So, you’ve heard about CBD—perhaps on the news, from friends, or online — but you don’t know where to buy it, how to distinguish between products, or what risks or effects you’ll encounter. CBD products have gained recognition as a natural alternative to prescription drugs, and some say they have certain health benefits. But keep in mind that these products are not approved by the FDA to treat, cure, or prevent disease.
The CBD industry has gotten big fast; but with such sudden growth comes a lack of regulation and a whirlwind of conflicting information on the subject. This makes it difficult for consumers to discern what kinds of CBD are out there, where they come from, and which products fit their needs. So, we’ve put together this guide of the different types of CBD products, what’s in them, how they’re made, and other considerations you should make when deciding which product is best for you.
As you may have heard, CBD (cannabidiol) is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. Cannabis comes in different forms, which are commonly classified according to their chemical makeup. Hemp refers to cannabis that contains less than the legal limit of 0.3% THC. Marijuana is cannabis that has more than 0.3% THC. CBD, like THC, is one of over 100 cannabinoids, a class of chemical compounds that can be found in cannabis. Although CBD is present in both marijuana and hemp, most popular CBD products available in the U.S. are derived from hemp.
Unlike marijuana, CBD extracted from hemp has no psychoactive effects. In other words, it can’t get you high. The effect CBD has is most akin to a runner’s high, or the feeling of euphoria experienced after a prolonged period of exercise. The different forms of CBD are classified according to the compounds present in them, which is partially determined by the extraction method used.
CBD isolate, also known as 99% pure CBD, is a CBD product that solely contains CBD, with no other cannabinoids or terpenes. For those concerned with drug screenings that test for the presence of THC, CBD isolate can be a great fit. The CBD is obtained through CO2 extraction, whereby pressurized carbon dioxide is used to extract the desired chemicals from the plant.
Because CBD isolate is a single-molecule CBD, it is less potent than other forms of CBD.
It comes in two forms: a crystalline solid, which can be put into edibles, oils, or liquids and ingested orally, and a powder which is often used with a vape. CBD isolate, especially when vaporized, can offer instantaneous symptomatic relief.
Broad-spectrum CBD products contain CBD and other cannabinoids or terpenes, but no THC. A variety of different techniques are used to extract CBD, but broad-spectrum CBD is further distilled to remove traces of THC while leaving behind other beneficial plant parts.
Broad-spectrum CBD offers many of the benefits of full-spectrum products, but without any concerns regarding drug testing. This is the least common type of CBD on the market, but it can be a good middle ground between single-molecule CBD and whole-plant products.
Full-spectrum CBD products contain all of the molecules that are present in hemp, including CBD, other cannabinoids (like THC), and terpenes. Full-spectrum products may offer a greater range of benefits than isolate products. Some experts have suggested that multiple cannabinoids working together, known as the entourage effect, results in greater therapeutic value.
We recommend this kind of whole-plant therapy for those whose conditions require a higher level of relief and are comfortable with a product that contains THC. Full-spectrum CBD comes in many different forms, including oil, capsules, vape pens, and creams. The choice you make should be based on where in your body the CBD needs to reach and how consistently or quickly you want to feel the effects of the product.
In addition to the differing chemical makeup of CBD products, there are a range of ways to introduce it into the body. It all depends on what you’re seeking relief from and what taste, dosage, and manner of consumption feels right to you.
Although CBD products can generally be broken into these three categories, there is some degree of overlap. For example, if you’re looking for a product with no THC but stronger effects than other isolates, CBD isolate with added terpenes may be worth trying.
Many sellers claim that the form of CBD they specialize in is the best, or the extraction method they use is the most refined. The unregulated market also gives way to mislabelling or lack of proper information on products. Pay attention to dosage, and do research on how CBD products will interact with any existing medication.
Depending on your condition, you may feel comfortable implementing a trial and error approach, or you might want to seek out professional medical help. The important thing is to find the product best-suited for your needs or conditions, and make it work for you.