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7 Warning Signs a CBD Product Is Fake

An alarming number of CBD products on the market fail laboratory testing for safety and efficacy. Learn how to discern between reputable brands and imposters.

It’s the “holy grail” everyone seems to recommend for any ailment from insomnia to arthritis these days: CBD. This molecule, derived from the cannabis plant, helps support the body’s endocannabinoid system, and that system is involved with nearly every biological process, including digestion, metabolism, hormone regulation, appetite, immunity, memory, emotions, and sleep.

Unlike its cannabinoid cousin tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the compound that causes the “high” commonly associated with cannabis—CBD doesn’t result in euphoric or psychoactive effects. But what you may get from its consumption are benefits to your health and well-being. While the FDA has only approved CBD as a treatment for three conditions at present, there is a growing body of research pointing to CBD’s ability to help prevent or treat myriad diseases and health disorders in people and pets. “Extensive preclinical research suggests that CBD has a lot of ‘anti’ powers,” notes The Essential Guide to CBD. “Specifically, it’s anti-tumoral, inhibiting tumor development; anti-spasmodic, suppressing muscle spasms; anti-convulsive, preventing seizures; and anxiolytic, inhibiting anxiety. It’s also neuroprotective, so it helps promote brain health.

However, there is one concern surrounding CBD’s usage: Even though it’s legal, it’s not regulated by the FDA—much like how the FDA isn’t authorized to review dietary supplement products (vitamins and minerals) for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. And because there are no industry standards guaranteeing a minimum level of quality, the market is saturated with imposter CBD formulations.

How prevalent are fake CBD products?

In July 2020, the analytical testing laboratory SC Laboratories completed a study in conjunction with the United Cannabis Business Association (UCBA). The lab tested 17 samples purchased at unlicensed CBD shops or retailers in and around Los Angeles. The end result?

  • More than 70 percent of the samples failed either for excessive contamination or did not qualify as hemp.
  • 42 percent of the samples failed the safety testing compared with approximately 1.5 percent of samples that fail for contaminants on the regulated market.
  • The level of contamination was several hundred times more than allowable limits in some cases.
  • 53 percent of tested samples labeled as hemp or hemp-based did not qualify, by definition, as hemp. (The 2018 Farm bill classifies hemp as cannabis that contains no more than 0.3 percent total THC.)
  • Most of the tested products contained levels of THC sufficient to cause serious psychoactive effects.

“CBD products can contain no CBD or less than the claimed amount,” says Aaron Riley, CEO of CannaSafe, California’s leading ISO-accredited cannabis testing laboratory. “The FDA has an initiative to put out CBD regulations, but guidance has been limited to date. This makes it more important for consumers to do their own due diligence.”

That means it’s up to you to distinguish the quality products from the scams. It’s definitely tricky, but there are some telltale signs that you should steer clear of certain items. Use the following criteria to spot fake CBD products

There’s no testing information available

First and foremost, a CBD manufacturer should be able to produce a third-party certificate of analysis (COA) that shows how its products performed on screenings for CBD, THC, and any contaminants. A COA should include the product batch number; CBD and THC levels; and certification indicating that heavy metals, pesticides, and solvent residues fall within the range of allowable limits (which may vary state to state).

“If there is no information about product testing or if the product has an old and/or outdated COA, these are indicators that a product does not contain the advertised ingredients,” says Riley. This information should be available on the brand’s website, or there might be a QR code on the product itself that will lead you to these details for further inspection.

The label makes too-good-to-be-true marketing claims

If a bottle of CBD oil or capsules claims to “cure” anxiety or “fix” your sleep problems, that’s a big red flag. In fact, making health claims is only legal for prescription drugs and is strictly forbidden by the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission when it comes to supplements like CBD products. “I would avoid anything that claims to solve a medical ailment,” says Riley. “I’d also avoid over-the-top marketing lingo, such as ‘Real CBD’ or ‘100% CBD.’” There are other marketing scams to be aware of, as well: If the purchasing process seems too complex or you’re required to sign up for a subscription or membership service, buyer beware.

Amount-per-serving information isn’t listed

Just as you need to be wary of labels with too much outlandish information, you must also be cautious about labels that don’t share enough pertinent details. According to The Essential Guide to CBD, you should “look for products that tell you how much CBD and/or THC you’re getting per serving, not just the total cannabinoid content in the entire bottle. This can help you avoid dosing confusion, and it’s also extra assurance that what you’re buying actually contains the ingredients you’re looking for.”

