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How to find authentic CBD products

Recent tests suggest many CBD products are mislabelled – so how do you know what you’re buying?

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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.

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Lifestyle

NFL to explore effects of CBD in players with chronic pain

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The NFL-NFLPA Pain Management Committee wants to find alternative treatments to manage player's chronic pain

America’s National Football League (NFL) is looking into how cannabis and CBD can help in managing player’s chronic pain.

The league and player’s association (NFLPA) made a formal request for information to researchers on “pain management alternatives to opioids” earlier this month.

In an official statement, the NFL-NFLPA Pain Management Committee (PMC) said it is working to “improve player health through evidence-based treatment of acute and chronic pain” and to “facilitate research to better understand and improve potential alternative treatments.”

The NFL is seeking out qualified researchers who could lead studies into pain management and athletic performance in its players.

Areas of investigation include the potential therapeutic role of medications and “non-pharmacological interventions” that are considered to be alternatives to opioids in routine pain management of NFL players, including, but not limited to, cannabinoids such as CBD.

The committee also wants to explore the cannabis or cannabinoids on athletic performance in NFL players.

The PMC was formed in 2019 as part of the NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement with the goal of benefitting the health and safety of NFL players through education and research.

Last year it conducted two informational forums on CBD to learn about the current state of CBD science and manufacturing in the US, as part of its aim to find alternatives to opioids in the pain management of players.

Respondents to the request are expected to have experience conducting controlled, experimental studies in the relevant areas and should be affiliated with institutions or companies that meet state, federal, and IRB requirements.

However the NFL is not committing to funding any specific studies at this stage, and instead wants to seek out qualified scientists who can assist with future research projects.

CBD is not currently listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List and, as a result, is permitted for use in sport.

However, all other cannabinoids such as cannabis, marijuana and THC are prohibited in competition due to the receptors activated in the brain which cause a ‘high’.

A 2018 review assessed the impact CBD has on relieving chronic pain. The review examined a number of studies, concluding that CBD was effective in overall pain management and didn’t cause any other negative side effects.

In addition, it has been suggested that CBD can speed recovery and fight fatigue – welcome news for athletes suffering from long-term or recurring injuries.

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Health

How can CBD help arthritis?

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In a Canadian study, nine out of 10 patients said CBD was effective in managing their pain

In the UK, more than 10 million people have arthritis or other, similar conditions that affect the joints – and many are turning to CBD products to ease their pain and discomfort.

With an ever-expanding range of drinks, gummies and edibles on thee market CBD could be seen as something aimed at the younger generation.

However, there is a growing body of research that suggests CBD can also be of great use for the older members of the population – and one condition in particular.

Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint, and while it can affect people of all ages, it is more likely to begin when people are in their 40s and 50s, worsening with age.

A Canadian study from 2020 found that up to one in five patients who consulted an orthopedic surgeon for chronic musculoskeletal pain were using a cannabis product to treat them, with the express aim of reducing pain.

The researchers also found that interest in the compound was high, with two thirds of non-users curious to try a cannabis product to treat their muscle and joint pain.

Furthermore, those patients already using CBD had generally positive experiences using the products. Nine out of 10 said it was effective in managing their pain, and four in 10 said it decreased their reliance on other pain medications. Nearly 6 in 10 said cannabis products were more effective than other drugs.

Such findings corroborate what we already know about CBD; thanks to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, early research into its use as a treatment for acute and chronic pain is promising.

A 2016 study found that transdermal cannabidiol has potential for reducing pain and inflammation associated with arthritis without any noticeable side effects.

Cannabis-based medicines can help manage the pain of arthritis by rebalancing the body’s natural endocannabinoid pain-processing system and soothing inflamed body tissues.

There are two primary ways of taking a CBD supplement; topically or orally.

In the case of arthritis, a cream or ointment containing CBD would be rubbed into the affected area. Topical products may also include common over-the-counter ingredients such as menthol, capsaicin or camphor, which could make it difficult to determine if any positive effect is due to the CBD or another ingredient.

