What To Look For When Buying CBD, And How To Avoid Red Flags

Shopping for CBD can be like playing Minesweeper on Windows 95. While there are a zillion beautiful, wonderful hemp brands out there creating legitimate and potent product (hooray for plant medicine!), there are others out there who are a bit … well… shady. 

person writing in journal to keep track of CBD progress

How do you tell the difference? We’ve got 7 tips that’ll keep your hemp purchases on the straight and narrow. Safe, effective CBD products are all readily available, particularly if you stick to these tips and guidelines. 

1. Don’t buy your product on Amazon

Listen, we love Amazon. We’ve got that Prime thing goin’ on. We subscribe to toilet paper and toothpaste and dog food. WE GET IT. But don’t get your CBD there, honey. It’s a mess. When it comes to something completely unregulated that’s going into your body and can significantly impact your health. Go to a safe source with transparent information (like Svn Space, obviously!) — get to know the brand, where they’re sourcing their hemp from, how thy’re extracting the product, and what their facilities are like. Yes, it’s a lot of work, and we know it doesn’t sound fun — but this is important. Get your cheap t-shirts and scrunchies on Amazon, save the hemp-based medicine for a more thoroughly-researched purchase.

2. Research brands and look for transparency

Essentially, this is the opposite of shopping on Amazon, and what we were alluding to earlier. Again, when it comes to buying CBD, you don’t want to cut corners for a bargain. So much goes into the creation of this product, and you’re putting a new substance in your body — don’t you want to make sure it’s a clean, plant-based medicine, and not poison? What are some indicators of a good, safe brand? For one, you can get in touch with their customer service. They should be easily reachable. Second, they should have a decent “about” page where you can find where the company is based, where the product is being made, etc. A legit company will also be committed to CBD education, so they may have a blog or at least a landing page that directs you to educational resources. And lastly, they’ll be willing to show a COA — certificate of analysis — which we’ll get to in point 5.

3. Don’t buy “hemp seed oil” when you want CBD oil

A lot of fly-by-the-night brands out there will use confusing language on purpose, all to shill a product. Here’s the thing, if you want a great moisturizer or something to cook with, hemp seed oil is great! It’s cheap, it’s abundant, and it’s full of omega-3 fatty acids which are wonderful for the skin and the brain. But… it’s not CBD oil. If you’re looking for a topical salve, an under the tongue tincture, or something that is medicinally-based, you want CBD oil, not hemp seed oil. Read the label carefully!

4. Aim for USA-grown hemp

While you’re carefully reading that label, make sure you look for USA grown hemp, or something similar. A lot of hemp does come from China, but because hemp is a bio accumulator, it soaks up a lot of heavy metals and nuclear fallout when it’s grown in that region. The United States isn’t the only safe place to get hemp-derived product (in fact, Scandinavia is a fantastic option — just ask anyone at Neurogan CBD), but it’s a great rule of thumb if you don’t want to do further research and need a reliable option.

5. Ask for a COA when you want to confirm

Want to make sure there’s actually CBD in your CBD oil? Because this is an unregulated industry, the truth can be trickier to come by. Verify the quality, potency, and safety of your product (read: no heavy metals, pesticides, solvents, nuclear fallout, etc.) with a COA: certificate of analysis. Any reliable, trustworthy brand should be willing to provide a COA for your exact product and batch. (*How to read a COA article coming soon)

6. Check: Isolate, Full-Spectrum, Broad-Spectrum, or Whole Plant Extract

When you’re new to CBD — and even if you’ve been using it for a while, actually — labeling can be profoundly confusing. And the thing is, there are no exact parameters for these brands to label CBD products specifically and accurately, so many brands are just doing their best (the good ones, that is). However, there are a few things you can keep in mind. For instance, “Isolate” means just CBD, no other flavonoids, terpenes, or cannabinoids. Some people prefer to have this isolated compound to get purely the effects of CBD, while others prefer the more synergistic “entourage effect” of all those plant compounds in something like a broad- or full-spectrum product. Broad-spectrum will give you more cannabinoids and plant compounds that enhance the effects of CBD, but with no THC. Full-spectrum will have those same compounds, but less than 0.3-percent THC, which is the legal limit for it to be considered “THC free” even though there are trace (and we mean trace) amounts. Whole plant extract is a little bit more of a loose term, as it could potentially have more THC, depending on where you get it — but it could also have under 0.3-percent.

7. Work with a cannabis expert 

Different deliveries of CBD (like transdermal patches, capsules, and vaporizers) can have completely different effects. They all aim to do the same job (reduce inflammation, anxiety, etc.) but the way these methods go about it, and the duration and speed of effects, all come down to delivery — and it varies quite a bit. For instance, vaporizing has quick delivery of medicine to your body (AKA fast relief) but it’s a short-lived relief compared to something like a gummy, which is slow to provide relief but longer lasting. To choose the best product for your body and your specific ailment or medical need, it’s important to talk with a doctor or cannabis expert (but like, emphasis on doctor). If your doctor isn’t versed in CBD, there are teledoc services online that connect you with MDs who happen to specialize in cannabis. Again, this is more work, but it’s so necessary — and so worth it. Bonus: many doctors can also recommend safe brands that they know will work.

Written by Dominique Astorino

Wellness Expert and Svn Space Podcast Host and Contributing Editor Dominique holds bylines at POPSUGAR, Brit+Co, SHAPE, Svn Space and Huffington Post Wellness covering everything from health, fitness, and nutrition to crystals and CBD.


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