With the range of CBD products available growing daily, finding a good quality cannabidiol product isn’t an easy proposition. If you’ve browsed online you will know that there are lots of claims such as, ‘strongest oil’ and ‘THC free’.
You may also have seen warnings about disreputable CBD retailers selling inferior ‘snake oil’. A recent report from the Centre for Medical Cannabis (CMC) revealed that a large portion of UK CBD products are sold with incorrect labels and false claims.
Despite this there are many great products available. To help you buy with confidence we spoke with founder of for the Ageless(FTA), Daniel. He has many years of experience and is setting new standards for transparency within the industry.
The lab tests
In May 2019, the Centre for Medical Cannabis (CMC) bought a product from thirty well-known retailers and had them independently tested by UK lab PhytoVista. The findings were published as part of the report “CBD in the UK: Towards a responsible, innovative and high-quality cannabidiol industry.”
This revealed that buying from leading names online and in the high street doesn’t guarantee that you will get what you pay for. While not all the products tested were mislabelled, many of them contained less CBD extract than claimed on the packaging. Some also had illegal levels of THC and detectable (but legal) amounts of toxins.
How to find quality CBD products
While these finding make a compelling argument for regulation within the industry, what does it mean for those of us buying CBD oil today? Daniel has had to build up his own strategies for filtering out low quality products. He says, “With each new supplier we take the time to get to know them and their product before we consider stocking anything at for the Ageless.”
Choose retailers that have met industry standards
Daniel works closely with official associations such as the Cannabis Trades Association (CTA). They provide centralised standards and guidance that must be met by their members. He also looks for industry certificates such as those for exceptional manufacturing processes or organic farming.
About the CTA he told us “Organisations like this, work with the industry to create a recognised quality standard. They often hold lists of the retailers and suppliers that have met their standards or have received awards for their products.
CBD suppliers also display awards such as organic certifications, these can be easily checked by visiting the website of the organic authority. Never take an award at face value. Always check out the authority that awarded it and see if they are a genuine recognised body.”
Find out the experiences of others by reading customer reviews
As a customer you aren’t really looking for percentages of extracts, you’re looking for specific results. The reviews of previous customers are a great place to find out if a product delivers the results you are looking for.
At for the Ageless, customer reviews can be recorded for every product. This means that new customers can see the experience of others at the point of sale. Daniel told us, “We quickly learnt that to set ourselves apart in a new industry we had to become 100% transparent in all of our practices.
Customer reviews create a public record that often informs future sales. They also act as a great resource for us when we are looking to assess our range. When you are looking to purchase from a retailer you haven’t used before, do some digging and see if past customers were happy with their products.
Reviews on retail sites and Facebook pages are useful, but they may not give you the full picture. Good information can be found on independent review sites such as Trust Pilot, Yelp or Google reviews. They give you a more honest insight into the experience of others.”
Look at the third-party certificates of analysis
The results of third party lab tests are the best tool when it comes to checking the authenticity of a product. “These are tests that should be carried out by an independent lab on every individual batch. They will tell you the exact amount of each cannabinoid and sometimes the terpenes too. A good brand will also test for unwanted toxins or heavy metals to ensure the safety of the final product.
They are an essential source of information and should be available on the product page of every CBD item. If you can’t see them, don’t buy! Retailers who are totally transparent will make it easy for you to find the lab reports.
When you have found them look to see if the amount of CBD on the label matches the test results, also check that the levels of THC and CBN are below 1 mg per container. Toxins and other chemicals should only be present in very small amounts. A quick google search will tell you the acceptable levels of any substance that may be found.
To be completely sure, check that the certificates are up to date and relate to the batch you are buying. You can also research the lab that conducted the tests, look at their reputation and see how they test each product.
Use the certificates of analysis to test claims such as ‘full spectrum’ or ‘CBD isolate’
CBD products are often advertised with phrases like full spectrum, broad spectrum, whole plant extract or isolate. These tell you whether the product contains just the cannabinoid CBD or whether it also has other active ingredients naturally found in the cannabis plant.
We asked Daniel if this really matters and how we can tell if the claims are true. “When CBD is accompanied by other natural, cannabis sourced substances, they work together to produce a wider range of effects. This is known as the entourage effect and explains why items containing more than one cannabinoid are viewed as more effective than isolated CBD.
Unfortunately, there is no legal requirement for what can be referred to as full spectrum, broad spectrum or whole plant extract. This means that one full spectrum oil could contain two cannabinoids when another could have eight. The certificates of analysis are a good way to find out exactly what is in your oil.
Full spectrum and broad-spectrum products should contain at least two extra cannabinoids such as CBG or CBC. Whole plant extract should contain several cannabinoids alongside terpenes, flavonoids and other plant nutrients.”
