choosing the best CBD products

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How to choose the best CBD product for you

CBD Helps

Once a novelty item, CBD oil [link to what is CBD oil] has now found its way into a vast array of products spanning a spectrum of delivery methods from tinctures, to edibles, topicals, creams and much, much more. With such an array of options, how does one choose the best CBD product for their wants and needs?

There are a handful of things to consider when choosing a CBD product:

  • the reason for using hemp CBD
  • the time of day you’re taking CBD
  • your lifestyle (school, work, physical activities, etc.)
  • and your physical state of health 

In this post, we’ll look at each category of CBD delivery method with an eye for the above-listed criteria. The last three items, age, body type, and state of health are more related to dosage than deliver method. We’ll cover the ideal CBD oil dosage in another post.

CBD Bioavailability and Onset Time

There are two important concepts that you’ll need to grasp before we talk about the available delivery methods for CBD oil. These are CBD’s bioavailability and onset time. 

Bioavailability refers to how much of the CBD contained in the product makes its way into your bloodstream. The main factor in bioavailability comes from the fact that oil and water don’t mix well. CBD is oil and blood is water-based. As a result, much of the CBD in your system is absorbed into fatty tissues before it can get into your bloodstream.  One way to overcome this problem to some extent is a process called nanoencapsulation in which nanoscale droplets of CBD oil are encapsulated in a microscopic casing that more easily homogenizes with water. Nanoencapsulation can increase a product’s bioavailability by as much as 400 percent. 

Onset time refers to how long it takes for the CBD to take effect. Onset time is dependent on the path by which the CBD gets into your system. When inhaled, CBD is instantly absorbed into the bloodstream via blood vessels in the lungs and is quickly transported throughout the body. Edibles provide a slower onset time because it takes time for the CBD to make its way through the digestive system. 

Both bioavailability and onset time can vary greatly from product to product. For example, while edibles tend to have a longer onset time and lower bioavailability, vaping CBD oil provides almost immediate onset of effects and offers near 100 percent bioavailability. However, that doesn’t mean vaping is a better choice. Both have their benefits and drawbacks.

Onset Time of various CBD products

Here’s a rough breakdown of the various products and their bioavailabilities and onset times:

CBD Vaporizers and Ionizers

Includes CBD vape pens, dry herb vaporizers, and inhalers
High bioavailability: (60%-100%)
Fast onset time: Near-instantaneous

Smokable CBD-rich hemp

Smokable hemp flower, pre-rolls, hemp cigarettes
High bioavailability: (60%-100%)
Fast onset time: Near-instantaneous

Oral CBD medications

Nonencapsulated capsules, tablets, lozenges
Medium bioavailability (30%-60%)
Medium onset time (up to 30 min.)

CBD Capsules (nanoencapsulated)

Low-med bioavailability
Slow-med onset time

CBD Tinctures (sublingual)

CBD oil tinctures and alcohol tinctures
Medium bioavailability
Medium-Fast onset time

Edible CBD Candy

Hard candy, chocolate, gummies, etc.
Low-med bioavailability
Medium onset time

Edible CBD Baked Goods

Brownies, cookies, etc.
Low bioavailability
Slow onset time

CBD Topicals

CBD creams, balms, ointments, lotions, lubes
Low (under 30%) bioavailability
Slow  onset time (up to an hour)

CBD Drinks

CBD-infused coffee, tea, water, soda, beer, wine, etc.
Medium bioavailability
Slow onset time

Full-Spectrum CBD Oil vs. Pure CBD

There is another consideration when choosing a CBD product and that’s what’s in it aside from CBD. A spectrum of CBD oil formulas is available. 

  • Full-spectrum CBD oil – Contains cannabinoids and terpenes from the original plant. Every batch’s profile is unique.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD oil – Contains purified CBD as well as other cannabinoids and terpenes in precise amounts.

CBD-infused – Vegetable oil, alcohol, food, drinks, creams, etc. to which purified CBD has been added.

About cannabinoids

CBD, found in the aromatic, resinous flower clusters of CBD-rich hemp, is just one of the scores of similar compounds known as cannabinoids. Although hemp produces CBD in the highest abundance, some strains produce additional minor cannabinoids each of which produces its own set of effects. 

The most common cannabinoids in hemp after CBD include CBG, CBN, CBA. Each individual cannabinoid has a slightly different molecular structure. The effects produced by full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD depend on the levels of each of these cannabinoids. In other words, the CBD oil from one manufacturer might have a different effect from another. Most reputable CBD makers offer a certificate of analysis for each lot number which lists the available cannabinoids and their concentrations.

About terpenes

In addition to cannabinoids, hemp also produces essential oils known as terpenes. These aromatic compounds give each strain of cannabis its distinctive scent and flavor. Terpenes have been used for millennia in a healing modality with which you might be familiar known as aromatherapy. Whereas cannabinoids can make up as much as 20 to 25 percent or more of the weight of hemp flowers, terpenes, on the other hand, are measured in parts per million. As with cannabinoids, the effects of a particular CBD oil formula also depends on the levels of various terpenes. 

