Regulation is scarce in the cannabis industry. Consumers need to rely heavily on self-education about what makes a quality product and things to know before buying CBD. Industry standards don’t exist yet.
Association with CBD is not always wanted due to its link to marijuana. Companies are still on the fence.
Then there is always that nagging question in the back of your head: Does it really contain the amount of CBD it says on the label?
High-quality brands go to great lengths trying to educate customers about what makes a good product. But that’s not to say there aren’t any black sheep out there.
Unfortunately, there are people trying to separate you from your hard-earned cash by selling you bogus products. Low transparency on what you can buy from where doesn’t help either. Here are 8 points of what to look for when buying CBD oil.
So where can you buy your CBD oil from?
Naturally, you would go to the Amazon website and start searching for CBD. Your search results would go into the thousands whilst you are asking yourself which one to choose.
Mixed reviews and unclear titles make you unsure of what you are actually buying. Most products contain phrases like hemp oil, hemp seed oil, hemp extract etc. But you won’t find words like CBD or cannabidiol in a product’s title.
A still, little, unknown fact is that Amazon UK (and Amazon US) does not allow the sale of products containing CBD.
Most of the listings on Amazon when searching for CBD contain a milligram number of some sort. Beware, just because a product’s title contains a milligram number it doesn’t mean there’s actual CBD in it.
There have been blog posts and articles about companies getting around Amazon’s T&C’s by not advertising CBD products as such. Finding those genuine CBD products on Amazon is tricky and time-consuming though. It involves contacting all those suppliers and asking them for 3rd party lab tests.
I recommend you going to an online store that specialises in CBD products and avoiding Amazon for now (until they change their T&C’s). Most of the high-quality CBD brands sell their products directly on their website. If you have questions about any of their products they will be able to answer those with confidence.
Watch out for brands making big claims like “Doctor recommended”, “Works instantly” or “Long-lasting relief”. Those claims should let your inner alarm bells ring.
America’s FDA has been sending out warning letters to companies in the past. Those companies are marketing their products with unsubstantiated claims.
Let’s not forget, CBD is not a cure (at least not yet proven). Avoid brands who claim CBD is a cure for your ailments. At this stage, we know that CBD has health benefits and can benefit you in the treatment of those ailments. But it does not cure them by itself.
Transparency is key when looking at CBD brands. Are there any lab tests published? How much information are they giving you on their web page? If you have contacted them what sort of answer have they given you?
The more transparent and upfront a CBD brand is, the better. It invokes trust and means they’re not trying to hide anything. It also shows they are not only interested in their bottom line but providing their customers with a top-notch product.
How and where is the hemp grown? Is it organic?
Hemp is a phytoremediation plant meaning it absorbs toxins from the soil. Such toxins include heavy metals, pesticides, fuels and other contaminants. It is nature’s way of cleaning itself.
This, however, makes it more important that the hemp, from which the CBD is sourced, is grown under the highest cultivation standards. Farms using organic soil, clean water and ethical farming procedures should be your main focus.
If the soil is not clean contaminated hemp could be a result. That means the extracted CBD will also include contaminants. Nobody wants to ingest contaminated products as those would do more harm than good.
The biggest hemp producing countries are China, Canada, USA, France and Chile. Hemp is legally grown in other countries as well but in smaller quantities.
The biggest producers have accumulated most of the experience. China is growing most of its hemp for industrial purposes. Therefore, you would want your hemp to be sourced in Canada, the USA or France.
Having said that, even in those countries there are no regulated standards for growing hemp. So you still need to ensure yourself you’re not buying contaminated CBD.
What part of the plant is the CBD coming from?
The hemp plant can be broken down into its harvested parts:
- Flowers, leaves and stalks: Those contain the highly sought after CBD.
- Stems: Contain CBD but are also high in fibre. The fibre is usually extracted first and used for industrial purposes.
- Seeds: High in nutrition and antioxidants. Seeds are usually further processed into hemp seed oil. Hemp seeds do not contain any CBD.
If a product is advertised as hemp seed oil the likelihood it contains CBD is close to zero. Always read the label and the product’s ingredients to make sure you get what you are looking for.
How much CBD is in the oil? How clear is the label?
The labelling of the CBD oil you’re looking at should be clear and without any bold claims. It should include storage instructions which you should follow.
The more research emerges, the better CBD producers get at printing instructions for use onto the label as well. This is not always the case though and you might have to consult the producer’s website for serving instructions.
