If you’ve researched natural pain treatments, you’ve likely seen articles and advertisements for hemp CBD oil, an extract of the cannabis plant that reportedly eases pain without causing euphoria like marijuana. As a chronic pain patient myself, I understand how tempting it is to hand over your credit card number in hopes of finding relief.
But before you do that, know that all hemp CBD oils are not created equal! A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found nearly 70 percent of hemp CBD oil sold online was mislabeled. During the Penn Medicine study, researchers analyzed 84 products purchased from 31 companies. Around 42 percent of products were under-labeled, meaning the product contained more CBD than labeled. Twenty-six percent of products contained less CBD than indicated on packaging.
“Only 30 percent of CBD products purchased contained an actual CBD content that was within 10 percent of the amount listed on the product label,” reads a press release about the JAMA study. “While studies have not shown that too much CBD can be harmful, products containing either too little or too much CBD than labeled could negate potential clinical benefit to patients. Further, the variability across products may make it troublesome for patients to get a reliable effect.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began testing hemp CBD products in 2015 and has reported similar findings.
Hemp CBD oil is not regulated, creating a situation of buyer beware. Despite this, hemp CBD oil continues to be in high demand as a growing number of chronic pain patients look for alternatives to opioids and drugs with troubling side effects. With so many companies pushing their products, how can you ensure you’re purchasing a quality product that’s potent and safe to use
There are actually two kinds of CBD, or cannabidiol, hemp-based CBD oil and marijuana-based CBD oil. Both are derived from varieties of the cannabis plant. Hemp-based CBD products can be purchased online or at certain stores; marijuana-based CBD is generally sold by dispensaries in states where cannabis is legal.
Here are a few tips on what to look for when selecting a quality hemp derived CBD oil.
Many hemp CBD products are made from industrialized hemp grown overseas. These countries may or may not have strong environmental regulations governing how and where the plant is grown. That can be a problem since both hemp and marijuana are bio-accumulators, meaning they suck up heavy metals from the soil in which they’re grown.
Depending on how the oil is processed, consumers may end up exposed to toxins and/or chemical solvents used to purify the CBD after harvest.
U.S.-produced hemp CBD products tend to be safer because of better growing and refining practices.
Choose hemp CBD products that are grown organically to reduce potential exposure to pesticides and other unhealthy chemicals.
Buy Full Spectrum
Look for a full-spectrum CBD product instead of an isolate.
Full spectrum means the product contains CBD plus trace amounts of other cannabinoids and terpenes for better healing and performance. An isolate only contains CBD.
CBD isolates can confer medical effects, but you’re going to need much higher doses of an isolate than you would of a whole-spectrum oil, so you’ll be spending more money on that.
Isolates are also more likely to cause drug interactions than full-spectrum products.
Beware of Claims
The FDA prohibits companies from making health claims about CBD products, so it’s best to avoid companies that claim their product can cure cancer or end pain forever.
Look for Lab Results
Ensure the company you're buying CBD oil is being very transparent about the testing of their product. If you can't easily find the lab sheet on their website it's probably not a product you want to purchase.
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