Some terpenes can cause relaxation while others make you feel more awake. Some can increase your appetite while others can reduce appetite. For this reason, it’s important to know which terpenes are present in the product you are considering buying. While one formulation might produce unwanted effects, another might be ideal for a particular user. CBD is odorless and tasteless, while terpenes have strong aromas and flavors. For this reason, CBD-infused products such as topicals are often made without the addition of terpenes.

How to choose the ideal CBD product for you

Now that we have a basic understanding of what’s in CBD products, let’s take a look at the various factors that need to be considered when determining which product is right for you. To recap:

Consider onset time

People take CBD for a wide array of medical conditions. Some of those conditions, such as panic attacks, PTSD, etc. come on quickly and need fast relief. The products with the fastest onset time are inhalable such as vaporizers and atomizer inhalers. If you’re using CBD oil as a dietary supplement, on the other hand, the onset time is not really a factor and products such as tinctures, oils, and edibles will do just fine.

Bioavailability Considerations

One thing is for sure: CBD is not cheap. And no matter how much of it gets into your bloodstream, it’s the amount in the product that you’re paying for. What this means is that products will higher bioavailability are usually a better deal. More bang for your buck, so to speak. For example, If a product has a bioavailability of only 10%, you’d have to use four times than if you used a product that has a 40% bioavailability. Nanoencapsulated CBD oils can have as much as four times the bioavailability of non-encapsulated products, oftentimes for the same price.

What’s your lifestyle

The time and place that you take CBD can be a huge factor in determining which CBD product is right for you. For example, if you’re taking CBD every morning or evening before bed, and you’re doing it home, then tinctures might be perfect for you since you can just keep a dropper in your medicine cabinet. On the other hand, if you’re traveling, edible products might be a better choice because there’s nothing to spill.

Conditional considerations

This one is pretty much a no brainer, but the type of product should be matched to the condition. For example, if you’re using CBD to treat a skin condition, then a topical product such as cream, ointment, salve, or balm would be advised. On the other hand, if you’re taking CBD to deal with a digestive issue, capsules and edibles are a better choice.

Dosage accuracy

Another thing to be considered is the accuracy of the dosage. Dosage is easy to determine when you’re taking capsules because it’s right on the bottle. Determining dosage is much more difficult with a method like vaping. Vaping dosage, on the other hand, depends on a number of factors including how much you inhale and how deeply you inhale it.

Full-spectrum vs CBD-infused

If you’re looking for a wide range of effects that come with a full-spectrum product such as effects on mood, sleep, stress levels, inflammation, and so on, then a full-spectrum product might be ideal. On the other hand, certain products such as topicals provide a better user experience when formulated with pure CBD which is odorless.

Nanoencapsulated vs non-encapsulated

A product containing nanoencapsulated CBD oil can provide as high as four times the bioavailability of a standard CBD oil product. This needs to be carefully considered in order to determine serving size.

Additional active ingredients

Some products contain additional active ingredients such as melatonin for sleep or curcumin for pain relief. Also, some topical products are made to treat skin issues and others are made to treat joint and muscle pain. Skin creams often contain moisturizers and the line, while pain creams often contain ingredients such as menthol that help them penetrate into the tissues below the skin. Find a formula that matches your needs.

Medicinal vs. supplemental uses

If your reason for using CBD is general health, mood, energy, sleep, etc. then tinctures or capsules are fine. If you’re more concerned with the stomach and digestive system, then capsules are ideal. And if your concern is your skin, then, obviously, a topical CBD preparation might be ideal.

Conclusion

We hope this primer on choosing the right CBD product has been informative and helpful. These are the things we hope you have taken away from this article:
  • There are different CBD products for different uses.
  • Within each product category, there are a wide array of formulations from full-spectrum to broad-spectrum to CBD-infused.
  • Certain products deliver more CBD to your bloodstream, particularly inhalable products and nano-encapsulated oils. 
  • Certain products work more quickly than others. How fast do you need the product to work?
  • The condition you’re trying to treat weighs heavily in the decision of which product to use. 
  • The ideal product for you depends on where and when you plan to use it. 
Keep in mind that not every state allows every type of CBD product to be sold or used. Some states prohibit the sale and use of smokable hemp, for example. Some states, as a result of the recent rash of deaths associated with adulterated THC cartridges, now prohibit vape pens. And a number of states prohibit the use of CBD in foods and beverages. All of these products, however, are available for purchase online if not in your state. For details on some of the rules of individual states check out these articles:
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Additional reading:

For those who would like to take a deep dive into CBD, what it is, where it comes from, what its effects are, and so on please check out these informative articles:

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