CBD shopping guide

CBD shopping guide

The first and most important step in choosing a good CBD product is to educate yourself. With so many brands and products on the market, how do you choose which CBD product is best for you? “Best for you” here means the best in terms of safety, reliability, efficiency while remaining at a reasonable price.

In this article, we will help you become a smart consumer by providing you with the best tips and information regarding the market. This way, you can protect yourself and your family from fake or poor quality products, and then find the most suitable and effective CBD products depending on your needs.

At its meeting in November 2017, the World Health Organization's Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) concluded that, in its pure state, cannabidiol is unlikely to be abused or cause harm.[1]

Full spectrum extract versus Isolate

CBD needs other active ingredients such as other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids in herbs to be most effective. To know more about why this is the case, these articles can be great for helping you understand how hemp/cannabis medicine works:

CBD isolate is a crystalline form of CBD, without any other compound. Meaning, 99.9% CBD, no THC, no CBG, no terpenes or any else. Due to the lack of “entourage effect”, its effectiveness is quite limited. You will have to take more CBD in its isolated form to get the desired results, compared to other forms, such as full spectrum extract or broad spectrum extract.

Studies have also shown that the therapeutic range of CBD isolate is narrower than that of whole-plant, full spectrum CBD extracts. The therapeutic range is the dose range where CBD will give you the desired effect. This means that it will be harder for you to find your optimal dosage and get the results you want if you just stick to its isolate form.

In contrast, full spectrum extracts are products that in addition to CBD, contain other cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids..., so you will get more benefits. Most importantly, the “entourage effect” is there, where compounds work together to bring even greater effects. When using this type of extract, you will only need smaller doses but can still get the desired results compared to when using the isolate form. Not only that, in addition to CBD, other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids also have their own benefits as well.

Legal hemp CBD products will contain very small amounts of THC permitted by the law. Don't worry, you won't get a high with this little THC amount or get a positive test, if you only use it in moderation. But because there is still THC there, some people, who need to use CBD so often and at very high dosages, can still sometimes get high.  

If you want to be totally risk-free, then a third type of product currently on the market, CBD broad spectrum, is there for you. This is similar to full spectrum CBD extract, but it has all the THC removed. These are products for areas where THC is strictly prohibited, or for those who don't want to have any traces of THC in their system.

Caution: 

Many manufacturers now claim that their products are full-spectrum extracts, but in fact only a part of it is so, while the rest is just CBD isolates being mixed in. Why do this? This is mainly to bring the THC content in the extract to below legal limits, or to minimize production costs where possible. Most of these products are often very cheap, but can not be as effective as the real ones.

Therefore, it is best to research the market thoroughly to see which companies are the most trustworthy before you make any purchase. At the same time, be wary of companies that are selling CBD at a price that can be considered “too good to be true”.

CBD isolate (99%) from HEMP SAPA. In this form, CBD is a white crystalline powder like the top corner of the picture. CBD companies can also dissolve this crystalline CBD in various substances to make different CBD isolate products.

Hemp derived CBD versus Cannabis derived CBD?

Hemp versus cannabis debate? 

In December 2021, the EU adopted a new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), with a maximum THC level in hemp being 0.3%. Similarly, in the US, the 2018 Agriculture Act defines: cannabis plants are plants with a THC content higher than 0.3% of the dry weight, and hemp plants as plants with THC content lower than 0.3%.

However, the molecular structure of CBD from these two sources is identical, meaning it will bring the same effect no matter which plant source it comes from. The only difference is that since the cannabis plant has more THC, the product extracted from it will likely have more THC. This could be better if you want THC, but it could also be bad if you don't want THC, or the law doesn't allow it. A product high in THC can make you high. But if it's industrial hemp CBD, with its extremely low THC content, you won't get a high unless your body is super sensitive to THC.

CBD oil versus hemp seed oil

Hemp seed oil sold in grocery stores or online platforms like Amazon does not contain any CBD. However, these two types of products (Hemp Seed Oil and CBD Oil, or even THC Oil) can all be called “hemp oils”. This is because the word “hemp” has traditionally been understood and can be used to refer to both: cannabis (high in THC) and hemp (low in THC). This has caused a lot of misunderstanding in the community. So, when purchasing CBD, make sure it's not hemp seed oil, and that the product's packaging clearly says "contains CBD", or "contains cannabidiol".

HempSapa® cold-pressed hemp seed oil is produced from bio-cultivated hemp in the Czech Republic.

CBD content in the product - how much CBD per dollar?

According to legislation in Europe and the US, manufacturers are required to list the CBD content on the product packaging, usually in milligrams (mg). The price of a CBD product depends on the total amount of CBD present in the product. You need to compare the CBD content if you want to compare prices. 

A big bottle doesn't necessarily have a lot of CBD in it. Sometimes it's just there to trick your visual perception. Maybe the CBD in it was extremely diluted. Be careful, a 30ml 1% CBD bottle (which contains only 300mg of CBD in total) has way less CBD than a 10ml 10%bottle (1000mg of total CBD), despite the larger size.

