*Note: Whilst this post is sponsored by cbdMD, all opinions expressed in this review are my own.
CBD products and their purported usages for pain relief have been on a steep rise. Whilst it has been in use for centuries in traditional medicine, it is still relatively new in the modern medicine world. More quantitative studies need to be conducted before we understand the mechanisms of CBD fully.
There are many companies selling CBD products both online and in-store now. There are also many unlicensed individuals who are trying to climb onto this bandwagon, and rip unwitting people off social media. I’ve had to personally block and report many of these individuals myself.
So how do you tell if the CBD product you’re buying is legitimate? How do you know if that CBD product is legal in your country or state? How do you judge the quality of the product? And I’m sure your most important question is – will it work to relieve you of pain?
I cannot answer that last question for you as chronic pain covers a wide scope, and no two patients are alike. Even those with the same chronic illness often present different symptoms, and require different remedies. Even for healthy individuals, the same CBD product can affect them in varying ways or degrees. Pain management is often a trial and error process, and you will need time to figure this out bit by bit. If you’re considering adding CBD to your pain management toolkit, here are some important things to take note of before buying and trying.
A Quick Introduction of CBD
For those of you who may be wondering what CBD is, it stands for ‘cannabidiol’. CBD is derived from the flowers of hemp, which is a type of cannabis plant. It should contain a maximum of 0.2% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol – the psychoactive compound that gets you ‘high’), to be considered legal for use depending on your state and country. According to the World Health Organisation:
“CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile. Reported adverse effects may be as a result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and patients’ existing medications.”
Our bodies also produce their own cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids, which can also be found in breast milk. The Endocannabinoid System as a whole plays an important role in our bodies to keep us well and alive; it regulates many important functions such as pain sensations, inflammation, hormones, body temperature and more.
CBD is a CB1/CB2 receptor agonist, which binds to the cells found in our Endocannabinoid System. This can help to trigger a pain relieving response, or help to regulate our mood. There are clinical trials in the works for CBD derived medications, with Epidiolex as the first FDA approved CBD-derived drug for rare forms of seizures.
Types of CBD Products
CBD is sold in two forms – isolate or full spectrum. The former is a pure extraction of CBD from the hemp plant, whilst the latter preserves other compounds such as terpenes, which comes with their own varying benefits and side effects, also known as the ‘entourage effect’.
CBD can be consumed in a number of forms:
1. Edibles: Includes gummies, baked goods such as cookies, capsule supplements, and more.
- Benefits: Edibles may have a longer lasting effect.
- Cons: Many products do not state the percentages of CBD and THC in it, so sometimes you don’t know how much you’re exactly consuming. It also takes longer for an effect to take place due to the way your body absorbs it.
2. Topicals: Includes creams, lotions, oils, ointments and more.
- Benefits: Purportedly good for localised pain so you can target specific trigger points. Topicals are purely external, and may be a good starting point for those who may be worried about ingesting CBD and its potential drug interactions.
- Cons: Doesn’t affect the whole body, if that’s what you’re looking for.
3. Tinctures: Dripped and held under your tongue before swallowing.
- Benefits: This is the fastest way for your body to absorb CBD.
- Cons: It might not be good if you’re new to CBD or just trying it out, and are unsure of medication interactions.
4. Vaping: Done with a vaping pipe.
- Benefits: Delivers a higher dosage for pain relief.
- Cons: The smoke inhalation might not be good for your lungs, especially for those with respiratory diseases or breathing problems.
These are the more popular ways that CBD is sold and consumed. It is also often a trial and error process before you know if it works for your pain, what type of pain, how and by how much. The general advice when buying and trying a CBD product is to start slow, and work your way up from there.
Tips for Selecting and Buying a Good CBD Product:
1. Ingredients & Manufacturing Process
Ingredients in anything matter – food, cosmetics, fillers in medications, and yes, CBD, too. Whatever product you choose to buy – make sure that the ingredients and labels are clear. The fewer the ingredients, the better. You should be aware of the whole CBD manufacturing process – from soil to final product.
If you’re from the US, check that the hemp was grown on an American farm. If you’re from the UK, the product should be listed on the Cannabis Trades Association UK (CTA UK).
2. Laboratory Certificates & Third Party Lab Tests
Another important thing to check for is the laboratory certificate to ensure that what you’re buying is a quality product. If the company does third-party testing, this is a good sign that they are confident about their product, and care about customer safety.
Some data you can request for about the CBD product you wish to purchase are: pesticides, residual solvents, and more. The company should be willing to share this information upfront. If they beat around the bush or if you need to jump through hoops to get this information, that’s an obvious sign that their CBD product might not be of good quality, or that they have something to hide.
3. CBD Extraction Methods
How the CBD is extracted from the hemp plant is important, with the CO2 extraction method being favoured as no harsh chemicals or solvents are used. This ensures that all the beneficial qualities of the CBD are retained, without compromising its quality.
4. CBD has a Strong Taste – Pick a Flavour You Like
The taste of CBD oil can be a deterrent for some due to its strong, unique taste. The good thing is that there are many CBD oil products out there that come combined with clean carrier oils and flavours for you to choose from. You could try one flavoured with citrus, coconut, olive oil, or something that you find more palatable.
5. Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions
When I first stepped into a CBD shop in Europe – I was embarrassed. Everything seemed so overwhelming and ‘hip’. I felt a little silly, as if I were uneducated or ‘should already know these things’.
But the shopkeepers or online customer service staff are there to help. Ask questions. It is within your right as a customer, and there is nothing wrong with being a ‘newbie’ – we all need to start somewhere. The more you try CBD products, the more you will understand how it interacts with your own body, and what works for you. You will be pretty confident with the terminology, dosages, variations and usages in no time.
Resources and Experiences with CBD Products
Some of the best places to learn more about CBD comes from books, blogs, reviews and verified online sources such as governmental bodies, hospital sites, and research papers.
Be careful with what you read online especially with blogs and review sites, as these are unverified sources, and/or may be biased. I generally read these with a pinch of salt, especially if they have no credible references listed. Yet I do read them to understand more about an individual’s personal experience with CBD, and how it interacted with their medical treatments or medications, if any.
The more knowledgeable you are about CBD, the more you will be able to understand how it works with your body, and how to select a good product for yourself. As mentioned in the beginning of the article – no two bodies are alike. Do your research and choose what’s best for you.
This article is just a rough guide, and nothing should be taken as medical advice. Always be sure to check with your doctor before you start on any new treatment or protocol.
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