The price is dirt cheap

Everyone loves a good bargain, but in the CBD world, a bargain may very well be a sign of a fake product. “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” warns Riley. “CBD is still expensive, and if a product is drastically cheaper than others, it may not have the CBD and ingredients advertised.”

So, why is CBD so pricey? “Aside from the standard costs of running a business, there are many unique costs associated with CBD,” says Lital Shafir, head of product at Leafreport, a Tel Aviv–based educational platform with a mission to introduce transparency into the confusing CBD industry. “One of the best examples is specialized extraction equipment and qualified staff to use it. Then you’ve got the costs of growing hemp. Cultivating hemp can be labor-intensive and require extra expenditures for cultivation licenses and costs associated with state-specific hemp regulations. And let’s not forget additional costs for things like third-party testing.”

The ingredients aren’t things you want to ingest

Commercial CBD products can be full of subpar ingredients, including sweeteners, preservatives, and poor-quality oils. “When looking for an oral CBD oil, try to choose a product that is limited to just cannabis/CBD and a quality base oil—such as MCT oil,” says Kristina Risola, a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach with a focus in Cannabis Coaching who serves as lead faculty for Natural Wellness Academy’s Cannabis Coaching Program. “How CBD is listed on the label can vary. It may include things like CBD isolate, hemp oil, or full-spectrum hemp oil.”

Some products may also add in botanical or natural terpenes to mimic those lost in production—and this is OK with most products. “It’s important to note that hemp seed oil is not the same thing as CBD oil and should be listed as the carrier oil only,” says Risola, noting that it should definitely not be listed as the first ingredient.

It comes in a clear or plastic bottle

There’s a reason high-quality CBD oil comes in amber (brown) or dark-colored glass bottles (such as cobalt or green)—UV light breaks down the compounds of oil, and these darker colors provide more protection than clear glass. Reputable brands would only store their CBD oils in a bottle that will properly preserve the product. Similarly, plastic breaks down over time and can contaminate oil, so that’s another reason glass is the material of choice.

You bought it at a gas station

Convenience stores, big-box retailers (including Amazon), and gas stations sell a lot of great items, but CBD oil isn’t one of them. “It’s harder and harder to differentiate quality products from junk,” explains Risola, who says the person selling it to you should be able to tell you where it was grown, how it was processed, and how it got to their store shelf. And it’s hard to imagine the average Target or Chevron station employee would have that level of knowledge. While we’re on the subject, here’s what else you shouldn’t buy at a gas station.

And if the store employee works on commission or a store owner is secretly more concerned about his or her bottom line than a customer’s best interest, you could also be in trouble. “Be conscientious that a retailer will most likely steer you toward higher-margin products that may not be the best ones for you,” Riley cautions.

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The Complete Guide to Our Energy Drinks

Why do we need a guide to CBD Energy Drink? Whether we’re looking for extra reps in the weight room, need to get through the workday, or are pulling an all-nighter to study for a big exam, we all need energy. Unfortunately, one in three Americans isn’t getting enough sleep.
That means many of us are borderline zombies during daylight hours. As a result, millions turn to stimulants like coffee to get through their daily routine. While no substitute for a good night’s rest, you can support your focus, mood, and energy levels without the harsh come down of coffee with CBD energy drinks.

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How to Talk to Your Friends and Family About CBD

When we experience positive changes in our lives, it’s customary to share these findings with loved ones. We rave about the benefits of our approaches to wellness to anyone who will listen because we’re happy with the results. We may also be trying to educate our friends and family in hopes that they’ll take these healthy steps as well. Sometimes sharing your newfound wellness regimen with your inner circle can be complicated, especially when you talk about CBD.

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CBD Oil: Does It Help With Separation Anxiety In Dogs?

Does your pup get nervous when you leave the house? Anxious when you’re not around? Separation anxiety is an issue for dogs, just like it is for humans, and it can be detrimental to their health and well-being. CBD Oil is a newer item to most with furry friends, but it can be a huge help in calming your pupper’s nervous energy. Separation anxiety has become more widely understood by dog lovers in the last few years, and many will already be familiar with the term. But what exactly is separation anxiety, and what causes it?

What causes separation anxiety in dogs?

Separation anxiety is a mental state that your dog can experience when you’re away from them. Dogs can experience anxiety the same as their humans can, and often those that are overly-attached to a specific human companion can show anything from a soft melancholy to a wild panic when separated from them. Dogs displaying signs of separation anxiety have the potential to become destructive if their panic levels rise too high.

