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what to look for in cbd oil

10 Tips for Identifying High-Quality CBD Oil

You want high-quality CBD oil, but you don’t know how to separate the good products from the bad. There are hundreds of different CBD oil options on the market these days, and at first glance, they all look the same. Under the surface, however, CBD oil products vary widely in terms of ingredients, price, and the type of CBD they contain, so it’s important to learn the ropes before you make your final decision.

Whether you plan on using CBD oil with other CBD products or enjoying your CBD tincture on its own, there are 10 simple qualifiers you should consider as you search for the highest-quality CBD oil on the market. In this guide, we’ll show you what to look for in CBD oil and explain why Secret Nature CBD tincture is better than the competition.

1. Check the ingredients

The first place you’ll want to look when you’ve found a potentially high-quality CBD tincture online is the ingredients list. This simple list of the substances found in CBD oil doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about what a CBD product contains, but taking a look at the ingredients is a great first step.

To make CBD tincture, all you really need is CBD extract and a carrier oil. Preservatives are not necessary, and any additional ingredients should add specific benefits to the tincture. If you see a bunch of hard-to-pronounce, chemical-sounding names in the ingredients list of a CBD oil product you’re considering, it’s time to move on to another option.

Similarly, carrier oils vary widely in terms of effectiveness and safety. In Secret Nature Organic Hemp Flower Nectar , for instance, we use hemp seed oil as a carrier because it has impressive health benefits and, like CBD extract, it comes from the hemp plant.

MCT oil, which comes from coconuts, is arguably just as safe and effective as hemp seed oil, so tinctures with this carrier might be high-quality. Some CBD tinctures, however, contain carriers like propylene glycol, a common ingredient in vape juice that might not be safe for oral consumption . Avoid any tinctures that use anything other than hemp seed oil or MCT oil as carriers.

2. Look for lab results

It’s rare to find a CBD tincture in this day and age that doesn’t come with lab results. If you come across a CBD oil product that doesn’t appear to be lab-tested, therefore, you can be certain that it is low-quality and that its producers don’t even know how to sell their own products.

Lab tests vary, however, in terms of accuracy and reliability. Some companies try to get away with offering CBD oil lab tests from their own in-house labs, but you can only trust tests that were provided by independent, third-party laboratories.

There’s also plenty of variation regarding the types of information that CBD lab reports provide. Thorough lab tests provide information on the concentration of each cannabinoid present in the tested CBD product, and they also test for the presence of common contaminants like heavy metals and mycotoxins.

Lastly, good CBD lab reports should also provide information on the terpenes present in a CBD product. Even though they’re also found in other plants, terpenes provide benefits in hemp that are just as important as the benefits cannabinoids provide, so knowing which terpenes your CBD oil product contains can tell you a lot about how it will affect you.

3. Identify the dosage

If you’re having trouble determining the dosage of a CBD oil product you’re considering, move on immediately. Understanding exactly how much CBD your product contains is essential to calculating effective doses and making sure you get your money’s worth, so any brand that tries to make this information hard to find is not worth your time.

Similarly, look out for brands that advertise their CBD products as containing a certain amount of “total hemp oil.” Most full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD extracts contain anywhere from 25% to 50% CBD, so simply listing the amount of hemp oil is not enough to tell you how much CBD a tincture product contains.

Even worse, listing the amount of “total hemp oil” in a CBD product could be a sign that the product doesn’t contain any CBD at all. To get around the anti-hemp filters put in place by Amazon and other popular eCommerce platforms, some disreputable manufacturers advertise products that contain hemp seed oil as CBD products.

4. Find out the flavor

Even the best CBD product can be ruined by a bad flavor. Some people don’t like the taste of hemp oil, so you might want to consider a CBD tincture product that has added flavoring.

If you choose a flavored CBD tincture, however, make sure that the flavoring ingredients are safe and high-quality. Steer clear of CBD products that are advertised as containing “natural and artificial flavors” since this phrase often refers to dangerous chemical additives. Instead, opt for flavored CBD tinctures that include detailed lists of the exact natural flavoring ingredients they contain.

Our Organic Hemp Flower Nectar , for instance, is available in both flavored and unflavored varieties. We clearly state that our mint-flavored variety is flavored with pure peppermint essential oil, which helps consumers understand that our tincture does not contain any artificial flavoring agents.

