Oftentimes, having too many choices can prove more problematic than it is helpful. The current CBD market boom — made possible by the relatively lax regulations coming from the FDA — comes with its advantages and disadvantages for consumers. With an overwhelming number of choices available online, how can you narrow down your search to find good quality products?
Here’s your guide to buying CBD online.
Why Should You Consider CBD?
CBD has become one of the biggest trends in wellness over the past few years. Since the legal limitations were lifted in 2018, more research on the potential benefits of CBD has been launched and anecdotal evidence supporting the same has kept growing.
Early studies have found that CBD may have the following potential health effects:
- Analgesic (pain relief)
- Anxiolytic (anxiety relief)
CBD from hemp is legal to sell and purchase online, but keep in mind that the FDA has not approved its sale and use for medical purposes, not even as a supplement. Nevertheless, there’s adequate evidence that supports CBD’s potential in helping address certain symptoms and conditions. And the World Health Organization has stated that this cannabis compound is relatively safe to use; side effects are few and only temporary, and not experienced by many.
Types of CBD
There are three types of CBD you’ll often encounter online when shopping for CBD products.
CBD is only one of the more than 120 phytocannabinoids present in Cannabis sativa, and the second most popular among these compounds, next to THC. In addition to these cannabinoids, cannabis also contains terpenes and flavonoids. Full-spectrum CBD retains all of these beneficial compounds so that they deliver what is known as the “entourage effect.” Simply put, these compounds work together to deliver maximum health effects.
Take note that hemp only contains 0.3% THC or lower; this amount is too low to cause a high. But some individuals may want to avoid even trace amounts of THC. Broad-spectrum CBD is the second best option for them, as it still delivers the entourage effect to some degree but without any THC.
This is pure CBD; there’s zero THC and all other beneficial compounds from cannabis are also absent.
Types of CBD Products
The type of product you’ll need will depend on the condition you want to address, how your body responds to different CBD potencies, and your personal preferences.
CBD Oils and Tinctures
Oils are oil-based, while tinctures are alcohol-based. CBD oils are more potent than tinctures, but the CBD in tinctures typically has a higher bioavailability, which is the measure of absorption rate into the bloodstream. Simply put, tinctures usually produce faster results compared to oils. Oils and tinctures can be taken on their own — with drops placed directly under the tongue; or they can be mixed into food and drinks.
These are foods and drinks infused with CBD. The most popular ones are gummies, hard candies, chocolates, and teas. They are a tasty, convenient, and discreet option, but because they take the digestive route, they take longer to produce results. CBD edibles are also not as potent as oils and tinctures; most products include other ingredients, such as flavoring and sweetener.
These are balms, creams, lotions, and oils, and they are best used for localized therapy, such as for joint pain or muscle ache.
CBD Vape Juice
Inhaling CBD as vapor facilitates quicker and stronger effects. But keep in mind that vaping has been associated with serious lung conditions. CBD vape juices are specially formulated to be heated, turned into vapor, and inhaled using a vape device. Regular CBD oil or tincture is not suitable for vaping.
One way to gauge the reliability of an online seller is by their knowledge of their products — i.e., by the helpfulness, accuracy, and adequacy of information provided on their website and/or by their sales and customer representatives.
CBD From Hemp
The online store should clearly state that all their CBD products are derived from hemp and contain no more than 0.3% or zero THC. This information should also be provided for each and every product description.
If the company also mentions the exact hemp farm or location of the farm, as well as the specific strain/s they used, even better. You can use this additional information to do further research on the farming practices used — if you’d be so inclined.
As much as possible, choose CBD products that use organic and locally-grown hemp so you can make sure that you won’t be ingesting any pesticides and other harmful contaminants.
As long as the CBD is derived from hemp and contains only 0.3% THC or lower, there’s no risk of CBD abuse or dependence.
Buying CBD Online
The FDA does not strictly regulate the manufacture and sale of CBD products; the consumer must practice proper discretion when choosing an online store and buying any CBD product.
Here are the important things you should look for when online shopping for CBD.
Certificate of Authenticity
With no established guidelines for product quality and safety, it is the company’s responsibility to have their products tested by a reputable third-party laboratory as part of their quality check. The third-party lab provides a certificate of authenticity (COA) after testing, and this should show the exact contents of the product and their respective amounts.
Each product should have a COA, and the COA must be dated within the past 12 months. The COA should be easily accessible online to all customers.
Find both positive and negative reviews, both on the company’s website and on Google. Keep in mind that a complete lack of negative reviews is not always a good thing. It’s either because the available feedback is fabricated or the store is still new.
It’s always best to go with an online store that has already built a good reputation, even if they have some negative reviews. At the same time, don’t just choose a company because it was endorsed by a celebrity or influencer. Use good judgment when assessing company and product reviews.
Alternatively, you can ask family, friends, or colleagues to recommend a good CBD online store.
A reliable CBD online store should provide the following information for each of their products:
- Whether it’s full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, or CBD isolate
- CBD source, which should be hemp
- Total CBD concentration and CBD dose per serving
- THC content, whether it’s 0.3%, less than 0.3%, or zero
- Carrier oil used, for CBD oil; solvent used for CBD tincture
- List of other ingredients present
You can verify some of the product information, such as CBD and THC content, by checking it against the information on the COA.
The information should not include any false health claims. If you see “hemp seed oil” mentioned, especially if it’s used interchangeably with CBD oil, you should be wary as the product may actually be just hemp seed oil and not CBD oil. CBD oil is extracted from the flowers, leaves, and stems of hemp; hemp seed oil may contain only trace amounts of CBD or none at all.
When it comes to CBD, price does determine quality. You should be suspicious of cheap CBD products. Spend time comparing prices with well-known brands and familiarize yourself with the average prices for good-quality products.
As products from different brands usually come in different sizes/amounts, you may have to do some basic math when comparing prices, i.e., calculate the price per milligram of CBD per product.
For example, Glow CBD’s 150mg CBD is priced at $29.95, or $0.20/mg. In comparison, Honest Paws’ 125mg CBD is priced at $39.95, or $0.32/mg, and King Kanine’s 150mg CBD and 75mg CBD are priced at $54.99 ($0.37/mg) and $39.99 ($0.40/mg), respectively. Comparing prices using different CBD amounts, Glow CBD’s product is the most cost-efficient.
Don’t get stressed by the overwhelming number of options for CBD online stores as this will increase the likelihood of you making a bad purchase. Know what to look for when choosing a reliable seller; stick to the basic guidelines provided above; and don’t get sidetracked by endorsements and feedback that are all too incredible.
The amazing potential of CBD already speaks for itself, after all.