How To Shop For Trustworthy Cannabidiol (CBD) Products

How To Shop For Trustworthy Cannabidiol (CBD) Products

By Janelle Lassalle @jenkhari

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, you probably already know Cannabidiol (CBD) boasts a slew of therapeutic benefits. These include robust anti-inflammatory effects, the ability to ease pain and anti-anxiety properties, to name a few.


In This Article

Support Reputable Brands
Always Look For Certificates of Analysis (COAs)
Keep Bioavailability In Mind
Be Wary Of “Pay To Play” Sites
Seek U.S. Hemp Authority Certified Brands
Hemp Extract vs. Hemp Seed Extract

The pickle here is while CBD represents tremendous promise, not all CBD products are created equal. Many CBD products don’t even contain the amount of CBD advertised. A 2020 FDA study found 55% of CBD products analyzed did not contain the amount of CBD advertised on the bottle. 49% of samples analyzed were found to contain amounts of THC, which is an absolute no-go for many CBD consumers.

So how can consumers be sure they’re getting trustworthy CBD products?

I’ve been writing about CBD since its early days on the market. Here are X tricks and tips cleaned from analyzing hundreds of CBD brands on how to shop for trustworthy CBD products.

  • Support Reputable Brands

  • What’s a ‘reputable brand’, you may ask?

    Some brands are more dedicated to the pursuit of tailoring their products to meet consumer needs than others. It’s a pursuit of excellence that can manifest in a number of ways including:

    • Sustainability: Ensuring CBD is sourced from farms that support best agricultural practices.
    • Transparency: Open and transparent brands will state where all materials are sourced from and will provide access to additional materials such as lab result testing.

    • Educational: Providing consumers with the most up to date, scientific information possible. This can include anything from informative blog posts to press releases documenting advances in research or best practices.

  • Always Look For Certificates of Analysis (COAs)

  • Trustworthy, reputable brands want to be transparent with you, so much so that many of the best brands out there provide lab results of product batches on their websites. This can usually be found under sections that read “Lab Results”, “Lab Tests” or “Certificates of Analysis.” 

    You can check out lab results directly this way. Some basics, such as testing for pesticides and mold, can be found in virtually most tests. Other, more specialized tests like terpene content are only found from time to time in a report. 

    Products can vary in content greatly from batch to batch. As such, be sure to always check the date of the last batch posted. This information should be available on the site or lab result and should not be longer than 1 year.

  • Keep Bioavailability In Mind

  • Consider the bioavailability rate of different CBD products.

    Bioavailability is the rate at which your body absorbs what it ingests. The better the bioavailability, the more is absorbed and the more therapeutic benefit is to be gained.

    Most ‘conventional’ CBD formulations are oil-based. Each type of CBD product has its own bioavailability rates. CBD edibles, for instance, have been cited to have bioavailability as low as 6%.

    “You get relatively poor uptake from the body in oil-based formulations,” says Gerry McNally, head of Research and Development at NextEvo Naturals, a leading premium supplement brand. 

    McNally goes on to explain that NextEvo spent over six years developing proprietary CBD formulations to tackle this problem. Their solution? They  subjected CBD to a special process called nano emulsification which improved its bioavailability. 

    “These emulsified systems tend to deliver four to five times greater absorption into the bloodstream,” says McNally.

  • Be Wary Of “Pay To Play” Sites

  • Some websites won’t have lab results clearly displayed. Instead they might have a page that asks for your product or “lot number” before you can view lab results.

    Companies shouldn’t be attempting to make these results more difficult for the public to access, nor should they be requiring product purchase. 

  • Seek U.S. Hemp Authority Certified Brands

  • In 2018 the U.S. Hemp Authority was created. Its purpose was to uphold regulatory standards via independent third-party auditing and to certify hemp and CBD growers and products. 

    While it’s certainly not a guarantee, if a brand is U.S. Hemp Authority Certified chances are it’s a reputable one. 

    One of my favorite CBD brands is East Fork Cultivars, who was one of the first to obtain this prestigious certification back in 2015.

  • Hemp Extract vs. Hemp Seed Extract

  • Buyer beware: tricky brands may try to fool you with this deceptive language, so be sure to pay special attention to product labels. ‘Hemp extract’ and ‘hemp seed extract’ are not the same thing.

    ‘Hemp extract’ is a term that refers to the literal contents of hemp plants (flowers and leaves) when they undergo an extraction process. This includes a number of different types of compounds including cannabinoids (like CBD), terpenes and flavonoids. 

    Hemp seed extract, on the other hand, is derived from the seeds of the plant, not its flowers and leaves. It does not contain the same types of therapeutic compounds as hemp extract. 

    If you’re unclear as to which type of extract your product is, chances are it probably isn’t stellar quality. Stay vigilant–and stay safe, folks.