Lisa Hamilton, a jeweler and doula in Brooklyn, NY, knows about the side effects. She recently tried CBD for the shoulder pain that plagued her five years after an accident. Her doctor certified that she was in chronic pain, which under New York State law allowed her to buy from a state dispensary. One Friday, she swallowed two 10-mg capsules, the amount recommended at the dispensary, then took another two on Saturday. “By Sunday, it felt like I’d gotten hit by a truck. Every muscle and joint ached,” Hamilton says. She cut back to one pill a day the following week, but still felt hungover. She stopped after that. 

Nearly every expert Health spoke to agreed that your CBD products should be tested by a third party to confirm the label's accuracy. This is a real concern in the industry—take the 2017 Journal of the American Medical Association study, for example, which tested 84 CBD products and found that 26% contained lower doses than stated on the bottle. Look for a quality assurance stamp or certificate of analysis from a third party (aka not the actual brand) or check the retailer's website if you don't see it on the product's label.
Sadly, there are unscrupulous companies out there looking to take advantage of people wanting to try CBD oil. A free trial bottle of CBD oil sounds like a great deal. They say you just need to pay a small shipping and handling fee. But what really happens is that they will send you a very low quality product. They’ll also keep charging your credit card every month for as much as $90 per month until you cancel your “subscription” with them. This is an outright scam that you want to avoid.
It’s fair to say that the CBD market is thriving. According to market intelligence company Hemp Business Journal, $130 million worth of products containing the cannabinoid were bought in the U.S. in 2016. And that figure is only set to rise in the years to come, the data analyst believes. Indeed, the source estimates that consumer sales of CBD goods will total an astounding $2.1 billion by 2020 – buoyed, perhaps, by claims that the usage of such products can help alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain, depression and diabetes, to name but a few conditions.
The tricky part is that there's some evidence suggesting CBD works best for pain when combined with a little THC, says Dr. Danesh. "Depending on what type of pain you have, you might be able to do just CBD, but sometimes you need CBD and THC." This makes accessing a product that will actually help you more difficult due to different regulations in each state. In New York, where Dr. Danesh practices, for example, CBD is available over the counter. But as soon as you add THC, you need a prescription.
If medical marijuana is illegal in a given state, THC levels determine whether a CBD product is illicit or not. In most places, the limit is extremely low. We’re talking under 1 percent THC, with some states opting for a cap as low as 0.3 percent. In this case, the only source that would work is hemp, and CBD products will, therefore, be hemp-derived.
PlusCBD Oil is one of the few companies that doesn’t source their hemp from the United States. Although the company is working to move its hemp farming to the United States, PlusCBD Oil currently imports hemp grown in Europe. But don’t let that worry you. PlusCBD Oil is still certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority, meaning they follow high standards, industry best practices, and self-regulation.
Given CBD’s reputation as a popular, artisanal remedy, one would think that Epidiolex would command a lot of “off label” attention. After all, physicians often prescribe pharmaceuticals off label to treat conditions that were not the actual focus of clinical trials. But the costly price tag for Epidiolex (more than $30,000 annually) precludes off label prescribing as well as affordable access for tens of millions of Americans without health insurance.
Nearly every expert Health spoke to agreed that your CBD products should be tested by a third party to confirm the label's accuracy. This is a real concern in the industry—take the 2017 Journal of the American Medical Association study, for example, which tested 84 CBD products and found that 26% contained lower doses than stated on the bottle. Look for a quality assurance stamp or certificate of analysis from a third party (aka not the actual brand) or check the retailer's website if you don't see it on the product's label.
Since 2014, NuLeaf Naturals – our Editor’s Pick – has been committed to creating high-quality CBD oil products. As one of the oldest and most reviewed companies in the industry, NuLeaf Naturals has established themselves as a trustworthy CBD manufacturer. All of their products are tested by third party labs and their cannabinoid profile is impressive. They offer a unique range of concentrations for their organic CBD products ranging from 240mg to 4,850mg.
Nearly every expert Health spoke to agreed that your CBD products should be tested by a third party to confirm the label's accuracy. This is a real concern in the industry—take the 2017 Journal of the American Medical Association study, for example, which tested 84 CBD products and found that 26% contained lower doses than stated on the bottle. Look for a quality assurance stamp or certificate of analysis from a third party (aka not the actual brand) or check the retailer's website if you don't see it on the product's label.
Secondly, all products are NOT created equal – they differ significantly in strength, absorption, and elimination by the body and in the manner in which they are formulated. One should be mindful of the differences in doses available for each of these products, starting at a low or moderate dose and increasing as needed in order to find the lowest dose that provides the desired relief. In this way, one can individualize usage to maximize effectiveness while minimizing risk – a proper goal for the use of all medicinals.
After two decades of experience in the hemp industry, Paul Benhaim founded Elixinol – ostensibly, as the company’s website states, to “[manufacture] and [provide] the highest-quality CBD oil and hemp extracts in the world.” And so that CBD oil users can be assured of that quality, Elixinol extensively tests its extracts and provides certificates of analysis for its products that are available to view at a click. The manufacturer’s wares have even received a “stamp of approval” from The Realm of Caring Foundation, a Colorado-based non-profit and advocate for cannabinoid therapy research and education. Those wanting to assess Elixinol’s extracts for themselves can choose from its range of oral tinctures – with potencies of 300 mg, 600 mg and 3,600 mg – as well as topical balms and capsules. Plus, the company gives 5 percent of the proceeds from every sale to charity – so buyers may not only feel good after their purchases, but they’ll do some good, too.
