The question of deciding which CBD product is right for you can be somewhat of an overwhelming experience, especially if you are a first-time buyer. It is not necessarily finding which CBD product is best but finding which CBD product is best for you—and the two considerations to think of are examining products through usefulness and application. Whether you purchase in-person or through an online venue, there will always be people that can assist you in deciding on product; however, their motivation primarily rests on completing the sale and for someone that may be relatively new to the CBD scene this motivating factor can be a detriment to gathering objective information (this does not mean that they are “out to get you”, but just a reminder that it is important to remember that). Luckily, there are some breakdowns and explanations below that can provide that.
So how can CBD products be used for me?
In short, they can be used for many, many things and in many, many ways. To begin with, CBD products are 100% federally legal (which you can read the full breakdown analysis here) as long as the conditions of what qualifies the product as CBD are met. Secondly, all CBD products have no psychotropic effect meaning that there is no manner of CBD products that are restricted. Lastly, CBD products and their effects do not have any known, lasting detriments; you cannot “overdose” through using CBD related products.
There have been numerous studies that have both concluded and are pending on the usefulness of CBD-related items on the aspects that make up day to day life in addition to having long-term, beneficial effects. These effects can range from serving as an alternative to pharmaceutical medicines, to providing health and wellness, to relaxing muscular inflammation, reducing joint pain, serving as an anti-depressant, to providing a fuller and restful sleep, and many more. Additionally, some CBD-related products serve as a lipophilic meaning that over the course of time, and use, items that are fat soluble (most items that are consumables) compounds in the body.
Currently, there are numerous ways you can take CBD; all of which can vary in its use to what you are intending for it to do. There are tinctures, tonics, topicals, creams, oils, gummies, flavored waters, pet chews, shampoos, bath bombs, lotions, balms, gel caps, smokables, and more.
The list below is to help break down some of the varied uses that these items are designed to provide for you:
Tinctures: This product is often an alcohol-based extract either acting as a solvent (a substance that dissolves a solute, resulting in a solution) in extracting components of the Cannabis plant or in another part of the process to result in a finished product. In its base form, a tincture can be quite bitter which is one of the reasons why sometimes sweeteners or flavoring is added to the mix. They can also have minerals, herbal extracts, and additional supplements present within them. Tinctures are one of the fastest in its effects as you take them sublingually (under the tongue) and provides users with a more discreet way of taking due to how you can quickly administer it and at your discretion. Often, tinctures come with a vial dropper for equal measurements of use and can be added to food or drinks as well. The benefits of tinctures have a wide range and have been known to alleviate pain, reduce anxiety, provide a relaxing and calming feeling, assist in gaining a restful sleep, and more.
Tonics: These are usually a form of carbonated beverage that has CBD already infused within it (and sometimes additional materials to either supplement in flavor or effect). CBD-related products that are drinkable are one of the fastest segments of the CBD industry and within health and wellness. Tonics can simultaneously hydrate you due to the water content and provide acting CBD agents to relieve chronic pain, arthritis, acne, and serve as an anti-inflammatory. While there are still studies being conducted, tonics have also been suggested as having a purposeful use in treating insomnia, mental disorders, anxiety, and depression. Tonics can also be “created” through the combination of water and tinctures (or CBD oil), but when purchasing a tonic the combination of CBD to water has already been carefully measured for a balanced effect and taste.
Topicals: A topical usually refers to multiple possibilities but, for the most part, it serves as the term associated with any item that can be applied directly to the skin or the mucous membranes (though each topical does have some specific uses associated with it). Topicals can be useful in treating isolated areas for particular effect or as a general all-purpose use; however, topicals are not usually used for problems that are a bit more systemic (so think of topicals as treating more of singularly related issues). Topical CBD does get absorbed through the skin but they do not enter into the bloodstream; instead, they connect with other cannabinoid receptors through the pores of the skin. Topicals can stay in your system for several days and have been known to stay on for weeks (which can be very effective for those that suffer from chronic conditions). Currently, there are studies being made on topical creams to determine a fuller effect.
Creams: Truthfully, CBD creams are an amazing product that has been confirmed to be able to relieve pain. This is a form of a topical where the CB 1 and CB 2 receptors in the brain are sidestepped and, instead, the effect of the cream application goes toward your neurotransmitter “middle person” and blocks signals for pain and itch. CBD cream has also been known to effect sebocytes which acts as an anti-inflammatory by assisting skin cells producing sebum (a natural protectant of the skin). This also suggests that CBD cream can not only operate as an anti-inflammatory, but also help reduce pain, swelling, redness (after experiencing an acne breakout), eczema, or psoriasis.