Separation anxiety is sometimes blamed on poor training, but it is more linked to a strong bond with one specific person. Pups that grow very close with their human or a certain member of their family can experience panic when separated from that individual, and it’s important to remember that this is an emotional condition. It’s now thought that between 20%-40% of behavioral cases in dogs are related to separation issues.

Note that this issue is different than isolation anxiety, which only occurs when the pup is left completely alone. Separation anxiety is present when the dog is separated from one specific person, even if there are other people and pets around to keep them company.

Symptoms of separation anxiety

Your pupper will begin to display consistent signs of nervous energy when they experience separation anxiety.

  • Pacing: Your pup will attempt to vent some of its anxiety by pacing back and forth, walking the same spots in a room over and over again.
  • Panting: Though they may have been resting moments before when your furry friend realizes you’re about to leave it may begin panting. Much like a human with anxiety issues, heavy breathing can be a sign of panic.
  • Shaking: Your dog might begin to tremble. Like the pacing and panting, this is a physical manifestation of their nervous energy.
  • Urinating and defecating: Even a house-trained pup may lose control of their bowels when separation anxiety kicks in, causing a mess for you to have to clean up.
  • Whining: A whimper and a whine may indicate that your pupper is getting nervous!
  • Anti-Social Behavior: Isolation and separation anxiety are two different things, and it is important to know the difference. Dogs with separation anxiety may display anti-social behavior, even when with other humans or dogs. They simply won’t want to be around anyone but their bonded human.

Why use CBD Oil to combat separation anxiety?

Cannabidiol, or CBD Oil, is a compound found in hemp and cannabis that is specifically separate from THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol It is important to know that CBD Oil will not get your dog high! In fact, Cannabidiol is now being used for both humans and dogs as a natural supplement for pain management, calming anxiety, allergies, and even conditions like cancer, epilepsy, or digestive issues.

Humans and dogs have a system in their bodies known as the endocannabinoid system. Like you, puppers have receptors in their nervous systems, organs, and brains that naturally release endocannabinoid chemicals to stabilize mood. CBD Oil can interact with this system as a supplement, increasing levels of serotonin in the brain and calming the individual.

All of these things can create a calming effect on your furry friend, easing their anxiety and helping them to cope with separation from their favorite human.

How to give CBD Oil to pets

While it may have some great benefits for your dog, the taste and texture might not be something they have a craving for. Fear not! There are many ways to sneak the CBD Oil into their diet. Try the following methods out and see if any of them work for you!

  • Mix it with a treat: Every dog has a favorite snack, and combining it with CBD Oil can be a perfect delivery system! If the taste is the issue for your pup then make sure you’re using a treat with a rather strong flavor.
  • Pre-infused CBD products: There are a variety of treats available with CBD Oil already infused into them. Researching these might not only put a smile on your pup’s face but calm their anxiety as well!
  • Put CBD Oil in their food: Most dogs won’t turn down their daily meals, so mixing CDB Oil with their regular food can be an effective delivery system. This helps you regulate their diet without reliance on treats to get the oil into their system.
  • Just pop it in their mouth: Some dogs are just too picky about taste and texture to accept CBD Oil in the form of a treat or in their food. If your furry friend is like this, just take a dropper or a spoon and apply it directly to their mouth. This can be a quick and effective method of delivery for pups that just won’t accept it any other way.

Like with all supplements, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian before using CBD Oil for your companion. Their weight, age, and diet will all help to determine how much to use.

Where to get CBD Oil?

It’s important to research your sources for CBD Oil and to purchase it from a reputable source, reading reviews, and ingredient lists before checking out.

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Athletes That Endorse CBD

The upcoming 2020 Olympics are the first games where athletes can legally use CBD. The World Anti-Doping Agency aka WADA, an organization that monitors and fights against the use of drugs in the Olympics, announced in 2018 that CBD had been removed from its list of banned substances. Since the organization’s formation in 1999, all cannabinoids like CBD and THC had been banned for all Olympic athletes.

Athletes must ensure their CBD oil or supplement doesn’t contain more than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive element in cannabis. As we know from our research and our call for third party testing, this isn’t always super clear when buying CBD products. Something we are working on as collective!