There are a number of ways to take CBD orally, from gummies, snacks and drinks to tinctures and capsules – although gummies are discouraged in households with children, due to their similarity with sweets.

However, all work in largely the same way, being absorbed through the digestive tract. However, it is worth noting that absorption can be slow and dosing is tricky due to the delayed onset of effect (one to two hours), unknown effects of stomach acids, recent meals and other factors.

Whichever method you choose, it is always a good idea to check with your medical practitioner first, as CBD, although it is natural, may interact with other treatments, such as prescription medications.

However, for those looking for an alternative to prescribed drugs, with fewer side effects, CBD could well prove to be the answer.

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9 out of 10 readers have self-medicated with cannabis

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Nine out of 10 Cannabis Health readers have consumed cannabis for medical purposes without a prescription – and almost all said they found it to be more effective than conventional medicines.

 

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been asking for your views on social media to delve deeper into how people are consuming cannabis.

As expected, the proportion of our readers who self-medicate with cannabis was high, but the results also demonstrate the perceived effectiveness of cannabis in comparison with traditional medication, highlighting a need for wider access to safe cannabis based medicines.

Self-medicating

Despite the law around medical cannabis changing over two years ago, gaining a prescription can still be challenging, particularly on the NHS.

This has forced a lot of patients to take matters into their own hands.

According to research, as many as 1.4 million Brits are self-medicating with cannabis, equivalent to just over two percent of the country’s population.

Studies from the US have backed this up, with one suggesting that as many as a third of teenagers with a chronic health condition have taken it upon themselves to manage their symptoms with cannabis.

We asked our readers if they were self-medicating to treat a health condition, with the results confirming that almost 94 percent of people said they were.

On top of this, a further five percent said they were not currently, but were open to the idea.

Just over one percent said they weren’t self-medicating due to the stigma attached, however no one responded that the law was a factor in this. 

Effectiveness of self-medicating 

 

Anecdotal evidence and some early studies suggest that cannabis can ease symptoms of some chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, where other, more conventional medicines have failed.

There is also promise in the potential of cannabis to relieve some mental health conditions, with some saying it has provided huge relief for disorders such as PTSD.

Ninety five percent of Cannabis Health readers polled said they found cannabis extremely effective at relieving symptoms. 

In addition no one said they had found it ineffective when it comes to treating their condition.

The remaining five percent said they found it to have a similar effect as their conventional treatments. 

Route to administration 

How patients consume cannabis can have an impact on its effectiveness, as well as how quickly it kicks in.

With such high numbers both self-medicating and reporting positive effects, we wanted to discover the common consumption methods.

Smoking the flower is the traditional method of consuming cannabis and often viewed as the one which can provide the most relief.

However, even though it has been seen to be less harmful than tobacco, smoking can still lead to a number of other health issues and is note recommended by health professionals.

Despite this, it remained the most popular choice among Cannabis Health readers, with just over a third saying this is how they consume cannabis.

The modern alternative to this is vaping, which was the second most common route to administration among Cannabis Health readers.

Around a third of readers said this was their preferred consumption method.

Some professionals argue this is the healthiest way for consumption, with clinics recommending vaping cannabis flower, but more research is needed in this area.

One method which has few negative effects is the use of oils or tinctures.

This is typically how CBD is consumed, with 21 percent of readers saying this was their preferred method.

Self-medicating alongside conventional medicines

The NHS says it is unlikely that many people in the UK will be able to gain access to a medical cannabis prescription.

Despite this, many patients have chosen to self-medicate with cannabis either alongside or often in the place of conventional therapies. 

The majority of readers agreed with this, with 55 percent saying they no longer use conventional medicines in favour of cannabis.

A further 22 percent said they would only use their conventional medicines if they did not have access to cannabis and the remainder said that they still consume cannabis alongside conventional medication.

Want to get involved? Cannabis Health will be running a number of polls over on our social media pages, to find out more about your views on CBD and cannabis for medical and wellbeing purposes.

Follow @CannabisHnews on Twitter and @Cannabishealthmag on Instagram and keep an eye out.

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