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buying cbd oil

A buyer’s guide to CBD

Is CBD legal? Hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC are legal federally but still illegal under some state laws. Cannabis-derived CBD products, on the other hand, are illegal federally but legal under some state laws. Check local legislation, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved nonprescription CBD products, which may be inaccurately labeled.

In recent years, cannabidiol (CBD) has grown in popularity due to increased research and interest in its potential health benefits. However, the sheer quantity of products on the market may overwhelm many of those wishing to try it.

Before purchasing CBD, there are several factors to consider, including the type of CBD product, its potency, and the provider or manufacturer.

People wishing to try CBD products must also be aware that it may interact with some medications. Anyone uncertain about CBD and its effects should speak with a doctor or healthcare provider.

Keep reading to find out what to consider when shopping for CBD.

CBD on display in a shop

Share on Pinterest An increasingly wide range of CBD products is available online and in health stores.
Image credit: Kevin McGovern / Shutterstock.com

CBD is one of over 120 compounds , or cannabinoids, unique to the cannabis plant. CBD is typically the second most abundant cannabinoid after tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Cannabinoids act in various ways on the body’s endocannabinoid system, which may cause one of several different effects.

As noted in Cancers , CBD may have the following properties:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • anticonvulsive
  • analgesic (pain)
  • anxiolytic (anti-anxiety)
  • sedative
  • antipsychotic

The scientific research behind these supposed medical benefits of CBD is at various stages. However, anecdotal evidence shows that people who have used CBD have found relief from a variety of conditions.

A study of CBD users in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research noted that about 62% of people used CBD for medical symptoms. The most common of these conditions were depression, anxiety, and pain.

Because CBD might contain so many beneficial properties, it has the potential to be an important medical compound.

There appear to be very few adverse side effects, and most people tolerate it well. CBD does not lead to abuse or dependence, provided people do not mix it with other potentially addictive substances.

As well as cannabinoids, the cannabis plant contains many other compounds, such as terpenes.

Many plants contain terpenes, and they are generally responsible for a plant’s specific scent. Cannabis products may contain terpenes in varying strengths.

Although scientists do not fully understand the role that some compounds in cannabis play, they think that terpenes might also offer some therapeutic benefits. However, this depends on the type of terpene present and its strength.

A study in Chemico-Biological Interactions notes that limonene, one of the more abundant terpenes in nature, which is responsible for the fresh scent of lemon, has shown anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, and other health benefits.

The ‘entourage effect’

The ‘entourage effect’ hypothesizes that the presence of multiple compounds from the cannabis plant and its extracts maximizes its health benefits.

A study in Frontiers in Plant Science notes that there is some current evidence for the ‘entourage effect.’

So, when purchasing CBD oil, for example, some people might prefer to select a product that contains some of these other compounds as well.

For more information and resources on CBD and CBD products, please visit our dedicated hub.

A certificate of analysis, or COA, is one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a CBD product. Essentially, it is a form of quality control that confirms whether the product contains the quantities of CBD that the manufacturer claims or advertises.

A COA should come from a third-party source and not the manufacturer or brand to ensure accurate and unbiased results. A third-party COA will generally have a few different sections.

One section will typically detail how much CBD, THC, as well as other, less abundant cannabinoids, such as CBN or CBC, the product contains. These readings indicate the potency of a product.

Another section will focus on possible contaminants in the form of pesticides or microbes in the product.

A further section will list any possible contamination from heavy metals or chemicals, such as residual solvents.

CBD company websites should also have a COA available so potential buyers can check out a product before making their purchase.

It is also important that the COA comes from a trustworthy lab. If possible, check for accredited labs that followed the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) guidelines.

The potency of the CBD product is another important factor to consider, as it varies greatly depending on the individual’s needs.

CBD products usually display dosages in milligrams (mg). However, it is important to remember that there is little human research to guide suitable dosing for various conditions.