Most important of all, the label should make clear how much CBD the oil contains. If “hemp extract” is the branding message of the oil, you still need to check the CBD amount.
Some companies are trying to disguise the actual CBD content due to low CBD level in the oil. All ingredients should be clearly listed on the label including its THC content.
If the oil does not contain any THC this should also be made apparent on the label. Did I mention you should avoid any products with bold claims on the label?
What kind of CBD oil is it?
Is it a full spectrum or a broad spectrum CBD oil? Or even a CBD isolate? You can find more about the different CBD oil variations including the pros and cons here.
If you are in the UK I would recommend a broad spectrum CBD oil for oral use. This type of CBD oil doesn’t contain any THC, not even trace amounts, and you can still benefit from the “entourage effect”.
By the way, don’t fall for the hemp oil marketing trick. Hemp oil is most likely made from hemp seeds and will not contain any CBD. You don’t want to pay a hefty premium for regular hemp seed oil.
What other ingredients are in the oil?
Every CBD oil (and isolate) needs a carrier. The carrier is the vehicle that transports the CBD (and other hemp compounds) to the cells in your body. CBD can’t do that on its own.
Oils that are high in natural fat content, like coconut oil, olive oil or MCT oil, are best suited as CBD carriers.
MCT oil is a coconut oil extract, is easily digested and comes with additional health benefits. It is believed that MCT is the most superior form of natural fats and is an excellent molecular carrier for the CBD.
Quality CBD oils usually only have two ingredients listed on their labels. A form of CBD (full spectrum, broad spectrum, isolate) and the carrier oil. If the product you are looking at has more than two to three ingredients listed on the label, you might want to skip this one and look at another.
If you already have a favourite CBD oil, check out its label. It might be that you have to look for another favourite if its ingredients read like a shopping list out of Futurama.
All in all, as long as your CBD oil uses a high-quality carrier oil it doesn’t make a big difference which one it is. You might taste the difference in the case of olive oil.
If you are already using MCT oil as a supplement in your diet, you might want to combine MCT and CBD into one product by looking out for an MCT carrier oil.
Is it 3rd party tested? Are the lab results published?
As the cannabis industry is unregulated, you want that confirmation that what you are actually buying is genuine. CBD companies can pretty much print on their labels whatever they wish as there are no official standards.
People want to find a good and safe product to help them with the treatment of their ailments. Or they want a wellness product to prop up their diet but are at the mercy of CBD producer’s marketing tricks.
There have been instances in the past where CBD companies have received warning letters from their government. This was due to their “CBD” products not actually containing any.
This prompted concerned consumers to demand more transparency. Bring on independent lab reports. A 3rd party lab report provides you with unbiased verification of the product. It gives you the assurance that you’re buying a genuine product. Lab reports are one of the main things to know before buying CBD products.
What makes a good lab?
The testing lab should not be affiliated in any way or form to the CBD producer. Labs also need to be independent of any organisation mandating specific results. Otherwise, it would defeat the purpose.
Testing labs need to be separate entities providing an independent and neutral opinion on the contents of the CBD oil. Not only will a lab report tell you the amount of CBD in a product, but it will also show ingredients you should avoid.
Such ingredients include fertilisers, growth hormones and pesticides. For Broad Spectrum CBD oils, there should not be any THC on the report whatsoever.
Quality CBD producers will often publish their lab results on their website for each product. They will also test their products on a regular basis to maintain the highest standards.
If you’re eyeing up a CBD oil but cannot find a 3rd party lab report on the website it is no sign to worry yet. Just reach out to the store or manufacturer and request a 3rd party lab report.
If they don’t respond or cannot send you such report for whatever reason, you should definitely steer clear of that brand. Transparency is key in the cannabis industry.
Remember: Amazon does not sell everything. Don’t believe big marketing claims. Hemp should be grown on clean soil and hemp seed oil does not contain any CBD.
In the current regulatory environment, it is crucial to educate yourself before you buy a product. Rushing the buying process just so you can get that “10% off ends soon” offer could potentially end in you getting a sub-quality product.
Although you get a premium product in return, sourcing organic hemp and have it lab tested every now and then is not cheap. High transparency and excellent customer service have their price. High-quality products command a premium in price. But as the old saying goes: “You get what you pay for.”
Do you have a favourite CBD oil from a top-quality brand? Share it below in the comment section. And if you want to learn more about CBD and keep up with the latest trends subscribe to my blog.