5. Determine the consistency

In general, CBD oil products should have roughly the same consistency as olive oil. If a CBD tincture you’re considering has a thicker consistency, that could be a sign that it contains thickeners or other dangerous additives.

Under no circumstances should a CBD tincture have a gel-like or syrupy consistency. Check the reviews of a CBD tincture product you’re considering to determine its consistency, and if you can’t find the information you’re looking for, reach out to the manufacturer directly.

6. Ask about the shelf life

Depending on the ingredients included in CBD oil and the materials used to package it, this hemp extract may have a longer or shorter shelf life. In general, CBD extract has a shelf life of about a year, but that’s only under ideal conditions.

Adding unnecessary flavors or fillers to CBD tincture, for instance, can reduce its shelf life. That’s part of the reason it’s best to stick with natural ingredients and simple bases. Plus, you can reduce the shelf life of CBD oil by putting it in the wrong type of bottle.

Hemp oil oxidizes in sunlight, so keeping your CBD in an area that receives direct sunlight can cause it to oxidize faster. Also, materials that allow light to pass through, such as clear glass, will cause CBD oil to oxidize. To promote the longest shelf life possible, it’s best to store CBD oil in opaque containers like the black bottle we use with our Secret Nature Organic Hemp Flower Nectar.

7. Opt for full-spectrum

There are three different types of CBD extracts that you might find in tinctures: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate. While isolate CBD can sometimes offer better purity since it consists of the cannabidiol molecule and nothing else, this type of extract doesn’t provide the entourage effect , which might boost the effectiveness of CBD oil.

Broad-spectrum CBD, which eliminates any detectable presence of THC from CBD oil, is subjected to extra extraction processes that could cause a decrease in quality by degrading cannabinoids and terpenes. Full-spectrum CBD oil, on the other hand, is considered the gold standard in the industry since it keeps all the natural cannabinoids and terpenes in hemp flower intact while containing less than 0.3% THC.

8. Evaluate the pros/cons

There will be benefits and detractors of any CBD oil product you consider. Therefore, it’s necessary to weigh the pros and cons of each tincture to find the best solution for your needs.

For instance, balance the price of your CBD tincture against the amount of CBD it contains and the ingredients it uses. You might find that a less-expensive CBD tincture with lower-quality ingredients might be what you’re looking for.

On the other hand, you may find that the price of a high-quality tincture doesn’t eclipse the benefits of the top-tier ingredients that it contains. It’s also important to consider the trustworthiness of the company that makes the CBD product you’re considering—you might want to avoid low-priced products with few reviews in preference of more expensive CBD tinctures with lots of reviews and excellent lab testing.

9. Calculate the price per milligram

One easy way to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth with your CBD tincture is to calculate the price per milligram that it offers. This calculation is easy to perform, and it will tell you a lot about the CBD oil you’re considering.

First, note the price of the CBD product you’re considering. Then, take the total number of milligrams that the CBD product contains. Divide the price of the product by the total number of milligrams of CBD it contains to get the exact cost, in cents, of each milligram of CBD in the product.

A price per milligram of around $0.05 to $0.10 is standard in the industry. If the price per milligram of the CBD oil product you’re considering is higher than this average, however, you might want to choose a different brand.

10. Read the customer reviews

Every CBD oil product you’re considering should have at least some reviews, and good products will have lots of reviews from both men and women of all ages and demographic groups. CBD companies are limited in what they can say about their products, but by reading customer reviews, you can find out if a certain CBD oil product is good for stress, anxiety, post-workout pain, or any other condition that you think CBD might help with.

Collectively, Secret Nature products have nearly 2,300 reviews to date, which shows that our brand is extremely popular. Out of these reviews, the vast majority are either four-star or five-star, so it’s easy to see that Secret Nature products are high-quality. Read some of these reviews to find out which of our CBD flower, CBD tincture, and CBD bundle products are the most beloved by our customers.

Buy the best quality CBD oil today

We’ve reached the end of our list, and you’re now an expert on how to find high-quality CBD oil. It’s time to finish things off with some more details on our high-quality CBD oil and what separates Secret Nature from the competition:

Secret Nature Organic Hemp Flower Nectar

With black seed oil, added cannabis terpenes, shilajit, and other natural, beneficial ingredients, our Organic Hemp Flower Tincture stands apart from the competition. This tincture includes 1250mg CBD per bottle, and it contains 100%-organic ingredients. Our pesticide-free, lab-tested tincture offers extended shelf life, and it contains around 2mg full-spectrum, organic CBD in every drop.