It is best to start with lower doses and slowly increase them to find the minimum effective dose with minimal side effects. Once a person has found the right dosage for their needs, they should continue to use it.

The dose a person requires may vary according to their metabolism, tolerance levels, and the method of intake.

There is a confusing variety of CBD extracts on the market. The following are the most widely used terms.

Please note that CBD and some of the terminology around it is not heavily regulated, and some manufacturers use the following terms interchangeably:

CBD isolate

CBD isolate products only contain CBD from the cannabis plant. There are no other compounds, such as THC, present.

Some people want the certainty that the CBD product they use is devoid of THC. CBD-only products can help a person to gauge the effectiveness of the CBD itself without interference from other substances and compounds.

However, as previously mentioned, some research indicates that CBD that contains other compounds may actually increase its effects.

Broad-spectrum CBD

Broad-spectrum CBD products contain other compounds and cannabinoids found in the plant, such as CBC, CBN, or terpenes, such as myrcene, limonene, or pinene.

Broad-spectrum CBD typically contains no THC. However, some products will contain trace quantities.

Full-spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum products contain the same compounds as broad-spectrum products. However, they usually also contain low quantities of THC, usually under 0.3% as mandated by federal law. This amount of THC is not enough to create the ‘high’ effect that many people associate with cannabis.

Because full-spectrum CBD contains other compounds, including THC, the previously mentioned ‘entourage effect’ may increase its effects.

Another aspect to consider is the type of product. Although the effects tend to be the same, some people may prefer one type of CBD over another, depending on how or when they plan to use it.

Oils and tinctures

CBD oil and tinctures typically have a glycerin, oil, or alcohol base. People can take these extracts on their own, usually through a dropper or add them to food and drinks themselves.

Various strengths and flavors of CBD oils and tinctures are available.

Edibles

CBD edibles contain the above extracts but in a food form. CBD edibles are available as drinks and food items, such as teas and chocolate.

Gummies are a common form of CBC edible. They come in various strengths and flavors.

Vaporizers

For quick action, vaporizers can deliver CBD extracts through inhalation. However, vaping comes with added risk, including lung damage. Sublingual extracts placed under the tongue may offer some of the quick action provided by vaporizers without the risk of vaping-associated lung injury.

Creams and lotions

CBD also comes in the form of topical oils, creams, and lotions. Some people may feel the effects immediately, where others may not notice any effects for several hours.

It might be best to try out a few different types to identify what provides the appropriate relief.

Some companies may add other ingredients to their products to work alongside the CBD.

Always check the product for other ingredients before buying. Added chemicals, flavoring additives, or other compounds may not be right for everyone.

Some ingredients may also cause reactions in some people. Keep an eye out for other allergens in food products, and search for any unknown ingredient names before buying any CBD product.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate CBD products, so it is up to the buyer to choose quality products. To ensure the best quality extracts, check that the product has a COA, and a reliable laboratory has carried out third-party testing.

Many online retailers will provide third-party lab results and COAs to their customers.

Many larger health food stores also carry a range of CBD products. Reputable companies such as these should also provide third-party lab results.

Avoid products from manufacturers who are not willing to provide the information or use vague labeling on their packaging.

CBD is a natural compound. There is little risk to people who take CBD alone provided they are not taking any other medication.

CBD may interact with a range of other drugs and lead to increased side effects. Anyone regularly taking prescription or over-the-counter medications should check with their doctor before using CBD.

Some people may also experience mild side effects while taking CBD, including fatigue and an upset stomach.

Scientists do not yet know if CBD is safe for use during pregnancy, so pregnant women should abstain from CBD.

CBD is one of over 120 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Research into CBD is still in the early stages, so scientists know relatively little about its benefits and risks.

However, from the available scientific and anecdotal evidence, it appears that CBD may have numerous health benefits.

People should always exercise caution when using CBD, and should never use it in place of their usual medication unless a doctor or healthcare professional advises them to do so.

When shopping for CBD, always choose a product with a COA, which outlines the compounds the product contains.

