By John Malanca
Our journey in educating ourselves is ongoing. Having the ability to review thousands of studies being published yearly, with hundreds more underway, we continue to gain even more insights into what cannabis sativa has to offer us. Recent changes in policy that allows hemp to be federally legal within the US, has allowed further access which has led to better understanding its application in our health.
First off, what is Hemp? The classification given by the government is defined as the cannabis sativa plant chemovars (outdated term known as strains) that have less than 0.3% Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, within the whole plant’s concentration of cannabinoids. In many marketing and social campaigns, Hemp and CBD are used interchangeably.
Now you may be thinking, why are we talking about Hemp? The last three years, we have been discussing the preference for Cannabis over Hemp, why the change in tune? Nothing more than research and access. As we continue to break down the findings of the research, we learn that there are practical health benefits to Hemp based products. While we still prefer, and recommend Cannabis over Hemp if and when possible, we want to set the record straight on hemp: It is a POWERFUL supplement anyone could gain positive benefits from.
The reality is, we know that many of you are in an illegal state without access to Cannabis, have heavily restrictive jobs that drug test – no matter what the medical need, or have to travel which can put you at risk the second you get on a plane or cross a state line. While we continue to encourage and seek legal access to Cannabis for all, in the meantime we want to provide help in any way that we can. The market is unregulated and we know that you just want relief. As we continue on our mission to prevail in being your greatest advocate, we have done a deep dive into the market to look at the ins and outs of how to find the best hemp CBD products.
As you begin to look into these health alternatives, we want to help you understand how to look for the best quality product possible, with ease and simplicity.
Here are 7 ways to pick a top Hemp product:
The Cannabis Sativa species, which includes Cannabis and Hemp, has a wide variety of health benefiting constituents, such as cannabinoids and terpenes. Research shows that the combination of all the molecules in the plant, known as the Entourage Effect, in a whole plant application is more effective, at lower doses, and with a much lower risk of adverse effects.
Isolates (or synthetics) have a smaller bell curve, meaning less potential to be beneficial before causing adverse effects. In addition, Isolates have a higher potential for negative drug to drug interaction due to a higher dose needed to achieve positive results.
Something to be aware of is when the product is labeled as Full Spectrum. In many instances this is correctly labeled as that of a whole plant extract, however this can also be used in place of a mixed solution product where they have added external ingredients, such as terpenes or other molecules, that resemble a whole plant product. While the research is unclear whether or not this still works as a whole plant application, the concern is over the integrity, or safety, of those added components. We will touch more on this in a later point.
There are many forms of Hemp products, ranging from rolled flower in a “cigarette” form to capsules, to tinctures and more. As a rule of thumb, if the product does not have the concentration – which is the level of constituents such as cannabinoids and terpenes per total mg or ml of product – then put it down and find something else. It is absolutely necessary for long term success and results to know exactly what you are taking and at what potency.
Concentration can be confusing to understand. All you need to make it simple is to know the total weight or amount of liquid solution and the ratio of cannabinoids + terpenes to obtain the concentration of the application.
⇒ You have a 30 ml tincture.
✧ The label reads 20:1 CBD:THC (this is your ratio, also known as formulation).
✧ The label also reads total of 400 mg of CBD in the product.
First, we can by default see that the total concentration of the product is 400 mg per 30 ml.
So for every 1 ml of solution, there are 13.33 total mg of CBD.
We find this by taking the total volume – in our example it is 30 – and divide the total amount of cannabinoids – in our example that is 400 mg of CBD.
400 mg / 30 ml = 13.33 mg/ml.
⇒ Going back to the 20:1 formulation we can also find the total amount of THC per mg:
For every 20 parts of CBD there is 1 part of THC. To simply calculate this, just take the THC amount and divide by the CBD amount:
✧ 1 / 20 = 0.05
✧ Now we know that for 1 part of CBD there is 0.05 parts THC.
So if we know there are 13.33 mg of CBD – which is technically 13.33 parts CBD – we multiply this by 0.05 that we got from the calculation above, to get the total amount of THC per mg in the tincture.
✧ 13.33 x 0.05 = 0.67 mg of THC in our example product.
Putting it all together now, you can see that our concentration for the product is 13.33 CBD: 0.67 THC for a total of 14 mg per ml of cannabinoids.
From there you can measure out an appropriate dosage that suits your needs. Remember, start LOW and go SLOW. Starting in a range of 2.5 mg of whole plant application, consider this 1 microdose. The recommendation is to start at 1 microdose in the evening (that way if you feel adverse side effects you can sleep it off) as your body becomes acclimated to having this boost to your endocannabinoid system. If you find that within the range you are not seeing positive results, while seeing little to no adverse effects, at day 4 to 5 of your new regime you would incorporate another microdose to your protocol, this then becomes two microdoses at one time. Experts recommend that you increase microdoses until you reach optimal dosage – which is defined as the lowest possible dose that has the beneficial results you need while having little to no adverse effects.
