More CBD products are available than ever before, especially since the 2018 Farm Bill federally legalized hemp. If you’ve ever walked through a dispensary or searched for CBD online, then you know that these days CBD comes in all sorts of different forms ranging from traditional tinctures to more novel items like CBD-infused pillows.
With all these different products available, it can be difficult for consumers new to CBD to figure out what will work best for them. Even those with more cannabis experience can be overwhelmed by jargon like full-spectrum and broad-spectrum. So we’ve put together this consumer guide to help you figure out which CBD product is right for you.
Before deciding on a particular product, it’s useful to determine what you’ll be using CBD for.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound called a cannabinoid similar in structure to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. When comparing CBD vs THC, the most notable difference is that CBD effects are non-intoxicating. This means that taking CBD won’t make you feel high or foggy, allowing users to access the therapeutic potential of cannabis without having to worry about feeling impaired during the day.
Despite the fact that CBD is now federally legal, the Food and Drug Administration still hasn’t approved the compound for medicinal use due to a scarcity of clinical trials. The exception to this is the pharmaceutical-grade CBD tincture Epidiolex currently prescribed for severe seizure disorders.
However, preliminary research into CBD’s medicinal potential has been incredibly promising on a number of fronts lending credence to the consumer’s anecdotal accounts of the compound’s benefits.
For example, this 2008 study suggests that CBD’s analgesic characteristics could be beneficial in managing difficult-to-treat pain in conditions like fibromyalgia.
Many who use CBD do so to help them relax. This makes sense when looking at another 2015 study. According to the researchers, “We found that existing preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely.”
CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum
CBD oil and other CBD products are often labeled as full-spectrum, but what exactly does that mean?
A full-spectrum CBD product contains all of the terpenes and other cannabinoids, including a scarce amount of THC, that are naturally present in the hemp plant. These other compounds work together in what’s called the entourage effect to enhance their individual effects. For this reason, many consumers prefer full-spectrum products.
CBD isolate, the purest form of cannabidiol, is an alternative to full-spectrum. Unlike full-spectrum CBD, isolate doesn’t contain any compounds aside from CBD. Consumers worried about drug tests may choose isolate or other products due to the lack of THC. Isolate is also typically the cheaper option, which can play a factor for those on a tight budget.
Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum
A third option exists between full-spectrum and isolate—broad spectrum.
Broad-spectrum CBD still contains natural terpenes and minor cannabinoids like CBG or CBN but doesn’t contain any of the intoxicating compound, THC. With broad-spectrum products, consumers can partially utilize the entourage effect without being exposed to THC. For those with extreme sensitivity to THC or who experience regular drug testing for their job, broad-spectrum products may be the right choice.
CBD edibles come in various shapes and flavors, including CBD gummies, CBD lollipops, and even CBD seltzer water. Edibles can be a fun and easy way to access CBD, but unfortunately, it’s not a very effective administration method.
Orally consumed CBD has incredibly low bioavailability, meaning the majority of the CBD in your gummy won’t be absorbed into the bloodstream, essentially going to waste. The main benefit of edibles is their ease of use and precise dosing. You can take them almost anywhere and don’t have to worry about messy oils.
Another common way CBD users consume the cannabinoid is via sublingual administration. Using a CBD tincture or oil that you place under your tongue delivers the cannabinoids into the body faster than edibles and offers slightly higher bioavailability.
Inhalation methods of consuming CBD, like smoking or using CBD vape pens, have by far the highest bioavailability of any common CBD application technique. Not only does inhaling CBD allow your body to utilize the highest percentage of cannabidiol, but it also delivers the cannabinoid faster than other methods.
Unfortunately, combustion methods like traditional smoking aren’t very good for your lungs. However, some of this can be mitigated by using a CBD vape. Those who want a more natural experience than CBD vape oil, but who don’t want the added health risks from smoking may be interested in E1011 Labs’ innovative CBD delivery device, Elon. The Elon uses concentric heating technology to gently vaporize the full-spectrum CBD-rich hemp flower found in the eco-friendly disposable cartridges that pair with the device. These disposable cartridges are plastic-free, unlike traditional vape cartridges that fill up landfills.
Inhalation methods are recommended for consumers who want to get the most out of their CBD.