Cannabidiol (CBD) oils and medicines have boomed in popularity over the past five years.
It’s now possible to order CBD online in several countries, and even the World Health Organization has stated that there are no known health risks associated with CBD.
Yet, while CBD itself may be benign, not all CBD products are safe to consume.
In fact, with the increase in demand for the cannabinoid, many new products are entering the market without adequate quality control. Some, including CBD ejuices, may even contain carcinogenic ingredients.
To help you find the best and safest CBD products around, you want to find manufacturers that are transparent about their production processes.
Here are seven specific things you need to know before you buy:
1. Look at testing results
In some states, companies that work with cannabis are required to batch test their plants and/or the concentrates made from them.
Yet, there are no federal standards that ensure that your CBD products have been tested for quality control.
That means that there are still many brands who sell CBD products that have not gone through quality control testing.
Testing for quality control ensures that the levels of CBD are reported on the product.
Standardized quality testing also prevents samples with excess mold, residual pesticide, and residual solvent from entering the market.
Fortunately, while third-party testing is not required for many CBD manufacturers, a lot of brands opt to have their CBD solutions tested by independent laboratories. Many of them post their testing results online.
If you’re hoping to play it safe with CBD, it’s always a good idea to email the manufacturer and request their lab results.
If you want to go a step further, you can also vet the testing lab.
2. Go organic
One of the best ways to ensure that your CBD product is safe?
Back in 2015, research published in the Journal of Toxicological tested 57 samples of cannabis concentrates for traces of residual solvents and pesticides.
A whopping 80 percent came back with traces of contamination.
While third-party testing has become more common over the past two years, it is not required for many cannabis products on the market.
One way to minimize the possible exposure to pesticides in CBD products is to purchase products made from organically grown cannabis.
While no CBD or cannabis company can apply for the Certified Organic seal, several brands opt to organically grow the cannabis used in their CBD oils and extractions.
Choosing to purchase from brands that advocate for organic cultivation can help make your CBD product a little safer.
3. Avoid harmful additives and solvents
Not all CBD products are created equally.
If you’re hoping to determine whether a CBD product is safe, you’ll have to read through the ingredients.
As with any product, a CBD formulation is only as good as the ingredients it contains.
Like many processed products, cannabis products contain ingredients that are best avoided.
Two ingredients to keep in mind include propylene glycol (PG) and polyethylene glycol (PEG).
Both PG and PEG are commonly used as thinning agents in CBD eliquids, pre-filled vape cartridges, and other ejuices.
Research has shown that when heated to high temperatures, both PG and PEG can off-gas into harmful carcinogens, including formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde is used as a preservative in cadavers.
Those with compromised immune systems, like cancer patients and those with serious illness, may also want to avoid CBD products made with potentially irritating or carcinogenic solvents.
Butane and CO2 are two of the most common solvents used in CBD and other cannabis extractions.
If products are processed properly, residual butane and CO2 solvent should theoretically be removed from the cannabis extract.
Yet, it is generally thought that those battling serious illness should avoid any product that does not add to health, let alone provide a barrier to achieving a better health status.
Products that contain water, olive oil, MCT oil, coconut oil, and ethanol-based solvents are thought to be safer choices for those battling chronic disease.
4. Understand isolates vs. full-extracts
Test results, organic cultivation, and additive-free oils are the three primary markers of quality in CBD products.
However, there are several more factors that can have an impact on the overall effectiveness of a CBD supplement.
First, understanding the difference between isolates and full-extract oils can make a major difference in the quality of your CBD product.
An isolate is a purified form of CBD that includes only CBD and no other phytocompounds.
While having access to isolates is vital for the health of many, there is reason to prefer full-extracts over purified forms of CBD.
The cannabis plant is capable of producing over 400 different chemical compounds.
Unfortunately, there is still a lot more to learn about how these compounds interact with one another to create certain effects.
Recently, much attention has been given to the interaction between cannabinoids like CBD and aroma molecules called terpenes.
Terpenes are the phytochemicals that give cannabis strains their unique aromas.
For certain conditions, combining cannabinoids like CBD with specific terpenes may actually improve the effectiveness of the supplement or medicine.
Full-extract CBD products contain not only CBD, but also keep the beneficial terpenes and minor cannabinoids inside the oil for enhanced, synergistic health effects.
5. Pay attention to dosage
When it comes to CBD, finding the right dose can make all the difference.
Yet, some CBD products out there, including oils and disposable vapor pens, contain hardly any of the cannabinoid at all.
Whether this is because of a lack of third-party testing or because the brand is offering a micro or low-dose option, finding products with inadequate amounts of CBD may do little to aid your particular health condition. Though, in some cases, micro and low-dose (1-2.5mg) CBD can be quite useful.
Another problem with dosage is taking CBD products that contain too much of the cannabinoid.
Consuming high doses of CBD becomes risky if you are also taking other medications.
What’s the issue?
While CBD is considered a safe and low-risk compound, the cannabinoid can alter the way in which your body clears out toxins like pharmaceutical drugs.
When purchasing and consuming a high-dose CBD product, it may be necessary to lower your dosage of other pharmaceutical medications to prevent unwanted side effects.
Unfortunately, much more research on CBD and drug interactions is needed. So, what constitutes as a “high dose” of CBD may be different when combined with different pharmaceutical drugs.
For the record, patients should use caution when combining CBD with any medication that cannot also be taken with grapefruit.
When it comes to pharmaceutical detoxification, grapefruit has the same effect on crucial liver enzymes as CBD.
6. Ignore sensational marketing claims
Cannabis oil has stopped seizures, aided cancer patients, and eased debilitating autoimmune diseases.
Yet, while the herb may work wonders for some people, it may not necessarily work for others.
When it comes to health and nutrition, every person has unique needs.
While there is no doubt that cannabis and CBD oils can make wonderful and effective medicines, it is always important to be mindful that claims made by CBD companies may not apply to every medical situation.
When purchasing CBD oils, it is important to prioritize products recommended by medical professionals, products which offer the unique dosages and ratios that you may need, products that are custom formulated for you, and products that contain safe ingredients over products with bold marketing claims.
7. Opt for reputable sources
While sensational marketing claims may lead some astray, doing a little research about reputable brands can be helpful when searching for safe CBD products.
To find a reputable brand, there are a few pointers to consider:
- Does the website offer a secure payment option?
- Where does the company source their product?
- Has the company received ample positive consumer reviews?
- Does the company offer products in a variety of dosages and formulations?
- Does the company provide a full list of ingredients for their product?
- When was the company established and by whom?
Fortunately, there are many brands out there which designed CBD products with patients in mind.
While not all CBD products are worth their high cost, following these simple steps will help you find the best and safest product for your individual needs.