CBD Online: Buying Guidelines and Pitfalls

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Exceptional CBD isn’t easy to come by. Considering the unregulated nature of cannabis supplements, it is not hard to believe that most online CBD oil can be alternatively referred to as “snake oil”. Even worse, some of these false and low quality products may be dangerous to consume. It is always vital to follow a set of rigorous safety guidelines and trust your instinct for spotting scam sales when looking for CBD online.

Don’t believe me? Check out this story released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) about an incident involving fake CBD poisoning at least 52 people. That’s right – between December 2017 and January 2018, a store selling synthetic cannabinoids (made in a lab rather than grown naturally) poisoned customers with a brand dubbed “Yolo CBD Oil”. It contained a poisonous “4-CCB”, but had no CBD. Symptoms included altered mental status, seizures, and vomiting. Nearly all of those inflicted wound up in the emergency room.

Guidelines For Buying CBD Online

1. Use Your Intuition

If something seems wrong, it probably is.

If you’re looking to buy CBD online, always use your intuition. Is the company you’re looking at new (<6 months)? Does it look like a 13-year-old built the website? Does the company have an organized, informative site with clear displays of the proper safety results?

If anything looks shady, or anything is questionable about the website, don’t take your chances. Even if you are enticed by a special deal or low prices (which is an alarming factor in itself — read below), always remember it is better to be safe than sorry.

Don't buy CBD online from sketchy places.
Don’t buy CBD from this guy.

2. Be Careful With Cheap Prices

Cheap prices when buying CBD online is not always an indicator of scam, especially if the company being examined is a well-known. However, if a small company is trying to reel in customers with absurdly low prices, say 20% or more below the average, it is highly likely there is malicious intent. CBD is not easy to produce – proper development procedures involve lengthy safety protocol certification, impeccable lab standards, and rigorous product testing. Furthermore, CBD itself is not easy to make, cost or time-wise.

If a company is advertising CBD at very low prices compared to the industry standard, always take the offer with several large grains of salt. If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is, and has extremely diluted CBD. Worst case scenario, you may be dealing with something that isn’t CBD at all.

3. Learn About Extraction Methods and Lab Testing

It is vital to understand not just what you are getting when buying CBD online, but how it was made. The CBD oil or extract manufacturer must have the proper licensing and training to be doing what they are doing.

The hemp or cannabis used must be certified and the extraction method must be well-known and effective.

For CBD extracted from the hemp plant, the CO2 process is both the most well-known and currently the most effective. It is a low-temperature and high-pressure technique. This method allows CO2 to be captured in a liquid state, drawing out CBD and terpenes while leaving behind other substituents from the CBD flower.

After the extraction and/or product development is completed, lab testing is the next result.

It is absolutely vital to check that your CBD is lab tested by a reputable third party. Most labs offer services testing cannabis for its:

  • Cannabinoid Potency
  • Moisture Content
  • Terpenes
  • Foreign Matter
  • Microbial Organisms
  • Residual Solvents
  • Mycotoxins
  • Heavy Metals
  • Pesticide Residue

For maximum safety, look for batch testing – when each new batch of product is tested individually, as opposed to a single test from one CBD batch. This could mean the company ensured that one sample is clean from contaminants and is pure, but later samples are not as high-quality. This is not always a means to an end, however, as lab testing is very expensive, and small producers may not be able to get each batch tested.

4. Sourcing

Perhaps more important than extraction method is the source of the cannabis. The source controls almost all aspects of quality, and is a function of several factors:

  • Growth location
  • Growth methods
  • Cannabis species (sativa, indica, ruderalis)
  • Cannabis strain
  • Soil health
  • Climate
  • Other growths

All of these factors can greatly affect not just quality, but also safety. Some farms are heavy in pollutants, contaminants, and heavy metals, which are easily absorbed by the CBD flowers.

Don't buy CBD online from a poor source.
The cannabis source is an important part to the CBD production process.

Constance Finley of Constance Therapeautics insists that the original growth source is known. Unfortunately, it is much easier to produce hemp and CBD flower that is not ideal, or in a poor location, and “this is sadly why industrial hemp grown in non-food grade conditions is falsely sold as CBD medicine over the internet,” according to Finley.

Even lower are the tactics used by such farms. They are adept at manipulating high volumes of CBD distributors into thinking their product is safe, and then in the end the distributor with good intentions gets blamed for their actions.

It is generally recommended that hemp is grown in places where it has been legal for the longest time, as these areas have refined their methods for maximum safety, and survival of the fittest ensures that only the best locations are still remaining.

