We’ve all been there… We’ve been online or in a store and purchased a new CBD product that we haven’t tried before. And why not? It’s a similar form factor to other CBD products we’ve tried and it’s the exact same dosage. It should have more or less the same effect, right!?
Then you get home and give it a try...wait 30 minutes... nothing happens… wait 30 more… nothing.. try some more… still nothing.
You don’t experience the great night sleep, stress-free afternoon, or general ‘cannabis calm’ that you are used to from other CBD products that you’ve tried. The dosage was exactly the same though, so what gives?
The key takeaway here is that not all CBD products are created equal. While the form factor may look similar and the dosage on the box may be exactly the same, there is a wide variance in the effectiveness of a CBD product resulting from a number of factors. Today, we are going to explore those factors.
If you are brand new to CBD and want to tackle the basics first, we suggest you read our CBD 101 guide for beginners, before continuing on with this piece.
An important topic that we’ve tacked in previous blog posts, bioavailability, plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of CBD products. As a term, “bioavailability” is actually quite simple. It is a term to describe how much of a particular molecule, such as a cannabinoid like CBD, ends up in your bloodstream and is used vs how much simply passes through the body as waste and the timeliness in which the part that’s used gets in.
Tinctures, a popular form factor for CBD, have roughly 30% bioavailability, meaning that if you were to take a 10-miligram dose, roughly 3 milligrams of that dose would enter your bloodstream and activate the intended effects.
CBD isolates and distillate, popular form factors in their own right, sit at roughly 10% bioavailability.
Water-soluble CBD, often created through nano-emulsification processes like we use for our collection of CBD Stir STIKs, has been shown to have up to 65% bioavailability.
As you can see, these differences in bioavailability per form factor vary widely and make a crucial difference in the effect of a particular CBD product.
Broad Spectrum Versus Isolate
Isolate is a particularly popular form factor for CBD. And why wouldn’t it be? When approaching 99% purity of isolated CBD, that must be the most effective and efficient way to deliver the cannabinoid into your system… right?
The truth is much murkier than that.
Advances in cannabis research, led by famed Israeli chemist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, the man who originally isolated and synthesized THC, have led to a finding called the “Entourage Effect.”
While the entourage effect takes into account many variables, the outcome is quite simple. Various cannabinoids, including CBD, THC other minor cannabinoids, terpenes and more, perform better and have greater effects when used together versus when used alone, as highlighted in a landmark 2010 study of patients treated with THC and CBD extract for cancer-related pain. Beyond the deep scientific understanding, we like to keep it simple; nature has a way of being just right, don’t mess it up.
When looking for the entourage effect to enhance the effectiveness of a CBD product, it is important to look for “broad-spectrum” or “full-spectrum” CBD. Broad spectrum and full spectrum CBD have a broader range of cannabinoids and terpenes than isolated CBD. While the CBD percentage may be lower, due to the other cannabinoids included in your product, the sum will be greater than its parts and you will achieve more of the desired effect you are looking for.
Quality of CBD
Like any other product, it is important to consider quality when purchasing CBD. The overall quality of your CBD can stem from a variety of factors, but the easiest way to get a quick snapshot is by reviewing the Certificate of Analysis (COA).
As we have previously covered, a COA is included on the packaging of CBD products from most reputable companies, regardless of whether they are required by state law. On our collection of CBD Stir STIKs, you can find the COA via a QR code included on the back of our packaging.
The COA will include a range of helpful information, including the lab that performed the analysis (to ensure it was done by a 3rd Party, not by the manufacturer), the cannabinoid profile, and whether the product passed safety tests like pesticides, microbials and heavy metal.
Provided this crucial information checks out, your product should be good to consume.
While there are many more variables that factor into the overall effectiveness of a CBD product, our overview in this post runs through what we consider to be the most impactful areas. We encourage you to test this out for yourself and see what works best!