- Why CBD?
- First: Use only local, organically grown source material
- Second: Use safe and effective extraction methods
- Third: Products formulated with safe and effective carrier oils
- Fourth: Products have been tested en masse for quality, purity and potency
- Special note about vapor products
- YouTube video: Choosing the Best CBD Company
- It can be daunting to sift through all the different CBD manufacturers, but don’t worry – there are simple criteria you can use to separate the good from the bad and the downright ugly from the package. You may need to do some research, but we promise that your efforts will be rewarded with powerful, pure and effective CBD. Don’t gamble with a questionable product for the sake of a bargain – your health is actually more valuable than flipping a coin. Check your CBD supplier carefully; your body will thank you.
CBD is a topic of great debate among the health-conscious public; as many Americans seek alternatives to opioids, benzodiazepines, antidepressants and other drugs, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid is gaining attention for its effectiveness and safety. Finding the right CBD company for you is a daunting task and you may be asking yourself, “How do I choose the best CBD company?”
While there are still many questions to be answered about the specific mechanisms by which CBD affects body systems, current research shows that CBD has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anxiolytic, anxiolytic, antipyretic, antidepressant and neuroprotective properties that can be used to treat a wide range of symptoms (for more information on the effects of CBD on the body, check out our detailed article on the uses and applications of the molecule).
Because CBD is treated more like a supplement than a drug (and therefore not regulated by the FDA for purity and potency), it is not advisable to trust what you see on a company’s label or website. But if you can’t believe what you see or hear, how can you be sure you’re getting a product that is safe, effective and lives up to its labeling? Here we will lay out our key criteria for choosing a CBD supplier. We will explain what specific words and phrases to look for, how to use results from independent labs to learn more about the product, and what potentially problematic applications and ingredients to look out for. We will also explain the “why” of each of our criteria so you can make an informed decision based on what matters most to you.
First: Use only local, organically grown source material
We list this criterion first because it is important for several reasons: first, using only organic hemp material minimizes your risk of exposure to potentially harmful pesticides, herbicides or heavy metals in the final product. By choosing to buy organically grown CBD instead of products of dubious origin, you are protecting yourself from trace compounds that could be harmful to you or your family and choosing a safer product.
Second, organically grown plants are better for the environment and more sustainable than industrial agriculture. These plants are grown without the use of pesticides and herbicides, which often requires more natural forms of pest and weed control, further protecting (or even actively working to protect) local ecosystems. Organic farming helps companies reduce their impact on the environment and the communities they serve by aiding in the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices.
We always appreciate when a company demonstrates its commitment to sustainable agriculture and energy sources, but choosing to only grow hemp organically (or only purchase hemp from certified organic farmers) is an excellent way to reduce a company’s impact on the environment and therefore carbon. Hemp from these regions may be contaminated with substances banned by US regulations, potentially increasing the risk of adverse reactions. We prefer not to risk our health and choose locally sourced CBD every time.
Second: Use safe and effective extraction methods
This is important, although it may take some research to discover (and you should definitely be wary of a manufacturer who is cautious in responding directly): What method does the company use to extract CBD from hemp material? While it may seem a bit trivial at first glance – certainly the CBD extracted is one and the same. – In fact, this is a fundamental question you should answer before placing your order.
You will probably come across the phrase “hydrocarbon extraction” a lot and this should be a red flag. Let’s explain: If you are a cannabis user, you might be familiar with BHO or butane cannabis oil. These THC concentrates (which include wax, bud, shatter, copper and other substances that can be used for lubrication) use butane – or another hydrocarbon such as propane – to separate the THC from organic solids and plant waxes, resulting in a thick, sticky concentrate.
While these sticky substances can cause an intense high, they are almost always contaminated with residual hydrocarbons. In simple terms, this means that every time you consume one of these products, you are also consuming residual butane (or propane, methane… you know, the kind of compounds used as fuel for lighters or camping stoves) with every hit. While exposure to trace hydrocarbons doesn’t cause 100% negative effects, we’re not convinced that it’s completely safe either – and so we think it’s best to skip these products.
So if hydrocarbons are out of the question, what’s the best and safest way to get CBD from hemp? We believe that two different methods are acceptable for CBD products: extraction via organic ethanol wash and supercritical (or subcritical) CO2 extraction. In the organic ethanol wash, the organic material is stripped of CBD and dissolved in ethanol. The ethanol then evaporates completely (unlike hydrocarbons, which remain trapped in the extract), leaving only CBD and other cannabinoids, which can then be processed and purified into different types of extracts.
CO2 extraction works similarly, but the results are subtly different. Both supercritical and subcritical extractions are performed using CO2 (carbon dioxide) that has been heated and pressurized so that, simply put, it has both liquid and gaseous properties. This extracts the CBD and the trichomes and terpenes of the cannabis plant, allowing it to penetrate porous materials. The two methods are generally comparable, but subcritical CO2 does a better job leaving the terpenes and trichomes of the cannabis material intact. As a result, the choice between ethanol extraction and CO2 extraction is mostly a matter of preference; both methods will produce a potent and residual solvent-free extract. As long as you avoid products made using potentially harmful hydrocarbons, you are on the right track.