The type of CBD in a product, its potency, and the provider, may all play an important role in helping a person choose what is right for them. Learn more here.

The Best CBD Oil Brands to Buy in 2021

Related Content

If you’re looking for the best CBD oil but don’t know where to start, we’re here to help you sort through your options.

The 2018 Farm Bill ushered in a revival of high-quality hemp extracts with low amounts of THC. As a result, cannabidiol, or CBD oil, has exploded on the wellness market.

This guide will help you find where to buy high-quality CBD, learn about the reputation of certain brands, and evaluate value. We’ll also talk about how CBD oil may offer some relief or health benefits.

Our picks were made with the help of Ashley Jordan Ferira, PhD, RDN, who is a medical advisor at Remedy Review, an independent CBD reviews site. All of the brands recommended here have been vetted through third-party lab testing for quality and safety. It’s important to keep in mind that CBD products are not regulated by the FDA.

Read on to learn more about important considerations when selecting CBD hemp products, answers to commonly asked questions surrounding usage, and an in-depth scope of how we determined our selections.

Our top 10 CBD oils:

  • Best CBD for Anxiety: CBDistillery
  • Best Potency: Spruce CBD Oil
  • Best Organic: Joy Organics
  • Best Full-Spectrum: Cornbread Hemp
  • Best THC-Free: Medterra
  • Best CBD Oil for Pain:NuLeaf Naturals
  • Best CBD Oil Spray: Plus CBD Spray
  • Best for Sleep: Charlotte’s Web
  • Best Tasting: FAB CBD
  • Best Broad-Spectrum: cbdMD

Detailed reviews for the best CBD oils

Best for Anxiety: CBDistillery Full-Spectrum Oil

Are you stressed or anxious? If so, you’re not alone. A recent survey found that a whopping 8 in 10 Americans report being afflicted by stress during their day. CBDistillery put time into asking customers whether their products are calming: In a questionnaire sent to 2,000 customers, 88% reported that CBD helped with mild or temporary anxiety, and 76% said they preferred CBD to alcohol when they needed to relax.

The brand makes several strengths, which allows people to personalize their dose and avoid drowsiness if taking CBD during the day. Buyers can choose from strengths ranging from 33 mg to 83 mg per serving, and the brand carries both full spectrum and THC-free tinctures.

CBDistillery tests all products through third-party lab Proverde, and you can find Certificates of Analysis for each product on their website.

To buy: 100 mg Full Spectrum CBD Oil, thecbdistillery.com

We rated CBDistillery as the best option for those seeking to relieve anxiety.

Strongest CBD Option: Spruce CBD Oil Tincture

Spruce has a worthy reputation in the CBD industry thanks to its third-party testing, lab-grade CBD oil, and strong relationships with its farmers and hemp suppliers. The brand focuses on small-batch CBD production, helping to achieve consistency and quality from product to product.

Spruce offers high potency, full-spectrum tinctures derived from organic hemp in two strengths: 25 mg or 80 mg per serving. It’s important to note that most people would graduate up to these doses over time. Things like body size and health impact (like the level of pain you’re trying to control) will help determine which Spruce variety is right for you. Third-party lab data from ProVerde Laboratories and ACS Laboratory is available here.

We rated Spruce as the brand with the strongest CBD oil available.

Best Organic: Joy Organics CBD Oil Tincture

Joy Organics is grounded in sustainable farming. The brand ensures each of their partners follows Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP). Also, all full spectrum tinctures include whole-plant extracts from organically-grown Colorado hemp.

There are 3 available strengths ranging from 15 mg to 45 mg per serving. The Fresh Lime tincture is a favorite, as the lime nicely offsets the natural taste of hemp. Joy Organics product line also includes gummies, softgels, topicals, and energy drinks. Joy Organics tests its products at Stillwater and Accu-Bio Labs. Lab results are accessible online.

To buy: Fresh Lime Oil Tincture, joyorganics.com

We rated Joy Organics as the Best Organic CBD oil available to consumers.

