Finally: All Your Burning Questions About CBD Oil Answered

All Your Burning Questions About CBD Oil, Answered

With the growing national legalization of The Plant, CBD (cannabidiol) oil is taking the wellness sphere by storm. But like skin care and supplements, it’s often tricky to navigate through the maelstrom of lower-quality phonies and pin down the companies that deliver top-notch product. We’ve scoured the scientific research, reviewed the government regulations, and spoke with experts to demystify the most muddying aspects of CBD—and for those of you who want to hop on the bandwagon, we found the bona-fide brands that produce CBD oil worth investing in.

What You Need to Know About CBD

What Exactly Is CBD Oil?

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a compound found in cannabis sativa plants. Both marijuana and hemp are varieties of cannabis sativa. The difference between marijuana and hemp is that marijuana has high concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is a psychotropic substance—in other words, THC is the compound in marijuana that gets you high. By contrast, hemp has very low concentrations of THC. Both marijuana and hemp contain CBD, though it is more concentrated in hemp plants. So, although it comes from either hemp or marijuana plants, CBD oil is not psychoactive and does not give users a high.

What Is CBD Used For?

Although CBD oil is not currently approved to treat any condition, promising research into the medical benefits of CBD is ongoing. “Research shows that CBD benefits include acting as an anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, antioxidant, antiemetic, anxiolytic and antipsychotic agent, and is therefore a potential medicine for the treatment of neuroinflammation, epilepsy, oxidative injury, vomiting and nausea, anxiety, and schizophrenia,” says Josh Axe, DNM, CNS, DC, founder of, best-selling author of “Dirt,” and co-founder of Ancient Nutrition.

Most commonly, people buy CBD oil for pain and inflammation, anxiety, and sleep problems (some also give it to their pets for the same reasons). In a survey conducted of its customers, CW Hemp, a family-owned provider of lab-tested CBD products, learned the number-one reason people their buy their products is for anxiety.

What’s the Right Amount of CBD to Take?

CBD oil is usually taken orally as a liquid, although it’s also available as a vape oil or inhaler. If you purchase CBD oil, read the dosing instructions carefully.

A good rule of thumb is to start out taking a small amount of CBD, gradually increasing your dosage until you’re satisfied. “’More is better’ is the exact opposite of what we recommend,” advise the Joel Stanley, CEO of CW Hemp.

If you’re considering CBD oil for a specific health condition, ultimately the it’s best talk to your healthcare practitioner to ensure you start safely and carefully.

Is CBD Legal in the U.S.?

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) considers CBD, and all parts and derivatives of cannabis sativa, to be illegal under federal law. However, states have vastly different laws regarding CBD oil, as well as medical and recreational marijuana. Currently, 16 states have “CBD-only” laws which allow possession of CBD oil for medical use. Twenty-nine states now allow for medical marijuana, including CBD, and eight states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults.

Technically, CBD is scheduled by the DEA as a controlled substance, even though it has no psychoactive properties. In the U.S., CBD oil cannot currently be marketed to treat specific medical conditions, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Government Warnings to CBD Companies

In February 2015, the FDA sent warning letters to six companies selling CBD as a dietary supplement. The letters informed business owners that they could not sell CBD by promoting it as “intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease,” since it is not cleared for these purposes by the FDA. In 2016, the FDA sent letters to eight more companies.

Not All Products Are Equal

Sadly but not surprisingly not every product claiming to contain CBD has the percentage they claim—and some may contain no CBD at all. The FDA conducted a laboratory test in 2015 and 2016 to determine the percentage of CBD in certain products marketed and sold as containing CBD. Several of the brands they tested were found to contain absolutely no CBD oil. Consumers should be wary when purchasing CBD oil because the industry is new and mostly unregulated. An independent study of store-bought CBD oil samples is in the works from Consumer Labs (the results of this study are expected to be released later in 2017).

“Good questions to ask start with finding out about reliable hemp genetics include where is the product grown? Is it certified as hemp and by whom? Was it grown naturally using organic processes?  Is it non-GMO?” says Stanley. “Higher-quality products are manufactured in a registered lab that follows certain standards and guidelines. The best way to validate the quality of a product is by third-party verified Good Manufacturing Practices testing for contaminants and/or active ingredients, which we perform rigorously at CW Hemp.”

Stanley continues, “You should also be able to request a batch report or Certificate of Analysis detailing different categories of ingredients. Also, products that contain CBD are less likely to have contaminants if your product is derived from cannabinoid-rich therapeutic hemp rather that cannabinoid-deficient industrial hemp. Luckily, all of this information is available at so each consumer can make an informed decision.”

Is CBD Subject to Mandatory Testing?

At this time, CBD oil quality is not regulated in most states. Only states that have legalized marijuana for adult use have regulated laboratory testing for CBD sold in dispensaries. Currently, these states are Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska. Marijuana retail stores will open in 2018 in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada.

Lab-Tested Brands

To make sure the CBD oil you’re purchasing is of the highest quality, buy from brands that have taken part in independent laboratory tests. Below are the brands we found that do just that:

CW Hemp

All Your Burning Questions About CBD Oil, Answered


CW Hemp’s facility in Colorado is registered with the FDA and has received the Mérieux NutriSciences Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) Certification for quality manufacturing standards. All of CW Hemp’s products are laboratory-tested by a third party and meet or exceed American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) guidelines.

The oils come in three strengths: Everyday Advanced (about 50 mg hemp extract per 0.6mL serving), Everyday Plus (about 25 mg hemp extract per 1 mL serving) and Everyday (about 10 mg hemp extract per 1 mL serving). Each of these are available in olive oil or mint chocolate flavor.

Depending on the size and strength, price ranges from $39.99 to $274.99.

Honest Hemp

Finally: All Your Burning Questions About CBD Oil Answered

The H. Hemp Company submits all of its products for laboratory testing by a third party for quality and safety and its ingredients are sustainably farmed without pesticides. The  CBD is infused into the hempseed or MCT oil to allow for slower, longer-lasting absorption through the gastrointestinal tract.

The CBD Tinctures contain 8 mg CBD per full dropper in natural, lemon and peppermint flavors and are non-GMO and gluten-free.

$69.99 for 1 fl. oz.

Sagely Naturals Relief & Recovery Capsules

All Your Burning Questions About CBD Oil, Answered


Sagely Naturals tests its products thrice: the raw cannabidiol is evaluated by extractors then by another lab by an independent third party. When the company receives the final product, Sagely randomly selects bottles to test for the third and final time. All the testing ensures the product is organic and totally free of GMOs, solvents, chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides or THC.

The Relief & Recovery Capsules are water-soluble (which means your body can absorb and use them more efficiently), as well as gluten-free, preservative-free, vegan and kosher. There is 10mg CBD per capsule.

$29.99 for 15 capsules.

CBD oil has many possible health benefits. However, its complicated legal status makes it difficult to regulate. Before taking CBD oil, arm yourself with knowledge and make purchases from a reputable source. 

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Sarah Ban
Sarah Ban

Sarah Ban is a beauty, health and wellness journalist, editor and copywriter who works with the world's best indie brands and publications. Her work has been published in SELF, NYLON, The Kitchn and Living Healthy and she has worked with some extraordinary brands such as Odacité Skincare, CO Bigelow Apothecaries, Kopari Beauty and Seaweed Bath Co. When she's not writing or reading, you can find Sarah eating brunch alfresco in her green and gorgeous hometown of LA.