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*Editor’s Note: Elephant is not your doctor or hospital. Our lawyers would say “this web site is not designed to, and should not be construed to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. Always consult a health professional before trying out new home therapies or changing your diet.” But we can’t afford lawyers, and you knew all that. ~ Ed.
CBD. Such a young, interesting, and rapidly expanding market that has so much promise, but so much noise.
It’s hard to cut through the half-truths and misinformation to get down to what really matters. Don’t blame yourself for the confusion. Since starting my CBD company, UnCanny Wellness, in 2016, I’ve been witness to all the good and the bad in this “wild west” of an industry.
Some people out there will say anything just to take your money, but others are educating about this amazing plant extract and causing real, positive change.
With a background in the sciences and hands-on experience in cannabis cultivation, extraction, and processing, I can confidently tell you that choosing the right CBD product is simple if you know what to look for. Today, I’m going to highlight five key considerations you should know about before taking this dive and trying out CBD for yourself.
Even if you’re already a CBD user, these considerations can help you improve your experience and get the most out of this powerful plant compound. You deserve it!
1. Full spectrum, broad spectrum, or isolate?
There’s a wide range, a spectrum if you will, of different types of cannabis extracts containing CBD. The lack of regulation and standards in this young industry only makes it more difficult to figure out, but it’s an important distinction to make, and it’s not too hard to understand once it’s laid out simply instead of in ways meant to confuse you.
For ease of explanation, let’s consider orange juice, and let’s say you like to have it in the morning for the vitamin C. You can purchase that delicious OJ fresh-squeezed with extra pulp, refined with no pulp at all, or go right for a vitamin C supplement. It’s all similar and can accomplish your goal of getting some vitamin C into your system, but they’re clearly different.
The juice with extra pulp contains all the naturally occurring sugars, lots of fiber, and vitamin C. The juice with no pulp has had some components like the fiber removed, but still contains lots of the good stuff you were looking for. The supplement contains the Vitamin C you were looking for, but with none of the other parts of the orange that naturally occur with it.
This is similar to the breakdown between full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate-based CBD extracts. Full spectrum extracts are, as they sound, full of all the naturally occurring compounds found in the plant, which would include CBD as well as other cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, polyphenols, etc. This is the fresh squeezed OJ with pulp and all the goodness.
Broad spectrum extracts are going to contain much of this spectrum of compounds, but not necessarily all of them. For example, at UnCanny Wellness we remove all traces of THC from our products, and that THC is technically a part of the “full spectrum,” so we refer to it as “broad spectrum” instead.
Lastly, a CBD isolate isn’t going to have any of those other naturally occurring plant compounds. The CBD has literally been isolated from all that other good stuff and removed to achieve a pharmaceutical grade purity.
Why this matters:
There are measurable benefits to a more holistic CBD extract that contains an array of other naturally occurring compounds besides just the CBD. This boost in efficacy is known as the “Entourage Effect,” and it is the cannabis equivalent of Aristotle’s famous saying, “the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.”
Terpenes, the aromatic compounds found in cannabis and other plants, have their own medicinal benefits. They work together with CBD and other cannabinoids to create the beneficial experience that so many people enjoy. There’s a synergistic relationship between all of these components, most of which we have yet to fully understand, and isolating CBD away from all it naturally occurs with entirely misses out on any of these benefits.
2. Hemp derived or marijuana derived?
Hemp and marijuana are both the cannabis plant. It’s that simple. If the plant contains more than 0.3 percent THC, it’s considered marijuana, and if below 0.3 percent it’s considered hemp.
On the marijuana side are high-THC producing plants, which produce what would look like your typical “dank nug”—lots of resinous trichome crystals and hairs, an unpollinated female bud. These plants can also contain CBD and other cannabinoids, but are often bred for THC domination. It’s what you’ll find in the dispensaries of any states that have medical or recreational marijuana programs.
On the complete other side of the plant spectrum we would find industrial hemp. Although still cannabis, these plants are aesthetically and chemically quite different. They’re tall and planted together more closely, almost like bamboo, and instead of being produced for the extraction of cannabinoids, they’re grown for more “industrial” applications such as seed for food and fiber for clothing, animal bedding, hempcrete, bioplastics and more.
Industrial hemp often has both males and females in the field together, because the male pollen is needed to produce the seeds, and if being grown for fiber, it doesn’t matter if the “buds” get “seeded.” Now, for the first time in recorded history, the middle part of this plant spectrum is gaining a lot of attention: high-CBD hemp plants. They’re considered hemp because they contain 0.3 percent THC or less, but they’re bred and grown for high concentrations of CBD and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids.
Only the females are going to be bred, as the male pollen produces seeds and reduces cannabinoid concentration. Because of that, these high-CBD hemp buds are going to look a lot more like traditional marijuana buds. It’s the high-cannabinoid concentration that produces the resinous crystals we visually identify as being a quality product.
Why this matters:
Where you purchase your CBD product says a lot about what it’s going to contain. If you live in a marijuana legal state and go to a dispensary to purchase some CBD, it will likely contain more than 0.3 percent THC and be derived from marijuana, not hemp. Depending on the product and your tolerance, that might get you stoned. Nothing’s wrong with that, but it is something to be aware of if you’re trying to avoid any psychoactive effects.
In a natural food store, coffee shop, or any other non-dispensary place lawfully selling CBD products, you’re going to be getting a hemp-derived product with 0.3 percent THC or less. For many people this is preferable, not only because of the lack of THC, but also because it’s legal to take over state lines, order off the internet, or fly with.