Taste the Secret Nature difference

Secret Nature is committed to offering the best CBD products on the internet. It would be easy to cut corners and skip steps like the other guys, but we take great pride in the quality and potency of our products. Try our Organic Hemp Flower Nectar today to experience the difference yourself, and save 15% on your first purchase with the coupon code “Secret 15”.

Whether you plan on using CBD oil with other CBD products or enjoying your CBD tincture on its own, there are 10 simple qualifiers you should consider as you search for the highest-quality CBD oil on the market.

How to Shop for CBD

Thousands of the cannabis products line store shelves, but determining what’s safe is up to you

As head farmer at Veritas Farms in Pueblo, Colo., Rianna Meyer has two big concerns when growing her 100,000 hemp plants, a form of cannabis closely related to marijuana.

One is making sure that plants don’t absorb any of the potentially harmful chemicals that might be in the soil. The other is how much of the plant’s two key compounds they contain: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which gets users high, and CBD (cannabidiol), which is gaining increasing attention for its potential health benefits.

As it turns out, those are also two of the most important factors that consumers should consider when choosing among the thousands of CBD products now being sold across the country.

And those choices are soon likely to become even more confusing: The CBD market is expected to multiply at least sevenfold by 2021, to $2.15 billion, up from $292 million in 2016, according to the Brightfield Group, a market research firm that specializes in cannabis. Even Coca-Cola says it’s “closely watching” the growing interest in CBD and its potential as an ingredient in some of the company’s beverages.

Such demand keeps Meyer—vice president for operations at Veritas Farms (pictured above) as well as a retired fire captain and an Air Force veteran—on alert. For one things, she says, “If cannabis plants are stressed out by the weather, they’ll create more THC.”

That’s important to farmers like Meyer, and to consumers. When a plant contains 0.3 percent or less THC, the federal government considers it “industrial hemp,” and by Colorado’s and most states’ reckoning, can legally be formulated into oils, tinctures, topicals, and capsules, and widely sold to consumers. But if a plant has THC levels above 0.3 percent, the federal government considers it marijuana, and even states where it is legal sharply limit where the products can be sold.

In addition to THC, Meyer and consumers also need to worry about whether CBD products have contaminants. That’s because cannabis plants readily absorb heavy metals, pesticides, and other potentially harmful chemicals that may be in the soil or water, says Kyle Boyar, a cannabis scientist at Medicinal Genomics, a company that develops tests that help labs comply with state rules. To protect against that risk, cannabis plants should be tested frequently while they are growing, and finished products should be tested, using validated methods, too, Boyar says.

However, though 47 states have now legalized CBD from hemp, marijuana, or both (see map, below), many don’t require any testing. And among those that do, the details vary considerably. As a result, consumers need to take matters into their own hands and often have to rely on CBD manufacturers to self-police.

Meyer, at Veritas Farms, says consumers should learn as much as they can about CBD products they buy, including where they are grown and whether they were tested for both CBD and THC levels, as well as contaminants. “We’re trying to grow a plant that’s healthy, and healthy for you,” she says.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to the factors to consider when shopping for a CBD product.

1. Decide Why You Want to Use CBD, and in What Form

Of course, the first thing to consider is why you want to take CBD. Though it’s being touted for numerous possible health benefits—and some preliminary research suggests it might help with everything from pain and anxiety to multiple sclerosis and opioid addiction—for now it’s clearly proved to help treat only two rare, but devastating, forms of epilepsy. (Read more about the safe use of CBD.)

And even less is known about which forms of CBD—pill, topical, or drop, for example—might be appropriate. Still, experts do have some advice.

For very quick relief of, say, muscle cramps or anxiety, inhaling CBD may be most effective, via either a vape pen (think e-cigarette) or cigarette-style. For effects within a few minutes, oil drops under the tongue may be useful. Topical lotions, rubbed onto the skin, vary from person to person—some may feel it right away, others not for several hours. On the other hand, CBD in food products is likely to take longer—30 minutes or more—to be absorbed into your system. Read more about the pros and cons of each form.

