How to choose hemp CBD oil

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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  3. I’ve been using CBD for a couple years now and it’s been wonderful for all sorts of issues for me including anxiety and pain relief.

  4. Brenda Chace says

    Hello Donna.
    My name is Brenda. I have been researching CBD oils for so long that I had just about given up, because of not knowing which would be best for me. I am a 57 year young female with CFS…I have always had so much energy, but I can not for the life of me seem to stay awake…I am constantly fighting my way through each day…I feel I am loosing my quality of life especially since I live on the water and enjoyed so much outside activity…I just don’t know which to choose for my fatigue? I certainly don’t want an oil that is going to relax me anymore than what I am already getting from sleeping so much. Thanks in advance for any advice.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      Use the google shortcut mentioned in the “go organic” section of the article, and several reputable companies should show up in the results.

    • Peggy McCoskey says

      Brenda, I also have severe CFS mine was so bad I was becoming home bound and in bed for 7 days at one episode. I use Hempworx Hemp CBD oil 750 dosage they are out of KY. It has changed my life it took 8 wks to full help but I started to noticed a difference within days. I still have to pace my self and cannot overdo it for more than 3 days in a row. And then when I do get Fatique its just lightly and I rest a bit and then I feel better. Also I take 2000 mg CoQ10 daily that also helps with Fatique. I have arrithema from CFS. And that also adds to Fatique. Good luck. Hope it will help you like it does me. Also it has helped me lose wt I do not get hungry have no food cravings do not even think of food then at 3 my stomach starts to growl. Also I only do 15 drops under my tongue once daily have not had to increase it.

      • Carol Kerfeld says

        Hi Brenda,

        I have CFS for over 10 years. I had it reasonably under control for most of that time. Now I am dealing with some stressers in my life–lost job and relocating–which has my CFS flared up.
        You are in my thoughts.

    • I just ordered from Lazarus Naturals because company has good ratings , nice staff and large discount for Vets, disabled or low income!!!! I hope this helps because I see many of you struggling to afford this stuff and its a shame is so costly. Check them out for yourself! hope this helps and spread the word!

  5. The problem is when you are holding down a job that does drug testing how much thc can you take that it won;t show up in a drug test and get you fired?

  6. Tiggy Sagar says

    THC interferes with the pain relieving qualities of CBD so, unless you’re taking it to stop shaking from Parkinsons or similar, then you should get the just CBD variety. See CBD Oils UK advice download. CBD Oils UK sells various brands and types. I also checked this with a friend who grows cannabis and produces cbd paste.

  7. I’ve used a few different bands, one helped me sleep but not so much for pain. The one I use now is HempWork, it did take a while for it too kick in but now 3months later I am noticing more and more relief. Yes its expensive but I have spent so much money trying to get pain relief that if it works, it’s worth it! hemprelief4peoplepets.com

    • Peggy McCoskey says

      Lee, I also use HempWorx it has really helped me a lot with my OA. Anixety, espically with my CFS which was so bad I was home bound did not have the engery to drive to grocery. It has been a life savior for me.

  8. I tried three different types, including one isolate and two full spectrum, all from different sites that were recommended to me by other chronic pain patients with my conditions. I experience no relief whatsoever, from any of them. I don’t doubt hemp CBD can help some people, perhaps those with mild pain. But for serious pain, like my neuropathy and scoliosis-related issues, I reluctantly conclude only the way expensive, strictly regulated stuff will have any impact. One thing you’ll hear from fans is “every body is different!” and “you have to try a LOT of different kinds to find what works!” Well – OK, but that’s super expensive. Even my limited three-formula trial cost me well over $100.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      I understand your frustration. I’ve had mixed results w/ CBD products, too. I think there are probably several reasons for this. First, I think CBD has been hyped as a cure for all ills. I personally don’t believe it’s as great as everyone says – especially if you can only use the hemp variety. The kind made from cannabis is certainly going to be more powerful b/c it contains from cannabinoids than the stripped down hemp version. I also think there are BIG issues w/ dosing. Some of the products I’ve tried recommend a few drops once a day. In my experience, that’s just not enough for someone who is using it for pain. Unfortunately if you dose more heavily and more frequently, then that adds to the cost. And then there is the issue of poor quality products, which I discussed in the article. I’m sorry you weren’t able to find a product that works. I wish there was a magic pill we could all take and get relief.

    • Cherie says

      I have fibromyalgia scoliosis degenerative disc disease arthritis with a titanium rod from T10-L3. Lots of pain and muscle tightness my hips twist out of place often I live in a state where medical marijuana is legal. My doctor wrote me a Perscription for it. I get a 1:1 or 1:2 rso oil. The cbd is very helpful however the thc helps with energy and pain. My doctor couldn’t understand how I lost weight. With all the stuff about munchies etc. well it’s because I can get up and do so much more than before. Which was confirmed by others at the dispensary. I don’t feel high just relieved of pain!! I take a very small dot of it in peanut butter twice a day. Tastes awful!! But works great!

  9. 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…

    • Cherie says

      If you have a Perscription and it’s legal in your state can’t you get an excuse from your doctor? It only seems logical. However logic has nothing to do business.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

    • Cherie says

      I got off fentyl patch. 50mcg per hour. My Dr. stepped me dow finally to 12.5mcg and I used RSO oil 1:2 cbd to thc. It’s legal here. My doctor prescribed it for me. No withdrawals at all. Btw it’s cost $60 a syringe. Lasts all month. Just use a dot like the head of a pin. A bit more if in extra pain. If it’s legal there it’s so worth it!!

  12. 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

  13. Nancy Olson says

    I’m glad to hear that because since taking the cbd oil, I have suffered fatigue with depression. Have to take at least three naps a day with no desire to do anything or go anywhere. Pain is much better but can’t handle the fatigue! Can you tell me where and how you purchased yours?


  1. […] How to choose hemp cbd oil | Fed Up with Fatigue – Hemp CBD oil can be helpful for chronic pain and other conditions, but it. I have always had so much energy, but I can not for the life of me. […]

  2. […] it’s easy to get ripped off with subpar products. In 2018, I wrote an article entitled, “How to choose hemp CBD oil,” which provides information on what to look for when shopping for a quality hemp CBD […]

  3. […] CBD oil – Without question, CBD oil has been one of the most helpful things in treating my pain. There are two different kinds: hemp-based CBD, which is sold online, and cannabis-based CBD, which is sold by dispensaries in states where cannabis is legal. When I’ve interviewed cannabis experts, they all tell me cannabis-based CBD is the most potent form because it contains so many valuable cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant. The hemp CBD sold online is not regulated, so buyers have no way of knowing whether the product is safe or if it even contains CBD at all. There’s also debate over whether hemp CBD is even legal. (The DEA says no.) I’m planning to apply for my medical marijuana license and am anxious to try cannabis-based CBD to see if it works even better than the hemp version. In the meantime, I’ve been using American Shaman CBD oil off and on for the past few months. (If you’d like to learn more about CBD oil, you might want to read my articles on using CBD oil for fibromyalgia and how to choose a quality hemp CBD oil) […]

  4. […] This week, Brandi and I discuss hemp CBD oil – what it is and how to choose a quality product. Watch the replay here. Our discussion was inspired by this article: How to choose hemp CBD oil […]

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