Oils: One of the most versatile CBD products on the market and useful in a wide manner of ways. While some may consider CBD oil and tinctures the same thing, they are actually not since they differ in the manner of production and added material. For oils, it usually is a combination of just two ingredients: the CBD and a carrier oil of some kind. Often, CBD oils are made as a more natural substance (since tinctures are usually made through processing from alcohol) but can leave a little bit of an oily after taste. A benefit of using CBD oil is that the concentration of CBD within the product is not as diluted as it could be with other products that contain CBD in them (so they are also a bit more economical for those wishing to extend use to purchase price). CBD oils are also designed to be consumed so that they do enter the bloodstream rather than topicals which do not so applying CBD oils to the skin may do nothing (and would be a waste of the product….just buy topicals instead). Consuming CBD oils are similar to tinctures in effect, and depending on how you consume (whether that is sublingually or infusing in a product) will vary on when the effects take place.
Gummies: These are consumable CBD products that are similar to tinctures and oils; however, they require digestions over a period of time for the material to be absorbed into the body. Gummies have been known to offer health benefits such as relieving anxiety, depression, pain, inflammation, and a more restful sleep. It is important to note that because they are being digested, there may be effects not as known currently and may interfere with medications (as some medications need to be absorbed with food or without food at the same time). Benefits of gummies come in the form of concentration and digestion rate meaning that for people with slow metabolisms, they may end up experiencing the effects of taking a gummy over a longer period of time and with those that have a faster rate of digestion may get an all-encompassing and relaxing feeling as it then tapers off (sometimes, gummies can give the impression of a “high” without the psychoactive effect…this does not mean it is marijuana in the traditional sense and not a guarantee for every person either).
Flavored waters: Somewhat covered already in tonics (though the difference is that tonics could be, essentially, considered as any combination between beverage and CBD), flavored waters offer consumers a specific consumable product that is measured out between potency and hydration without having the added possibility of the type of liquid (because water is balanced out and practically neutral) factoring in (imagine having a coffee tonic with the added calming feeling of CBD but with an upper like caffeine).
Pet chews: While scientific research is currently not focusing on the specific and concrete facts regarding the effects of CBD with pets, there is anecdotal evidence from pet owners over time that have shared how the use of CBD has been seen to relieve anxiety, stabilize moods, pain (in joints and neuropathy), and seizures. These edible CBD pet chews could only have a maximum of 0.3% of THC content so by selecting CBD pet chews the effects are limited enough to alleviate and not overwhelm.
Shampoos: CBD has also founds its way into traditional markets of scalp care via shampoos and conditioners. Most shampoos and conditioners are made with a mixture of various components, but in their core makeup they have various vitamins, minerals, and oils from sources that have nourishment naturally occurring—for CBD shampoos and conditioners it is the same. As CBD has natural properties of high proteins, vitamins, and minerals, CBD shampoos can nourish the hair, stimulate growth (in reducing loss of hair, making it stronger and thicker, and improve thinning), and serve as treating dry scalps (which also suggests that CBD shampoos can help with dandruff control). As shampoos have a mixture of anti-oxidants, amino acids, and fatty acids (all of which are often in traditional shampoos as well), CBD shampoos can sometimes be a more natural and hair-healthy alternative from the mass manufactured shampoos currently in market.
Bath bombs: CBD bath bombs can be similar in some ways to shampoos in that they can provide some level of body care for the consumer; however, these products can also provide a relaxing experience for the user as the bath bombs are made with a mixture of salts, oils, and scents. Consumers that purchase the product often soak with the naturally occurring CBD minerals and vitamins (which can help out with muscle aches and pains since warm water soothes muscles but so, too, does the anti-inflammatory properties in them) approximately 25 minutes after the bath bomb has fully dissolved in the water.
Since CBD has properties which help to reduce inflammations of the skin, it can also help to open pores on the body and have an effect on preventing acne or blackheads through your regular soaks. Additionally, as most soaks are often done due to wanting to relax, CBD bath bombs can be a better boost in these aims since the properties of CBD intentionally promote these feelings (so imagine buying a regular bath bomb where the experience has to be provided by you and for you; then, imagine a CBD bath bomb that actually has natural properties within them that can boost the experience by itself).
