How to Choose a Hemp Product

There are a number of factors that a patient or doctor might consid- er when deciding what hemp or CBD product to use. Those factors can affect how the drug is metabolized, what effects it has, what the patient is comfortable with, and ensuring a sustainable treatment regimen.

With so little regulation and the sheer number of products on the market these days, both over the counter and through a state medical program, it is crucial to educate yourself about how to make that decision that results in finding the appropriate product for you.

The following will provide the information you need to understand hemp and CBD products, but if you have more questions or still need help deciding, click here for a free clinical consultation with one of our experts.

Delivery Methods and Types of Products

Cannabinoid medicine has come a long way since the days when you had to smoke a joint to get relief. Most hemp and CBD products on the market today come as oil extracts, tinctures, edibles, and topical creams or balms. That said, in some states CBD-rich hemp flower is available in forms that can be smoked or vaporized. Each of these methods and types of products have unique properties that could make them the right or wrong choice for you. You may also need to do some trial and error before finding the best one.


The two main ways to take hemp or CBD products orally are sublin- gually or through the gastrointestinal tract.

The most common types of hemp and CBD products these days
are oil extracts and tinctures. Typically taken sublingually, they are absorbed through blood vessels in the mouth and enter the blood- stream directly. Sublingual extracts are therefore a fast-acting way to take hemp and CBD products. The bioavailability, or how much of the active ingredients make it into the bloodstream, is also generally higher. The main advantages of oils and tinctures is that dosing can be much more accurate than most other methods. Many patients prefer oils and tinctures because they are discreet and do not require smoking or inhalation.

Edibles, like gummies or chews, as well as pills and tablets, are ingested through the digestive system like food. Extracts can also be ingested orally. By traveling through the GI tract, however, the active ingredients are processed first by the liver and metabolized there be- fore entering the bloodstream, transforming into different metabolites and often losing some bioavailability. Products that are taken orally include:

• Oil extracts • Tinctures • Edibles and Chewables • Tablets and Pills • Powders

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Most topical formulations of hemp and other cannabis products come in the form of creams, gels, and balms. Many people use them to treat local aches and pains, and the active ingredients do not enter the bloodstream, which can be either an upside or a downside de- pending on your treatment goal and aversion to possible side effects and drug interactions.

Although not technically topical, transdermal cannabis products are also available in many locations. Specially designed to permeate the skin, transdermal patches are used to achieve extended release and a more metered delivery of the active ingredients. Not a lot is known, however, about the bioavailability of CBD transdermal patches or topical formulation. Products used topically:

• Balms • Creams • Salves • Transdermal Patches • Bath Bombs


Smoking and vaporizing is most commonly associated with THC-rich cannabis products, but they are also available in high-CBD, low-THC hemp products. While dried hemp flower — the buds of the plant — is available in some states, most hemp and CBD products meant for inhalation come in the form of oil extracts for use in vaporizers.

Like sublingual tinctures and oils, inhalation has a very quick onset time because it is absorbed through the lungs and enters the blood- stream without having to go through the GI tract. Some of the main disadvantages of inhalation is that it is less discrete, carries the stigma of smoking, reminds some of marijuana, and of course risks damage to the lungs. The main advantage of inhalation is that the bioavail- ability is higher than most other delivery methods. Products used by inhalation:

• Vaporized Oil Extracts • Vaporized Dried Flower • Smoked Dried Flower.

Whole Plant vs CBD Isolates

Another important factor to consider when choosing a hemp or CBD product is what active ingredients it contains. There are generally two types of formulations available today: CBD isolates and broad- or full-spectrum extracts.

Full-spectrum products, also known as “whole plant,” contain the full chemical profile of the hemp plant. That means that in addition to CBD, they also contain other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, all of which are believed to work in concert with each other — re- ferred to as the “entourage effect.” Minor cannabinoids like CBG and CBN, present in the hemp plant in smaller quantities than CBD, are known to have therapeutic value of their own.

Terpenes have also been shown to have therapeutic properties, and are believed to play a significant role in the medicinal properties of hemp and cannabis. To name just a few, they can have calming or uplifting effects, in addition to anti-inflammatory properties.

Isolates, on the other hand, extract only the CBD from the hemp plant, delivering only one active ingredient — much like a lot of pharmaceuticals and supplements.

Whether you go with a full-spectrum or isolate formulation will de- pend largely on personal preference, but also on what effects you are looking to get from your hemp or CBD product.

Quality and Reliability

There are very few regulations and quality controls for hemp and CBD products in the United States. As a result, many products have been found to carry inaccurate — if existent — labeling information. Many companies and products also lack significant transparency and verification of their quality and purity, with almost no standards.

While some states with medical cannabis programs require indepen- dent lab testing, to check for toxins and to verify the presence and quantities of their ingredients, no such programs exist on any broad scale for hemp and CBD products. Without that information, it is very difficult to know what you are putting in your body, and therefore to build an effective dosing regimen and get consistent results.

There is plenty you can do, however, not only minimize those risks but to ensure you’re buying quality hemp and CBD products:

There is plenty you can do, however, not only minimize those risks but to ensure you’re buying quality hemp and CBD products:

  • Choose a hemp or CBD product with labels that detail what ingre- dients it contains and in what quantities.
  • Look for companies that use independent labs to test their products, and ideally ones that give you a way to view those test results.
  • Look for companies whose production process follows Good Man- ufacturing Process (GMP) standards, which require strict consistency and quality control.