How to choose hemp CBD oil

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This article on how to choose hemp CBD oil was originally published on NationalPainReport.com. It is being republished here with permission from the editor. 

How to choose hemp CBD oil | Fed Up with Fatigue

If you’ve researched natural pain treatments, you’ve likely seen articles and advertisements for hemp CBD oil, an extract of the cannabis plant that reportedly eases pain without causing euphoria like marijuana. As a chronic pain patient myself, I understand how tempting it is to hand over your credit card number in hopes of finding relief.

But before you do that, know that all hemp CBD oils are not created equal! A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found nearly 70 percent of hemp CBD oil sold online was mislabeled. During the Penn Medicine study, researchers analyzed 84 products purchased from 31 companies. Around 42 percent of products were under-labeled, meaning the product contained more CBD than labeled. Twenty-six percent of products contained less CBD than indicated on packaging.

“Only 30 percent of CBD products purchased contained an actual CBD content that was within 10 percent of the amount listed on the product label,” reads a press release about the JAMA study. “While studies have not shown that too much CBD can be harmful, products containing either too little or too much CBD than labeled could negate potential clinical benefit to patients. Further, the variability across products may make it troublesome for patients to get a reliable effect.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began testing hemp CBD products in 2015 and has reported similar findings.

Hemp CBD oil is not regulated, creating a situation of buyer beware. Despite this, hemp CBD oil continues to be in high demand as a growing number of chronic pain patients look for alternatives to opioids and drugs with troubling side effects. With so many companies pushing their products, how can you ensure you’re purchasing a quality product that’s potent and safe to use?

I recently interviewed Martin A. Lee, director of Project CBD and author of “Smoke Signals,” and asked for his advice on how to choose quality hemp CBD products, but first, let’s cover some basics.

There are actually two kinds of CBD, or cannabidiol, oil: hemp-based CBD oil and marijuana-based CBD oil. Both are derived from varieties of the cannabis plant. Hemp-based CBD products can be purchased online or at certain stores; marijuana-based CBD is generally sold by a dispensary in states where cannabis is legal.

(Read more: What is CBD?)

According to experts I’ve interviewed over the years, a marijuana-based CBD oil is always preferable to hemp because it contains multiple cannabinoids and other compounds that work synergistically to provide better pain relief and healing. Dispensary products are also going to be safer because they are tested and grown in controlled environments.

“Essentially CBD is no different whether extracted from industrial hemp or from marijuana,” Lee explained. “What’s different is what else is in there. When you extract from industrial hemp, you’re not getting a lot of cannabinoids. You’re not getting much CBD. You’re getting very, very little THC. Because it’s a low-resin plant, you don’t have a lot of cannabinoids that are contained in the resin.”

Hemp CBD oil is basically a stripped down version of what you’d buy at a dispensary. It likely won’t be as effective, but some people do find it beneficial for pain and other conditions.

(Read more: What’s the difference between hemp CBD oil and marijuana-based CBD oil?)

“The main overarching criticism we have with all CBD hemp products – even the good quality ones – is that they’re very limited,” Lee said. “They’re just basically one thing: a lot of CBD and very little of anything else. That can help some people sometimes but most people will find they need other options. There’s other cannabinoids you need – sometimes THC, sometimes THCA.

“What we know is that THC and CBD combined has a greater therapeutic effect than either one given alone,” Lee continued. “The best medicines to use are the medicines that have both THC and CBD. What we suggest to people – and I will emphasize we are not doctors – is that people should use products that have as much THC as possible, with the CBD, that doesn’t make them feel dysphoric or stoned.”

Hemp CBD products do have limitations, but they’re still an option for people who aren’t able to access marijuana in a legal state. For those who are interested in trying hemp CBD oil, below are some characteristics to look for when trying to choose a quality product.

(Read more: What are cannabinoids?)

(Read more: Is hemp CBD oil legal?)

How to choose hemp CBD oil

Buy American

Many hemp CBD products are made from industrial hemp grown overseas. These countries may or may not have strong environmental regulations governing how and where the plant is grown. That can be a problem since both hemp and marijuana are bio-accumulators, meaning they suck up heavy metals from the soil in which they’re grown.

Depending on how the oil is processed, consumers may end up exposed to toxins and/or chemical solvents used to purify the CBD after harvest.

