Researching CBD can be a daunting task. There's so much information out there; some conflicting advice, biased opinions and complicated explanations that make it difficult to know what to look for in a CBD product. It can also be even more confusing when people try to explain - throwing in percentages, strengths, brand names, carrier oils and words like sativa & indica. Finding the right oil is so hard when you don't know what you're looking for. Knowing what to look for is hard until you can determine the facts.
SO, WHERE DO YOU START?
CBD is not as complicated as you think. Knowing the basics doesn't require a college course or exam, just some good, clear guidance. Once you have a basic understanding of what CBD is, you'll be familiar with the different varieties that are available and which is the best option for you.
OKAY, HERE ARE THE BASICS:
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol is another cannabinoid, also found in the cannabis plant, and is the psychoactive component found in cannabis that achieves a "high." THC is illegal, but CBD contains beneficial properties and is legally sold as a food supplement. CBD products containing levels of less than 0.2% THC are legal in the UK and will not get the user stoned. Removing most of the THC gives the user the opportunity to reap the benefits, without the psychoactive side effects.
The levels of CBD quoted on product packaging will usually show how much CBD is in the whole product, and is often shown in milligrams (mg) but is sometimes presented as a percentage. Here's how to calculate how much CBD is in each serving:
Take the total amount of CBD in the product and divide it by the number of servings.
If we use oil tinctures as an example - there are usually 200 drops in each 10ml bottle (so there would be 400 drops in a 20ml bottle, 600 drops in a 30ml bottle and so on.) Let's say the bottle contains 1000mg of CBD. 1000mg divided by 200 drops gives you 5mg of CBD per drop.
Now, when percentages are shown on the bottle, this is simply the mg reflected in a different way. So in a 10ml bottle of 1000mg CBD oil, the percentage would be 10%. In a 20ml bottle of 1000mg CBD oil, the percentage would be 5%.
WHAT ELSE IS ON THE BOTTLE?
Now that you know the basics surrounding the different strengths of CBD and what they mean, we can start to look at the different types of CBD that are available. Taking a product at face value could prove costly when only judging by the strength written on the bottle. Not only do bottles come in different strengths and sizes, but there are different strains and qualities available too. The quality of oil is affected by the extraction method used, so let's take a look at the different options first.
C02 EXTRACTION METHOD (SUPERCRITICAL)
C02, as the name suggests, uses pressurised carbon dioxide to extract CBD from the cannabis plant. This method is clean and uses no chemicals, so carries no dangers, but gives the desired result of producing solvent free CBD. C02 extracted CBD requires specialist equipment which can be costly but will be preferred method for responsible manufacturers as it is so safe and effective.
OLIVE OIL EXTRACTION METHOD
The olive oil extraction method requires the cannabis plant to be heated at around 120 degrees Celcius for an hour, then added to the olive oil & heated for a further 2 hours. This method provides a perishable product with a short shelf life, and produces low yields.
DRY ICE EXTRACTION METHOD
This more complicated method requires a lot of time, equipment and accuracy, as the quality of the oil produced depends upon how well the complex method is followed. As the name suggests, dry ice is used to cover the plant in order to quickly freeze the trichome resins. The mixture is then shaken to loosen the trichomes, and the CBD is then extracted by scraping. This method can produce a very poor quality of CBD.
SOLVENT EXTRACTION METHOD
A variety of substances can be used to extract CBD; each providing its' own pros and cons. Ethanol and Butane are the most commonly used solvents, however using Ethanol also extracts chlorophyll which can cause side effects. Removing chlorophyll reduces the oil's potency.Butane produces a stronger oil but will also contain other solvents that again can cause side effects. As CBD is a natural supplement, keeping solvents to a minimum is a definite plus.
While each extraction method carries its own good and bad points, it's clear that the C02 method is preferable for the consumer. It won't perish quickly, it's safe and provides a good level of quality.
You might have noticed CBD products that mention "Full Spectrum" or "Broad Spectrum." If you haven't noticed, this is something to look out for from now on! There are three strains of CBD; Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum and Isolate. Let's take a look at their properties.
As we mentioned earlier, there are over 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, and CBD is just one of them. Isolate CBD products contain only CBD, and no other cannabinoids are extracted from the cannabis plant.
When Broad Spectrum products are produced, all cannabinoids are extracted minus THC.
Full Spectrum products contain all 113 cannabinoids, including the legal limit of 0.2% THC - which is not enough to become psychoactive, and therefore deems the oil safe for consumption.
WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES THIS MAKE?
You may be aware that your body has its very own Endocannabinoid System, or ECS. Your ECS responds to cannabinoids that enter your body and distributes them as necessary. When all of the cannabinoids are working together, along with the terpenes and essential oils also extracted with full spectrum CBD, they create what is known as an "entourage effect." This means that the full benefit of each of the cannabinoids can be experienced by the user. Full Spectrum CBD is therefore considered the most effective strain, as nothing is removed; the THC is simply lowered to remove the psychoactive properties.
SO NOW YOU KNOW
How to read the strength of CBD in each product
How to calculate the strength of CBD per drop or serving
The different extraction methods and what they mean
The different strains / spectrums of CBD that are available.
So, while selecting a CBD product is not quite as simple as reading the strength and price, it actually is quite simple. Now you've seen it broken down, you're armed with the facts to help you to make a sensible selection of CBD product. If you're comparing two "500mg" bottles with a £20 price difference, the chances are they are of very different quality levels. Remember to check the extraction method and the strain of CBD, as well as the strength per serving to establish if you're definitely getting a good deal!