Lotions: As noted above in topicals, CBD lotions are similar to creams in terms of their range of benefits and effects. One of the notable differences between the two, however, is that with creams sometimes the intent is not to provide the consumer with a nourishing effect upon the skin whereas lotions do (this is not to say that creams are fundamentally different, just that the company behind the creams they make may not be keeping the nourishing aspect in mind). Lotions, like creams, could be scented or unscented which may or may not offer you a revitalizing and soothing scent all day or be as discreet as you would hope it to be.
Balms: Balms are a fantastic product that can be used for a variety of areas but most notably work well in health and wellness, daily regimens, or before and after an intense workout. As noted previously, CBD often acts as an anti-inflammatory and reliever of pain; similar to lotions or creams, balms are a topical that can be applied directly to an area of the body that may be particularly sore or overworked. Balms can also be applied on the outside of the skin and close enough to be inhaled so that as you sleep, the balm can provide a soothing, relaxing experience and help maintain a more restful sleep. Balms also have the added benefit of being able to be applied to facial hair as their substance (which is usually thick, malleable, and/or waxy) may smooth and enrich the follicles. Studies on CBD balms have found a link that they work in relieving nerve, arthritis, and jaw pains on top of how they can work as an anti-inflammatory toward muscle aches.
Gel caps: These are very similar to the benefits of consuming CBD oil; however, they also serve (depending on the structure and content of the capsule) in providing a timed release of the effects of CBD as the coating or covering would first have to be broken through by digestion. The speed with which they break down thru digestion is often not as long as a gummy (since the content of a gummy is absolutely solid). Another benefit of a capsule is that because they are sealed, air and light cannot penetrate them to disrupt or alter the state of the oil or mixture within them; the tradeoff, usually, is that with CBD oil, the body can take a higher percentage of the content vs a capsule (because capsules are limited in their size, only so much CBD content can be present within them…CBD oil allows you to measure to the range you want to take it). With gel caps, you can also avoid the potential bitter after taste that oils sometimes provide while getting all the benefits that the oil can have on your body. Often, gel caps are predominantly used before sleep but can be particularly useful in a wellness regimen as well.
Smokables: There are also CBD products that can be smokable in similar fashion to most tobacco or vape products. These products, while still being examined, can provide a few benefits to the consumer that tobacco and vape products may not. Some smokables come in the form of traditional tobacco or marijuana (as plant items) which, when smoked, provide the same kind of inhalation as traditional cigarettes (or the like)—however, it comes without all of the chemicals and poisons that cigarettes can contain (of course, marijuana is similar here but…you know…it is a “class 1 drug” still). Smoking CBD plant material can also provide some of that psychological need of dragging on a cigarette (while it may not provide you with the satisfaction physically of the drugs in cigarettes, it can help wear down some of the dependence)
So how does CBD application fit in for me?
It seems somewhat usual, but truly understanding what you are seeking to get from your CBD product should be your first determination before you purchase. It is not simply about, say, choosing a gummy to relax you, but factors that may alter the application of the product itself; all CBD products can have an effect on the body in various ways, but there are nuances that can assist you in your choice. As an example, in pursuing a consumable it may be important to understand rate of metabolism and type of consumable (whether gummy or oil).
Though both are consumables, their time and range of effect can differ drastically. For oils, the rate of metabolizing is approximately within fifteen minutes (as oils do not have to have the time for the body to break down a more solid consumable); this does not mean that at the fifteen minute mark that the time of effect will be in full swing—as the product can activate anytime within fifteen minutes. For those that have a higher metabolism, the time of effect may be almost instantaneous. In contrast, gummies that are more solid in origin have a higher time of effect and can activate in approximately one to two hours depending on someone’s rate of metabolism. This can provide you with a better approximation when you consider at what point in your day you would like the effect to take place.
In addition to this time of effect, there is also a range of effect (which is sometimes marketed as a “fast-acting” consumable—oils, or “slow-acting” consumable—gummies). What is meant by range of effect is depth of activation and how it may ultimately provide your body with your intended application. For oils, the range of effect can be quite deep—again, as the body does not need to break through material before the product activates, the effect can become fronted with a relative slow-burning and residual effect until it tapers off. With more solid consumables, the range of effect can have a relatively slow, but steady, effect; solid consumables can have this slow but steady due to how much of the solid the body ultimately breaks down at a given point (for an example, the body can metabolize parts of the item at varying points while oils can become broken down all at once).
