Best CBD Oil

Updated October 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for best cbd oil

If you keep up with the latest trends in healthy or natural living, you’ve probably heard of CBD — this plant-produced chemical seems to be everywhere these days — but you might not be sure what all the hype is about. Although CBD can’t perform miracles, studies and anecdotal evidence seem to indicate that this phytocannabinoid effectively treats quite a few health conditions, and without the side effects that can be a big problem with many prescribed medications.

Maybe you’re wondering if CBD could help you with pain, anxiety, or other health conditions, but you aren’t certain what to look for when purchasing a bottle of CBD oil. You might even have concerns about whether or not CBD oil is legal or if it would get you “high.” We created this guide to help our readers understand what CBD oil is and how to find the best CBD oil for their purposes.

Always start with a very low dose of CBD oil, only increasing the dose every few days until you find the right dosage for your needs.

CBD vs. THC vs. hemp

It can be a little confusing parsing the differences between CBD, THC, and hemp seed oil. All three of these natural chemicals come from the cannabis plant, but they aren’t exactly the same in form or function. Without getting too technical, here’s the breakdown.

First, it helps to understand that a phytocannabinoid is a chemical produced by many plants — especially cannabis, which has more than 100 different cannabinoids — that helps the plant survive harsh weather conditions and attacks from insect pests. Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids produced in a mammal’s body (including humans) that help maintain cellular balance. When a mammal ingests a phytocannabinoid such as CBD or THC, the chemical binds to the endocannabinoid receptors found in the brain and other parts of the body.

CBD, which is short for cannabidiol, is one of the many phytocannabinoids produced by the Cannabis sativa plant. Extracted from the plant’s leaves, stalks, and flowers, CBD does not have intoxicating or euphoric effects on mammals, but it does help promote relaxation and pain relief. Strains of Cannabis sativa grown for CBD production are naturally high in CBD and very low in THC. These varieties of cannabis are also called hemp, or industrial hemp.

THC, which is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is the phytocannabinoid produced by both Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica famous for its intoxicating, euphoric effects when smoked or eaten. THC is found throughout the plant but is most concentrated in its buds or flowers. Cannabis plants grown for use as medicinal or recreational marijuana are generally quite high in THC but low in CBD.

Hemp seed oil, which can be used for cooking, skincare, haircare, or medicinal purposes, is pressed out of the seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant, not from leaves or flowers. Generally, hemp oil has minute amounts of THC and low amounts of CBD.

Did you know?
CBD oil may help relieve pain, anxiety, and depression in many people.
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Benefits of CBD

Although research was long hampered by cannabis’s status as an illegal substance, today, an increasing number of studies are uncovering the many potential health benefits of CBD.

Pain relief: Several promising studies seem to indicate that CBD can help with chronic pain and inflammation caused by arthritis, cancer, fibromyalgia, and other health conditions.

Chemotherapy: Unfortunately, chemotherapy to treat cancer comes with a host of potentially severe side effects, including nausea and fatigue. CBD has shown great effectiveness in combating these distressing effects.

Anxiety: One of the most promising uses for CBD lies in the reduction of anxiety and depression, whether chronic or short-term. By acting on the brain’s serotonin receptors, CBD can help improve mood without the potential side effects of prescription medications. This is the most common reason people take CBD oil and other CBD supplements.

Epilepsy: CBD has shown great effectiveness against some types of epilepsy. In fact, Epidiolex is the first FDA-approved prescription medication derived from cannabis. It’s used to treat certain severe forms of epilepsy.

PTSD: The jury is still out on this, but studies are currently underway to determine whether CBD really does help relieve the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. Considerable anecdotal evidence suggests that it does.

Insomnia: Studies on CBD’s effectiveness at treating insomnia are mixed, but many users swear by its ability to help them relax enough to drift off to sleep.

Skin conditions: Applied topically, CBD oil has shown some beneficial effects in reducing acne, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions.

Other conditions: Other than anecdotal evidence, there isn’t yet solid proof that CBD can help reduce blood pressure, improve heart health, lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes, or treat opioid addiction.

Did you know?
CBD oil tends to have a grassy, “earthy” flavor that can be a little bitter. CBD isolate has the least amount of flavor, whereas full-spectrum oil tastes the strongest.
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Buying the best CBD oil

These days, you’ll find CBD oil everywhere, but not all are equal. Here’s what to ask yourself when looking for high-quality CBD oil.

How much CBD is in the bottle? Typically, a bottle of CBD oil is labeled with the total amount of CBD, not necessarily the amount per serving. However, quality brands also indicate how many drops make up a dose and how much CBD you’ll get in that dose. The higher your desired daily dose of CBD, the more concentrated your CBD oil should be.

What’s the content of the oil? There are three terms to know when it comes to buying quality CBD oil: CBD isolate, full-spectrum CBD oil, and broad-spectrum CBD oil.

