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What to Look for When You Buy CBD Products Online

What to Look for When You Buy CBD Products Online

Throughout our recent blog series aiming to demystify CBD, we have covered a variety of topics related to our beloved cannabis plant. In these articles, you can discover the many benefits of CBD, learn about a variety of methods of CBD therapy, and types of products, and get some suggestions for recommended CBD dosing. We also describe the difference between CBD and THC, explore the effects of other cannabinoids, and even explain potential ways to use CBD to help your pets

One important note that is mentioned in nearly every one of these articles is the importance of purchasing your CBD products from a reputable retailer. In recent years, we have watched the cannabis and cannabidiol industries boom, and while this is an exciting time, the newfound popularity means new businesses are cropping up overnight, especially in the online marketplace. 

Before buying any CBD products from an online retailer, we think you should consider a few important things.

Important questions to ask the company or retailer before you buy CBD products online…

Should you trust large consumer marketplaces like Amazon, EBay or Etsy?

Large online marketplaces are very popular for the average consumer because they offer convenience. However, most of the “CBD Products” that you will find advertised for sale on these sites do not contain any cannabidiol. That is because these companies typically prohibit the sale of any items or products that contain or are made from cannabis or cannabidiol. Some companies choose to advertise mystery products for sale on these sites anyway, using similar-sounding terminology or simply the letters “CBD”, hoping to prey upon unknowing customers. Many such consumers will still choose to try CBD products from these sites, often because they appear to offer very affordable deals, but we must stress that the vast majority of these products are worthless at best, and potentially dangerous at worst. 

Does the company take time to educate you on cannabis?

“CBD” refers to cannabidiol, which is one of many different cannabinoids, or unique chemical compounds, found within the cannabis plant. The cannabis plant is a gift from Mother Nature, not just a source for ad revenue and successful sales campaigns. When we take from the earth, we must also give back to her as well. We believe any company that is profiting from the cannabis plant also has a responsibility to educate the community to the best of their ability. 

CBD has a wide range of documented positive health effects impacting both the body and mind. It has been shown both anecdotally, as well as in clinical trials, to have promise as an effective therapy for many with chronic conditions. Reported benefits range from pain relief to seizure reduction, decreases in symptoms of anxiety and depression, and more. CBD extract is often sold as an oil or tincture, capsule, edible product, or tea. All CBD products offered for sale should be labeled as either “Full-Spectrum”, “Broad-Spectrum”, or “CBD Isolate”. The company should also make sure all of these terms are fully explained and should offer a guide for which products might be best suited for the needs of their customers. Responsible companies should also offer a convenient point of contact, should you have any other questions or require additional assistance.

Important questions to ask about ingredients and the manufacturing process…

Are the products tested by a third-party laboratory?

Any reputable CBD product will be tested by a third-party laboratory. Testing should be done for CBD (and other cannabinoids) content to ensure labeling accuracy and compliance with legal requirements, as well as for any potential contaminants to ensure quality control. Most of the time these lab results will be easy to access via a QR code or Lot or Batch number printed on the product itself. 

Do not buy any products that do not make third-party laboratory test results readily available to consumers. Some companies may falsify lab reports or conduct “in-house” testing, which should not be trusted. Only trust results that come from an independent, third-party, state-accredited (where available) testing facility. Reputable companies are proud of their product’s purity and want their customers to see how well their products perform in the lab. Sketchy companies want to hide these results. Sometimes the sketchiest companies will not even perform third-party testing at all, because their products are full of contaminants, pesticides, additives, mycotoxins, and often lacking any detectable amounts of cannabidiol. Unfortunately, many such products are currently flooding the marketplace, especially through major online retailers. 

It is also important to check the dates on any lab results you are referencing and to make sure that the product you are consuming is not expired. Also, check that the laboratory facility’s certifications (such as ISO/IEC17025) are up to date, and make sure that they are following standardized industry testing practices, including regular machine calibration and facility inspections. 

What other ingredients does the product contain?

Unfortunately, just like many other types of supplements, CBD products often contain a number of added ingredients that may not be clearly disclosed on the label. 

If you are purchasing a CBD oil or tincture, make sure that the only ingredients besides CBD extract are MCT oil or a different type of carrier oil. Some oils may also include either artificial or natural flavoring. If choosing a flavored product, we prefer sticking with natural options like terpenes.

