5 Things to consider when buying CBD

5 Things to consider when buying CBD
December 2020

With so many CBD products now on the market, it’s worth taking some time to work out where to start.

Quality CBD isn’t cheap and when it comes to your health, shortcuts are best avoided. It makes sense to first take some time to learn more about CBD and understand some of the basics before you find a product that’s right for you. Here are five key points you should be asking when seeking a CBD-based solution.

1) Why should I take CBD?

While there are many people now using CBD for a range of ailments and conditions, every journey is a personal one, and it makes sense to consider your objectives when deciding whether CBD is right for you.

If you are regularly taking over the counter products for pain and inflammation, it could be that CBD can provide a good plant-based alternative that could work as effectively. However, if you’re conditions are more acute, or if you are taking regular prescription drugs for a particular condition, we would always advise seeking advice from your medical practitioner before taking CBD.

While CBD cannot be seen as a universal panacea for wellness, the anecdotal evidence is abundantly easy to find. A quick internet search will unearth stories of CBD users reducing tumours, managing nausea caused by treatment, or massively reducing the impact of seizures. And this is through the use of regular CBD bought in health stores, not high-concentration medical grade products.

While the clinical world catches up with the huge wave of growth and adoption of CBD, and gathers its findings, it is worth proceeding with an element of caution. However, based on the evidence to date, we believe that there is sufficient proof to support using CBD to help with certain ailments and general wellbeing.

Pain and inflammation

There have been numerous studies where CBD has been used to successfully treat a range of pain or inflammation-related complaints, from conditions such as psoriasis and IBS, to more acute disorders like fibromyalgia and arthritis.

The anecdotal evidence is overwhelming in support of CBD use for treating sore joints and muscles, with some clinical research to support this. The studies point to CBD being anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, antiemetic, antipsychotic, and neuroprotective. 

This can most likely be put down to the effect CBD has in helping restore balance to our endocannabinoid system (ECS) – see our previous article CBD – The Basics. It helps the communication pathways between our brain, our organs and our internal systems – such as our central nervous system and our immune system – to help regulate pain and inflammation.

This has resulted in CBD being attributed to helping with a broad range of issues where the body is out of balance, from acne to menstrual cramps.

Stress, anxiety and sleep

More of us than ever before are suffering from stress-related conditions. The recent pandemic has exacerbated that stress even further, loading more pressure on us as we worry about our relationships and our jobs.

Any prolonged period of stress has an effect on our endocannabinoid system, throwing us off balance by reducing our natural anandamide levels (our ‘bliss hormone’). This can lead to mild anxiety, sleeplessness, and even depression. CBD doesn’t ‘cure’ stress – rather, it has the potential to improve cell communication and hormone signalling to help increase natural anandamide and serotonin levels, so we can manage the effects of stress better.

Helping restore this balance could also protect the body from more serious conditions caused by stress, such as heart disease

General Wellbeing

Alongside the anecdotal and clinical evidence to support CBD’s ability to help with pain, inflammation, stress, anxiety and sleep, there are ample views that CBD can also help with a range of other conditions, such as addiction, autoimmune deficiency, multiple sclerosis and IBS. It’s even been reported to help with brain-degenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s and dementia. We have no doubt that in time there will be clinical evidence to support the use of CBD to treat a range of chronic conditions. 

While CBD may not be the answer to everything, or even work for everyone, its ability to help people feel generally more balanced, and therefore feel really well, shouldn’t be overlooked or underestimated.

There has been significant reporting, both anecdotal and researched, that show that CBD provides a ‘comfort blanket’ to deal with the everyday stresses of modern life. So whether it's helping with daily pressure, maintaining mood, balancing appetite, or supporting good sleep, significant swathes of the population are using CBD for general wellbeing… more as a daily defence, than a specific cure.

2) What's the right CBD for me?

We don’t think you should need a PHD in Biochemistry to navigate the world of CBD – that’s why we set up Evnly. However, there are a few slightly more technical areas that are worth understanding if you are to find the CBD that works for you. As the industry has evolved, there are specific types of CBD extract on offer. You may have seen or heard the terms Full Spectrum and Broad Spectrum.