Third party lab tests - Certificate of analysis

Yes, before making any purchase, please check the certificate of analysis and make sure everything is right.

Cannabinoid content

This is the basic, must have test and the first to look at. But even so, many manufacturers refuse to publish this result for various reasons. There have been many cases where the actual CBD content was much lower than what was stated on the label. Worse, in some cases, the product even contained no CBD at all. Therefore, the FDA has sent warning letters to dozens of companies that sell products with mislabeled CBD content or excess THC level [2]. In addition, in 2017, the American Medical Association published research showing that 70% of CBD products sold online were mislabeled in terms of strength.[3]

Reading this cannabinoid test result will also allow you to know exactly how many mg of CBD your product contains, and whether it has THC or not. That means you'll also know if the product is a full spectrum extract or just created from isolates.

CBD full spectrum extract from HEMP SAPA. Unlike the CBD isolate, the full spectrum extract also contains many other cannabinoids and terpenes.

Terpene content

Terpenes are compounds responsible for the distinctive scent of different cannabis and hemp cultivars (strains), and they also provide a wide range of medical effects by themselves. Terpenes work synergistically with other cannabinoids to create what we called the “entourage effect”, and different strains of cannabis have unique terpene profiles. This means that the effects and benefits of a cannabis/hemp product come not only from the cannabinoids, but also from the terpenes. This test shows what terpenes are present in the product, and how much.

However, hemp-derived CBD products usually have very low concentrations of terpenes. This is because hemp does not contain as much terpenes as the cannabis plant, and also because a great amount of terpenes can be lost during extraction. Because of this, many manufacturers have reintroduced terpenes into their products after extraction. They may use a mixture of terpenes from the cannabis plant, or terpenes from other plant sources.

CBD vape cartridges from HEMP SAPA. It's CBD, but supplemented with natural terpene blends that mimics the flavors of popular cannabis strains!

Some notable terpenes are myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, pinene, and linalool. This article will help you learn more about the effects of these terpenes.

Pesticides and herbicides

Hemp is inherently a plant that is very resistant to pests and diseases, so it does not need a lot of chemicals in the cultivation process. Hemp cultivated in Europe and Canada does not use any of those chemicals. However, some cases of contamination with these chemicals still happen, which can be directly contaminated, or indirectly contaminated from the soil and water sources.

Furthermore, the hemp plant has very little cannabinoid content in it, compared to the cannabis plant. Because of this, the manufacturers need a lot of raw materials for extracting a tiny amount of CBD. Extraction processes sometimes cannot filter out all harmful substances, resulting in them accumulating in high concentrations.

Therefore, you definitely should look for this certificate of analysis too, to make sure that there are no pesticides, herbicides in your product, or there is, then it is at a low level that is allowed by the industrial standard.

Microorganism: bacteria and fungus

Microorganisms, molds greatly affect the safety and shelf life of products. A contaminated product means that there is something wrong in the extraction, packaging, storing or delivering process.

Heavy metal

The heavy metals often tested for are: arsenic , cadmium, cobalt, lead, copper, and mercury.

The hemp/cannabis plant has roots capable of absorbing many things from its surroundings, including nutrients but also toxic substances. They have been shown to be able to live on soils with high concentrations of cadmium, nickel (nickel) and chromium (chromium).[4] Hemp can also be grown in soil that is rich in zinc (zinc). Because of this, scientists have studied and considered using them for a method of soil detoxification, called phytoremediation, which uses the roots of plants like hemp to absorb and neutralize toxins in the soil. Those toxins can be anything from heavy metal, pharmaceutical and personal care products, hormones, steroids, alkyl-phenols,  pesticides[5], or even radiation!

Therefore, when using poor quality hemp materials, or if the extraction process is good, the end product can very likely contain heavy metal residues and other toxic substances. Depending on their concentration, these heavy metals can cause a lot of harm.

And as mentioned previously, because we need a large amount of raw material to extract just a tiny amount of CBD, those heavy metal contaminants can be concentrated into the final product, making it highly unsafe. This is also one reason why supercritical CO2 extraction has earned its spot in the medical and recreational cannabis/hemp industry. Extraction methods that use solvents such as butane, propane or pentane will often yield more concentrated extracts, but lead to a risk of toxic or heavy metal residues. Meanwhile, with supercritical CO2 extraction, such things can be removed more easily. At the same time, this method also does not use solvents and does not come with the risk of solvent residue. Therefore, it is considered the most effective and safe extraction method we have today.

Be cautious with fake CBD

In 2018, synthetic cannabinoids - artificial compounds that mimics the structure of cannabinoids - poisoned 52 people in Utah, USA after being sold as a fake CBD vapes.[9]

So, stay away from CBD products which have unknown origins, especially when the seller tells you that it will make you high. Don’t buy looking CBD with weird, colorful packaging from vape shops that doesn’t come with any Certificate of Analysis. Please look for reputable companies and trusted brands instead. 