Cannabis Sativa is also known as a “mop weed,” this means that it is a fantastic absorber of the environment it is in, especially at the soil level. Due to this, the plant will take in anything that is in the soil, including if there are pesticides or herbicides, heavy metals, and other contaminants.
To best ensure that you are not purchasing a product with unwanted contaminants, start with products that have natural practices, along the lines of organic, which emphasizes standards of no additives and no artificial agents being used in its growing or manufacturing process. You can typically find this information on the product’s label, their website, and further verify through the lab reports (to be discussed further in a later point).
In addition to being organic, we highly recommend something that is also local, or at the least, domestic. International companies have put out a great amount of products that are poor quality as their standards fall even lower than domestic regulations, especially with regards to heavy metals as one of the leading concerns. As the plant is broken down into a concentrated product these contaminants also become concentrated leading to further health concerns.
With a rise in social and political acceptance of Hemp products, the marketing and consumer side of things has leaped into a whole other level as well. The market is inundated with items, such as leggings that claim to have medicinal power because they are made from Hemp CBD, to Yoga studios that claim Yoga is made better with CBD topicals, and more. While the verdict is still out on the benefits from these varying modes of application this plant is being put into, we have compiled a list of the most recommended options from our experts, research, and patient testimonials.
✧ Hemp flower “cigarettes”, also known as joints or pre-rolls
✧ Vaporizer pen or other device that allows for inhaled hemp whole plant vapors
✧ Capsules or Pills
✧ Edibles – hemp infused foods
✧ Juicing or eating raw plant – including flowers (buds) and leaves
✧ Tinctures (Oil and Alcohol based)
✧ Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO) – Hemp chemovar used (less than 0.3% THC)
✧ Salves / Lotions / Creams
✧ Bath Soaks
There are over a handful of options to choose from in terms of application styles that meet your needs or the needs of a loved one. When it comes to selecting the best for you, start by limiting it down to the ones that have the best onset (time it takes to become active in the body) and duration (how long it lasts within the body) that will most benefit your specific goals in health.
Be aware, the amount of product consumed will have an impact on these durations. If you consume more, then it will take longer for the body to process, thus likely increasing how long the effects can be felt.
For intents of this article, we will only be discussing the most recommended options for medical or wellness purposes, as opposed to the lengthy list of recreational options that are on the market. Let’s take a look at a list of the various types of products, their onset, and typical length of time the effects can be felt within the body:
✧ Vaporizer or Flower “cigarette”
✧ Onset as quick as 30 seconds to 3 minutes
✧ Duration is between 1 – 2 hours
✧ Onset could be as quick as 30 minutes up to 1.5 hours
✧ Duration is between 4 – 6 hours
Edibles (food infused with hemp or cannabis)
✧ Onset could be as quick as 45 minutes up to 3 hours
(note for some if your digestive system is not operating at an optimal level, or if you just consumed a large meal, your body may absorb minimal amounts of the medicine or not at all)
✧ Duration is between 4 – 6 hours
✧ Onset could be as quick as a few minutes up to an hour
✧ Duration is between 1 – 2 hours
Alcohol Based Tinctures
✧ On set could be as quick as 15 minutes up to 30 minutes
✧ Duration is between 2 – 3 hours
Oil Based Tinctures
✧ Onset could be as quick as 30 minutes up to 2 hours
(note this can depend on how the tincture is consumed, whether it is absorbed directly through the gums or under the tongue, or whether it is processed as an edible because of being swallowed before absorbing into the mouth)
✧ Duration is between 2 – 3 hours
(similar note on the duration of this, if the tincture is swallowed and passed through the digestive system as an edible, the duration of the effects will fall more within the range of the duration for an edible which is 4-6 hours)
FECO (Full Extract Cannabis Oil)
✧ When used in a syringe format, the onset and duration are similar to that of an Oil based tincture.
✧ When used as an additive within a capsule, the onset and duration is similar to that of the description under capsules above.
✧ Onset could be as quick as 1 minutes up to 10 minutes
✧ Duration is between 1 – 2 hours
✧ Onset could take up to 2 hours initially then thereafter there would be no gap, or noticeable difference, between the last release and the next release.
✧ If the medicine duration is dependent on the type of patch, in most cases they are time released and can last up to 2 days before needing to be replaced
✧ Onset between 30 seconds to 3 minutes
✧ Duration will average between time within the bath up to 2 hours following
A couple other points to highlight based off the common questions from our community, though everyone will ultimately be different, there are some underlying preferences of certain applications by experts and researchers.
When it comes to bioavailability, which is our body’s ability to utilize the most nutrients from a given product, products that are water-soluble are the most bioavailable. Just as important to know, cannabinoids themselves are not water-soluble. Instead through the use of liposomal capsules we are able to create a transport vessel – the capsules carrying the plant matter or concentration solution. When these specific capsules are used, the application through pill form allows for the most bioavailability.
