I'm A Med Student—& A CBD Fan. Here's How To Identify High-Quality CBD Products

May 16, 2019

How To Choose High Quality CBD ProductsI’ll say it straight out—I’m a huge CBD fan. I’ve been on the bandwagon ever since wellness aficionados spread the good word about the benefits of CBD and the bandwagon was created. My CBD oils and balms are a trusty staple, but I’m always thrilled to see new products out – whether it’s tinctures, beverages, or CBD-infused snacks, I’m in.

It’s exciting to see the market expanding, but at the same time, we have to keep in mind that it’s still not fully regulated. After years of trying different CBD oils, tinctures, etc. I’ve learned to be very cautious as a consumer.

You’ll find a lot of junk out there, such as low-grade oils sold at a steep price, but if you know how to look properly, you’ll also find some of the best-quality, life-changing stuff. Here’s how to do your research before buying a CBD product so that you can ensure you get what you’re looking for, and at a fair price too.

Look for the lab reports

Make lab reports the first thing you look for when buying a CBD product. Why?

Well, cannabis is not an FDA-approved food/drug – which automatically means that independent third-party testing isn’t mandatory. This, in turn, means that shady manufacturers are free to sell products created with no quality standards whatsoever. The only way to confirm that a product is actually legitimate and safe to use is by having all the ingredients listed in a valid Certificate of Analysis.

For some manufacturers, you may need to submit a formal request to get a lab report. Don’t take this as sufficient reassurance; definitely reach out to them to get the report. If you get no response after a formal request, you can be sure that this is a brand to steer clear of.

When you do get your hands on a lab report, however, you’ll still have some detective work to do.

Learn how to examine the reports

When you download the lab report, there are a couple of things you need to confirm to ensure you’re buying a quality product from an ethical, legitimate brand:

The tests were performed by an accredited laboratory. Your best bet is ensuring that the lab in questions holds an ISO accreditation. The International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) is the standard accreditation program for cannabis analysis.

The lab report is (relatively) recent. There are no standards to regulate how often CBD products need to be tested, which gives manufacturers plenty of room for exploitation by featuring outdated analysis reports. As consumers, it’s on us to draw the line – don’t tolerate reports that are more than a year old. A reputable brand will consistently test their products to ensure their quality.

The report confirms there are no contaminants. Look at the “Status” column near the end of the lab report. If the product doesn’t contain contaminants (such as heavy metals, mold, and bacteria) in unsafe amounts, it will read “Pass” for each listed element. If it reads “Fail”, look no further and don’t even consider buying the product.

The cannabinoid content is consistent with what’s listed on the label. If the lab report lists a vastly different concentration of CBD than what the label claims, you’ll know that the product is falsely advertised. Slight deviations are normal, but a big difference in numbers shows a lower quality of the product.

Identify which type of CBD is being used

There are three types of CBD used in products: CBD isolate, full-spectrum CBD, and broad-spectrum CBD, which is a sort of a mix between the previous two. Now, the type used in the product doesn’t determine its quality in the sense that one type outperforms another, but you need to understand the difference between CBD isolate and full-spectrum to find the product that will work best for your needs.

In short, full-spectrum CBD contains other cannabinoids that are present in the hemp plant, including THC, while CBD isolate is, as the name suggests, isolated from the rest of the cannabinoids that were present during the extraction. Broad-spectrum CBD is basically full-spectrum CBD, but without the THC.

Although CBD isolate is the purest CBD extract, some people will prefer the other two options precisely because they contain other beneficial cannabinoids. It really depends on what you’re looking for (and whether THC is legal in your area), so always check the label to get the product that contains the type of cannabinoid concentration that suits you best.

Pay attention to the source and cultivation

The quality of hemp that the CBD was extracted from plays a major role in the quality of the final product. That’s why reputable brands, who sell quality products, will maintain a close relationship with the hemp supplier and emphasize their knowledge and accountability regarding the sourcing.

For example, they might disclose details about how the hemp was cultivated to show their beliefs and quality standards. Factors such as maintaining a proper pH balance of the soil, sourcing hemp seeds only from legitimate collectives, and not using pesticides are the foundation for a quality end product, and reputable brands will know to put this information first.

The geographical location of the hemp farm also plays a crucial role because certain countries and states have established the highest standards for hemp cultivation. When it comes to US-sourced hemp, you’ll find the strictest cultivation standards from hemp farms that are part of the pilot programs in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Colorado.

Organic hemp grown in Europe is also a high-quality source as it’s cultivated in accordance with strict European Union standards, especially if it comes from Germany, Denmark, or the Netherlands.

Once you know these key principles to ensuring the quality of any CBD product, you’re armed with the knowledge you need to choose the best one out there. But beware, because you can still get ripped off if you think that a high price or fancy packaging guarantees high quality.

Make sure to compare different products so that you can determine if the product is priced fairly. Also, make sure to check out whether the brand you’re looking to buy from has an outstanding reputation. Look for reviews, check their social media, do some snooping. There is, without a doubt, a fair amount of reputable brands and quality CBD products out there – and with just a bit of research, you’ll be sure to get the bang for your buck.

Also by Cate: These 5 Energy-Boosting Vegan Supplements Will Make You Feel Your Best

Related: Why Ashwagandha Is *The* CBD Alternative For Anxiety & Stress Relief

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Photo: Stefan Rodriguez via Unsplash

Caitlin is a bookworm and recreational dancer. She is also a medical student in love with science. When she is not trying to find the meaning of life and Universe, Caitlin is researching and writing about various health-related topics. She is happily addicted to art in all its forms, grilled tofu, and hiking. To see what she is up to next, check out Caitlin's Twitter Dashboard.


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