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CBD Oil Buyer's Guide

Looking to Buy CBD Oil?

With the renaissance of the cannabidiol industry in the 21st century, hundreds of companies have literally launched overnight to address the increased demand for CBD oil. With each of them making very similar claims, it's nearly impossible to differentiate fact vs. fiction without a solid guide.

CBD retailers are competing against each other online for the title “Best CBD Oil company in the United States". They will often use figures and statistics to confuse the end buyer. Some will throw out terms like “full spectrum,” “anandamide,” “phytocannabinoid,” and “entourage effect” to make their products sound better but what does any of it really mean? Because of this, it can be very overwhelming trying to accurately determine which is the "best cbd oil to buy".

Before you hastily go making a purchase, it’s important to consider a wide variety of factors. As your trusted source for pure CBD oil, we urge you to take the time to properly educated yourself as it's important to have a basic understanding of what's actually in your CBD tincture, capsule, topical, and vape oil. Our buyer’s guide reflects the process we go through to ensure the "highest quality CBD oil" within our products and an attempt to arm each and every one of you with the ability to select the best CBD oil for your own personal needs.

    

In the genes: The key difference between marijuana and hemp

One of the biggest misconceptions about CBD oil is the idea it comes exclusively from marijuana. Although marijuana plants do contain CBD, for it to be legal to grow and extract domestically, the plant it's extracted from is key.


When Congress passed the Agricultural Act of 2014. Better known as the “Farm Bill,” the law opened the door for closely monitored industrial hemp growth on American farms. Growing industrial hemp is significantly different than growing marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes. The industrial version of Cannabis sativa contains none of the chemicals that create the traditional “high,” but can instead have high concentrations of cannabidiols and other essential oils.


Because CBD oil comes from industrial hemp plants, CBD extract contains only cannabinoids, terpenes, amino acids and essential oils. Because there is no THC in pure CBD extract, it is legal to buy CBD oil and use it in all 50 states.

At cbdMD, we provide lab reports for public review on our website, so you know you’re only getting CBD and other terpenes, without any THC. Because of this, you can rest assured your products will arrive untampered in discreet packaging.

From farm to bottle: The importance of buying domestic CBD oil

In the United States, the topic of hemp and CBD oil is a very touchy subject. For decades, growth of industrial hemp was not allowed in America, forcing most CBD oil companies to either import plants, or import their oil from Asia and Europe.


Although farms in Asia and Europe provided plants for CBD oils in the past, the best CBD oil companies prefer to use homegrown plants instead. Growing standards in other countries are not as high as those set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, meaning CBD oils from other parts of the world could come with chemicals you don’t want to consume.

For example: Asian farms often use industrial hemp when rotating crops to refresh the soil. While it improves growing conditions for other crops, a doctorate thesis study accepted by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences found: “Hemp is able to extract heavy metals from the soil in amounts higher than many other agricultural crops. ” When the cannabinoids get extracted for CBD oil, the metals come with it – resulting in an impure solution.


Simply put: the best CBD oil comes goes straight from farm to lab right here in the United States. Plants grown in America are subject to higher quality controls, including limiting exposure to pesticides and better growth quality. Coming from a domestic farm, plants grown for CBD oil extraction has a higher concentration of cannabidiols than those brought in from other parts of the world. cbdMD sources our industrial hemp from two states: Colorado and Kentucky. From harvest, plants are loaded onto delivery trucks and are carefully tracked along the way, in accordance with federal standards. Unlike other companies, we can track each plant to the farm they came from - this way, we can reject any plant that does not meet our strict quality control standards.

An inconvenient truth: Is CBD oil good for the environment?

Because industrial hemp can be grown as an in-between rotation crop, the quality of CBD oils often comes into question. For companies that grow and import plants from Asia, Europe, or South America, this is a major concern: with lower standards, these plants can absorb heavy metals from the ground.


In addition to the concerns of absorbing heavy metals, unregulated hemp farms can create major problems for the environment. A 2017 study completed by Ithaca College found that farms located in remote locations “…leads to far greater changes in key metrics on a per‐unit‐area basis,” and without regulation, industrial hemp farming “…will likely create substantial threats to the surrounding environment.” These problems can range from soil erosion to water usage issues. Regulated farming in states that legally allow industrial hemp growth require farmers to adhere to strict guidelines. This includes tight farm requirements and pesticide restrictions. In Kentucky, the state Department of Agriculture offers special licenses for growth to farmers “seeking an agricultural crop for inclusion in crop rotation plans or as a replacement crop.” As a result, the state is “…working hard since 2014 to develop infrastructure with sufficient capacity to process hemp grown by farmers all across the region.”



