treatment of any medical condition or symptom. Although preliminary research has shown tremendous promise of CBD oil helping people in pretty remarkable ways, legitimate CBD companies will refrain from making any direct medical claims. Be very wary of companies that defy this guideline, because if they disregard this particular rule, what other rules are they willing to ignore?
10. Is Cheaper Always Better?
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.
Reasons Higher-Quality CBD Oil May Cost More
- Organically grown
- Extracted using CO2 method
- Higher concentrations of CBD
- Grown in the United States
- Tested in third-party labs
- Company is following rules/laws
- Made from high-quality, full-spectrum extract, so other beneficial compounds are present