  • CBD isolate is pure CBD. The oil is free from all of the many other phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and fatty acids produced by cannabis, including THC. This is a good choice if you are concerned about the consumption of even a minute amount of THC. However, many users feel that CBD’s benefits are heightened by the inclusion of the plant’s other phytocannabinoids and natural compounds.
  • Full-spectrum CBD oil contains the full range of the plant’s phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and fatty acids. That means it may contain very low concentrations of THC as well, although typically that amount will be below the 0.3% borderline for legality in all 50 states. Many users consider full-spectrum CBD oil to be the best for relieving pain and anxiety, but it’s not the best choice if you must avoid any THC content at all.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD oil is full-spectrum oil with all THC removed. That means you’ll still gain the benefits of cannabis’s many other phytocannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids, but without worry about potential THC consumption.


What are the other ingredients? Most quality CBD oils contain the CBD extract in a base of a carrier oil, often coconut, hemp seed, or MCT oil, although others are sometimes used. Most users consider hemp seed oil to be the best carrier oil for CBD. Some CBD oils also have added flavor. Look for natural flavors, not artificial ingredients.

How was the CBD extracted? Quality manufacturers use one of two methods to extract CBD from the cannabis plant. Both methods make use of a liquid solvent to separate the CBD and other cannabis compounds from the solid stems, leaves, and flowers. Some manufacturers use liquefied carbon dioxide while others use ethanol. Both produce high-quality CBD oil, but many users consider CO2 extraction to be the superior method.

Where was the hemp grown? A good manufacturer indicates where the hemp that produced the CBD oil was grown. Often, you’ll need to go to the manufacturer’s website for this information. In the U.S., some of the best CBD-producing hemp plants are grown in Colorado and Oregon, although there is certainly fine hemp grown in other states as well.

What about contaminants? Because cannabis tends to absorb heavy metals and other pollutants from the soil, it’s important to only purchase CBD oil from a manufacturer who has every batch of oil third-party tested for these potentially dangerous contaminants. If you don’t find test results from a certified lab posted on the brand’s website, move on.

How is the oil packaged? Ideally, your CBD oil should be in a dark glass bottle, preferably with a dropper top marked in increments for easy dosing. Clear bottles let in too much light, which can break down the CBD’s potency over time.

Did you know?
CBD oil will not get you high or euphoric. Unlike THC, CBD tends to have a calming effect.
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CBD oil prices

While there is no shortage of cheap CBD on supermarket and convenience store shelves, expect to pay more for quality oil. Note that the higher the CBD content, the more you’ll pay. Generally, CBD oil is sold in 1-ounce bottles.

Below $40: Watch out for these low-end products. CBD oil this inexpensive may not have been tested for contaminants and tends to contain minimal CBD content.

Between $40 and $80: For most CBD users, this is the sweet spot. Here you’ll get fairly high doses of CBD extracted from hemp grown with either ethanol or CO2.

Above $80: Expect to pay over $80 for very high CBD content.

Tips

  • There is no one ideal dosage for CBD consumption. The right dose depends on your needs, metabolism, and body composition.
  • Start with a low dose. For beginners, 2 or 3 milligrams of CBD per day is best. You can slowly increase your dosage every few days until you reach the level that works best for you. For some people, as little as 5 milligrams a day is enough. Others require 25 milligrams, 50 milligrams, or more for relief from pain, depression, or insomnia.
  • Give it time to work. It can take several days to feel the full effects of CBD.
  • Plan your dosages ahead of time. Large doses of CBD are best divided into two or three smaller doses spread over the day. Try to take your CBD oil at the same times each day.
  • Don’t assume that more is better. CBD has a “ceiling” for each person, beyond which it won’t provide further benefit. 
  • Mind your medicine cabinet. Avoid CBD if you take prescription blood thinners. And, as with all supplements and medications, keep your CBD oil out of the reach of children.
While side effects are uncommon, some people do experience drowsiness, dry mouth, or low blood pressure after taking CBD.

FAQ

Q. Is CBD oil legal?
A.
CBD oil extracted from hemp plants containing less than 0.3% THC is legal in all 50 states. However, CBD oil extracted from cannabis plants with higher levels of THC is subject to whatever your state’s guidelines are for recreational or medicinal marijuana.

Q. Can I give CBD oil to my pet?
A.
Absolutely! Many pet owners give CBD oil to their cat or dog for relief from arthritis pain or anxiety. It’s best to stick with an oil specifically formulated for pets to avoid giving your furry friend too much CBD.

Q. Does the FDA regulate CBD oil?
A.
No. That’s why manufacturers are prohibited from making sweeping or specific health or medical claims about their products. That’s also why it’s a good idea to buy only from reputable CBD manufacturers who outline their testing procedures, extraction process, and product standards on their websites.

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