U.S.-produced hemp CBD products tend to be safer because of better growing and refining practices.

Go organic

Choose hemp CBD products that are grown organically to reduce exposure to pesticides and other unhealthy chemicals.

“If you punch in ‘CBD hemp organically grown’ on Google, you’ll probably find a few companies from Colorado or maybe Kentucky, and I personally would lean toward those,” Lee advised. “You want to have as clean of a product as possible.”

Choose full spectrum

Look for a full-spectrum CBD product instead of an isolate.

Full spectrum means the product contains CBD plus trace amounts of other cannabinoids and terpenes for better healing and performance. An isolate only contains CBD.

“CBD isolates can confer medical effects, but you’re going to need much higher doses of an isolate than you would of a whole-spectrum oil, so you’ll be spending more money on that,” Lee said.

Isolates are also more likely to cause drug interactions than full-spectrum products.

Avoid unnecessary ingredients

Steer clear of companies that use thinning agents, flavoring or other potentially harmful ingredients in their products – especially those used for vaping.

“We would strongly warn against using a vaporizer to vape CBD hemp oil products because we haven’t seen one yet that doesn’t contain thinning agents that can be very toxic,” Lee said. “Thinning agents like propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol should not be in a product that you’re going to eat or inhale. Flavoring agents that are added to CBD hemp products should be a red flag. I think they should be avoided because the FDA hasn’t approved any of these flavoring agents for being heated and inhaled.”

Bottom line: “If a product is grown properly, and it’s made well, it should not require any thinning agents or any flavoring agents,” Lee said.

Beware of health claims

The FDA prohibits companies from making health claims about CBD products, so avoid companies that claim their product can cure cancer or end pain forever.

“If a company is making medical claims, it suggests they don’t understand the rules,” Lee said. “It suggests something is amiss.”

Ask questions

Don’t be afraid to call or email companies to inquire about their growing and refining practices. Reputable companies should be happy to answer questions about their products.

(Read more: What you need to know about CBD oil and fibromyalgia)

(Read more: How to use medical marijuana without getting high)

(Read more: The best cannabis strains for fibromyalgia and how to use them)

Now it’s your turn: Have you tried hemp CBD oil for pain? Did it help? Share your experience in the comments section! 

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  1. Khadijah says:

    What was failed to be mentioned is that when choosing a full spectrum vs. an isolate is the concern that some may have with testing positive for THC. Some of us are in pain but also cannot test positive for THC or any other drug. Full spectrum contains trace amounts of THC which would trigger a positive drug test, while in contrast an isolate is free of THC. Just something to consider while choosing a product…

  2. Stacy Blackstone says:

    I have been using CBD hemp oil for about 6-8 months now. The brand is Prime my Body and it is expensive but, is making a huge difference in my pain levels. I continue to take pain medicine as well. Between both products, I am able to be up most days and only need to lay down for short periods during the day without sleeping. It took about 3 weeks of daily dose before I felt the effects fully. The directions suggest taking twice per day but, I only take once per day due to cost. it’s working and I love it. The draw back here is that it is a step up growth program similar to Tupperware or Avon so, I just paid the fee to become an associate and buy through that. I tried several other products that did not work before landing on PMB and suspect that I will continue to use this for as long as I can afford it.

  3. Deborah Wofford says:

    I dordered some CBD oil from an ad similar to this one. I received my first bottle with a free gift of a topical cream. I took the dropper out after shaking and clearing the oil out of the dropper. The oil was clear. Looked like cooking oil. So I dropped a few drops under my tongue. No taste. Just oily. Tried for a week. No results. I didn’t know I had accidently signed up for automatic deliveries. The second time I got two bottles of oil. I opened the first. It was tinted slightly yellow. Had a smell and taste to it. It seemed to help. But the price was 80 dollars on my credit card so I had already called and cancelled further shipments. I actually believed the first bottle was fake. So I did not order more oil. But I did order another tube of the cream. It worked. The cost seemed too high and I didn’t like getting what seemed to be cooking oil. If I could find a company that was selling the real thing and it worked it would be a blessing to me. My doctor like many others are weaning me off my opiates I had been taking for 12 years. I would gladly pay for a substitute that works.

  4. Shelley Rudd says:

    I’ve just signed up to & taking Kannaway CBD oil & have noticed a big difference in energy levels, pain & feeling much less anxiety. Shelley

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