Determining quality vs. quantity in the current under-regulated environment when you compare CBD brands ‘in the wild’
CBD PRODUCTS ARE BECOMING MORE AND MORE POPULAR, with many brands and varieties available from both foreign and domestic sources. An acronym that refers to cannabidiol, CBD is one of the many naturally-occurring phytocannabinoids found in cannabis plants.
CBD is non-psychoactive, non-toxic, and well-tolerated by both people and pets. The Brightfield Group reports the CBD field is growing faster than cannabis in the U.S., and will soon be a $22 billion industry. With this rapid growth occurring in such a low-regulation environment, one particularly pressing question emerges: How can health practitioners discern the most effective CBD products to recommend to their patients?
What’s in the bottle?
First, the key is to know what’s really in the bottle of CBD product being purchased and used. This is best done through published third-party testing. Make sure the company you are recommending to your patients provides that information openly, without requiring them to make a special request to see it when you compare CBD brands.
Sadly, lack of regulation too often leads to cutting corners, with cost savings being prioritized over efficacy and quality. Understanding what goes into a given brand of CBD products and encouraging your patients to do the same will improve their experience and results.
Made in America — organically
Second, ensure that the CBD product you recommend is made from hemp that is cultivated using 100% organic growing practices. Farmers and manufacturers who have made the commitment to use organic farming practices elevate product quality for the end consumer.
You will also want to ensure that the CBD product you recommend is from hemp plants cultivated on-site by farmers who understand the intricacies of these organic growing practices. A study done by the World Health Organization notes that “in addition to genetic characteristics, cultivated plants are influenced by environmental conditions and production technology during their life cycle.” In other words, consistent top-tier growing practices contribute to a better product.
Finally, be sure to determine whether the hemp used in the manufacturing process was grown in the United States when you compare CBD brands. Some foreign-grown hemp plants have been used to clean heavy metals from soil. Hemp is a known bioaccumulator, which means it soaks up the nutrients as well as toxins in soil and water where it grows. While that is a wonderful, natural way to promote cleaner soil, human consumption of CBD product made from plants used to soak up toxins is obviously less than ideal.
Making sure you recommend CBD brands made from hemp grown in clean soil is key to supporting your patients’ overall health and well-being.
Full-spectrum vs. isolated extract
Full-spectrum refers to the concept of utilizing whole-plant cannabinoid compounds as opposed to extracting one specific molecule, cannabinoid or compound. The benefit here is that these various compounds work together to achieve a greater degree of wellness. The Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology in Jerusalem published a study in 2015 that establishes that a full-spectrum CBD product is more effective than an isolated CBD product.
That said, depending on your patients’ needs, many companies do offer both full-spectrum and THC-free broad-spectrum options. Don’t hesitate to discuss the benefits of each with a company representative in an effort to provide the best product recommendation to your clientele.
As mentioned above in relation to knowing what is in a given bottle of CBD product, third-party testing is a window into this information. You may encounter companies who are quick to tell you exactly what they claim is in the bottle. Still, if they don’t readily offer easy access to their third-party testing results, that is a red flag worthy of your attention when you compare CBD brands.
Unfortunately, some CBD manufacturers make indefensible claims about the quality, efficacy and contents of their products. Third-party testing allows an independent, outside group to report facts back to the consumer. Always look at third-party test results and customer testimonials, not just company claims.
Price per serving
One area in which consumers are easily misled pertains to the concentration of CBD products. Not all one-ounce bottles of CBD extract contain the same amount of cannabinoids and the range can be vastly different.
The concentration of the product should also be reflected in its price. Too often consumers purchase an inexpensive bottle without realizing that it has four times less CBD in each serving than the one next to it, meaning they have to take four times as much to achieve the desired effect.
Not all manufacturers make it easy to determine the amount of CBD in their product. Encourage your patients to calculate the price per milligram prior to purchasing a CBD product based on price. Avoid the risk of overpaying by ensuring you are purchasing a quality product with an adequate concentration of CBD in each serving.
ALLISON TAYLOR is vice president of marketing at Receptra Naturals, a family-owned Colorado hemp CBD extract company dedicated to improving quality of life worldwide. Learn more at ReceptraNaturals.com.