Buy in confidence
When you buy CBD use these steps to help you find a genuine retailer with high quality products. Even in a market where oils have been found to contain zero CBD you needn’t stop purchasing.
Find a retailer certified by an official body, with positive reviews from previous customers and clearly displayed certificates of analysis. Once you’ve done this you will again be able to buy in confidence.
Cannabis Health is THE UK magazine covering cannabis medicine and wellbeing from every angle. It is affiliated with the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society and lists campaigner Hannah Deacon, leading expert Professor Mike Barnes and prominent doctor Dani Gordon on our editorial panel. For a limited time only, we are offering a free – absolutely no strings – annual subscription to the quarterly print title. You will receive four issues, delivered with discretion to your address – with no hidden fees or obligation to pay beyond that. To repeat, this is a 100% free promotion available to the first 100,000 sign-ups.
CBD might help people quit using cannabis – study
Prescription-grade CBD, which is much stronger than commercially available CBD, helped people quit cannabis, according to a new study published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.
Researchers recruited 82 people who had been diagnosed with moderately severe or severe cannabis use disorder, which is described as continued use of cannabis despite impaired psychological, physical, or social functioning.
All of the participants expressed a desire to cut down their cannabis use, and had tried to quit in the past.
They were either given prescription-grade CBD capsules – either 200mg, 400mg or 800mg of CBD – or placebo pills, to take every day for four weeks. T
They all also had a series of counselling sessions aimed at helping them stop using cannabis.
The researchers found that daily CBD doses of 400 and 800 milligrams both reduced the participants’ cannabis intake.
The study, which was funded by the Medical Research Council, could help more people quit using cannabis in an ‘acceptable treatment format,’ Tom Freeman, psychopharmacology researcher at the University of Bath and co-author of the study, told Inverse.
Research has found that almost half of those who quit cannabis experience some withdrawal symptoms, which can include irritability, depressed mood, nausea, vomiting, aggression and disrupted sleep.
There are currently no treatments available for prescription that are deemed safe and effective.
Study shows medical cannabis has potential to kill cancer cells
New findings have raised the prospect of medical cannabis being used as a cancer treatment, rather than just as a relief medication.
Laboratory tests in Austraia have shown that a modified form of medicinal cannabis can kill or inhibit cancer cells without impacting normal cells.The significant outcome follows three years of investigations by cancer researcher Dr Matt Dun in collaboration with biotech company Australian Natural Therapeutics Group (ANTG), which produces a cannabis variety containing less than 1 per cent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – the psychoactive component commonly associated with marijuana.
The plant, known as ‘Eve’, has high levels of the compound cannabidiol (CBD).
The study was conducted at the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute
“ANTG wanted me to test it against cancer, so we initially used leukaemia cells and were really surprised by how sensitive they were,” Dr Dun says.
“At the same time, the cannabis didn’t kill normal bone marrow cells, nor normal healthy neutrophils [white blood cells].
“We then realised there was a cancer-selective mechanism involved, and we’ve spent the past couple of years trying to find the answer.”
The Dun team has run comparisons between THC-containing cannabis, and cannabis lacking THC but with elevated levels of CBD. They found that, for both leukaemia and paediatric brainstem glioma, the CBD-enriched variety was more effective at killing cancer cells than THC varieties.
In a recent paper entitled “Can Hemp Help?”, released by international journal Cancers, Dr Dun and his team also undertook a literature review of over 150 academic papers that investigated the health benefits, side-effects, and possible anti-cancer benefits of both CBD and THC.
“There are trials around the world testing cannabis formulations containing THC as a cancer treatment, but if you’re on that therapy your quality of life is impacted,” Dr Dun says.
“You can’t drive, for example, and clinicians are justifiably reluctant to prescribe a child something that could cause hallucinations or other side-effects.
“The CBD variety looks to have greater efficacy, low toxicity and fewer side-effects, which potentially makes it an ideal complementary therapy to combine with other anti-cancer compounds.”
The next phase for the study includes investigating what makes cancer cells sensitive and normal cells not, whether it is clinically relevant, and whether a variety of cancers respond.
“We need to understand the mechanism so we can find ways to add other drugs that amplify the effect, and week by week we’re getting more clues.
“It’s really exciting and important if we want to move this into a therapeutic,” Dr Dun adds, stressing that CBD-enriched cannabis isn’t yet ready for clinical use as an anti-cancer agent.
“Hopefully our work will help to lessen the stigma behind prescribing cannabis, particularly varieties that have minimal side-effects, especially if used in combination with current standard-of-care therapies and radiotherapy.
“Until then, though, people should continue to seek advice from their usual medical practitioner.”
The study was funded by ANTG and HMRI through the Sandi Rose Foundation.