CBD oil extractors that source their industrial hemp plants from American farms are dedicated to protecting the environment. While there are downsides to industrial hemp growth, CBD oils sourced direct from American farms are better for the environment than those sourced from outside the country. If you are concerned about responsible farming and being good to the environment, then purchase only CBD oil that is grown and extracted in the United States.


Because of our partnerships, cbdMD monitors growing procedures closely. Through these relationships, we make sure your plants are not only green in color, but also help keep the environment green without pesticide poisoning or soil stripping.

More than claims: Extraction quality control and CBD oil

While industrial hemp plants destined to become CBD oil is grown in the United States, that’s only part of the challenge. Even though it’s easier to get better quality plants with more cannabinoids in them, quality control matters.


There are many different methods to extract cannabinoids from plants. Prior to the 1970’s, the most popular way involved using solvents like ethanol or petroleum to bring out the important CBD oil. This process proved to be both inefficient and questionably harmful: a 1972 study published to the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology  found using ethanol only extracted half of the cannabinoids contained in the plant. Furthermore, traces of the solvents can remain in the extracted CBD oil, which can be harmful if consumed in large quantities.  

Today, some producers of cheaper CBD oils still elect to use solvents to extract cannabinoids, but there are much better ways to bring out the essential oils from the plants. Methods include extraction using natural solvents (like olive oil) and using carbon dioxide.


While using olive oil as an organic solvent to extract cannabinoids is safer than using petroleum-based solvents, it isn’t as good as using carbon dioxide. The process of creating CBD oil using carbon dioxide extraction (CO2 extraction, for short) brings more of the essential oils out of a plant without any residuals. This was demonstrated as far back as 1983 in a patent application. Demonstrating their CO2 extraction process, the applicants demonstrated that CO2 extraction was not only safer, but more efficient.

 

 

“Plant materials have been extracted, for many years, by the use of certain solvents…The extracts obtained have all had traces of the organic solvents used,” The application states. “It has been found that some important advantages are obtained by the use of the [CO2 extraction] methods according to the present invention.”


Despite the numerous ways to extract CBD oil, the research shows CO2 extraction is the best and provides the highest quality control level. At cbdMD, your CBD oils are sourced using the CO2 extraction method, putting absolutely nothing between you and your CBD oil.

Managing your entourage: Isolate versus full-spectrum extraction

When learning about CBD oil, the two terms you may run into often are “isolate” and “full-spectrum.” What do these two extraction terms mean? More importantly, how do they affect your CBD oil?

 

CBD oils or powders that contain isolate CBD primarily consist of cannabinoids alone, often combined with a binder to preserve them. Lab reports show that these products are literally only cannabinoid extract from the industrial hemp plants. The benefit of CBD isolate is that you will receive only pure CBD with every dose. But on the downside, you could be losing natural terpenes, amino acids and essential oils that are often present alongside cannabinoids.

Full-spectrum CBD extraction brings out all the good elements that grow in cultivated hemp, while hybrid full-spectrum is the term used for CBD that contains the additional oils but without THC. Terpenes naturally extracted using the hybrid full-spectrum method include:
B-caryophyllene: An essential oil complex including clove oil, rosemary, and hops.
Guaiol: A sesquiterpenoid alcohol that has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
A-bisabolol: An essential oil balancing German chamomile and figwort.
Isopulegol: The monoterpene that is akin menthol and eucalyptus.
Eucalyptol: An organic compound that primarily makes up eucalyptus oil.

 

When these elements work alongside cannabidiol in a full-spectrum CBD oil extract, it creates what’s known as the “entourage effect.” The idea comes from a 1998 report published by the European Journal of Pharmacology . Researchers discovered the cannabidiol delivered with other essential oils “…may represent a novel route for molecular regulation of endogenous cannabinoid activity.” In plain English: the terpenes, amino acids and essential oils can help the CBD oil do its job.

 

With little price difference between isolate and full-spectrum CBD oil, it makes the most sense to get a high-quality product with everything from the plant. The cbdMD hybrid full-spectrum extraction process brings out terpenes and essential oils with cannabidiol, giving you all the benefits of both CBD and essential oils.

Price point: does price equate to quality in CBD oil?

In retail, it’s often assumed that a higher priced product is better quality. Among CBD oil, that may not be the case: price and quality do not always correlate.

