Maybe you’re thinking about buying a CBD product, even though you’ve never tried it. If you’ve consumed CBD oil, tinctures, edibles or other products seeking relief from a medical condition, you’re not alone. According to a 2019 Consumer Reports survey, 25 percent of respondents have at least tried CBD.
But look behind the hype, and you’ll find reason to be cautious when buying CBD. For starters, the Food and Drug Administration has not approved CBD as a treatment for any ailment or disease, so CBD products don’t undergo the same rigorous testing required by FDA-approved drugs or supplements. And there are very few independent scientific studies on the efficacy of CBD. Finally, manufacturers and sellers of CBD products can’t make claims about their medical effectiveness.
So, unfortunately, there’s not much guidance for CBD consumers. But with some critical thinking and a little research, you can make sure you’re buying a product that’s safe and potentially useful. Here are eight questions to ask yourself before buy a CBD product.
1. What will you use it for?
Your reasons for buying CBD will help direct you to a product that’s best for you. If you’re in the market for a product that’s fast-acting, a vape cartridge or a tincture might be the way to go. If you’re looking for a product that you can apply to a localized area, then a topical product like a cream or balm is the better choice. Other delivery methods include edibles and transdermal patches. Edibles take two hours or more to work. Transdermal patches allow the CBD to pass directly into your bloodstream through the skin.
2. Has it been tested?
Once you’ve identified the delivery method that’s right for you, start researching specific products to buy. Make sure the product has been tested by a reputable third-party lab. If it has, you can usually find a copy of the product’s Certificate of Analysis, which will list the test results, on the manufacturer’s website or your local dispensary.
3. How much CBD is in it?
The product’s CBD content will usually be measured in milligrams (mg). Look for the CBD per recommended amount as well as the total amount of CBD in the product. In some products, the CBD content is listed as a percentage of the total product. A responsible manufacturer will list the content as both a percentage and a quantity. Beware of products that list only a total cannabinoid content on their packaging or in their test results; these products may contain other cannabinoids in addition to CBD.
4. How much THC is in it?
Most CBD products are derived from industrial hemp, which must contain 0.3 percent or less THC. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 made it federally legal to grow, sell and manufacture products made from industrial hemp in the U.S.
Knowing the THC content of a CBD product is essential for making sure you work within the law. Again, look on the packaging or in the COA for the THC potency. This should be listed both as a percentage of the total product and as an amount.
5. What else is in it?
Depending on the type of product (CBD oil, capsules or topical), it could have other ingredients. If it’s a lotion, it may contain glycerin or stearic acid. If it’s a flavored vape oil, it might contain terpenes, which are the aromatic compounds that give plants their characteristic aromas. But steer clear of CBD vape liquids that contain these additives: vitamin E Acetate, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, polyethylene glycol 400 or medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These ingredients could cause health problems when heated and inhaled as a vapor.
6. Does it claim to cure, treat or prevent a disease?
Some CBD products claim to cure or alleviate a whole host of health conditions, including arthritis, migraines and anxiety. And while anecdotal evidence indicates that there might be some truth behind a few of these assertions, it’s illegal to claim that a product can cure, treat, diagnose or prevent a disease without the FDA’s approval. So, don’t buy from manufacturers who make medical claims about their CBD products. With research still in its early stages, there’s no evidence to support such claims. It’s also in clear violation of federal rules that govern how products that aren’t FDA-approved can be marketed. If a manufacturer is willing to flout the law in one area, it’s a good chance they’re also cutting corners elsewhere.