Why do these CBD nuances matter for me?
For many people that are new to trying CBD-related products (and myself included here) may be unaware of these nuances and end up committing some errors. If I take a slow-acting gummy and don’t know how my metabolism may prolong the effects far after consuming it, I may end up thinking that I need to consume more for the effect to take place. Since I already consumed one gummy with no effect, perhaps I will try two instead. After I consume this extra amount, I may begin to feel the effects of the first gummy but I may attribute it to the two new gummies I just took instead. The effects I would feel would be a slow-acting, but steady, feeling which I may not think is enough with just two; so, perhaps I eat three more gummies thinking that will increase the effects I am feeling at that point. Now I have consumed six gummies, at separate intervals, incorrectly assuming that the effects I am feeling was due to the two gummies I took after the first when in reality I am just beginning to feel the effects of the first one. That is a lot of gummies in a short period of time which will not only increase the amount of time I will be feeling these effects, but also the range in how deep it will effect me.
The same can be said with oils but with a different scenario. In this case, it has been a stress-inducing work day and I am overwhelmed. I know how long consumables take to digest as I have previously had gummies but instead of taking the gummies with me in my car, I took oil (as gummies melt in the sun). I take the right amount of oil thinking that it will take time for me to feel the effects (so when I arrive home I will be in a relaxed state) and begin driving home. In minutes, the effects hit and because oils metabolize quickly and relatively all at once, I am not accustomed to the feeling.
Now, CBD products themselves are safe and can be used by anyone at anytime; however, these hypothetical scenarios and nuances can better inform you, the consumer, not just in picking the right product, but also understanding how and when to apply them. Yet, these are not the only nuances to consider; in fact, you should also understand how milligram content, THC amount, and source of origin can have an impact on your choices too.
Milligram content: Milligram content is not to be confused with volume of a given CBD product; it is an estimated amount of CBD within the container or item to be used. When choosing CBD products, be mindful in how some items, though they may come in the same volume container, may differ on the milligrams of CBD associated with it. If one bottle of CBD oil is at 3,000 milligrams and another at 5,000 milligrams, then the exact same dose from each bottle will have a differing effect (with the former having less effect and the latter having more in relation to their lower or higher milligram content). A benefit of knowing this may also prolong your application of the product; if they are of the same volume with one bottle having more milligram content, you would be able to take less of the higher milligram content and extend the longevity of your application over time (tl;dr: you can save much more).
THC amount: According to the 2018 Farm Bill, no CBD product is allowed to have more than 0.3% of THC; this is not a guarantee though that all CBD-related products will have the maximum limit of THC within them. Understand that the varying levels in CBD products can have varying effects so content taken or used may alter as well. Additionally, though CBD products do not trigger a psychoactive response, the closer to the limit of THC in CBD products, the higher the effect it will have. If you reexamine the hypotheticals described above, the outcomes may also differ if the consumables had a far lower THC-related amount vs the maximum permitted.
Source of origin: Knowing the origin of where the CBD comes from may also be important in your decision-making. All CBD is harvested in some way, shape, or form from Cannabis; however, where the Cannabis is grown, how it is produced, and XYZ matters. Companies can choose to either outsource their method of production to other countries or to grow in-house (meaning in their relative location or country of origin); but regulations and policies, guarantees and safeguards between the source of where CBD comes from can differ.
Heavy metals and pesticides can have an effect upon the production of the plant that CBD comes from (which may factor in differently if the product is a consumable vs. a topical, etc) or even the location where it is grown in (such as the soil or region factors in the processing for CBD). Additionally, the method of extraction can factor in how it not only may effect the CBD products you are seeking but also whether or not you, as the consumer, are willing to accept the method of processing (whether supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction, hydrocarbon extraction, and ethanol extraction).
And so much more…
Of course, these considerations described above and this breakdown is just a sampling of items that are known of today—the CBD industry is constantly growing at such a rapid pace, that is it hard to know what the future may hold, how products may ultimately evolve, and whether these nuances will even factor in. For those that are new to CBD and all of the natural benefits it provides, this can be an age of discovery and excitement for all the great things products can provide—just remember, it isn’t about what is the best product of CBD…it is about the best CBD for me.