Advanced CBD Oil Reviews to Protect Your Health
Increased awareness around hemp-derived CBD products has created unprecedented demand. This demand is outpacing regulation, laboratory standards, and manufacturing practices. Brands have incentives to bring products to market and the guardrails are few and far between. To keep up with customers and keep shelves stocked, we’ve seen synthetics enter the market, lab results falsified, and knock-off products passed off as medicine. The passage of the recent Farm Bill, which made hemp federally legal, will further fuel the race to sell you hemp.
Don’t take their word for it.
Today, health brands look like lifestyle brands. It’s good that being healthy is hip, but the slick branding and busy Instagram accounts can mask product flaws. This was our worry in the unregulated hemp market where more and more people are turning to CBD to treat anxiety, pain, and sleep issues.
Here’s just a sampling of why independent advocates are so important in this growing market.
- Many CBD products mislabeled (source: JAMA)
- Consumer Reports found synthetic marijuana (K2) in a product listed as a CBD vape (source: Tonic)
- Mislabeled products may contain more THC than listed, which can lead to unwanted psychoactive effects or a failed drug test
- Labs and testing are not standardized, and some labs have falsified results to keep up with demand
We are an unbiased consumer protection website that invests in third-party testing to spot check safety, quality, and label accuracy. We exist to advance your health.
Our Testing Methodology
Our third-party tests review hemp-derived CBD products on the following criteria. Descriptions of each test can also be found on third-party certificates of analysis.
- The sample was analyzed for plant-based cannabinoids by Liquid Chromatography. This profile of potency was measured against the concentration on the label. Most labels list a total number of milligrams of CBD. One can divide the total milligrams of CBD by the milliliters in the bottle to arrive at a promised concentration. We measured this label concentration against the concentration the lab found. A label within 10% of the test results was deemed accurate.
- The sample was analyzed by Head-Space Gas Chromatography (HS-GC). Collected data was compared to data collected for certified reference standards at known concentrations. Terpenes are great to have, but not a measure of pass/fail.
Heavy Metal Presence
- A heavy metal test was performed in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025. Lab tests looked for the presence of arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead.
- Pesticide analysis was conducted using Liquid Chromatography with Mass Spectrometric detection (LC/MS/MS). Lab method used for sample prep was based on the European method for pesticide analysis (EN 15662). Testing limits for ingestion established by the State of California: CCR, Title 16, Division 42, Chapter 5, Section 5313.
- Our sample was analyzed for volatile organic compounds, or residual solvents, using Head-Space Gas Chromatography (HS-GC). Collected data was compared with data that was gathered for certified reference standards at known concentrations.
- Test method was performed in accordance with requirements of ISO/IEC 17025. This test is for Aerobic Bacteria, Coliform Bacteria, Bile Tolerant Gram Negative Bacteria, Yeast and Mold.
Pathogenic Bacterial Contaminants
- Test method was performed in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025. This test is for E. coli and Salmonella.
- Test method was performed in accordance with ISO/IER 17025. This test is for Aflatoxin and Ochratoxin.
Once a product is tested for quality and label accuracy, we evaluate 12 other factors to help consumers find the best CBD product for their lifestyle. These more subjective factors help consumers compare products. Once a brand passes testing, you want to support brands you like.
Comparison factors we use to make shopping for CBD easier include:
Value ($/mg): To help people understand the right amount to pay for good CBD in a space where prices vary, we present cost in a way that allows for easy comparison. If one brand costs more per milligram of CBD than another, look at the terpene profile. That more expensive brand may be sourcing higher quality hemp.
Strength (mg/ml): Labels are confusing. We want to help people identify normal, medium, and strong products. Note: this is a measure of comparison, not a claim about the efficacy of a product. ⚡
Source (USA/Other): We encourage people to buy American hemp. But you might choose a brand that you like who has more flavor or delivery options and sources European hemp. 🇺🇸
Flavor: Flavor is most important to some people. Other people consider hemp medicine and are used to medicines tasting bad. We give notes on flavor profiles and understand there’s differing opinions on what tastes good and bad even in our office. 👅 🤢
Transparency: All brands must clearly post test results and be open and clear about extraction methods. In our experience, brands that are slow to produce test results are quick to say depth of testing is unnecessary.
Corporate Citizenship: Notes on customer service, online ordering process, and shipping matter in e-commerce. We also highlight brands who make products more accessible to those in need or support our military with generous discounts.
Brand: Packaging, presence, and experience are important factors in consumer goods. You want to give your money to a brand who cares about the entire process.
Full-spectrum: We believe in full-spectrum products and understand they may not be right for everyone. Where we can, we will point out brands that promote “whole plant” therapy.
Product Diversity: We do like specialists, or brands that have mastered one or two products and control the entire supply chain. We also understand some shoppers want to find everything in one place when they buy CBD online.
Our CBD oil, capsule, and vape testing process is strict.
We developed our testing protocol with the input of product developers, laboratory experts, and consumer advocates. We spoke to brands and labs about standards they want to see in place industry-wide. Then we sent products to a lab. We plan to repeat this process throughout the year with the goal of testing every CBD product on the market. Of course, testing every product is impossible. We are measuring one brands commitment to quality at a moment in time. That’s a long way from certifying the safety of every product a brand has or will sell. But we’re going to keep our goals lofty. With this many people buying CBD to treat pain, anxiety, and inflammation, our mission is a worthy one.
A Different Approach to Consumer Protection
We have family members who found relief in cannabis derivatives, relief that allowed them to take less medicines, worry less, or live more. We have spoken to parents, veterans, athletes, and folks across the country who believe CBD improved their lives. We also know our farmers could use another cash crop to add to their land, maybe making each year a little easier. It’s with this hope and grand potential that we go forward. We think hemp represents a chance to bring people together under a common goal of more jobs and better health.
With such lofty ambition should come high standards. Our advanced reviews provide people information to make a personal decision about their health. We hope to help people lead a conversation with their doctor and make informed choices about hemp.