CBD oil has become a term synonymous with natural, attainable, wellness. Like many terms that end up, out of no fault of their own, representing an ideology beyond a product, CBD has become a bit of a blanket term. Much like caviar and champagne have come to represent the entire lifestyle of the ultra-rich, CBD represents the entire alternative wellness lifestyle.
But, again like caviar and champagne, not all CBD oils are the same. In fact, there are a myriad of things your CBD might be lying about – and these misleading products can have very real consequences. So why do people need to be careful when choosing CBD? What are the considerations and why do they matter? Will different CBD products have varying effects for the user, and why do some products marketed as CBD oil not work?
For everything worth considering when you’re confronted with the question of whether you can trust your CBD, let us be your guide.
What is CBD Oil?
This is a very basic question, but it does set the groundwork for understanding why CBD oils aren’t all the same. Known as CBD, Cannabidiol is a natural compound found in the hemp plant. CBD is a non-intoxicating component of the cannabis plant that has shown potential in helping with a wide range of conditions.
At the most fundamental level, CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is involved in regulating several functions within the body including sleep, appetite, pain, and immune system responses.
And how exactly does CBD interact with the ECS? The body produces endocannabinoids within the ECS, which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system. CBD impacts endocannabinoid receptor activity, promoting the ECS to function more effectively all on its own.
This is important – because CBD doesn’t alter or add anything to our systems, it’s effects are non-psychoactive and do not demonstrate addictive traits. As such it is widely legal to buy and consume as opposed to its close relative – THC.
The Difference Between THC, CBD, and Hemp Seed Oils
As mentioned above, CBD comes from the cannabis sativa plant, just as THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and hempseed oil does. However, there’s a fundamental difference between them, and this has to do with how much THC or CBD is present within the plant and final product.
Cannabis sativa plants with higher amounts of THC are classified as marijuana plants, whereas hemp plants are only legally considered such if they contain more than 0.3% THC but higher amounts of CBD. Hemp seed oils, on the other hand, have no THC and only contain trace amounts of CBD.
Why Do Consumers Need to Be Careful when Choosing CBD?
The differences between THC, CBD, and Hemp Seed oil can, and in many instances do, present consumers with confusing information about what their product actually contains. A lot of the reason this happens hinges on less-than-noble marketing tactics and can indeed mislead consumers intentionally.
Since CBD and hemp seed oil are in the same cannabis family, they’re often misleadingly marketed as the same thing when they’re anything but. It’s probably not too surprising to hear that a lot of it comes down to capitalism. And, the reverse is true as well. Some products that are ‘marketed’ as CBD might contain higher levels of THC
These issues largely have to do with CBD’s still-as-yet unregulated and un-standardized status. There is not at the moment any universal or federal CBD oversight for production quality, testing, or research. This means that the CBD market lacks regulated product labeling and dosing guidance. So why would companies mis-market?
CBD Is More Profitable than Hemp Seed Oil
One reason has to do with that ‘blanket term’ effect mentioned above. People will pay an astonishing amount for products that have become synonymous with the lifestyle they desire. CBD is a much more expensive ingredient than hemp seed oil, and companies know this.
And, moreover, it’s pretty easy to market hemp seed oils as more than they are by decorating the packaging with the tell-tale marijuana leaf and emphasizing the word ‘cannabis.’ The potential is of course that consumers will think that they’re purchasing a CBD product when in reality their product contains no CBD at all. A lack in universal regulation equals a market rife with misinformation.
Companies may be Trying to ‘Sneak’ THC-high Products Past Regulators
Some brands might market their products as 100% hemp seed-based when they actually contain higher amounts of THC. This could be a way to bypass the tight restrictions that exist for THC in many places by ‘piggybacking’ on the comparatively loose regulations of CBD and hemp seed oils and their legality.