3. Is it from a brand you can trust?
CBD is super trendy. Although that trend is backed up by real science and real results, all this hype has attracted the attention of tricksters and others who may not have your best interests in mind.
Not all products out there are made with the same quality or intentions. While there are plenty of quality brands on the market that are creating products with integrity, there are just as many, if not more, that are carelessly putting CBD products together just to make a quick buck. The products available next to the e-cigs at the gas station are not likely made with the same quality extracts and ingredients that products sold at the organic natural foods store are.
That being said, this is such a young industry and it’s easy to get fooled, so it’s always best to do your own research into the product and the brand and discover for yourself whether they’re legit or not.
One easy thing to do is to read the ingredient label of the product. Are there a bunch of artificial ingredients that can’t be pronounced? You should probably steer clear of that. If you go onto the company’s website, do they tell you about themselves, their motivations, and their roots, or is it a faceless brand that only cares about selling something for a profit? If you reach out to them, are they helpful? Will they provide COAs (certificates of analysis)? All these are great questions to ask yourself when considering a new CBD product.
Why this matters:
Nasty chemicals and ingredients have no place in the same bottle as such a medicinal compound as CBD. Beyond detracting from the product’s therapeutic value, those nasty ingredients can even end up causing harm. Also, some product may not actually even contain the CBD that’s promised on the label!
Truth be told, these early days of the CBD industry are pretty wild, and some bad actors are taking advantage of the system. Doing a bit of your own research will pay off many times over. If you’re looking for a water-soluble product or a capsule, check us out at UnCanny Wellness. If you want an oil-based product, Bluebird Botanicals is a trusted, quality brand too.
4. What are your goals with CBD?
A natural question that newcomers to CBD often ask is, “How can I tell if it’s working?”
The answer entirely depends on what you’re trying to achieve. For example, you might be taking CBD as a tool to prevent disease from arising, and to maintain a certain level of health and balance to support your active lifestyle. However, your neighbor might be taking it to help her body respond to inflammation after a spinal injury from a ski trip six years ago, and her partner might be taking it to help get a full night of sleep.
In that example, the frequency and quantity of CBD taken by the three individuals will be different. Part of the reason CBD is so popular is because of all the amazing ways in which it can support your body. In one sense, it can be seen as a supplement that should be taken along with the other vitamins and supplements you already take. The idea is that, just as we would supplement with Vitamin C if we’re naturally deficient, we should be supplementing with CBD if we’re naturally deficient in cannabinoids.
However, it can also be used situationally to help your body respond to specific conditions in a healthy way. If you break your arm, it would make sense to increase that dose to help reduce swelling and stimulate your bones to reform properly. We can look forward to a future when the science behind CBD, other cannabinoids, and the endocannabinoid system is demystified.
Only with further research will we be able to get to a place where CBD dosing protocols might be able to be determined by your doctor, or even more specifically mentioned on product packaging. Until that happens, it’s best to listen to yourself and figure out what works specifically for you and what you’re trying to achieve.
Why this matters:
CBD is something that nearly everyone should be taking. However, the amount that any given person should take varies greatly. A good rule of thumb is to “start low and go slow” until you find the dose that works for you. Everyone’s internal chemistry is different, and so is the reason that they’re turning to CBD. As a result, everyone will have slightly different CBD regimens that work perfectly for them.
5. How are you going to consume CBD?
The way that you want to introduce CBD to your body says a lot about the actual product you should look for. For example, CBD oil is ideal for use in creams and salves and rubbing into your skin. However, you wouldn’t want to simply drop some CBD oil into your post-yoga smoothie or morning coffee.
It all comes down to “bioavailability,” which is the scientific word for the measurement of how much of any given drug compound, in this case being CBD, actually ends up successfully entering your body and traveling to where it needs to go. Not all types of drug compounds, both natural and synthetic, can be absorbed equally. In fact, there’s actually a lot of variability. Understanding and planning for this absorption variability is the essence of pharmacokinetics—the science of drug delivery.
CBD oil, which constitutes the vast majority of what’s available on the market, is typically diluted with a “carrier oil” of sorts (hemp seed, MCT, etc.) before going into final form, like a vape, tincture, cream, balm, or salve. In all those applications, it actually makes sense to be using an oil-form of CBD. However, CBD oil has major issues being properly absorbed through food and drink in the stomach.
This is not a newly discovered problem; many drug compounds face this same obstacle, but it is relatively new for this young industry. Luckily, brilliant scientists have already developed techniques that can convert CBD oil from its natural state to a format that can be effectively absorbed in the stomach. At UnCanny Wellness, we specialize in water-soluble CBD powder products that are designed for increased bioavailability in the stomach.
So, whether you’re consuming CBD in a capsule or mixing into your morning coffee, this water-soluble, converted form of CBD will be far better to use.
Why this matters:
It’s a real shame when someone gives up trying to take CBD because they’ve had an awkward experience and deemed the whole experiment unsuccessful. It’s so important to be taking the right form in the right way so that you can get the dose you’re actually expecting. The difference can be huge!
For example, CBD oil in the stomach has absorption rates as low as 10-20 percent. Using a water-soluble powder or some other further-converted format can increase those absorption rates to 90-100 percent. Imagine sitting down to enjoy a nice meal and only getting 10 percent of what you expected on your plate…you probably wouldn’t be too happy.
Plenty of great CBD options exist on the market, but there are probably more that aren’t the right choice and it’s up to you to get knowledgeable on the subject so that you can make the best decisions for yourself and your loved ones. Be curious, ask questions, and experiment to see what works best for you. Most of all, enjoy yourself and look forward to the benefits that CBD has in store for you!
Visit our website to purchase our water-soluble CBD products and to learn more.