Full Spectrum CBD

Full Spectrum is where the whole of the plant is used, containing not only the CBD, but also minor cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. This will include trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive ingredient that’s responsible for the high that the cannabis plant gives. These trace levels of THC are set by law (generally speaking at 0.3% in the US and 0.2% in Europe) to ensure that the overall product does not produce any noticeable psychoactive effects.

The documented benefit of using all of the plant is that the minor cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids act synergistically with the CBD itself to maximise the therapeutic effects – this is known as the entourage effect. As a result, Full Spectrum, with its preserved, purer nature, is generally considered to be the most beneficial from a health perspective.

In addition, the preservation of terpenes helps toward certain states, similar to the terpenes and flavonoids found naturally in flowers or herbs – and in fact all plants, fruit and vegetables. For instance the terpene limonene is also found in citrus fruits, and has an uplifting fragrance. The polar opposite is linalool, a terpene found in lavender, and hailed for its calming effects. There’s a reason why people have been putting lavender in their pillows for generations to aid a relaxing night’s sleep. 

Other terpenes include myrcene, which has powerful antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties, and is known to help with muscle tension and, as a result, sleep. So while cannabidiol (CBD) is the core compound, many of its other associated terpenes and flavonoids help provide both the overall balancing effect and can be further tuned through inclusion or exclusion to help with specific health concerns. 

Broad Spectrum CBD

We stand firmly by the fact that the tiny amounts of THC in Full Spectrum CBD will not get you ‘stoned’. Still, the very fact they’re in there at all may be a barrier stopping some people from using it, so the industry has advanced an alternative called Broad-Spectrum CBD.

Broad Spectrum is where the THC has been completely removed through processing or distillation, leaving the majority of the plant intact. Broad Spectrum CBD products can also be developed from a heavily-refined CBD isolate. This is where everything but the CBD is removed through substantial refinement, with certain terpenes and flavonoids then added back in. There’s still very little evidence to understand the difference in effects between Full Spectrum CBD and the two types of Broad Spectrum, but the general view is that just like food, the less treated your CBD is, the better. 

That’s enough science for now. All you need to ask yourself is – do you lean more toward the synergistic effects of the purer Full Spectrum CBD, or would you prefer a product with absolutely no THC in it? In that case, go for Broad Spectrum CBD.  

3) What's the best way to take CBD?

It’s worth taking a moment to consider how CBD is ingested into your system, and what types of product you’ll feel most comfortable taking.

For instance, vaping is considered one of the most effective ways, as the CBD passes straight into the lungs. However, the jury is still very much out on whether vaping is safe overall. So until it is proven as a harmless means of delivery with universally adopted safety standards, we wouldn’t recommend this method.

As most of us are used to taking supplements or medicine in tablet form, CBD tablets, capsules and ‘gummies’ may end up being the most prevalent form of CBD on the market. Easy to keep, easy to swallow, taste-free and easy to transport, they would seem like the obvious choice. However capsules, and gummies are less effective, resulting in less and slower absorption of CBD into the bloodstream. Advances in product development may improve this over time, getting closer to the effectiveness of pharmaceutical tablets.

This is why the CBD market is still currently focused on tinctures as an effective means of delivery. By placing drops under the tongue (sublingually, to use the medical term) CBD absorbs more quickly through the soft tissue of the lower palate and into the bloodstream. For many, this is an acquired skill and process compared to the ease of taking pills. However, it doesn’t take long to master, and it’s worth bearing in mind that before the advent of the big pharma, most medicine was administered this way.

There are also a whole range of topical products containing CBD now on the market.  From balms to help with muscle pain to CBD-based beauty products, the array can be mind-boggling. So while the conventional science suggests that it’s much more difficult for CBD to penetrate the skin, the popularity in the sale of bath bombs, bath salts, muscle balms and creams suggests that applying CBD topically does make a difference. And when they combine CBD with other naturally effective ingredients, such as arnica or menthol, it’s easy to see their appeal for symptoms like pain and inflammation. It’s also certainly reasonable to believe that when CBD is used in make-up products, such as eyeliner, it provides a plant-based alternative to traditionally-used ingredients that can cause irritation.