The extraction method 

Currently, there are different methods of cannabinoid extraction. Extracting cannabinoids with solvents can still make great and safe products, if done correctly. But, if you want to be extra careful, then a product extracted via a solventless method is much more preferable.  

The current best one is supercritical CO2 extraction (a form of SFE – supercritical fluid extraction). This method allows extraction without the use of potentially harmful chemicals. Unlike other simpler techniques, supercritical CO2 extraction technology will ensure the final product is absolutely pure and safe. However, the cost of supercritical CBD extraction equipment is quite expensive, so the price of these products will be higher accordingly.

In addition, after performing CO2 extraction, many manufacturers carry out an additional step, which is winterization. This is the step to remove the wax and chlorophyll, making the final product to appear cleaner, clearer and with less smell. In general, better looking and the taste will be more pleasant. However, winterization also has the drawback that it removes part of the cannabinoid profile and almost all of the terpenes, resulting in a product with very little color and smell. If you remember, terpenes play a very important role in the therapeutic effects of hemp products. Therefore, HEMP SAPA has decided not to perform this winterization step in some product lines, unless it is absolutely necessary. 

CBD distillate, a new product from HEMP SAPA. This is a concentrated full spectrum CBD extract with extremely high cannabinoid content (77-92%), providing the best value for both recreational and medicinal uses. This line of products is extracted via a new technology, which is freeflow extraction, exclusively for those who need a lot of cannabinoids, or for those who want to dab or vape. This product contains almost only cannabinoids and terpenes, but no VG/PG, vitamin E or any other additives. 

The base/carrier oil

CBD oil drops can have many different base/carrier oil. If alcohol is used, the product may cause discomfort in the mouth when consumed. If the base is vegetable glycerin (VG), then it will have a sweet taste, but the shelf life will be shorter. The most common type of base is coconut oil, olive oil or hemp seed oil. MCT oil is also a good choice as it tastes best and has a longer shelf life.

But, whatever base it uses, make sure that you don’t have any allergic/adverse reaction to them. 

CBD products and different forms

There are countless CBD products nowadays on the market. You can choose which type of product you like, depending on your needs and preferred ways to use them.

Some examples:

  • Dried hemp flowers that are high in CBD.
  • CBD oil (drops)
  • CBD oil (paste or concentrates): CBD extracts in concentrated form, very high CBD content, from 50% to more than 90%.
  • Crystalline CBD: This is CBD isolate, CBD content can be up to 99.9%.
  • CBD Topical (Cream, lotion, oil…): For topical application. Can help accelerate wound healing, has anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties.
  • CBD vape/dab oil.
  • CBD for pets: many places now sell CBD pet products such as CBD oil, cookies or CBD-infused pet food.
  • CBD suppositories: CBD but administered rectally or vaginally. For those who have difficulty getting CBD by mouth, want to increase their CBD dose quickly, or want to apply CBD directly on this area (such as CBD products for menstrual pain relief in women).
  • Some other products: CBD massage oil, CBD water, CBD patches, CBD honey, CBD coffee…

 

HEMP SAPA new arrived cosmetics! These can be great additions to your skin care routine. CBD is very beneficial for the skin because of its powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties! 

Conclusion

As you can see, there is a lot to know and learn about this new market.  So, with this guide, you now know the most essential steps in the process of choosing a good CBD product. We wish you the best, and hope this information we provided can be useful in choosing the CBD that works best for you!

References

[1] World Health Organisation, “CANNABIDIOL (CBD) Pre-Review Report Agenda Item 5.2 Expert Committee on Drug Dependence Thirty-Ninth Meeting.”

[2] FDA, “Warning Letters and Test Results for Cannabidiol-Related Products | FDA.”

[3] Bonn-Miller et al., “Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online.”

[4] Citterio et al., “Heavy Metal Tolerance and Accumulation of Cd, Cr and Ni by Cannabis Sativa L.”

[5] Wu et al., “Phytoremediation of Contaminants of Emerging Concern from Soil with Industrial Hemp (Cannabis Sativa L.): A Review”; Kumar et al., “Cannabis Sativa: A Plant Suitable for Phytoremediation and Bioenergy Production.”

[6] Wong, “IMPACT OF 1986 CHERNOBYL ACCIDENTAL RADIOACTIVE RELEASE ON BIOMASS SUPPLY FOR INDUSTRIAL USE IN CENTRAL WESTERN BELARUS.”

[7] “Sunflowers Battle Radiation in Fukushima, Japan.”

[8] “Taranto, Italy, Is Decontaminating Its Land by Cultivating Hemp.”

[9] Burns, “Fake CBD Poisoned At Least 52 People In Utah Last Winter, Officials Say.”

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