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When it comes to cannabidiol (CBD), there’s a lot to know. Maybe you’re already aware that CBD is one of the countless active compounds found in the cannabis plant. But did you know that CBD comes in different forms?

Keep reading to learn more about pure CBD, possible health benefits, and potential side effects. We also recommend a few of the best pure CBD products.

The purest form of CBD is CBD isolate. To create CBD isolate, hemp goes through a number of purifying processes to strip away other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes, leaving behind only CBD.

The other types of CBD are full-spectrum CBD and broad-spectrum CBD.

Full-spectrum CBD products contain small amounts of other cannabinoids, like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabigerol (CBG), along with flavonoids and terpenes.

Broad-spectrum CBD products are almost the same as full-spectrum CBD, but there’s one key difference: They don’t include THC.

Because full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD products contain other cannabis compounds, they’re not considered pure CBD.

Bluebird Botanicals THC-Free CBD Oil$unflavoredoil
Soul CBD Drops, Raspberry Lemonade$$Raspberry Lemonade, Watermelon Mint, Pineapple Mango, Lemon Lime, Peppermint, Orange oil
Extract Labs Daily Support Hemp Tincture$$unflavored (may taste like coconut from the oil)tincture
Medterra Isolate CBD Gel Capsules$unflavored capsules
Soul CBD Rapid Relief Cream$$unscented but includes mentholcream
Soul CBD Gummies, 25 mg, Seriously Sour$$Seriously Sour, Sex on the Beach, Rocket Pop, Mystery, Pineapple Mango, Strawberry, Raspberry, Orange Cream, Piña Colada, Passion Fruitgummies
Medterra Isolate CBD Oil$$$unflavoredoil

We chose these products based on criteria we think are good indicators of safety, quality, and transparency. Each product listed in this article:

  • is made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab
  • is made by a company that discloses the source of their hemp
  • contains no more than 0.3% THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
  • passes tests for pesticides, heavy metals, and molds, according to the COA

During our selection process, we also considered:

  • the company’s certifications and manufacturing processes
  • product potency
  • overall ingredients
  • indicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as:

There are various ways to take CBD.

You can take CBD orally via:

You can apply CBD topically using:

You can also add CBD isolate powder to food or drinks.

Some people vape CBD, though this method isn’t recommended due to safety concerns. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises against vaping.

Since there are so many ways to take CBD, choosing the right method for you comes down to personal preference and lifestyle needs.

For example, gummies are a fast way to take CBD on the go, whereas topicals may be better for targeting localized pain.

Research on CBD is still underway. There’s much more to learn, but some research suggests CBD may be able to offer several benefits.

Anxiety relief

Numerous studies have pointed to CBD’s anti-anxiety effects.

For instance, a 2019 study looked at whether CBD can enhance sleep, reduce anxiety, or do both.

During the study, 72 adults who experience anxiety or sleeping issues were given CBD capsules. Approximately 79% of the participants reported reduced anxiety, while nearly 67% of people noticed better sleep within the first month. However, the quality of their sleep varied over time.

A separate 2019 study indicated that CBD lowered anxiety among a pool of 37 young adults who experience social anxiety.

Anti-inflammatory properties

Some animal research points to CBD’s potential to help lower inflammation. It may do this by affecting activity in the body’s endocannabinoid receptors.

Seizure reduction

Epidiolex for seizures is the only prescription CBD product approved by the FDA. It can help reduce seizures caused by:

Missing entourage effect

Research suggests that CBD’s therapeutic effects are greater when combined with other cannabis compounds, including terpenes, flavonoids, and lesser-known cannabinoids. This theory is called the entourage effect.

A 2015 study on mice suggested that although CBD isolate offers some health benefits, they may be less impactful than the benefits of using full-spectrum CBD products.

The study’s results also suggested that CBD isolate can help relieve swelling and pain at a specific dose, while full-spectrum CBD products offer additional effects with higher doses.