There are other types of topical and transdermal products too, such as patches to apply to your skin and even CBD-infused tampons. These products are developed for specific purposes and their effectiveness is often difficult to assess. However their growing popularity also suggests positive effects experienced by those using them regularly. 

Finally there are a whole raft of novelty products, where there seems to be have been more creativity and innovation applied than proven science. So while we can see the luxurious appeal of combining CBD and chocolate, or CBD with tea, there’s no evidence to suggest there are any true wellness benefits.

4) What should I look out for when buying CBD?

When starting to look for CBD, it’s worth finding allies who have your true interests at heart and pride themselves on providing clear information and transparency – actually, that’s us at Evnly! But to be completely unbiased, we’d like to share with you some easy, tell-tale signs to spot the pretenders from the good guys.

You get what you pay for

Firstly, there are many companies offering cut-price CBD. You have to wonder why they are discounting their CBD so heavily. It suggests that there is either significant margin in their products – which makes you wonder how good the sourcing and manufacturing is – or there isn’t much in the way of repeat customers, again pointing to potentially inferior quality.

Where CBD is concerned, we believe there’s no such thing as a bargain that truly works. This is because we know everything that goes into to growing, harvesting, extracting, manufacturing and packaging quality CBD products. And the truth is that if you are doing everything diligently and with true wellness in mind, it’s not a cheap process.

Beware of over-claims

The next easy spot is over-claims for products without any scientific basis. As a food supplement, it’s not permitted to make medical claims when marketing CBD products, so companies that are overly claiming that CBD can solve all manner of ailments are probably best avoided.

All credible brands and retailers should provide detailed descriptions of their product and be clear as to the type and amount of CBD used. This should always be supported by a Certificate of Analysis (COA) from a certified third-party lab, which should include testing for the full range of nasties, such as heavy metals, pesticides, residual solvents, mycotoxins and microbiological contaminants.

Look beyond the label

There are many beautifully packaged brands that don’t even provide the basic information needed in a transparent way – let alone COAs – and instead hide behind slick marketing and labelling. Fake-reviews and ‘advertorials’ are ubiquitously used and worth dodging. 

Generally, brands and retailers that provide full transparency of how their products are sourced and manufactured are the ones worth focusing on. If the products haven’t been fully verified, move on until you find those that have.

5) What's the right dosage for me?

As CBD is classed as a food supplement, it’s not possible for brands to provide specific information about dosage in the same way that pharmaceutical products do.

There is also no exact science on CBD dosage levels. That may be in part due to the fact that CBD affects everybody differently. For some, the effects are very noticeable, while for most, they appear more subtly. For some, they will be completely unnoticeable. This could, of course, be down to the type and quality of the CBD.

What we would advise is that, if you’re completely new to CBD, it makes sense to take a measured approach starting with between 2-3 mg once or twice a day.  Try this dosage for a week and monitor any improvements. If you feel a positive difference, it may be worth holding the same dosage for the another few weeks, unless its effect is very subtle. Then it’s sensible to try upping your dosage by 1-2 milligrams per usage in weekly steps to find the optimal dosage for you.

If you are taking CBD for pain, there should be a noticeable difference after a few weeks. If there’s no effect, then it’s worth trying a different CBD product, and maybe a different means of application. For instance, with muscular or arthritic pain, a combination of oil taken sublingually and balms applied to the specific joints or muscles has been proven to be a winning combination.

It’s been reported by many that the effects are slow and subtle –  it’s only after they’ve disrupted their CBD usage that they have noticed a return of their ailments, or a worsening of their mood. We recommend keeping a journal to keep tabs on your CBD usage and its effects over time. This mindful approach also has the benefit of helping you stay more in tune with your mind and body, which can only be a good thing!

To sum up...

Given the number of people who now use CBD on a daily basis and extol its virtues, there’s no doubt it’s here to stay. Just give it some thought before jumping in – it’s your health we’re talking about, after all. But if you apply caution, and seek transparency and verification, there is the potential to open up a whole new world of plant-based natural health products that could bring you real wellness.

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