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Does Potency Matter for CBD Oil?

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The CBD oil market is booming, with some market analysts predicting the industry could be worth upwards of $20 billion by 2024. Demand for CBD far outpaces that of medical marijuana or THC derived products, suggesting that consumers are interested in CBD for its health and wellness benefits. Though the industry is thriving, a lack of regulation and standardization makes choosing the right product confusing for consumers.

There is only one real factor that matters when purchasing CBD Oil and that is potency. The strength of CBD Oil determines its effect and its pricing. Unfortunately, what is listed on the bottle can be very misleading for a lot of consumers. Essentially, the more cannabidiol there is on the tincture, the higher concentration of THC. However, it can be difficult to know what makes CBD oil stronger, weaker, or better for different ailments and applications. Knowing how potency affects CBD oil and use can help consumers make better informed decisions about the products they buy.

How CBD Is Measured?

Does the amount of CBD in the tincture really matter? Absolutely! CBD oil consists of cannabidiol and a carrier oil. The cannabidiol is infused in a fatty oil like coconut or olive because it’s easier to digest and such monounsaturated oils are linked to many health benefits. CBD products can contain a lot of other ingredients, including THC and plant compounds like terpenes or aromatic ingredients like lavender. CBD oil can vary in color, consistency, and flavor as a result of these different compounds. CBD strength depends on how the oil is formulated; there is a spectrum of concentration.

How CBD Is Measured

CBD Isolate

CBD Isolate is the strongest form of CBD available. It uses solvents to manufacture cannabidiol from every part of the hemp plant. Isolate is a crystallized CBD that is 99% pure. Isolate is not an oil but instead suspends the crystal in oil.

Broad Spectrum CBD Oil

Broad Spectrum CBD oil has been minimally processed and contains the widest range of cannabinoids and nutrients. Simply put, it contains the broadest spectrum of cannabinoids except for THC.

Full Spectrum CBD Oil

Full Spectrum CBD means that the product has everything found naturally in the hemp plant including trace amounts of THC. Full Spectrum can give you a false positive on a drug test if you consume high doses daily.

CBD Distillates

CBD distillates are less refined and contain more THC than the .03% limit set by federal law.

How Is Strength Determined?

Measuring the strength of CBD oil isn’t as simple as looking on the bottle because the CBD can be Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, or Isolate. You could theoretically have two different CBD oils for 30 milligrams and they could be completely different concentrations because there is no standard measurement within the industry.

Some CBD makers list purity, while others list percentage by volume, and still others list the CBD isolate. The ingredients may tell you the strength of the CBD in the oil, but it doesn’t tell you how potent the CBD is by volume. Even if you find out the amount of CBD in the bottle, it doesn’t tell you exactly since there is no industry standard to measure the potency.

Labs test for strength at several stages of the CBD oil development and do as best a job as they can to identify the compounds a sample contains. The results show the CDB percentage and this is what reputable CBD companies provide on their product labels.

A dose of CBD oil that works for one person might be totally ineffective for somebody else. The difference is in our bodies and metabolism.

CBD results for happy couple

So What Is High Potency?

According to the Weedmaps PhD advisor, “high potency” is 50 milligrams of CBD per milliliter. That concentration will put the consumer in the $100 range for price. But potency is only part of the equation. No matter how much CBD isolate you are taking, it might not have the same therapeutic results as a broad-spectrum product might have.

Experts agree to bind the cell receptors of the endocannabinoid system, CBD needs THC. The good news is that a little THC goes a long way.

Which CBD Potency Is Right For Me?

Potency certainly matters, but how much so depends entirely on the person. Remember that CBD potencies vary widely, from 100 mg to up to 5,000 mg for a bottle that is 30 mL in size (considered an unofficial industry standard). On the one hand, most distributors would consider a 300 mg bottle to be a “low potency” option, while a 5,000 mg bottle would be a high potency option.

