Nope, it’s not just you — everyone is talking about CBD. You can now find this anxiety- and pain-relieving cannabis compound it in more products than ever before, from vape pens to oils to topical muscle rubs. And the trend is set to continue, thanks to the recent passage of the farm bill, which contained a provision legalizing hemp, a variety of the Cannabis sativaplant species that is high in CBD and low in the psychoactive compound THC. (Learn more about the differences between CBD and THC in this article).
Overall, this is a good thing, since having easy access to CBD-containing products can be a game changer for people with conditions like anxiety, epilepsy, and chronic pain. But it also means that your job as a consumer just got significantly harder. Countless new CBD-centric companies are popping up to capitalize on this green gold rush, but not all of them have the same good practices and high standards.
While there are some great CBD products out there, some are just plain useless — so it’s crucial you know what compounds and ingredients a product should (and shouldn’t) contain, and what type of farming and manufacturing practices companies should utilize. From farm to bottle, companies should never be cutting corners. (Teaser: Seeking out CBD products made from organically grown hemp is even more important than buying organic fruits and vegetables!)
Here, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide featuring the 8 most important criteria for finding a high-quality, hemp-derived CBD product. Pro tip: Any of TruestYou’s hemp products would be a great choice.
1. ALWAYS OPT FOR A CBD PRODUCT CONTAINING FULL-SPECTRUM HEMP EXTRACT
Get this into your head: You do not want a product that contains just CBD without any other beneficial cannabis compounds (i.e. any product labeled “pure CBD” or “CBD isolate” is a waste of money). While CBD is certainly the most buzzed about cannabinoid in the hemp plant, it’s just one of many — and it can’t work all of its therapeutic magic in isolation.
Instead, what you want is a product that contains a full-spectrum hemp extract, which is a fancy way of saying that it contains a variety of different cannabinoids along with other cannabis compounds like terpenes . When a variety of cannabinoids are present at the same time, they actually boost the effectiveness of each other. Meaning, a product that simply contains CBD would be far less beneficial than a product containing the cannabinoids CBD, CBC, CBG, and CBN. This synergistic relationship between cannabis compounds is known as the “entourage effect.”
You also want to avoid anything called hemp seed oil, cannabis seed oil, or cannabis sativa seed oil. Oil extracted from hemp seeds (as opposed to the stalk, leaves, or flowers) actually contains zero CBD or other beneficial cannabinoids. So don’t be duped by this tricky marketing tactic. It’s great for cooking though!
2. ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOUR CBD PRODUCT COMES FROM HEMP PLANTS WITH GOOD GENES
While CBD can be extracted from both hemp and marijuana, the best CBD products (or more accurately, cannabinoid-rich products) come from hemp, since it’s higher in CBD and lower in THC. But simply making sure your product is hemp-derived isn’t enough.
The best companies will go a step further and consider the genetic makeup of the specific hemp plants they use in their products. Why does this matter? Because, depending on how the plants are bred, particular strains of hemp will contain different concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes — and that, in turn, impacts the health benefits of the end product.
For example, all of the hemp plants used to produce TruestYou products have been bred to contain higher-than-average concentrations of a cannabinoid called CBG through a process of heirloom natural selection. Which is pretty awesome, considering research is beginning to link CBG to increased telomere length — meaning it may help slow the aging process and boost longevity.
3. NEVER BUY A HEMP CBD PRODUCT FROM A COMPANY THAT USES PESTICIDES
Pesticides are a total deal breaker when it comes to hemp, and if a company won’t reveal its hemp growing practices, then that’s a huge red flag. That’s because hemp plants contain fibers that are particularly good at locking in any pesticides and contaminants that the plant sucks up from the ground or through its leaves. Additionally, water-soluble pesticides can’t be removed from a hemp product after the fact — once those pesticides are in, they’re in there for good.
Because of this, farmers growing hemp should forgo all pesticides and employ what’s known as integrated pest management (IPM) to deter unwanted critters. Basically, IPM consists of things like planting specific plants around hemp that naturally deter predators, or hanging bat boxes on nearby trees to attract bats, which consume loads of bugs that might otherwise feed on the hemp. It’s about creating an overall ecosystem that allows hemp to thrive naturally.
TruestYou goes above and beyond to only source hemp from farmers who use IPM and regularly test the quality of their soil to ensure it’s chock full of beneficial micronutrients and free of anything funky.
4. ALWAYS OPT FOR A HEMP CBD PRODUCT THAT’S BEEN GENTLY EXTRACTED WITH CO2
Separating all of the beneficial cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds from the hemp plant so they can be incorporated into a variety of products typically requires the use of a solvent. The problem: Common chemical solvents like hexane and butane are effective, but they’re also harmful to the body, and small amounts can remain in the end product. Luckily, more and more companies like TruestYou are using CO2 extraction as their method of choice. It’s considered the best in the business and leaves no funky chemical residue. Companies using this method will typically list “C02-extracted hemp” on their product label or website.
5. ALWAYS OPT FOR A THC-FREE HEMP PRODUCT
Some hemp products contain a very small amount of THC (typically 0.3% or less), which is pretty negligible. But a few companies, like TruestYou, go a step further to remove 100% of the THC through a process called reverse chromatography. These products are your best bet because they will never show up on a drug test, even with very frequent use. Plus, there’s no real benefit to having THC in your hemp product anyway, and many experts believe that the purported health benefits of THC should actually be credited to CBD and other cannabinoids. (To learn more about why THC is probably overrated, check out this article.)
6. ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOUR HEMP CBD PRODUCT IS THIRD-PARTY LAB TESTED
As with all supplements, CBD products aren’t regulated by the FDA. This means that there’s no one verifying that a product contains what it says it contains. This is why third-party lab testing is so crucial. Testing will reveal the levels of cannabinoids and terpenes in a product, and thus, whether it’s going to be effective.
Companies who don’t have scrupulous farming practices, or that can’t prove their hemp was grown in healthy soil with absolutely zero pesticides, should also have lab testing performed to measure levels of contaminants such as heavy metals and pesticides.
7. NEVER BUY A HEMP CBD PRODUCT CONTAINING UNNECESSARY ADDITIVES
Your hemp product should contain as few additives as possible. With full-spectrum hemp extract oils, the only ingredients should be hemp extract and a carrier oil like organic coconut oil — no funky artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners.
With vaporizers, you need to be extra vigilant that your product is “clean.” That’s because many companies use a solvent called propylene glycol (PG) to prevent crystals from forming within the vape cartridge. The problem: When heated, PG can break down into formaldehyde, a dangerous chemical that’s been linked to asthma and cancer. To avoid this, opt for a vape product that is free of all additives.
8. ALWAYS REACH OUT TO A COMPANY IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS
Reputable companies with good practices are always willing to answer your questions and provide you with information that may not be available on their website — this often includes results of lab testing. So if you have a question, reach out. If they don’t answer, pass!
Guest Post by Dr. Nick Britt, TruestYou