 

In 2016, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered over 20 products which claim to have CBD oil either do not contain any cannabinoids or contain less CBD than what the label claims. The products ranged in price from low to high, with claims their products and processes were among the best.

 

When it comes to buying CBD oil, don’t seek an expensive product in the hopes of getting the best in the market. Instead, focus on learning about the company’s extraction process and exploring their lab reports to determine just how much cannabinoids you are getting with every dose.

Making the mark: How to read a CBD oil lab report

Determining where a plant was grown and how cannabinoids were extracted is just part of the challenge. Smart buyers also analyze their CBD oil using laboratory reports provided by their CBD oil sellers. While this sounds pretty easy, it can be difficult for those who have never read one before.

 

According to a report by Market and Market , over 20 labs around the world focus only on testing for cannabidiols and other extracts from hemp plants. Some of the leading companies include Green Leaf Labs, ProVerde Laboratories, Steep Hill and SC Labs. To learn how to read a CBD oil lab report, we’ll go through one from ProVerde.

 

The multi-page report will provide a detailed overview on the CBD samples submitted for review. These tests focus on three sections: the CBD isolate powder, the hybrid full-spectrum liquid extract and all terpenes and toxins discovered in the samples. The first test determines the amount of cannabidiol by weight. To be qualified as “pure,” a CBD extract should be as close to 100 percent cannabidiol as possible. While CBD should be the primary cannabinoid, other extracts can include cannabidivarin, which compliments CBD. Equally important, you will notice that there is no trace of THC, or other chemicals in the extraction - meaning you only get the benefits of CBD without psychoactive ingredients.

The second test is a liquid version of the same CBD product, submitted at the same time as the extract. This test detects not only the amount of CBD by weight, but also trace amounts of other cannabinoids and terpenes extracted from the plant. The trace cannabidiols come from the full-spectrum extraction process this company chose to do, which brings out essential oils and amino acids along with the CBD.

 

The final test showcases two of the most important readouts: microbiological contaminants and the terpene profile. During growth, naturally occurring toxins and contaminants can attach themselves to the plant. These may include Aerobic Bacteria, Coliform Bacteria, Bile Tolerant Gram Negative, Yeast and Mold. If the test detects 100 colony forming units per gram, it could present a hazard to your health.

 

 

The terpene profile test reveals the other good amino acids and essential oils collected through hybrid full-spectrum extraction. Terpenes and essential oils including menthol and eucalyptol are naturally found in plants and can be extracted alongside the CBD. They naturally work hand-in-hand with the cannabinoids, giving a boost with every capsule, tincture, or vape oil.

 

Reading a CBD oil lab report may be intimidating, but it also gives an important look into the CBD oil you choose. At cbdMD, all of our samples are tested for purity and terpene content before they go into our tinctures, capsules or vape oils. Click here to see a sample of the test reports we get from our independent laboratory.

Buying power: Where to buy CBD oil

Now that you understand what CBD oil is, your next question may be about where to buy it. You can often buy CBD oil online, at medical dispensaries, and at specialty retail stores.

 

One of the downsides of buying CBD oil at medical dispensaries or specialty retail shops is quality control. Because retailers are purchasing products from extractors, they often don’t provide lab reports or purity analysis. Moreover, CBD oil bought at medical dispensaries must contain THC, which can create unwanted side effects. While you may think you are buying
CBD oil, what you get instead may contain little to no cannabinoids at all.

Shelf life can also be an issue of buying CBD oil at local stores. CBD vape oil is only good for three to four months, while other CBD products can last for up to two years when stored under the right conditions. When you buy CBD oil from a local distributor, you don’t know how long it’s been on their shelves, nor if it has been stored in a cool, dry place. Changes in temperature and humidity can affect the potency of your CBD oil, making it less effective the longer it sits.

 

The best place to buy CBD oil is direct from the extractor. When you buy CBD oil direct from companies that provide information about their extraction process and post verified lab reports, you can rest assured you are getting high quality CBD oil that goes from the extractor to the bottle. These companies adhere to strict quality control measures, including maintaining proper storage until shipment. When your CBD oil products arrive discreetly at your front door, you are getting the freshest products available.

Doing the math: How to ensure your CBD oil contains the right amount

So, you found a CBD oil that is sourced from American-grown plants, is extracted using responsible and efficient methods and has solid lab reports. Now it’s time to look at another important part of your CBD oil: how much CBD you are getting per dose.