You can save a headache by checking for external lab testing. Much of the sourcing trouble can be saved as long as an accredited testing laboratory ensures all extract is free of contaminants and pure in nature.

5. Ensure You Have the Right Product

Different methods of application are used to treat different varieties of ailments. It is always essential to know which product you are using. For example, if you are looking for local inflammation relief, don’t use a CBD tincture when a lotion would deliver more CBD directly to the spot of pain.

For your convenience, we have included several forms of CBD and their respective intended uses:

Vape/Smoked

Vaporized or smoked CBD has high bio availability and very rapid onset of action. Typically used for therapeutic reasons such as anxiety reduction. Vaporized CBD has, by far, the highest bioavailability of any other method commonly available.

When buying CBD online, opt for inhaled versions if you'd like high bioavailability.
Inhaled CBD has the best bioavailability of any other method of ingestion.
Oil & Tincture

CBD oil and tinctures are typically ingested either 1) orally, or 2) sublingually. Like vaporized and smoked CBD, these are absorbed into the bloodstream and thus affect the whole body. Typically used for therapeutic reasons. Sublingual ingestion typically has the highest bioavailability of oral formulations.

Topical/Lotion/Cream/Salve

Anything topically applied has most of the CBD absorbed into the local region, and in potent concentrations. This can be a godsend for those experiencing chronic localized pain and inflammation.

Cosmetic

Cosmetic products such as lip balm and face creams exist and are thought to be effective for those looking for more benefits than what standard cosmetics can provide. CBD cosmetics can provide varied benefits such as:

  • Acne/blackhead reduction
  • Wrinkle reduction
  • Skin rejuvenation
  • Skin hydration
Spray

CBD sprays are typically locally active is applied to a certain spot, but can also be ingested for full-body action. These typically have lower concentrations but are still effective.

Edibles/Oral

CBD infused foods, candies, pills, capsules, they all have the same bioavailability, and are full-body action. These give great control over dosage, but typically have lower bioavailability than sublingual and inhaled ingestions of CBD.

Bath Bombs

CBD bath bombs can be thought of as if you took the time to lather a topical CBD product such as lotion all over the body. Potent CBD bath bombs can provide full-body external relief, but stay mostly on the outside as opposed to being absorbed into the bloodstream.

Suppository

These do exist, and for some who cannot stand CBD orally, have digestive issues, or chronic nausea, CBD suppositories may be a lifesaver.

6. Full Spectrum or Isolate?

There are a couple things to say regarding full spectrum preparations vs. isolated CBD preparations when buying CBD online.

Full spectrum refers to cannabis extract formulation that contain all the different compounds found in the cannabis itself, which may include in addition to CBD:

  • THC
  • 100+ other cannabinoids
  • Terpenes
  • Various residue
Limonene can be found in CBD online.
Limonene, a terpene found in citrus fruits, may be in your cannabis and can provide benefits.

CBD isolate products, on the other hand, are products developed from CBD that has been extracted and isolated from the other constituents of cannabis.

For many, full spectrum formulations provide additional therapeutic and medical benefits when compared to CBD by itself. However, it also can come with more side effects as a result of the increased amount of compounds:

  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety
  • Light headedness
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia

7. Hemp Oil is NOT CBD Oil

This is a fairly common error. People often use “hemp”, “cannabis”, and “CBD” interchangeably, when in fact they mean different things.

Cannabis is a plant which contains cannabinoids.

Marijuana is a form of cannabis that includes THC and other cannabinoids.

Hemp is a form of cannabis that has no THC, but may have CBD and other active cannabinoids and terpenes.

Hemp oil or hemp seed oil typically comes from the parts of the hemp/cannabis plant that contain no activate cannabinoids including CBD. You may get some constituents such as terpenes, however, which may provide some therapeutic benefit.

CBD-rich hemp oil or simply CBD oil is either isolated CBD formulated in an oil, or oil developed from hemp that is taken from the CBD-rich part of the flower. This is typically what you want when looking for CBD oil.

8. CBD may be a wonder drug, but it does NOT cure everything

Yes, CBD has been proven to be very effective at reducing seizures in those who have epilepsy. There is also significant anecdotal evidence that it can help with things such as anxiety, insomnia, appetite, etc. However, it is NOT a cure-all for every affliction imaginable. Any company claiming this is blatantly lying, and is desperate for business. Avoid at all costs as these companies are not transparent, and thus may be hiding more things.

CBD Online: The Verdict

All in all, it is important to keep in mind that buying CBD online is no trivial endeavor. Sneaky salesmen are always trying to pull a fast one by you, even if it is at the expense of their own reputation. In any case, you must always perform your own research into the company. Do not trust anyone. Safety is always first.

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