According to Ananda Hemp’s website, it’s something of a trailblazer in the CBD world, for it possesses what it maintains to be the U.S.’ first officially authorized hemp farm. Ananda Hemp also claims to be the earliest business to have legally imported its own hemp seeds – taken from what is said to be the most extensive privately owned cannabis seed bank in the world. This, the company says, “stands in contrast to many of [its] competitors, who are sourcing questionable, non-certified and untraceable CBD sources.” In any case, people who wish to see how Ananda Hemp’s process impacts on its products can see for themselves by using its full-spectrum extracts, softgels and topical salve. Those goods have themselves, it seems, been through the testing process a minimum of three times to ensure that their levels of potency live up to what’s written on the labels.
In addition to an unflavored option, the drops also come in peppermint and goji berry flavors that are perfect for mixing with beverages. The nutritional information for all three flavors is found on the PlusCBD Oil website. The drops are fairly inexpensive, priced at $0.15 per mg or lower depending on the concentration. The brand offers fast shipping throughout the U.S. and to a wide range of international destinations.

Like Premium Jane, Fab CBD is another newcomer to the industry, and they made this list simply because of how affordable they are. We received some samples quite awhile back, and while they weren’t the most potent products in the world, they absolutely did work and if you were to buy them from the online store they are about 15% cheaper than other top brands. ($79 for a 600 mg bottle compared to the average $95).
Transparency: cbdMD seems to be going through a transition with their third-party testing practices. Until recently, they only released a lab report for the CBD concentrate they use for all their products, but would not show potency testing for individual products. That seems to be changing. Currently, the only lab report on the website is for their concentrate (and it’s over a year old). But if you contact customer service, they’ll send you a lab report for any product. 
Unlike THC, CBD will not make you high. That said, this doesn’t mean CBD is not at all psychoactive, as many assert, says Jahan Marcu, PhD, director of experimental pharmacology and behavior at the International Research Center on Cannabis and Mental Health in New York City: “CBD does change cognition. It affects mood, which is why people take it for anxiety. And some find that it makes them more alert.”
CBD Essence is another brand we’ve had plenty of experience with over the past 18 months or so, and my partner particularly likes his 600 mg Medicinal Grade tincture for quickly easing her anxiety. I haven’t tried them so much for may pain, but I do recall that a 30 mg dose was quite effective the last time I did take it. Also, the main reason they’re this high up on our list is because they’re a fair amount cheaper than Elixinol and PureKana. Their tinctures come in larger 2 oz bottles, but on a CBD-per-mg basis they’re about 20% less expensive than other top-quality brands.
They operate their own hemp farms in Kentucky and Colorado as well as their own lab and product facilities. Customers appreciate their dedication to making quality products at affordable prices. It’s also great to see a company that’s willing to stand behind their products by offering a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re dissatisfied for any reason.
Customer Service: There are multiple ways to get in touch with customer service, and Pure Hemp Botanicals’ customer service representatives are both quick to respond and forthcoming with information. On the down side, free shipping kicks in at $100 — otherwise it’s a pricey $9.99 flat rate. And you can return products, but only if they’re unopened.
CBD products have seen a huge rise in popularity over the past four years, beginning when the Agricultural Act of 2014 allowed the growth of industrial hemp. CBD oil has gained serious traction in the alternative medicine market, where it is reported to help with sleep disorders, migraines, pain relief (especially neck pain), anxiety, and even epilepsy. Because it contains 0–.3% THC (the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana), CBD appeals to a wide range of people, including those who would not have used medical marijuana due to the head high they would experience.
High potency CBD oils are ideal for those seeking a powerful, therapeutic effect. However, many companies only offer CBD oil in low to moderate potencies. Our pick for the highest potency CBD oil is Sabaidee’s Mega Good Vibes 2500mg+ CBD oil. At 88.33mg of CBD per serving, this is one of the most potent CBD oils on the market. And at $0.08 per mg of CBD, it is also reasonably priced. One 30mL bottle packs 2,500 mg of high-quality, full-spectrum, peppermint-flavored CBD oil.
Hemptation Infused Goods scores points for innovation thanks to its unusual CBD oil-infused honey, which is harvested from hives in Vermont and, according to the company, has a “slightly spicy bite.” That said, customers who prefer not to get their CBD hit on toast may instead opt for one of Hemptation’s similarly novel bath bombs, designed to either invigorate or help unwind when the user settles in for a soak. More traditional types might be relieved to hear, however, that the company also offers sublingual CBD oils in dropper bottles, 99-percent pure slabs of CBD isolate and wax – the latter made from a whole extract of the hemp plant. Furthermore, Hemptation arguably takes customer service to the next level by offering in-person consultations about CBD, available to those living in Massachusetts or Vermont for a $60 fee. Anyone further afield, meanwhile, can take advantage of a similar but more inexpensive service by either telephone or live chat online.
Another point worth clarifying is the difference between hemp seed oil (or hemp oil) and CBD oil. There’s confusion on this point for the very good reason that both CBD oil and hemp seed oil are extracted from the industrial hemp plant. But there’s a big difference between the 2. Hemp seed oil has been pressed from hemp seed, and it’s great for a lot of things — it’s good for you, tastes great, and can be used in soap, paint — even as biodiesel fuel.
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