If you are purchasing a personal care product such as a CBD salve, you may want to make sure the product you choose does not contain artificial fragrance, as many of these types of chemical additives are common allergic irritants and potential carcinogens. You may also want to avoid products that contain palm oil, which is a leading cause of global deforestation, contributing to associated habitat loss and degradation of soil fertility. 

Where did the CBD come from and how was it cultivated?

All too often we will meet someone who just doesn’t understand all of the “hype” around CBD, usually, because they purchased an inferior CBD product and – surprise! – it didn’t work the way they expected or hoped it would. Typically, this happens when the product is purchased on a whim, with little research into the seller or manufacturing process. We believe one of the most important things to know about your CBD is where it comes from. 

Unfortunately, there are a number of low-quality “CBD products” for sale that are being mass-produced under little-to-no regulation. These formulas rarely contain genuine cannabidiol and their true ingredients are all too often a mystery. Nevertheless, they are packaged into beautiful bottles and jars, to be shipped and sold all around the world. Innocent customers then buy this snake oil, and feel nothing but disappointment when it fails to deliver. 99.9% of these products contain no real CBD, and the ones that do are usually produced from nutrient-poor, unsustainably-grown and/or unethically-processed plants. 

On the contrary, all of the CBD products offered for sale in our shop are grown by friends whose farms are located within about ten miles of our own homestead and farm in western Colorado. After they have nurtured these plants to maturity and filled them with their love, the hemp is harvested and the CBD is extracted, processed, and packaged for shipment – all in the same city where the seeds were first planted. We recommend that whenever you are choosing where to purchase your CBD, you consider that retailer’s relationship to the CBD farmer. While not everyone will be lucky enough to work with their friends like we do, we hope to encourage you to patronize businesses that support their farmer communities as much as possible. 

Important questions to ask about types of CBD products…

What type of CBD products are offered? (Isolates, Full-spectrum or Broad-spectrum)

CBD products are usually labeled as either a Full-Spectrum” product, “Broad-Spectrum” product, or a “CBD Isolate”. These designations apply to all methods of CBD administration, such as oils, capsules, topicals, or teas. 

ALL CBD products that are sold legally in the United States must have no more than 0.3% THC. This means that regardless of the following distinctions, none of these CBD products will contain any more than trace amounts of THC, if any at all. 

  • Full-Spectrum contain all of the cannabinoids of the cannabis plant, including up to 0.3% THC.  
  • Broad-Spectrum contain all of the cannabinoids of the cannabis plant, except all of the THC has been removed. 
  • CBD Isolate contains cannabidiol extract only. All other cannabinoids have been removed (even trace amounts). Laboratory testing should confirm the absence of all other cannabinoids besides cannabidiol.

Due to the entourage effect, most researchers believe it is more advantageous to take CBD in conjunction with other cannabinoids. Due to its limited effectiveness, we do not typically recommend a CBD Isolate product for most people, though it may be the ideal choice for some select customers. 

How much CBD is in each individual dose?

Figuring out the right CBD dose for you can be somewhat tricky, and often comes down to a bit of trial and error. One thing to keep in mind when researching new products is to double-check the product’s dosing notation. Some packages notate strength per serving, while others give the amount of CBD in the entire package. For example, in our Growing Organic Shop, we list Let It Grow Hemp’s Broad-Spectrum Extra Strength CBD Oil Capsules as “150 mg” each, but if you look at the image of the bottle, it is labeled as “4500 mg” by the manufacturer, which is the amount of CBD in the entire bottle, or all thirty capsules. 

Another important note is that manufacturer’s recommended dosing can vary greatly from one product to another. For example, we will contrast the 150mg Broad-Spectrum CBD capsules we just mentioned with another product available for sale in our shop, Essence of Pachamama’s 1000mg CBD Oil Flavored with Natural Terpenes

Similarly to the capsules, the manufacturer’s label for the oil also notes the strength of the entire one ounce (30 mL) bottle, which is “1000mg”. We know the recommended dose of this particular product is one-half to one whole milliliter (0.5-1mL) as needed, which means each recommended serving of oil contains approximately 16.7-33.3mg Full-Spectrum CBD. This means one recommended serving of Full-Spectrum CBD Oil is around 30mg, while one recommended serving of Broad-Spectrum CBD Capsules is 150mg (or one capsule). This is why it is important to remember that these dosing recommendations are simply guidelines, it is always best to start slowly and work up, and to be patient and give your own body time to adjust and respond to any new changes. 

We recommend making sure to be extra careful to check dosing notation whenever ordering CBD products online, and to look over our handy guide to CBD Dosing if you need a few more tips!

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