Research from 2020 on the effects of cannabinoids suggested that pairing terpenes with terpenoids may serve as a possible future treatment option for some people with mood and anxiety disorders.

Drug testing

Some people prefer CBD isolate over full-spectrum products because they want to avoid THC. However, it’s worth mentioning that there’s always the chance that even CBD isolate products may include trace amounts of THC.

If you get drug tested, you may want to avoid CBD products entirely.

Right now, the FDA doesn’t guarantee the safety, effectiveness, or quality of over-the-counter CBD products.

To avoid buying CBD products that are misrepresented or mislabeled, look for products that come with an up-to-date COA from a reputable third-party lab.

You’ll want to take a look at the COA and make sure the amount of CBD and THC that’s in the product matches what’s advertised.

It’s also important to check the contaminant testing results. These will vary by brand, but it’s best to look for results for pesticides, heavy metals, and mold — all of which you’ll want to steer clear of.

It’s also a good idea to buy from a company that’s transparent about where they grow their hemp and how they make their products. You should be able to find this information on the brand’s website before you make a purchase.

Common mistakes when buying CBD products

Here are some easy to make mistakes when shopping for CBD products online:

  • Buying the cheapest products you can find: If the company is promoting their inexpensive price as the main reason to buy, they may not be offering good quality products. Significant effort is put into making good quality CBD products, which typically results in moderate to higher pricing.
  • Expecting instant results: Finding the right type of CBD product in the right formulation and dose can take time. There are also many unknowns and gaps in research on effectiveness. CBD shouldn’t be viewed as a cure-all or a quick fix.
  • Ignoring missing lab results: Transparency is key when researching CBD products to buy online. Make sure that the company has COAs available to confirm the quality and purity results. Also look for other indicators of quality, such as their farming practices and extraction methods.
  • Buying the wrong product: When looking for the benefits of CBD, make sure you’re buying CBD and not hemp oil, which is different. Some products use hempseed oil instead and don’t offer cannabinoids and other potentially therapeutic ingredients. To avoid these products, be sure to buy CBD from reputable companies to make sure you’re getting high quality CBD. Note that Amazon doesn’t allow the sale of CBD, so, you’ll likely only find products made from hempseed or hemp oil.

While research suggests that CBD is generally considered safe, some people may experience side effects, including:

  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in weight

Talk with a doctor before trying CBD, especially if you’re taking any medications. CBD may interact with some medications, including those with a grapefruit warning.

If you’re taking CBD orally, avoid taking it with a high fat meal. One 2020 study found that doing so may increase side effects.

CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD. This type of CBD goes through a slew of purifying processes, removing all other cannabis compounds.

No. Full-spectrum CBD can contain all cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, including less than 0.3% THC. It also has naturally occurring flavonoids and terpenes.

CBD isolate, also called pure CBD, doesn’t include THC or other cannabis compounds.

Although some research and anecdotal reports suggest that CBD is effective and beneficial on its own, other research suggests CBD’s therapeutic effects are better when mixed with other cannabis compounds, like terpenes, flavonoids, and lesser-known cannabinoids. This concept is known as the entourage effect.

Pure CBD, or CBD isolate, may be a good choice if you’re interested in CBD but want to avoid the other compounds found in the cannabis plant, including THC.

CBD isolate boasts a number of potential benefits, including relief of pain, inflammation, and anxiety.

Studies do suggest, however, that some of these benefits may be more noticeable when using full-spectrum CBD products.

When shopping for CBD products, be sure to choose from a reputable company, and read labeling and dosage recommendations carefully.

Remember to consult with a doctor or healthcare professional before trying CBD.

Is CBD legal? The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC legal at the federal level. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them illegal at the federal level. Some states have legalized CBD, so be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

Breanna Mona is a writer based in Cleveland, OH. She holds a master’s degree in media and journalism and writes about health, lifestyle, and entertainment.