“We are very pleased to see three years of collaboration with UON and HMRI deliver such exciting findings in the fight against cancer. ANTG remains committed to its patient-centric mission of understanding the massive therapeutic potential of medicinal cannabis,” Matthew Cantelo, CEO, Australian Natural Therapeutics Group, said.
“We thank Matt Dun and the team for such encouraging insights into anti-cancer properties of our Australian grown CBD strain, Eve. We are looking forward to moving forward to the next stage of the study and continuing to develop effective, safe and consistent cannabis medicines for Australian patients.”
Dr Matt Dun is from the University of Newcastle, researching in conjunction with the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) Cancer Program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.
How CBD is helping women with endometriosis
Women around the world are increasingly using CBD to deal with the symptoms of endometriosis – a much misunderstood and misdiagnosed condition. Cannabis Health finds out more.
Endometriosis is the second most common gynecological condition in the UK, affecting around one in 10 UK women – although frequent misdiagnosis and a lack of understanding means this figure may be higher.
It happens when tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes, which then reacts to the menstrual cycle each month and also bleeds.
However, there is no way for this blood to leave the body, causing inflammation, pain and the formation of scar tissue.
Nobody knows what causes it, or why some women suffer and others don’t, and symptoms, including pain in the lower abdomen and back, nausea, intense fatigue and infertility, can be debilitating.
According to Endometriosis UK, it takes an average of seven and a half years from onset of symptoms to get a diagnosis, and the condition costs the UK economy £8.2bn a year in treatment, loss of work and healthcare costs.
There is currently no cure, and treatment is limited to painkillers, hormonal contraception, or surgery to cut away the scar tissue. In more severe cases, the only option may be a full hysterectomy to remove part or all of the affected organs.
But could there be another way? More and more women are turning to CBD to ease their symptoms, and the results are encouraging.
Charlotte Nichols, managing director of North East of England-based PR firm Harvey & Hugo, has been using a CBD oil for a couple of months, and has already noticed a difference in her symptoms.
She explained: “I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2017 but I’d been suffering with it for three years before that; it took that long to diagnose as it was just put down to ‘just’ painful periods.
“I had surgery to remove it but still struggled with infertility, until I finally got pregnant in 2018. The symptoms disappeared while I pregnant and breastfeeding but then came back with a bang since – I’d forgotten how awful it was.”
After researching how CBD could help, Charlotte began taking the oil in June 2020, and the results have been significant.
She said: “While the CBD doesn’t stop the pain completely, it definitely helps take the edge of the symptoms.
“Stress and lack of sleep both make my symptoms worse, and the oil has definitely helped with this, helping me relax and dramatically improving my sleep.
“I’ve also found that the CBD has improved my mood, as feeling so rubbish all the time was getting me down. That might be the effect of the oil itself, or simply because it’s alleviating the symptoms – either way, it’s making me feel more like myself again.”
While using CBD as a painkiller is nothing new, experts believe that its use for endometriosis may be down to more than simple pain relief.
Research has found that cannabinoids also help by:
- Stopping the endometrial cells from multiplying
- Preventing them from migrating to other parts of the reproductive system
- Stopping the blood supply to the lesions – effectively starving them of the nutrients they need to grow
- Regulating nerve growth
- Reducing inflammation
- Modulating the immune response
- Desensitising the nerves that transmit pain.
In fact, some scientists believe that dysfunction in a woman’s endocannabinoid system – the molecular system responsible for regulating and balancing processes in the body, including immune response – may be behind endometriosis.
Dr Michele Ross, CEO of Infused Health, explains: “Reduced function of the endocannabinoid system leads to the growth of endometriosis throughout the body, and more pain.”
CB1 cannabinoid receptors mediate the pain from endometriosis and, according to a 2010 study, are present in the cells that supply nerve impulses to the endometrial growth.
However, the endometrial cells of women with endometriosis have been found to have a lower expression of CB1 receptors — so activating the few that are expressed is even more important for those in pain.
Whatever the science behind it, women like Charlotte are just pleased to finally have a natural product to alleviate their symptoms.
“I much prefer taking CBD to other painkillers, as I’m very aware of what I’m putting into my body and, as far as I’m concerned, the more natural the better,” she says.
“At the moment I’m just using the oil; I haven’t tried any other products, like the balms or lotions, but I’m going to look into it.
“I also find that exercise, intermittent fasting, avoiding alcohol and cutting down on sugar really helps my symptoms, in combination with the CBD. It’s been a long road, with a lot of trial and error along the way, but I’m so glad to finally feel in control of my body again.”
- CBD might help people quit using cannabis – study
- Study shows medical cannabis has potential to kill cancer cells
- How CBD is helping women with endometriosis
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