In 2021, the world of CBD is vast and complicated with new companies entering the market daily. How do you even begin to choose the best CBD hemp oil for you? This beginner's guide will walk you through the 4 steps necessary to make the best-informed selection!
Step 1 – What Is CBD and What Does It Do For Me?
The term CBD is short for Cannabidiol, one of over 120 naturally occurring active plant chemicals called “cannabinoids” found in the cannabis sativa (hemp). Cannabinoids affect the body by interacting with specific receptors located within the central nervous system.
Interactions tend to occur in our limbic system (part of the brain that affects memory, cognition, and motor performance) and the mesolimbic pathway (this region is associated with feelings of reward) and are also widely distributed in areas of pain perception.
In general, consumers use CBD hemp oil to help reduce symptoms of anxiety, arthritis, bipolar disorder, chronic pain, diabetes, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, and seizures. Let’s look at what the medical community’s experience has been:
Dr. Donald Levy, clinical professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School: “The most benefit I have seen [with CBD] as a physician is in treating sleep disorders, anxiety, and pain.” The safest way to take CBD is orally as a tincture or ingestible. “I never recommend smoking any product,” he said.
Dr. Peter Grinspoon also of Harvard Medical School said this: “CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep. CBD may also offer an option for treating different types of chronic pain. A study from the European Journal of Pain showed CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat. I think CBD is likely safer than many other treatments people use for pain, insomnia, or anxiety.”
The World Health Organization maintains that CBD is considered generally safe and well tolerated. Many medical doctors are open to discussing the best CBD hemp oil for you and they can ensure that it won’t interact with any medications you are currently taking. If you’re cleared to go, a little bio-hacking can help you determine what dosage works best for you and your body. In general, people begin with 25mg daily and work up from there.
Step 2 – Select Your Spectrum:
In the CBD world, you have 3 different “spectrums” to choose from – three different levels of processing that crude hemp oil has undergone to create a final CBD product:
Full Spectrum is another term for “whole plant”. Hemp oil is considered Full Spectrum when all of the natural compounds extracted from the whole plant (flowers, leaves, stalks) remain in tact and in their natural form. Some full spectrum CBD hemp oils are left in their crude state while others are “winterized” or distilled to remove excess fats and waxes, etc.
Whole plant, Full Spectrum CBD hemp oils contain more than 480 natural plant compounds with CBD being one of the most prominent. These compounds interact synergistically to create what scientists refer to as the “entourage effect”. This effect magnifies the benefits of the plant’s individual components so that the therapeutic impact of the whole plant is greater than the sum of its parts.
A true Full Spectrum CBD Hemp Oil will have a vibrant smell, flavor, and color. Depending on the seed strain, the hemp flavor could lend more herbal (pine, wood, chamomile) or spicy (berry, cinnamon, citrus). But if a product claims to be Full Spectrum and offers a clear chocolate, cupcake, or bubble gum flavored liquid, you can assume that there’s some fishy marketing going on there!
In addition to CBD, Full Spectrum hemp oil naturally contains trace amounts of THC (the psychoactive compound found in marijuana). By federal regulation, hemp must contain .3% THC or less whereas recreational marijuana you would buy at a dispensary is aiming for the 20%+ THC range. Full Spectrum CBD hemp oil will not make you feel “high”, but the trace amount of THC may be flagged by some drug tests.
Bottom line – Full Spectrum is a whole plant, all natural, minimally processed hemp oil product containing active cannabinoids (CBD included), terpenes (smell and flavor), flavonoids (color pigments), and more.
In general, Broad Spectrum refers to a Full Spectrum CBD hemp oil that has had the naturally occurring THC compound removed using liquid chromatography. This process uses a solvent, typically silica or silicon dioxide, to adhere to the THC and filter it out of the hemp oil.
Many of the natural active hemp compounds are lost or altered during the THC removal process, but a Broad Spectrum hemp oil provides a partial-plant CBD option to those individuals who must pass regular drug tests (for their job, etc).
Unfortunately, a lot of products marketed as Broad Spectrum are actually Isolate (CBD powder, see below) mixed into a carrier oil with some isolated plant compounds and terpenes added back in. This is nowhere near a true Broad Spectrum hemp oil. In this situation, examine the ingredients list of a product to see if you can decipher if the oil was reverse-engineered with CBD Isolate.
Bottom line – Broad Spectrum is a partial plant, processed hemp oil product containing some cannabinoids (CBD included), some terpenes (smell and flavor), some flavonoids (pigments), but with the naturally occurring THC removed.
Isolate is a crystalline solid or powder that contains roughly 99% CBD. Isolate is made by isolating the CBD and removing it from the rest of the hemp oil. This process typically uses a mixture of hexane, an extracting hydrocarbon, and acetic acid to “wash” the hemp oil and separate out the different plant compounds.
The compounds need to be refined even further through preparative chromatography – a separation process that separates plant compounds by running them through various chemicals at different speeds. Once most of the other compounds and solvents are stripped away, you’re left with roughly 99% CBD crystalline solid or powder (and up to 1% residual solvents).
Most of the CBD products on the market today are actually Isolates mixed into some type of carrier (liquid, oil, gummy, etc). CBD Isolate is nearly flavorless so it will easily blend into an artificially flavored chocolate, cupcake, or bubble gum product. To date, Isolate has been approved for use in one FDA-approved pharmaceutical drug for the treatment of epileptic seizures.
Bottom line – Isolate is a highly processed crystalline solid or powder made up of roughly 99% CBD and up to 1% residual solvents.
