Picking the best CBD oil is a daunting prospect. Not only are there dozens of different concentrations, formulas, and carrier oils, but what you get in a bottle can differ from what’s advertised. And, with the industry largely under-regulated, it’s hardly surprising that some consumers are nervous about committing to a purchase.
Thankfully, with a few simple checks, you’ll quickly be able to tell which producers are worth trusting, and which aren’t. Our simple step-by-step guide will give you all the information you need to navigate the CBD industry confidently and find the best for you. We’ll cover everything from extraction method to softgel capsules and how to choose the right carrier oil.
10 STEPS TO PICKING THE BEST CBD OIL
A little bit of research goes a long way to making the most of everything CBD has to offer. Take our 10-step approach to choosing the best CBD oil for you.
STEP 1: HOW IS THE HEMP SOURCED?
Hemp is an incredibly versatile plant, but its greatest blessing could also be a significant stumbling block for CBD producers. The plant is naturally skilled at absorbing toxins and heavy metals from the soil. While this is ideal for bioremediation purposes, any plants used for CBD extraction will contain said toxins. Ideally, hemp should be grown organically, without the use of pesticides or heavy metals—just as nature intended.
STEP 2: VERIFY THE EXTRACTION METHOD
Unfortunately, extracting CBD on a commercial scale is neither cheap nor straightforward, and it’s easy for companies to reduce costs by cutting corners.
Supercritical CO₂ extraction allows producers a great deal of control. Not only is this important for isolating a full spectrum of cannabinoids, but it ensures careful regulation of THC levels. Companies using CO₂ extraction, alongside distillation and purification measures, produce a far superior product, so don’t be afraid to ask CBD producers about the extraction method they use.
STEP 3: FULL-SPECTRUM OR CBD ISOLATE?
It’s time to start narrowing down your product choices based on your needs. Typically, CBD products fall into two major categories: full-spectrum or CBD isolate.
Full-spectrum CBD oils capitalise on the entourage effect, a unique phenomenon of chemical synergy that occurs when cannabinoids and terpenes exist together. A study by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found the efficacy of full-spectrum CBD to increase in line with increasing doses. CBD isolates, on the other hand, displayed a bell-shaped curve, meaning after a certain dose, returns started to diminish.
The main reason people choose CBD isolate over full-spectrum is the presence of THC. Despite THC levels being virtually undetectable (less than 0.3% in most cases), and won’t have any effect, some users still prefer CBD isolate for their situation. Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference, lifestyle, and external factors like price and availability.
STEP 4: CHOOSE A CONCENTRATION TO SUIT YOUR NEEDS
If you’re new to CBD, starting with a low-concentration CBD oil is highly recommended. Although the cannabinoid appears well-tolerated, it’s still worth taking some time to adjust to its effects. Once you’re accustomed to CBD, you can increase both the concentration and the frequency of consumption as needed.
As a general rule of thumb, it can take up to a week to adjust to CBD. Therefore, try sticking to a set concentration for several days to observe how you feel. Usually, low-concentration CBD oils start at 2.5%, with highly concentrated varieties reaching 30% or 40% CBD.
STEP 5: MATCH THE CARRIER OIL TO YOUR TASTES
Thankfully, picking a carrier oil is straightforward. All CBD oils, no matter the carrier, will contain CBD (and other cannabinoids and terpenes if you’ve chosen full-spectrum), so there’s no need to worry about differences in CBD content here.
The primary purpose of carrier oils is to improve CBD’s absorption rate. They can also provide secondary nutritional benefits, but, again, picking the most suitable carrier oil will come down to your lifestyle and dietary requirements. Aside from olive oil, alternative carrier oils include hemp seed and black cumin seed varieties.
A key watch-out is companies confusing hemp oil and CBD oil. CBD oil contains cannabidiol extracted from hemp flowers, whereas hemp oil does not contain any CBD. CBD must be specifically blended with hemp oil for it to contain it, it does not naturally.
STEP 6: HAS THE CBD OIL BEEN INDEPENDENTLY TESTED?
Even if a company claims they use organically grown hemp, CO₂ extraction, and a full-spectrum formula, how do you know what is, and isn’t, in the bottle when you get it? The answer is third-party testing.
Unfortunately, the CBD industry is mostly under-regulated, allowing producers to modify the contents of their products without repercussions. After all, extracting CBD isn’t cheap, and the cannabinoid goes a lot further if you don’t actually put 2.5% CBD in a 2.5% bottle.
Independent testing not only gives you peace of mind, but it provides companies with a chance to boast about the quality of their oil. It’s a simple step, but CBD producers that make an effort to have their products tested set a fantastic precedent for the industry.
STEP 7: SOFTGEL CAPSULES OR CBD OIL?
If the idea of olive oil, hemp seed oil, or black cumin seed oil don’t appeal, then you can skip the taste of CBD oil altogether with CBD softgel capsules. They contain a predetermined dose of CBD and are odourless and tasteless. Incredibly discreet, CBD capsules are ideal if you want to take CBD throughout the day, and consuming CBD drops isn’t convenient.
STEP 8: CONSIDER CBD SUPPLEMENTS, CBD MEDICAL PRODUCTS, OR CBD COSMETICS
The versatility of CBD means that, once extracted, it is capable of being infused into more than just oils. CBD supplements utilise a host of additional compounds, while CBD medical products can address skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. And don’t forget CBD cosmetics. These can reduce the signs of ageing and soothe areas of dry or sensitive skin.
Popular CBD supplements include liposomal CBD liquid and CBD formulas with melatonin. The former uses protective vesicles known as liposomes to shield CBD as it travels through the digestive system. As a result, effects not only last longer, but have a quicker onset—perfect if you need fast relief. Melatonin, on the other hand, is designed to encourage a healthy sleep cycle alongside the multifaceted influence of CBD.
All of the above make it possible to include CBD in your life beyond simple CBD oil use.
STEP 9: DON’T FORGET ABOUT CBD OIL FOR PETS
That’s right; humans aren’t the only ones with an endocannabinoid system. Our four-legged companions could also benefit from CBD. The main difference between CBD oil for pets and traditional CBD oils is that the former includes an essential blend of vitamins and minerals specifically tailored to your cat or dog.
Options for pets include CBD oils and CBD pastilles, both of which can be blended with their food (pets are smarter than they look).
STEP 10: IF IN DOUBT, SPEAK WITH YOUR DOCTOR
Even with the best research in the world, there is one person who should be able to give you a definitive answer regarding CBD oil—your doctor.
Your doctor will have a detailed understanding of your medical history, and should be able to tell you if CBD’s interaction with enzymes in the liver could interfere with any current medication you’re taking. And, thanks to the knowledge you’ve gained from steps 1–9, you’ll be able to have an objective conversation about CBD, without the uncertainty of poor-quality products clouding your judgement.