If you’re just starting your CBD journey, then you may be unsure about where to even begin. The terminology can be confusing and the choices available to you can be overwhelming. The purpose of our CBD Beginner’s Guide is to help you start the learning process so you can ultimately decide which products may be best for you.
Let’s start out by saying that no one can guarantee that CBD products will work for you. Despite what some may say, it’s not a “miracle cure-all.” That said, many users do find it to be an effective option and another “tool in the toolbox” to achieving wellness.
You should also know that finding the right type, brand and dosage that works best for you will likely take some experimentation. Taking the time to do your research now can increase your chances of success in a shorter time frame.
STEP 1: Decide on a type of CBD product
Made from hemp or marijuana?
CBD (short for cannabidiol) is a chemical compound called a cannabinoid that is extracted from the cannabis plant. CBD products with less than 0.3% THC (the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis) are considered to be derived from hemp. Conversely, products with more than 0.3% THC are considered to be from marijuana. The difference between the two is purely based on THC content.
If you’re looking for something with more than 0.3% THC, you’ll need to visit a dispensary in a state or country where marijuana is legal. Dispensary employees are usually very knowledgeable and can help guide those seeking higher THC products.
Alternatively, hemp-derived CBD products are much more widely available. In fact, they can be purchased online by residents of all 50 states and most foreign countries. You may have also noticed them being sold in some local stores.
Full spectrum, broad spectrum or isolate?
Once you’ve decided on hemp-derived products, it’s important to know that there are 3 major product types:
Full spectrum – these products include all the naturally-occurring cannabinoids and terpenes from the “whole plant” hemp extract. They include high levels of CBD, low levels of THC (up to the 0.3% legal limit), and other cannabinoids such as CBDa, CBG, CBN, and CBC.
Broad spectrum – similar to full spectrum in that they contain a natural balance of cannabinoids and terpenes. The difference is that they have undergone special processing to remove as much of the THC as possible. Broad spectrum products are classified as “THC-free” because they contain undetectable levels of THC based on lab testing.
Isolate – these products are made from CBD in its purest form. As a result, they don’t contain other cannabinoids or terpenes. Since there is no detectable THC in them, they are also considered to be “THC-free.”
Which type that you choose is entirely a personal decision. The majority of users prefer full spectrum but there is no “right” choice for everyone. Those who are subject to drug testing or have an aversion to any THC tend to first try broad spectrum or isolate products.
STEP 2: How do you want to take CBD?
You have several options when it comes to how you take it.
The most popular ways are:
Tinctures (oral drops) – this delivery method is preferred by the majority of users. You place the drops under your tongue and hold them there for 30-60 seconds. This allows the CBD oil to absorb sublingually into your bloodstream. Tinctures are popular because they allow for precise dosing, have good absorption rates, and are generally the most cost-effective way of taking CBD.
Gummies and capsules – popular because of their convenience and easy dosage measurement. However, they have lower absorption rates than tinctures since they pass through the digestive system. So you may have to take more milligrams of CBD to get the same effect as from using tinctures.
Topical lotions, creams, balms and salves – these are applied directly to the skin where it is absorbed by the body. These are typically used by those looking for more localized relief from discomfort.
There is no “best” way to taking CBD for everyone. They each have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. So it’s really more of a personal preference. It’s also common for users to use multiple different products. For example, some users supplement their regular sublingual drops in the morning and evening with gummies throughout the day as needed.
STEP 3: How to choose a company to order from
If you ask 10 people to tell you the best CBD brand, you will likely get 10 different answers. There are literally thousands of companies that are currently selling products online.
To help those who are overwhelmed by the number of choices, we maintain a shortlist of the best CBD oil brands. These brands have been carefully vetted for product quality, lab testing, customer service and feedback from users.
If you’re unsure where to start, our CBD product finder can help you choose a brand and product based on your needs.
Looking for CBD products for your dog or other pet? Our Complete Guide to CBD Oil for Dogs provides answers to the most frequently asked questions by pet owners.
A few do’s and don’ts when buying CBD products online:
STEP 4: Find your "sweet spot" or optimal dosage
After you buy a product that seems right for you, it’s time to start taking it. The importance of finding the right dosage level cannot be overstated.
If you take too little, you won’t feel any effects. If you take too much, you may experience mild side effects such as headaches or nausea.
Be sure to read our CBD Dosage Guide before getting started and follow our process for finding your optimal dose.
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Other Frequently Asked Questions
How can I compare prices across brands?
CBD products come in different bottle sizes and concentrations. This can make it confusing to compare prices across different brands. The correct way to do this comparison is on a price per milligram basis.
To do this, you simply divide the price of the product by the number of milligrams of CBD in the product. This allows you to an apples-to-apples comparison across brands. It also allows you to see how much you can save by buying a larger bottle or higher concentration.
Our CBD oil price comparison calculator can help you do this calculation. We have charts that compare prices for CBD products for all major brands.
Which brands have the strongest CBD oils?
The strength or potency of a CBD product is expressed as the number of milligrams per milliliter. So a 30 milliliter bottle with 1000 milligrams of CBD (33 mg/ml) has twice the potency of a 30 milliliter bottle with 500 milligrams (17 mg/ml).
Your choice of potency is usually based on how much CBD that you will be taking. Beginners typically start with a lower potency (20 mg/ml or less) product and then may move up to higher potency (50 mg/ml or more) products in the future as needed.
Our guide to the strongest CBD oils will help you understand potency and why it matters.
Let us know what you think
We hope that our CBD Beginner’s Guide has been helpful and that it helps you find the CBD products that are right for you. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.
Best of luck on your CBD journey!