Third: Products formulated with safe and effective carrier oils
Explaining this requires some basic knowledge of chemistry, so bear with us – we’ll keep it short. Like the Earth or a magnet, molecules have poles or regions of positive or negative electric charge. A molecule’s polarity (the difference between the strengths of its charges) determines what it can and cannot dissolve in. Solubility has a lot to do with how the body absorbs nutrients, including CBD.
Polar liquids can dissolve polar molecules (such as salt in water). But non-polar molecules will not dissolve in a polar solvent (hence the distinction between non-polar oil and polar vinegar in salad dressing). Since your body is mostly made up of water, a polar liquid, it is difficult for CBD, a non-polar molecule, to be efficiently absorbed.
So, how do CBD manufacturers solve this dilemma? Easy: with carrier oils. Carrier oils (usually MCT or fractionated coconut oil, hemp seed oil or olive oil) can bind to CBD and their chemical structure creates a kind of fat “handle” that your body can capture and metabolize and take the CBD with it. The carrier oils are included to ensure that you can absorb as much of the CBD in the product as possible (often talked about high bioavailability).
At first glance, it may seem like almost any oil will work. After all, not all oils are polar and will work, right? While this is technically true, there are definitely right and wrong oils to use. MCT oil (sometimes called fractionated coconut oil) is preferred because its medium-length molecules are more easily absorbed by the body (as opposed to the longer and more difficult to process molecules of other oils). However, hemp oil, olive oil and grapeseed oil are also relatively common carrier oils that are completely safe and effective, so don’t despair if you have a coconut allergy. Beware, though, of products that do not specify the carrier oil they use or use PG (more on that in a moment) to dilute their products. Transparency is key when choosing a CBD supplier, and any manufacturer that is not open about the ingredients they use is not worth your money.
It should be noted that some CBD products are specially formulated to be water soluble. Although these products contain CBD that is more easily absorbed by your body compared to oil-based products, they are usually a bit more expensive compared to their old-fashioned counterparts. However, this trade-off may be worth it for you and that’s okay. If you choose water soluble CBD products, you won’t have to worry about carrier oils in the same way.
Fourth: Products have been tested en masse for quality, purity and potency
This last note is extremely important as you can use it to verify the information you gathered earlier: all products must be batch tested for quality, purity and potency. By ‘batch testing’ we mean that each product must be traceable back to the batch in which it was produced and that the laboratory test results for that batch must be publicly available. An independent lab is a lab that is not affiliated with the company or any of its affiliates – in-house testing is great, but nothing compares to independent analysis.
While more thorough testing is clearly preferred, a good lab report will include the product’s CBD, THC and THCA content, as well as any heavy metal contamination. If the product is listed as THC-free, the lab report should reflect this conclusion. The laboratory must also state its credentials and certification status in the report to ensure full accountability. Some reports may list other cannabinoids such as CBN, CBG or CBC, but this is not a requirement unless you are looking for a highly specific cannabinoid profile.
Special note about vapor products
Vaporization is becoming increasingly popular among the cannabis community and CBD is no exception. There are literally tons of CBD vapor products out there, thousands upon thousands of oils with every flavor under the sun (and only a few that we think are made up). However, just like their nicotine-containing cousins, there is one problematic ingredient that is all too common in CBD vape oils: PG.
PG, the standard abbreviation for propylene or polyethylene glycol (both behave similarly under regular conditions of use, so for the sake of simplicity we’ll consider them one), is commonly used as a diluent for vape oils and juices. Since it is generally believed to be safe for use in food, drinks and cosmetics, it is largely assumed that the same should be true for vaping.
However, emerging research suggests that PG may not be as safe as we think. PG begins to break down into known carcinogens such as formaldehyde, arsenic and benzene at the high temperatures required for vaping. These compounds are not only known to cause cancer in humans after prolonged exposure; they can also cause toxic effects at high doses.
While the scientific community is still uncertain about the long-term effects of PG and vaporizing, we think it’s best to play it safe. We prefer to use vaporizers containing only CBD and a carrier oil, perhaps with a terpene blend or essential oil for flavor. However, currently products containing vegetable glycerin or VG have not proven to be dangerous and they are also acceptable in CBD vaporizer products.
YouTube video: Choosing the Best CBD Company
It can be daunting to sift through all the different CBD manufacturers, but don’t worry – there are simple criteria you can use to separate the good from the bad and the downright ugly from the package. You may need to do some research, but we promise that your efforts will be rewarded with powerful, pure and effective CBD. Don’t gamble with a questionable product for the sake of a bargain – your health is actually more valuable than flipping a coin. Check your CBD supplier carefully; your body will thank you.