 

Most CBD oils will have a number on the front of the bottle, often ranging from 300 mg to 5000 mg. Some may even advertise a higher amount of CBD oil, upwards of 6000 mg. This number is not the amount of CBD oil you get in every tincture or capsule, but is instead the total amount of CBD in the CBD oil.

The actual amount of CBD you receive should be the total CBD number on the front (in milligrams), divided by the number of servings in the bottle. For example: if you order a one-ounce bottle of 1500 mg CBD oil, the nutrition facts should state you are getting 50 mg of active cannabidiols per every one milliliter dose.

 

If your bottle doesn’t list the active amount of cannabidiols per serving, or the math between the amount of CBD on the front of the bottle doesn’t divide with the number of servings, it is a big red flag. A high-quality CBD oil will always list the amount of active cannabidiols you receive.

Buyer beware: 5 concerns when buying CBD oil online

After reading reviews, you think you may have found a CBD oil you want to try. But before you put your credit card number in, it’s important to check if it could be a scam.

Because of the popularity of buying CBD oil online, scam artists and multi-level marketers are setting up traps, hoping to prey upon inexperienced users. Buying from a phishing website or scam artist isn’t just inconvenient – it can also cost you hundreds of dollars. Before you buy any CBD oil, be sure to watch for these five sure signs of a scam:

1. “Free Trial Bottle – Just Pay Shipping:” One of the most prevalent scams involving CBD oil are those offering “Free trial bottles.” The scam works by offering a free bottle of CBD oil to a new customer, on the agreement that they only pay shipping. When they use their credit card, it will either be charged multiple times for the shipping fee, or it will be charged monthly for a “club” the user didn’t realize they were joining. Reputable companies will provide you with everything you need to make an informed decision, from research to lab reports – but won’t ask you to pay shipping for a “free” bottle of CBD oil.


2. Selling only on Facebook, Reddit, or another social media: When you log into Facebook, you may see one of your friends direct selling a product from a major brand. CBD oil scam artists know about this technique, and often will attempt to sell CBD oils at a low price through direct messages. In addition to selling CBD oils violating terms of service for both Facebook and Reddit, sellers often can’t provide lab results about their CBD oil. Thus, it may not contain any cannabidiol at all. Only buy CBD oil online direct from the distillers, and never through social media.


3. No third-party lab results available: Much like the social media scam, anyone can claim to sell CBD oil. But what comes to your door may be little more than olive oil with added flavors. Before buying CBD oil online, review their independent, third-party lab results publicly posted online. If there are no third-party lab results available, request them before purchase. And if they won’t make them available, don’t do business with them – because they can’t prove you are getting CBD oils.


4. Only one review, or a limited number of 5-star reviews: Not every CBD oil is right for everyone. Different growing areas and extraction methods can have different effects on users. Which is why CBD oil reviews will run the full spectrum, ranging from major fans to disappointed users. Before buying CBD oil online, be sure to read all the reviews – both good and bad – on the company website and at independent news websites. If there are no reviews, or very few reviews which are all positive, then it could be a scam.


5. “Miracle Drug” claims: Science has proven CBD oil may bring relief for many conditions because of its anti-inflammatory properties. But the FDA does not recognize CBD oil as a cure or prevention for any disease. If a CBD oil company claims that their elixirs can cure anything and everything, it could be a scam. Only buy CBD oil from companies that provide the science behind their products.

Pleasing the senses: why the color and flavor of CBD oil matters

Brand new CBD oil users may not know what to expect when they receive their first tinctures or capsules. Before taking any CBD oil, you need to know how it should look, and what it may taste like without flavoring.

 

CBD oil capsules often look like regular gel capsules and can be colored or transparent. Opening up a dry CBD oil capsule, you will most often find a semi-moist white powder that is a mixture of CBD oil and MCT oil extracted from coconut oil. This powder will not have an odor and should not have any flavor. Transparent CBD oil capsules often contain a liquid CBD oil extract, which should be clear or have a light tinge of yellow when opened.

One dose of CBD capsules will be printed on the side of your bottle. While dry gel capsules and liquid capsules work very similarly, be sure to select one that doesn’t have any ingredients other than cannabinoids and a naturally-based binder.

  

CBD tinctures look like eye droppers and contain a liquid form of CBD oil. A single dose consists of one eye dropper full of CBD oil. When you draw the CBD oil, it should appear clear or with a very faint yellow color. Taking CBD oil from a tincture is easy: simply draw out one dropper full of CBD oil and administer it under your tongue. Be sure to hold the liquid there for at least 30 seconds.