2. Consider How Much THC the Product Contains

This is important mainly if you want to avoid the head-high that comes with THC, something that is important to many people who are considering CBD. But knowing the THC level can be important for other reasons, too, including how effective a product might be, as well as where you can buy it.

Some research suggests that in some people, CBD may work better when it’s combined with at least a little THC, says Martin Lee, director of Project CBD, an advocacy group that supports CBD research and the author of “Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana—Medical, Recreational, and Scientific” (Scribner, 2012). This is called the “entourage effect,” Lee says, the idea that the sum of the two chemicals, plus other related compounds in the plant, is greater than their individual parts.

To be sure, that notion is more theoretical than proven. And only a small amount of THC—as low as the 0.3 percent cutoff required for CBD products made from hemp—may be needed to enhance CBD’s therapeutic effect.

So if you want a product that probably has a little THC but not so much to get you high, look for one made from hemp. Such products have the added benefit of being widely available, including online and in retail stores. (Note that while Boyar and other experts say that CBD products should also include THC levels on their labels, many made from hemp don’t. For that, you need to check a product’s test results, if they are available; see number 4, below.)

Finding a CBD product that’s more than 0.3 percent THC could be tougher. For one thing, you’ll have to be in a state that has legalized marijuana, not just CBD. You’ll also need to go to a state-licensed dispensary to buy it and, in the 20 states that have legalized just the medical use of marijuana, you’ll also have to get a recommendation from a physician. In states that have legalized medical and recreational use—Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Washington—you don’t need to see a doctor first, but you do need to be over 21. (Maine and Vermont have legalized marijuana for recreational use but have yet to open recreational dispensaries.)

Dispensaries may sell a variety of “CBD-rich” products that are high in CBD and relatively low in THC, including oils, tinctures, topicals, and vaping liquids. They may even sell buds or flower from marijuana strains that have been bred to have very low levels of THC, says Michael Backes, author of “Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana” (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2014). For example, the strain “AC/DC” can be just 0.5 percent THC, barely above the cutoff allowed for CBD from hemp and much lower than the 20 percent or higher THC concentration typical of most marijuana strains, Backes says.

Still, Lee cautions that some people are much more sensitive to the psychoactive effects of THC than others. So if you want to avoid the head-high, it’s better to stick with CBD from hemp.

3. For Products From Hemp, Find Where It Was Grown

Many CBD products sold online and in retail stores come from hemp, not marijuana. And the source of that hemp can be important.

Most hemp used in CBD products sold in the U.S. comes from Colorado or Oregon (which have long histories with cannabis) or Kentucky (which passed a law to support hemp growers in 2013), or is imported from overseas, says Colleen Lanier, executive director of the Hemp Industry Association.

Among those sources, Lanier considers Colorado to have the most robust hemp program. The state’s agricultural program performs spot-tests of hemp plants while they are still in the field to check THC levels and will investigate the potential use of any illegal pesticides based on complaints. (Note that the 2018 Farm Bill, now in Congress, may make it easier for farmers to grow hemp and expand the number of states where it is grown and tested.)

Products made with hemp grown overseas can be even more problematic, because they are not subject to any state or federal testing, say both Lanier and Boyar. “There needs to be testing results available to consumers,” Lanier says, “and manufacturers should follow the FDA’s guidance for good manufacturing practices.”

So for CBD products from hemp, check labels to see whether they say where it was grown, and look especially for those from Colorado. Not all products, however, include that information. So in a dispensary or a retail store, ask the staff whether they know where the hemp was grown. And for products purchased online, check the companies’ website to see whether it has that information, or contact the seller to ask the same question.

4. Ask for Test Results

Always also ask to see a product’s COA, or certificate of analysis. That document shows how a product performed on tests checking for CBD and THC levels, and the presence of contaminants.

For products made with CBD from hemp, even Colorado doesn’t require testing of the finished product. So any COA for those final products comes from testing the company arranged on its own. Though not all manufacturers take that step, many do, Lanier says. That includes even some companies that use imported hemp, such as CV Sciences, which makes Plus CBD Oil from hemp grown in Holland.

If an online manufacturer or a retail store doesn’t have the information, or refuses to share it, avoid the product and the retailer.