Best Full-Spectrum: Cornbread Hemp Whole Flower Oil

When it comes to whole plant therapy, it’s hard to beat Cornbread Hemp. These oils are full spectrum, and distilled only from the hemp flower. This allows the brand to produce a CBD-to-THC ratio of 22:1.

Cornbread Hemp is also USDA-certified organic and uses organic MCT coconut oil in their blends. The full spectrum “Whole Flower” oils are best for discomfort and the lighter “Distilled” oils are better for stress relief.

Cornbread Hemp shares batch-level lab reports from Kaycha Labs on the product pages.

To buy: Whole Flower USDA Organic CBD Oil, cornbreadhemp.com

We selected Cornbread Hemp as the Best Full-Spectrum CBD Oil.

Best THC-Free: Medterra CBD Oil

Looking for zero THC to avoid a failed drug test? Medterra’s CBD isolate products provide a THC-free guarantee, and they are also U.S. Hemp Authority Certified. This could be a great option for anyone who may have to undergo regular drug testing. Dosages range from 16 mg all the way up to 100 mg per serving.

Derived from Kentucky hemp, Medterra’s unflavored CBD tinctures are made with 99% pure CBD extract, as well as organic MCT oil. In addition to these CBD isolate oils, Medterra also makes broad-spectrum CBD oils, CBD capsules, topicals, and pet products. Medterra utilizes ProVerde Laboratories and Green Scientific Labs to test all of its products and provides access to these third-party lab results online.

We selected Medterra as the best THC-Free oil.

Best for Pain: NuLeaf Naturals Hemp Extract

NuLeaf Naturals packs a punch with a full spectrum of synergistic cannabinoids and terpenes in a high-potency formula. Each bottle delivers 60 mg of full-spectrum CBD per 1 mL of oil. This consistency across all of its CBD oil formulas allows you to easily find the dose that works for you. Then you can purchase the bottle size that aligns with your needs and budget—available sizes range from 300 mg to 6,000 mg of CBD per bottle. We picked NuLeaf Naturals as our best product for chronic pain relief because it is a strong, full spectrum oil.

NuLeaf Naturals’ products are made with USDA-certified organic hemp seed oil, with CO2 extraction, and they are free of additives, heavy metals, toxins, chemicals, and flavorings. The company also offers a full-spectrum pet tincture. You can find product-specific third-party lab reports from ProVerde Laboratories on Nuleaf’s website.

To Buy: 725 mg High Grade Hemp Extract, nuleafnaturals.com

We selected NuLeaf Naturals as the Best CBD Oil for Pain

Best CBD Oil Spray: Plus CBD Original Formula Spray

Plus CBD offers a great product for those new to CBD in their Original Formula CBD Oil Spray. Instead of a traditional tincture that uses a dropper, you can apply this CBD oil using a pump spray bottle for more accurate servings. This is helpful for making sure you know how much CBD you take with each serving and is less messy than a dropper.

The Plus CBD Original Formula Oil comes in multiple strengths and three different flavors, including peppermint, cafe mocha, and unflavored. It’s also non-GMO, vegetarian, and third-party lab tested. Plus CBD uses a clean and environmentally-friendly CO2 method to extract the CBD oil from the hemp plants.

To Buy: Plus CBD Original Formula CBD Oil Spray, pluscbdoil.com

We selected Plus CBD Original Formula as the Best CBD Oil Spray

Best for Sleep: Charlotte’s Web CBD Oil

Charlotte’s Web CBD oils feature whole plant extracts. This means in addition to terpenes, flavonoids, and essential fatty acids, they contain a range of cannabinoids. Users of Charlotte’s Web have said the brand’s combination of CBD, CBC, and CBG support healthy sleep cycles. The overall sense of calm and relief that its products provide are another benefit that could potentially aid in better sleep.

Our picks for the best CBD oils for pain, anxiety, and sleep. This deep dive will help you shop smarter online.