  

  

While CBD capsules do not have any flavor, unflavored CBD oil may have a very natural flavor. Reviewers have described this taste as tart or earthy, which you may not enjoy. If you are concerned about tasting CBD oil, you can order flavored tinctures for delivery. Common flavors include mint, orange, and berry, while pet CBD oils can come in peanut butter flavor. Before ordering a flavored CBD oil, make sure the flavors come from natural sources instead of artificial sources.

All creatures great and small: Is CBD oil okay for pets?

When starting any new product, one of the biggest concerns revolves around our pets. In a bank-sponsored survey, one-third of millennials put animals ahead of children when looking at buying a house. Are CBD oils pet friendly? More importantly, should pets take CBD oil alongside their owners?

 

For years, pet owners have turned to holistic veterinary health solutions for their aging and ailing furry friends. A Colorado State University study published by the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association discovered in a survey group of 632 pet owners, over half used a veterinary CBD product. Of those, 63.9 percent said they perceived CBD “helped a moderate amount” or “helped a great deal” with providing pain relief for dogs. And 50.5 percent said it either “helped a moderate amount” or “helped a great deal” in aiding with sleep for dogs. Among cat owners, 64.8 percent said they perceived CBD “helped a great deal” or “helped a moderate amount” in providing pain relief.

 

The survey of pet owners has helped to spur two more studies in CBD oil for pets. Colorado State University is running a study of efficacy of cannabidiol for the treatment of epilepsy in dogs and the efficacy of cannabidiol for the treatment of osteoarthritis in dogs. From the peer-reviewed studies and anecdotal evidence from current users, CBD oil may be a safe option to help pets.

Beyond taster’s choice: how to evaluate if a CBD oil is right for you

After reading this buyer’s guide, you may realize that not all CBD oils are made equally. After reading through all the science and reviews of CBD oil, there’s still one more test for your tincture, capsule or vape oil: how it works for you.

 

The amount of CBD oil you take should depend on the severity of your symptoms and body weight. We recommend using the following serving guide, which can be found here. From there, adjust your CBD oil dosage based on your personal experiences. If you find that the CBD oil is too strong for you, reduce the amount by taking a less-full tincture, or only use one capsule instead of two. If you are not seeing a positive change from taking CBD oil, then increase your dosage.

 

If even after adjusting your dosage you still don’t see a change, it may not be you. Instead, it may be your CBD oil. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different products to determine which is best for you. Even though they all claim to be the best, different sources and extraction processes can affect your experience. Just remember the best advice above to find the best CBD oil.

Making the mark: how cbdMD adheres to the highest standards

Now that you know how to separate the best CBD oils from the rest, you are probably planning days worth of research into multiple products. We’ll make it easy for you: cbdMD adheres to all of these standards, providing only the highest quality CBD products on the market today.


The cbdMD product journey starts in the fields of Colorado and Kentucky. Our farms in both states grow high-quality industrial hemp under strict supervision, ensuring they meet only the highest growing standards. Our partners work closely with our lab to ensure both product quality and adherence to our quality controls, including limited pesticide use and proper crop rotation.

After harvesting, the plants are loaded up and shipped to our proprietary lab, where our employees inspect the plants before processing. Low-quality, underweight and poor-performing plants are discarded, sending only the best plants into extraction. Our CO2 processor then extracts all the oils from the plants, including pure cannabidiol, terpenes and essential oils - giving you a pure extract without additives or petroleum-based solvents.


With hybrid full-spectrum CBD isolate in hand, a portion of the batch goes out to an independent laboratory to test purity and terpene content. Samples that do not consist of pure cannabidiol are rejected and are never incorporated into our products. Once we verify the purity and essential oil content of our CBD isolate, it then goes into the mixing process, where it goes into our oils, capsules and vape oils.

 

 

Every product is different, requiring careful flavoring combinations and handling. Our lab team is specially trained to perfectly mix and match our products every time, meaning every product will taste the same no matter how many times you reorder. Once our oils are complete, they are stored in a light-sensitive cool storage center. When your order comes in, our packers pick them off the shelf, carefully pack them in discreet packaging, before shipping them to your door based on your instructions.


With careful quality controls and an eye for detail, cbdMD is your single source for only the best CBD products grown, extracted and bottled in the United States. When it comes to getting the best for your body, you can trust the American-made cannabidiol that goes into every tincture, vape oil, cream, or capsule produced by cbdMD.

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