5 things you need to know before buying CBD

You don’t need to be told that the CBD market has expanded hugely in recent years; the products are everywhere. Being sold online, in specialist health shops and on the high street, it’s hard to avoid CBD’s encroachment on practically every health, wellness and beauty category. With CBD face masks, massage oils, moisturisers, drinks and foodstuffs, it’s hard to blame people for seeing this touted miracle elixir as a snake oil of sorts, particularly when there are claims that CBD helps with issues from inflammation to anxiety to acne to sexual issues. 

However, some of these issues, like inflammation and anxiety as well as a number of other psychiatric, neurological and pain-related conditions have scientific evidence suggesting their efficacy. But selecting an effective and reputable CBD product that’s suitable for you can be a confusing process considering the current oversaturation of different types of products on the market. With this in mind, here’s 5 things you should know before you buy a CBD product: 

1.What CBD is:

Cannabidiol, or, as it’s commonly known, CBD, is the most common non-psychoactive cannabinoid present in the cannabis plant. As this cannabinoid is non-psychoactive, people who use CBD will not feel high after consumption, unlike people who consume products containing THC. 

CBD elicits effects in the body by binding to the endocannabinoid system, with its action occurring largely through activating other neurotransmitter systems, for example the serotonin,  adenosine and vanilloid receptors. 

2.If your CBD is in isolate form or if it’s a full-spectrum product:

CBD isolate is a (practically) pure form of CBD (often 99.9% pure) which is separated from the rest of the cannabis plant’s constituents like terpenes, flavonoids and other cannabinoids through extraction processes.

CBD isolate usually comes in a crystallised form which is then typically ground into a powdery consistency which is easier for people to consume. However, like with many other CBD products, due to the ever-expanding interest in CBD resulting in a swell of the market with people capitalising upon novel and exciting methods of administration, it is now relatively common to find CBD isolate in oil, edible or capsular forms.

People may choose to use CBD isolate for a number of reasons, particularly if they’re either trying to avoid a high from full spectrum oil that may be experienced due to its THC content, or because they may be somewhat fearful about the psychoactive risk factors associated with THC. By picking a product with very small amounts of THC or none at all, the consumer completely removes or considerably lessens any psychoactive risks involved with THC consumption.

Full-spectrum CBD, unlike isolate forms of CBD, contains CBD and a number of other cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes found alongside each other in the cannabis plant, including THC in some cases.

Typically though, full-spectrum CBD oils still contain very small amounts of THC and relatively high levels of CBD and other cannabinoids. This means that although there is a risk of psychoactive side effects with the THC content, as the content is so low, and because CBD is thought to counteract the psychoactive effects of THC to some extent, these risks are considered to be minimal.

Many people may choose to use full-spectrum products as the health benefits are often purported to be better than with their isolate counterparts. This is due to the theorised ‘entourage effect’ experienced when using whole plant products. 

3.The difference between CBD supplements and wellness products and medical grade CBD:

Hemp-based CBD products and general wellness products are generally classified in the category of herbal supplements and remedies rather than as medicines, with CBD products thereby being regarded as relatively similar to other well-known herbal plant remedies like maca or turmeric.

What should be noted about these products is, despite the fact that self-administrated CBD may have generally beneficial placebo or minor health effects, that no medicinal claims can be made about these products and they are not as effective as medicines, with it not being possible to prescribe them as such. Rather, the claims they make are only linked to “wellness” effects as opposed to any specific medical benefits. 

Medical grade CBD on the other can claim to have medical benefits due to the rigorous testing of the products available for prescription. Additionally, less risk is involved in receiving and using medical grade products, as medical practitioners will have been involved in discussing the best treatment options for their patients and will have established a safe and effective dosing regimen.

4.There’s a lack of regulation in the supplements market:

As many CBD-based products fall under the category of herbal supplements or wellness products, the lack of regulation and information around products in this area has led to numerous products being exposed for having basically no beneficial constituent ingredients or for containing ingredients that could be potentially harmful to consumers due to impurities and toxins.

With this in mind, consumers need to carefully consider the cannabinoid balance within retail products, as varying extraction methods for producing CBD generate different concentrations of cannabinoids in the final product.

5.How the product’s been tested:

With such concerning discrepancies between CBD products, a reputable CBD supplement should provide as much information as possible about the product so the buyer is fully aware of what they’re consuming. At least, products should have fully itemised ingredient and composition lists and should ideally show lab testing results that highlight the product’s purity and safety. 

Another good thing for consumers to check is whether their retail products have been Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) confirmed. As a general rule, if any retail products do not meet at least some of these conditions they should not be considered for use.

Having read this article then, it should be clear that while CBD products on the high street may claim to treat a variety of issues effectively, very few of these claims can be scientifically backed up like with medical grade CBD.

At The Medical Cannabis Clinics, we would urge people to book a consultation with one of our specialists if you have any psychiatric, pain-related or neurological conditions that you would like to seek CBD or medical-cannabis treatment for. When you book a consultation with us, our specialists will give you an expert assessment to evaluate if medical cannabis treatment can help your condition, taking into account your medical history, national guidelines and your particular needs. Sign up to become a patient here

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