Did you know the UK market for CBD now reaches in excess of £1 billion? The industry has grown at an incredibly fast rate. The commercial opportunity that selling CBD products presents, has attracted not only the High Street giants and the independent entrepreneurs but also the unscrupulous cowboys, looking to rip the consumer off.
So the question begs, amidst all this CBD mania, how can the consumer ensure the product they choose is good quality? With such an extensive array of CBD products on the market – ranging from topicals, tinctures and CBD vape oil to teas, pessaries, lubricants and even CBD tanning sprays – it really is quite overwhelming trying to decide which is the best.
5 Top Tips to Help the Consumer
We have devised, what we consider to be, 5 top tips to help you pick good quality CBD oil so let’s get started. These pointers can be applied to the purchase of any CBD product. Whether you’re looking to vape CBD E-liquid for the first time, massage your partner with it or try CBD assisted asanas at your next yoga class, bearing these factors in mind will be essential for your decision making.
So let’s get started.
1. Is My CBD Made from the Best Hemp Flowers?
Cannabidiol, the cannabinoid we know as CBD, is just one of over one hundred cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
Although CBD is present in the marijuana plant it is more often the hemp plant that is used to extract CBD. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, the percentage of CBD in agricultural hemp is much higher than is found in marijuana. Secondly, the ratio of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is far lower than in marijuana.
It is these low levels of THC that attract thousands of consumers to CBD. For those people wishing to experience all the health benefits they know to exist in the cannabis plant but without the psychoactive effects of THC, CBD is perfect!
To achieve a high quality CBD oil we must first consider how the hemp has been farmed and cultivated. You may consider this unimportant until you begin to consider the facts.
How has the Hemp Been Cultivated?
Hemp is well known for being a hyper-accumulator plant. This is quite an unusual characteristic and means that the plant is capable of absorbing higher levels of metal compounds through their roots, than is considered normal.
Whilst it is good news that hemp can easily absorb the goodness contained in rich, healthy soil it is concerning to think what hemp that has been cultivated in low quality soil will absorb.
Manufacturers looking to make CBD oil on the cheap, to ensure high profits, will purchase lower quality land. This land is more likely to provide soil high in levels of harmful metallic compounds such as mercury and lead. The hyper-accumulator aspect of the plant is certainly no advantage in this scenario. Hemp contaminated with heavy metals will pass on the unwanted compounds to the extracted CBD. Toxic CBD is certainly not considered safe for human consumption, particularly the more vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly.
With this in mind, we suggest you always look into where the CBD brand has sourced their hemp from. Check whether the farmers have been agriculturally certified. A reputable, trustworthy manufacturer will be entirely transparent and any ethical retailer will publish this information or be able to provide you with any information you require.
2. How Is CBD Oil Made?
So, you’ve established that your CBD was derived from a high quality hemp.
However, just saying that the CBD has been derived from hemp cultivated in healthy soil, is not enough to ensure the quality of the CBD. Low-grade CBD oil made from decent hemp certainly exists. The immaturity of this market means that the regulated production of CBD is not yet in place.
Holes in the regulation process allows some manufacturers to make their CBD in a far less ethical manner than others. By cutting corners, speeding up harvest times or using cheap materials, one thing is for sure, these cowboys do not have their customers best interests at heart.
At best, low grade CBD oils may not offer the same potential benefits that a high grade oil would and at worst, the oils could even be harmful.
CBD manufacturers have different methods of extracting the CBD from hemp. We cannot stress enough how important it is to know which method of extraction was used from your chosen brand.
A telltale sign of a cheap extraction method is a ‘too-good-to-be-true’ priced CBD product. If the price is ridiculously low then you must question how the retailer is undercutting the other brands.
Avoid Cheap Extraction Methods
Cheap extraction methods make for low quality CBD oil. Usually the cheapest processes require toxic solvents such as propane, hexane, pentane and butane to extract the CBD. All of these solvents are potentially damaging to our health.
The most widely used method of extraction is the use of medical-grade ethanol (pure alcohol) to process and isolate the CBD. The ethanol removes any unwanted properties which have seeped through, whilst retaining the all important cannabinoids. The majority of manufacturers using ethanol choose an organic solution and consider this to be the safest method of extracting CBD fit for human consumption.
Finally, the least common and the most expensive method, is supercritical CO2 extraction. This form uses carbon dioxide under extremely high pressured, cold environments to refine the CBD. From a health perspective this process is certainly the most preferred and provides the purest CBD available. However, the level of expertise and state of the art machinery required to produce it does make it very costly.
If cost is not a factor then we certainly suggest sourcing CBD that has used the CO2 extraction method, however, organic ethanol is still highly recommended and produces a very high quality oil. Avoid at all costs any extraction that has involved toxic solvents.