Companies might be Cutting Corners
Just as there are no universal marketing or product regulations for CBD yet (besides not being marketed as a health product), there are no universal growing, cultivating, or harvesting standards either. This means that your CBD oil might not just contain CBD, but a wide array of substances that can be considered the byproduct of less expensive growing, harvesting, and extracting methods. CBD products could contain any of the following if this is the case:
- Pesticides – Cheap pesticides that contain potentially harmful chemicals are one way in which companies may be trying to cut costs.
- Heavy Metals – These could come from pesticides, but also from sub-standard growing environments which contain high amounts of air and soil pollution.
- Mold – Companies may be storing their hemp in un-ideal and cheaper ways. If this hemp has to contend with the elements, it may become damp and moldy.
- Dilutors – Non-natural chemical dilutors are easier to obtain and much cheaper than organic ones.
- THC – Sound CBD extraction methods are also expensive – this means that a CBD product may contain more THC than advertised because it’s cheaper to use a less robust method.
Not Being Careful About CBD: What are the Consequences?
So you found a super cheap CBD oil online and hastily clicked the ‘buy’ button, barely skimming the fine print, in hopes that the promise of better wellness was now in your possession. But what if the product ended up being 100% hemp oil or indeed contained higher amounts of THC than the legal limit?
You could be paying for nothing
CBD is such a novelty that it can be quite pricey, especially for something marketed as a bit of a wonder drug for both the mind and body. A high-demand and expensive product in its own right, when combined with less than ideal regulator standards, translates to a situation primed for black market activity. Shady companies that are ‘cutting’ their CBD oils stand to make an immense profit. And, the consumer is the victim at the end of the day, shelling out money and thinking they’ve purchased a legitimate product.
You may not experience any benefit
Much research is still needed to determine the exact scope of CBD’s medical potential – there’s no denying that. But early studies have sparked a rapidly expanding bushfire of promising results. If you buy CBD for any of the things it might potentially help with, you might not experience any benefit if your product doesn’t actually contain the amount of CBD stated.
The ultimate irony here is of course that CBD is advertised as ushering in a new golden age of wellness – when really we might be only ingesting non-beneficial or downright harmful substances like the ones mentioned above.
You might be consuming THC without knowing it
The repercussions of this point could be very serious. If you’re an athlete who wants to try CBD for muscle soreness and wind up with a product that has a higher than legal limit of THC, you could be in big trouble if you’re randomly asked to do a drugs test. THC’s legal status and risks therein aren’t the only thing that could be bad about this though – what if you adversely react to the THC in the product but can’t identify what about your CBD isn’t right?
Choosing a CBD Product: How to be Careful
So then, what can the consumer do to be as careful as possible when traversing the wild terrain that is the contemporary CBD market? Luckily, there’s a lot of good old common sense that can help you buy safely:
- Read the Label –
If the actual amount of CBD contained in the product is not listed, you should wonder what’s in the product you’re paying for. You should also be careful to avoid products that contain ‘hemp seed oil’ – this is a pretty good indication that the product doesn’t actually have CBD in it.
- Ask for a Third Party Laboratory Test Report and COA and Learn to Read Them-
When it comes to trusting a CBD product, only buy from a company that provides a COA, or certificate of analysis. This acts as proof that a third-party, independent lab tested the product for things like the harmful substances mentioned above as well as the true CBD and THC content of the product. If the company cannot provide this, chances are they’re trying to hide something.
- Buy from Well Known and Trusted Brands –
Luckily for the reputation of CBD as a whole, many companies are making it their dedicated mission to getting their products independent lab tested, to growing, harvesting, and extracting their CBD in environmentally friendly and safe ways. Companies know that people will buy from brands they trust, and so they’re taking this gap in the market into their own hands. Hopefully they’re also doing so for the sake of the CBD industry as a whole.
- Remember the Importance of Traceability –
If a company is dedicated to honesty and transparency, it should be easy to trace your product – from seed to shelf.
The most important thing we can all do to buy safe and credible CBD products is to be conscious consumers. Ultimately, as with anything we put in our bodies, it’s our responsibility to be careful about the things we put into it. Until the CBD landscape is more tightly regulated, we need to not get caught up in the hype.