When beginning a CBD oil regimen, most people consider cost. A lower potency formulation is generally a good place to start, especially if you don’t have a tolerance. Starting with a lower potency formulation allows you the time to gauge how your body will react to the CBD, since everyone has a different set of factors that will affect tolerance, such as biochemistry, weight, and metabolism. Unlike other supplements, the FDA has not set a “recommended daily allowance” for CBD oil, leaving consumers to do much of their own research and experimenting to see what works best for them.

Why Not Go Straight to High Potency?

At this point, most people wonder why they shouldn’t start at the strongest point of the spectrum. There are a couple reasons why it’s best to start slow. First, even if a high potency formulation works well, you have no idea if you could have achieved the same effect by taking less.  In the long term, you could save a lot of money by slowly increasing your dosage until you find what works to control your symptoms.

Secondly, all supplements and tinctures, even CBD, carry the risk of developing a tolerance. If you develop a tolerance to high potency CBD, you don’t have much room to increase your dosage or experiment to see what helps you best.

A Rough Guide to Potency Levels and When to Use Them

Keep in mind that potency can vary by concentration and supplier, as well as the type of CBD it contains (isolate, broad spectrum, distillates, etc). However, you can roughly map out if a CBD oil is low potency, mild potency, or high potency based on the concentration listed on the bottle (here, using a 30 mL bottle).

Low Potency (300 mg per 30 mL)

At one end of the spectrum, low potency formulations are recommended for those who are new to CBD. Each person has a unique endocannabinoid system that affects their sensitivity to CBD oil. Low potency formulations are also used to enhance general health and well-being and control stress levels.

500 CBD Potency Graphic

Mid Potency (500 mg per 30 mL)

The mid potency range is a good fit for people who need to take multiple doses of low potency formulations daily or who do not experience relief of symptoms from the less potent options. Mid potency CBD oil tinctures are good for managing conditions like anxiety and pain from chronic medical conditions like arthritis.

High Potency (1000 mg per 30 mL)

Products in the high potency range are generally reserved for sleep problems, intense pain conditions, migraines, and daily high levels of stress or anxiety. First time users of CBD should be wary of jumping to a potency of this strength.

1000 CBD dropper graphic


Will The Way I Take CBD Oil Affect Its Potency?

In addition to potency variations, there are also different routes for taking CBD that could affect how much ultimately absorbs into your body. One of the most common and most recommended routes is sublingually, or under the tongue. Since CBD has a relatively low bioavailability, it is important to let it sit under your tongue for as long as possible. This keeps the CBD safe from digestive enzymes that can break it down and will help your body absorb as much of the oil as possible.

The second most common way to take CBD is topically. Generally, CBD topicals come in the form of lotions, balms, and transdermal patches. Topical formulations are ideal for skin-related conditions such as eczema and localized pain. For conditions like muscle and joint aches, topical applications are more effective for providing symptomatic relief when applied directly to the skin. Since topicals are not subject to the breakdown from digestive enzymes, they can provide targeted relief to the affected area.

The final way to take CBD is through edibles. However, taking CBD in edible form means you will experience a “first pass” effect. In other words, the CBD will have to pass through your digestive tract first and you will only absorb 20-30% of what you ultimately consume.

Choosing The Right CBD Product

CBD products vary widely by potency and formulation, and it may take some fine tuning to find your perfect dosage. Additionally, the route of application (topical, sublingual, or edible) will affect how much CBD gets absorbed. Your chosen potency and route of application will depend on your unique needs. If you are looking for systemic positive effects for general health, for example, start with a low potency formulation sublingually. On the other hand, if you are looking to treat conditions such as joint or muscle pain, try a higher potency topical formulation for symptomatic relief.

No matter how you choose to take CBD, make sure the concentration listed on the bottle is true and accurate. Choose a CBD supplier who lab tests their products, both to check for potency and ensure that the product does not contain high levels of THC, the compound responsible for the psychoactive effect of marijuana.

CBD oil is both safe and effective for treating a variety of medical conditions in addition to boosting overall wellness. Its potency varies, so it may take some trial and error to find the perfect formulation for your needs.

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