Once again, a decent manufacturer will make all this information readily available to the consumer. Reputable retailers will also be aware of the process that has been used to make the CBD they are selling. If in any doubt at all, always ask.
3. How Much THC Is In My CBD?
Selling and consuming CBD products is completely legal here in the UK so long as the tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, content is below 0.2%. In the states of the US where CBD is also legal, the THC limit is slightly higher at 0.3% A product is not considered true CBD unless the THC element sits below these levels.
The reason hemp was chosen to produce CBD is because there are such low levels of THC naturally present in the plant. The CBD element on its own is considered to have countless healing properties connected to it. The absence of THC in any great volume removes the psychoactive high associated with consuming weed and it is this factor that appeals to so many.
As a result, consumers who have made the decision to include CBD in their lives, need to be assured the levels of THC in their CBD are as they should be.
Manufacturers who strictly follow the regulations will ensure the oil they produce to sell in the UK, contains just 0.2% THC. However, the less scrupulous ones may not process their CBD as rigorously. When you consider that each 10ml of CBD oil is the result of extracts from hundreds of plants the THC levels of each is something that has to be closely monitored.
The manufacturers with a more slapdash approach often produce oils with a much higher THC concentration than the consumer realises.
Always check the labelling on your CBD to ensure that the THC level is 0.2% or less (0.3% if in the US). If you are at all in doubt or concerned, then check the lab results for that specific oil before purchasing.
4. Is the CBD Full Spectrum Or Isolate?
It is not a question of whether isolate CBD is better than full spectrum or vice versa, it is more a question of ensuring the CBD you purchase is what it claims to be.
Isolate CBD is CBD in its purest form. The extraction process involved in isolating CBD removes all other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. As such, it is a lengthier and more refined process and the extraction will go through many stages before it can be labelled a true isolate.
Due to the exact precision necessary for isolating CBD, some manufacturers will cut corners in order to incur less cost to themselves and increase their profit margins. Occasionally a brand labelled as CBD isolate will still contain traces of other components.
If a product markets itself as CBD isolate, it should be just that. Some consumers are looking to treat their symptoms with pure CBD alone believeing it to be more effective, so opt for isolate. Therefore, when purchasing CBD isolate, it is important to check the labelling to rule out the presence of other cannabis compounds.
Full Spectrum Extraction
On the other hand, many other consumers believe the best results come from a full spectrum or whole plant CBD extract. A CBD oil claiming to be full spectrum in the UK can still only contain 0.2% THC as that component remains an illegal substance.
However, there are hundreds of other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavanoids that can be included in a full spectrum. It is the incluson of these that is said to provide the entourage effect. It is argued that all these elements of the cannabis plant work synergistically with the CBD, increasing the benefits.
As a result of this belief, full spectrum CBD has become hugely popular. This increase in demand has seen a rise in price of full spectrum or whole plant CBD products. However, the price tag is no assurance of quality. Whether isolate or full spectrum, always check the labelling and apply the previous points before deciding which is best for you.
5. Does My CBD Come With Third Party Lab Results?
Finally, the question everyone should ask before purchasing CBD, are there any third party laboratory results?
The fact is that any high quality CBD product will come with third party lab results for their customers. Reputable brands will include these results on the manufacturers and/or retailers websites or will be able to produce copies on demand. Sometimes the results are even included in the consumer’s product packaging.
Honest manufacturers, producing high quality CBD, will always be happy to answer any question from the consumer. They will confidently support any claims made with regards to their CBD with scientific results. This kind of total transparency is indicative of a trustworthy and quality manufacturer.
The key here is, if in doubt always ask. If the lab results are not readily available, call up the brand’s customer services who will tell you all you need to know.
The exponential growth in popularity of CBD has certainly provided the consumer with a wide variety of choice. Whilst an unlimited number of products to choose between is great, it does make it far harder to decipher between the products masquerading as high grade CBD and the genuine article.
Whilst most brands aim to deliver quality CBD there are still those with less integrity, looking to make an easy buck. We do urge consumers to do their research before purchasing CBD for this very reason. Following these simple guidelines will assure that the consumer makes an informed purchase and and invests in the best product for them.
Susan Henretty became a natural health activist over 10 years ago, after personal experience led her to research the benefits of alternative therapies.
In 2018, Susan and her partner decided to combine their business skills with their shared interest in herbal health and vaporizers. As a result they co-founded Kronicvapes.
Based on her previous interest in the holistic field, this inspired Susan to begin her own regular, health blog. Her writing aims to inform and inspire others; specifically in regards to the beneficial properties of vaporizing natural herbs.
Furthermore, as a herbal health advocator, she endeavours to bring her audience the latest global news and politics, regarding cannabis law; science; opinion and fact based evidence.