In regards to being the most accurate and easy to dose, it is more or less a tie between capsules and syringe applications that use .1 ml increments such as with FECO or tinctures, in most cases. As long as the product comes properly labeled with the concentration, they are easy to pinpoint the necessary dose needed and be confident in doing so.
There are three classes of solvents:
✧ Class 1 are those that have been found to be dangerous or are suspected dangers to our health and should be avoided all together. The FDA considers some of these to be Benzene (Benzol) and 1,1-Dichloroethene (Vinylidene chloride).
✧ Class 2 are solvents that when following the Good Manufacturing Practice are safe to use, but if not properly followed could cause additional health concerns. Some included in this class are Chloroform (Trichloromethane), Formamide (Methanamide), and Methanol (Methyl alcohol) to name a few.
✧ Class 3 are the most safe in that they have the lowest possible potential for toxicity where they do not pose a threat at the common ranges found within a cannabis or hemp product. These are solvents such as Ethanol (Ethyl alcohol), Acetone (2-Propanone), 1-Butanol (n-Butyl alcohol) and more.
As a measure of ensuring your safety or a loved one’s who may be adding Hemp (or cannabis products) into their wellness plan, do your best to completely avoid Class 1 and Class 2 solvents.
When these solvents are present, they can either increase the risk of cancer, damage to internal systems such as to the reproductive organs or your central nervous system, and more including making potential mild concerns worse.
It is best to look for Non-Detectable (ND) on the product testing, further ensuring that data you are reviewing has been checked at the level of Parts Per Million (PPM). This takes us to our next point: only purchase tested products, from companies who provide access to the testing results, and read through the testing results.
While the FDA is cracking down on more and more unregulated products within the market, there is still a need for each one of us to stay on top of the tests as well as the credibility of the tests. When selecting a Hemp product, you want to ensure you are not only getting a product of quality, but that it is also safe to use and not going to cause any detriment to your health.
To begin with, make sure that the company you purchase from is taking the time to test their products, and provide that information in an easy to access manner. At times, you may find that you will have to reach out to the laboratory directly to get this information, but more and more it is becoming common to either be able to access this information within the facility you are purchasing the product from or on the company’s website.
Next, check for the credibility of the laboratory that has performed the test. Are they licensed and certified? A leader in accrediting labs that have been through rigorous audits around the US is the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This can be used as an asset in making sure that the laboratory checks all the necessary boxes to be considered trustworthy. Depending on your state, you may also be able to find this information from your local Bureau of Cannabis Control or similar.
Lastly, reading the actual test results. The report will likely include a stamp of Certificate of Analysis that indicates that this is a report from an accredited laboratory. On the test, at the very least, you would be looking for all the items we mentioned above:
Potency, Ratio/Formulation of detectable Cannabinoids and Terpenes, Contaminants such as residual solvents as well as molds and microbials, product manufacturing date, date of the test, matching “Lot Number” (also known as Batch Number) for the product you are looking to purchase and the results of the testing.
At the least, you are looking to verify that the information stated on the label matches the results indicated on the test. Next, you are looking for those ND’s (Non-Detectable) contaminants to be ideally at the Parts Per Millions testable levels, which is most common on these forms of tests.
You also want to be aware of the additional ingredients, such as terpene additives or other health benefiting things, such as turmeric, to make sure they are tested as well. With these other items, because many tend to fall within food regulations, you can use the common non-gmo and organic classifications to help guide you towards better quality products.
If you are not confident or comfortable in the products testing, and insist on still looking at it as an option, using the ISO website you could find a local laboratory to submit a sample of the product to. Results on average are completed within less than a week, more or less. As a consumer of any health and wellness product, it is essential to not assume but instead KNOW that the product that you are spending your money on and then ultimately consuming is safe to do so and is one that is going to actually be able to help you.
Here at The Sacred Plant, we dedicate ourselves to educating and empowering our community and beyond to make their health important, and to ultimately reclaim their power to own their health. We also look to work closely with other like minded individuals that at the end of the day are People driven, and look to make a positive impact in the lives of others.
This last point hits hard on what we feel is the integrity side of this market – mission focused companies, especially those with personal stories or those who initially jumped in to help their own loved ones, are more likely to take care of YOU versus treating you like another consumer who puts money in their pocket. They have been there, they know the struggle, and they pay better attention to what is working and what is not working. These are people who actually take time to learn the craft, prioritize the safest and most natural processes, who personally use the products they create in their own households and share with their friends and family.
The big companies are going to be there, and are going to be the most inexpensive but that doesn’t mean they care to create the best products or will actually look after their consumers. Though this is more of our preference from what we have seen in this field, we hope you see why we added it to this list. We are people just like you and we want to work with others who have similar care and kindness in their hearts for what we are here to do.
Go here to read Part 1 of this article.
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And The Sacred Plant is excited to share a product that could help many with their quality of life, day to day aches and pains, and improve mood.
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