Ellipse Analytics tested 250 top-selling CBD products in the USA last year and discovered that 45% of them contain over the legal threshold of THC. Even worse, 21% of CBD products boldly claiming they were “THC-free” had detectable levels of THC in them.

That said, we wanted to look at a few mainstream athletes that use CBD.

UFC fighter Gina Mazany who is a professional mixed martial artist recently came forward as an advocate for the plant.

“There are so many ways that CBD can benefit everyone in one way or another, but if people are using a product that they aren’t going to make money off of then they are not going to allow it, or make it seem like an evil thing,” Mazany said in an interview. It has been reported that she uses CBD for help with reducing her anxiety and improving her sleep quality. It also would make sense that CBD reduces inflammation for this fighting athlete.

Mike Tyson, who is a former boxer champion has recently been in the news for promoting CBD. He has created a marijuana farm known as “Cannabis Resorts” for people who wish to grow or smoke hemp within his 40 acre land in California City. Additionally, his company, Tyson Holistic Holdings (THH) also owns Tyson Ranch, his own company for marijuana strain. Mike is a strong believer of the positive impact of CBD and is very vocal with his activism!

Professional mixed martial artist Nate Diaz has been quite open about his use of CBD oil and said that the compound has been helping him deal with inflammation and the healing process from injuries. He said that his job entails heavy fighting and training which often results in minor and at times, major injuries. 

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Your Guide to CBD Capsules: What You Need to Know About This Form of CBD

When shopping for CBD supplements, there is always a considerable number of options to choose from. Knowing which products are right for you is not the easiest of tasks.

Unlike many other dietary supplements, CBD products are not a one-size-fits-all product. It is essential to discover the optimal way to include CBD into your day in order to experience the best effects.

One of the many options available is CBD capsules, which offers many of the same effects as traditional CBD oil drops. For those who find that they never have enough time in their day to fit the more complicated types of CBD into their busy schedule, CBD capsules might just provide the perfect solution.

What Are CBD Capsules?

CBD capsules are very similar to CBD oil tinctures, made from many of the same natural and healthy ingredients. The main difference between oils and capsules is that the latter contains a much more concentrated CBD solution, allowing it to have the same effects in a much more compact form.

Each brand has its own way of making CBD capsules, with recipes ranging from extremely minimal all the way up to those packed with a long list of artificial ingredients. Most brands lean toward the minimalistic approach. Brands tend to market their capsules as a convenient alternative to CBD oils, made from 100% natural ingredients.

At their most basic, CBD capsules can be made from concentrated CBD extract and a natural coating to contain the two liquids. These very basic capsules closely resemble what you would expect to find in an oil tincture, making them just as healthy and natural.

Just like other capsules that you find in your local pharmacy and health food store, CBD capsules can be taken with a swig of water. CBD capsules allow you to fill your body with a blend of cannabinoids and terpenes without any of the hassle of tincture.

Why Might You Choose CBD Capsules?

There is a whole host of different reasons why you might want to consider using CBD capsules over the many other CBD products. The primary reason why people love them is that they are both discreet and straightforward.

There have been several studies showing that CBD supplements are at their most effective when they are taken regularly. It is essential to find a form of CBD that you can quickly work into your day without fail, and for many people, CBD capsules do just that.

CBD capsules are small enough to be thrown into your pocket and taken with you no matter where you go.

Being one of the most discreet ways to take CBD, capsules are also perfect for those times when you really do not want to draw attention to yourself while still being able to take your CBD supplements in public.

Another reason that CBD capsules are sometimes considered the best option is that they provide a precise amount of CBD.

With many other CBD products, there is the risk that you accidentally take too little or too much one day. With CBD capsules, all of the measuring has been done for you using state of the art equipment, meaning that there is little room for error on your part.

Different Types of CBD Capsules

There are three main types of CBD capsules: CBD pills, CBD soft gels, and CBD capsules. All three of these options offer similar effects and benefits, with the main difference being the way that they are produced.

The type you choose is very much a matter of personal preference and depends on the method you find the easiest to enjoy.

Soft gels are ideal for those who struggle to swallow large pills. A soft gel coating on the outside makes them much smoother as they travel down your throat than regular capsules. Many soft gels can also be chewed, making them the perfect option when you don’t have water on hand.

Regular CBD capsules tend to have a thin coating that, when broken apart, allows you to see the CBD oil blend contained within. The shape is designed to be easy to swallow and quick to digest.

CBD pills are trickier to swallow due to their hard texture but are preferred by some for their complete lack of flavor.