One state, Indiana, has made it easier for consumers to find these COAs. Since July, all hemp-derived CBD products sold in stores in Indiana must include a QR code on their label that lets consumers download a product’s COA to their phone. All CBD products sold at Indiana locations of Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, a Midwest regional chain, now carry those codes, says Jonathan Lawrence, director of vitamins and body care at the chain. “It’s important for any consumer to know what’s in their product and what they’re taking,” Lawrence says.

For even more assurance about a product’s quality, Boyar recommends checking the COA to see whether it says that the lab meets “ISO 17025” standards. That suggests the lab adheres to high scientific standards. Also look to see whether a company uses testing methods validated by one of three respected national standard-setting organizations: the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists (AOAC), the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), or the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP).

Unlike hemp-derived CBD products, those made from marijuana must undergo testing—at least in states that permit medical and recreational use of marijuana. In some of those states, dispensary staff are supposed to have the COAs available and be willing to share them with you. If they aren’t, or the COA is not available, go to another dispensary or choose another product.

In states that have only legalized the medical, not recreational, use of marijuana, testing is less consistent, Boyar says. Several states—including Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York—do require some testing of products, according to the National Cannabis Industry Association. But others don’t, including Arizona and Michigan.

5. Look for Products That List the CBD Amount

Look for products that show how much CBD (or cannabidiol, its full name) you get not just in the whole bottle but in each dose, says Lee, from Project CBD. Dosages, which are expressed in milligrams, or mgs, vary considerably depending on the form of the product, and experts often suggest starting with products that have relatively low doses. For example, with tinctures, consider a product that has just 10 mg per dose, says Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University at Albany, State University of New York. (Read more about the safe use of CBD.)

On the other hand, take extra care with products that list only the amount of total “cannabinoids” they contain, not specifically how much CBD is in them. Those cannabinoids could include not just CBD and THC but dozens of other related compounds. Companies may take that labeling approach because they hope it will attract less scrutiny from the Food and Drug Administration, Lee says.

Some of those products, which don’t include the CBD amount on their label, market themselves as “whole plant” or “full spectrum” hemp products, or say they are rich in other compounds from the plant, such as various fatty acids. Though it’s possible that those other compounds provide additional health benefits, that’s still uncertain. In those cases, you could check the COA, if they have one, which should list how much CBD or THC they contain.

6. Know What Other Terms on the Label May Mean

CBD product labels sometimes say that they were produced with “CO2 extraction.” That can mean that the CBD and other ingredients were removed from the plant using high-pressure carbon dioxide gas, not chemical solvents. Depending on the type of CO2 extraction used, the technique might be able to extract not just CBD but other cannabinoids (see number 5) in the plant, Boyar says. However, that approach is not necessarily better, because it’s unclear whether those other compounds provide additional health benefits. And it may not be safer, either, because some forms of CO2 extraction still use solvents, Boyar says.

Some CBD products also describe themselves as including or coming from “hemp oil.” In some cases, manufacturers use that term to mean CBD oil, which is oil rich in CBD made mainly from the leaves, resin, or flowering tops of hemp plants. But “hemp oil” more often, and more properly, refers to oil made from the seeds of the plant, and contains only very small amounts of CBD, says Lanier at the Hemp Industries Association. That oil is often included in hemp-based soaps, cosmetics, and similar products.

7. Avoid Products That Make Sweeping Health Claims

Making health claims, even just the ability to treat relatively minor problems like migraines, is legal only for prescription drugs, which undergo extensive testing for effectiveness and safety. And the more dramatic the claim, such as the ability to cure cancer or heart disease, the more skeptical you should be. Since 2015, the FDA has cracked down on dozens of companies selling CBD products online for making unallowed health claims.

8. Watch Out for Vaping Products With Propylene Glycol

Vape pens produce little smoke and are easy to transport and use—plus they can easily go undetected. But the concentrated oils used in vape pens of CBD might contain a solvent called propylene glycol. When burned at high temperatures, propylene glycol can degrade into formaldehyde, a chemical that can irritate the nose and eyes and could increase the risk of asthma and cancer. To avoid this problem, consider CBD vape pens that advertise “solvent-free oils.”

What to look for when you shop for CBD products, including whether they comes from hemp or marijuana and how much THC they contain.