Step 3 – Select Your Method
There is no shortage of options when it comes to your CBD delivery method! There are tinctures, topicals, edibles, capsules, patches, vape pens, smokables – you name it. How do you know which is the best CBD Hemp Oil for you? These are the 4 most popular methods and how they work within your body:
CBD hemp oil tinctures are a concentrated liquid extract typically administered under the tongue and held there for at least 60 seconds. In fact, the doctor recommended sublingual absorption time is 4 minutes! This method allows the CBD in the oil to enter the bloodstream much more quickly and directly than by any other means. Although some herbal tinctures will have an immediate effect, others that are more nutritive and building in nature may take several weeks of consistent use before best results are experienced (much like a daily supplement).
You can find a CBD tincture readily available in all three spectrums. For a Full Spectrum tincture, typically you’ll have a crude hemp oil mixed into a carrier oil of some kind. The carrier oil is an important factor as many vary in nutritional benefits. If you’re looking for a 100% hemp-derived product, cold-pressed hemp seed oil is a great option. It is high in essential Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and all 20 amino acids. Why not get a great nutrient boost while also getting your daily CBD? It’s a no brainer! Other popular carrier oils are olive and MCT oils.
Broad Spectrum and CBD Isolate tinctures can work a little differently. Instead of a carrier oil, CBD powder is often mixed into water or a sweetened syrup at high temperatures. This is where the chocolate, cupcake, and bubble gum flavors typically come into play.
*Insider Tip – When shopping for a CBD Hemp Oil tincture, look for a product packaged in an ultraviolet glass bottle or jar. This type of glass is impenetrable to light and will protect the integrity, potency, and shelf life of your CBD hemp oil within. Secondly, make sure it comes with a calibrated glass dropper. A lot of products come with a clear glass dropper with no dosing calibrations so you really have no idea how much CBD you are taking at any given time. With calibration markers, you can be consistent in your dosing and learn what works best for you on a daily basis.
A CBD topical is a cream, balm, or oil applied directly to an external part of the body. Topicals can be especially good at targeting areas of muscle and joint pain as well as helping to alleviate eczema and psoriasis. When applied topically, CBD will absorb directly into the skin and immediately go to work on any localized pain or skin condition.
Much of the CBD topicals on the market today contain way too little CBD to be therapeutic – 100mg CBD in a 4 oz cream, 250mg CBD in a 2 oz balm - this is not enough. If you are using a topical for joint or muscle pain, a 500mg CBD per 1 oz formulation would be a good starting point and then increase potency from there (like our 1,000mg CBD Balm).
Edibles & Ingestibles
CBD edibles range from the ever-popular gummies to chocolates, cookies, cake pops, lozenges, honey, sports drinks, cocktails, and fitness smoothies. Most often, a CBD Isolate is mixed into the edible food item during the baking or manufacturing process.
Dosing with edibles can be very tricky. The dispersion of CBD Isolate can lack uniformity so some cake pops, for example, may be “stronger” than others, depending on how the batter was mixed. The cake pop CBD must then travel through the digestive system where your stomach acids destroy some of the CBD (some studies show up to 60-70% is destroyed). Digestion is also not immediate, so it can take up to two hours for the CBD to oxidize in the bloodstream and start to produce a therapeutic effect.
CBD edibles can certainly be beneficial because they do contain CBD. But it's often not the cleanest or most cost effective way to get your daily intake because you need to ingest more edibles to get the same amount of CBD that you’d absorb through a different method. Many consumers have tried edibles and concluded that CBD doesn’t work for them - when in reality - they probably just didn’t consume enough to survive the digestive process and affect the blood stream.
Ingestible refers to a CBD capsule – either oil or isolate mixture – which is typically swallowed whole with water. These capsules fare a bit better than edibles because the CBD is released later in the digestive process and there is no food surrounding the capsule to break down first. Thus, you will most likely feel the effects of the CBD entering the bloodstream sooner.
Congratulations! You made it to Step 4 – and your decision has already been made for you! If you care about your health even in the slightest (and I know you do), you have got to purchase only organic CBD hemp oil products and here’s why – the hemp plant is what’s called a bioaccumulator and soil remediator. Soil remediators are Mother Nature’s vacuum cleaners.
The hemp plant grows quickly, has deep roots, and ravenously absorbs and accumulates a wide variety of toxins from the soil including chemicals, heavy metals, and radioactive elements. In fact, hemp has been used all over the world to clean up polluted areas affected by radiation.
So guess what – any pollution that hemp absorbs from the soil goes right into your CBD hemp oil. That’s why it’s imperative that you know where and how your hemp was grown. Was it grown in China? One of the most polluted places on the planet? Did the grower use chemical fertilizers and pesticides on the hemp? You don’t want any of that in your hemp oil.
One way to ensure you are getting the highest quality CBD is to purchase only from growers within the United States and Canada where agricultural regulations for hemp are strict. Find a hemp oil producer that provides a Certificate of Analysis for each of their products. These “COAs” should provide a full breakdown of the cannabinoid and terpene content (which is really neat!) as well as testing results for toxins, microbials, and heavy metals found in the CBD hemp oil. Even companies that post their COAs often show significant heavy metal content, so be sure to actually take a look!
Well, you did it. You made it through the CBD Beginner’s Guide. You’re ready to knowledgeably select the best CBD for you. Cheers to new beginnings! If you'd like to try an organic Full Spectrum CBD tincture, check out the Montana Pure Botanicals Shop!