In just a short period of time, CBD has become the stress-reducing strategy of the moment.
And while a lot of additional research is needed to confirm its exact benefits, it does have a crazy amount of potential when it comes to relieving anxiety, pain, and other ailments (without getting you high!).
The problem is that if you’re interested in trying it out, it can be tricky to figure out where to start. The industry is churning out products at a bootcamp-level sprint, and health consumers don’t really know which questions to ask when it comes to quality and label details.
Plus, how do you want to use it? If you tried the drops and hated the taste, maybe swallowing a capsule would be better? Or maybe you want to use it for topical relief: A lotion for achy muscles or a roll-on oil for headaches?
To help you sort through it, we researched (and tested) the best products out there to bring you seven different, healthy approaches to incorporating CBD into your personal wellness routine.
But first, some nitty-gritty on CBD.
What is CBD?
Cannabis (better known as marijuana) is made up of two main cannabinoids: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is the compound that produces the drug’s famous high. CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive, meaning it won’t get you high … at all, nada, zilch.
That’s why CBD products are legal in most states, as long as they’re made from hemp. Hemp is a species of the cannabis plant that contains high levels of CBD and low levels of THC (less than 0.3%).
The Science Behind CBD
Did you know that CBD and THC are just two of 100-plus naturally occurring chemical compounds called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are produced by the cannabis plant, other botanicals and by our body’s own endocannabinoid system (ECS). They are involved in regulating pleasure, memory, concentration, appetite, pain and more.
No wonder the ECS is a system within the body getting lots of attention these days due to its effects on health. It consists of receptors in the brain and throughout the body, which cannabinoids bind to, helping to regulate all the things we just mentioned above.
Dosage and Side Effects
Due to the wide range of uses and methods of ingesting CBD, serving sizes can vary significantly. Your serving size will be dependent on your body weight, metabolism, unique body chemistry, and other factors. That’s why it’s best to start small and gradually increase the dose of CBD until you reach your desired effect.
When buying CBD, it helps to know the lingo. There are three types of CBD for purchase:
- Full-spectrum CBD. This contains all the cannabis plant’s cannabinoids, including CBD and THC. However, THC levels are below 0.3%.
- Broad-spectrum CBD. These products contain all of the cannabis plant’s compounds, but the THC is totally removed or left in trace amounts.
- CBD isolate. This is pure cannabidiol, with all the other cannabis plant compounds removed. (No THC whatsoever.)
CBD is generally considered safe. Side effects are minimal, but some people do experience:
- Appetite changes
- Weight changes
As for its interaction with other medications, you should be careful if you’re taking blood thinners or other medications that come with a “grapefruit warning”. Yep, CBD and grapefruit both interact with enzymes that are necessary for drug metabolism.
7 Ways to use CBD
Topical oil: Lazarus Naturals CBD Body + Massage Oil
Lazarus Naturals uses jojoba oil, sweet almond oil and full-spectrum CBD to nourish the skin and kick you into relaxation mode with their CBD Body + Massage Oil. The best thing about this small business? They’re dedicated to making effective, high-quality CBD that is affordable and accessible to everyone. To this end, Lazarus Naturals offers an Assistance Program that gives a 60% discount on its products to veterans, people on long-term disability, and households that qualify as low-income. Access to healing and their “farm-to-front-door” model of transparency are things we can genuinely get behind.
Drops: Charlotte’s Web CBD Oil
Colorado-based Charlotte’s Web is a superstar company when it comes to CBD and has positioned itself as a brand that really cares about ingredient quality and responsible hemp farming. If you want to try the most common approach to CBD dosing—putting a few drops under your tongue daily—their product line is a great place to start. They sell CBD oil in all different strengths, made with hemp grown in the U.S.
Pill: Sagely Naturals Calm & Centered Capsules
You can also take CBD like a supplement, and Charlotte’s Web makes straight CBD capsules in multiple strengths, too. We especially love Sagely Naturals’ Calm & Centered Capsules because they blend CBD with other anti-stress ingredients such as ashwagandha.
Roll-On: Sagely Naturals Relief & Recovery Essential Oil Roll-On
Here’s a product you can throw in your makeup bag for post-meeting headaches: Sagely makes a roll-on oil with broad-spectrum CBD you apply like a perfume to your pressure points as a “companion for afternoon lows, unexpected tension, or topical soothing.” We found there’s something extra soothing even in the process of applying it, especially since you can breathe in the scents of peppermint, rosemary and eucalyptus. Try the brand’s Calm & Centered roll-on for super stressful moments, too.
Body Balm: Shea Brand Natural Pain Reliever
Speaking of topical solutions, pretty much every brand selling CBD products makes some kind of lotion or balm for relief from muscle and joint pain. (Since CBD is anti-inflammatory, lots of people also recommend trying it to help with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.) Lots of them are great, but this indie Brooklyn-based company’s balm stands out. It’s made with clean, nourishing ingredients such as organic shea butter, arnica oil, eucalyptus and ginger, and is dressed up in pretty, colorful packaging.
Lip Balm: Cannuka Hydrating Lip Balm
Cannuka pairs CBD with another ultra-healing ingredient: manuka honey. Those are formulated into an entire line of beauty products, but the hydrating lip balm is a serious stand-out. Chapped lips are essentially inflamed, and Cannuka says the CBD calms and reduces any swelling while the Manuka honey gets to work on repairing and hydrating the skin underneath.
Mint: Mari’s Replenish Mints
Mari’s makes all kinds of THC mints that will definitely refresh more than just your breath, but the Replenish tin is CBD-only. They’re vegan and gluten-free and are the perfect thing to keep in your bag to pop in your mouth after lunch for a focused afternoon at the office. Right now they’re hard to get outside of Washington, but that is likely to change.