Initially Posted: 09/05/2020 | Last Updated: 10/06/2020
CBD and Hemp Oils Reviewed by ConsumerLab.com

CBD oils and hemp extracts compared in this review:

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Bluebird Botanicals Hemp Extract Classic

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CBDFX Gummies 300 mg - Mixed Berries

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Charlotte's Web 17 mg - Mint Chocolate Flavor

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Curaleaf Hemp Lotion - Lemongrass

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Elixinol Organic Balance

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Garden of Life Dr. Formulated CBD + Sleep

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Garden of Life Dr. Formulated CBD 30 mg - Softgel

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Garden of Life Dr. Formulated CBD 50 mg - Liquid

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Green Roads Relax Bears 300 mg - Sweet & Relaxing

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Lord Jones Hemp-Derived CBD Tincture -Naturally Flavored Peppermint

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Manitoba Harvest CBD

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Nature's Love Topical ReLeaf Salve

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NuLeaf Naturals CBD Maximum Strength - 240 mg CBD per bottle

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Plus CBD Oil Hemp Softgel 15 mg

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Plus CBD Oil Hemp Softgel 5 mg

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Swanson CBD 15 mg

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Swanson CBD Full Spectrum 150 mg Balm - Mint

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Swanson Extra Strength CBD Full Spectrum 25 mg Oil Drops - Mint

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Summary

  • What is it? CBD (cannabidiol) is a compound derived from hemp and marketed as a supplement despite the U.S. FDA's position that CBD is not a dietary supplement. (See What It Is).
  • Does it work? CBD taken orally has been shown to reduce the frequency of certain types of seizures, and preliminary evidence suggests it may also help with anxiety, schizophrenia, and other conditions. However, most of these effects have involved large doses of CBD — hundreds of milligrams per day, which is more than in many marketed CBD supplements and products. CBD applied to the skin (such as CBD creams, gels, and lotions) may modestly reduce some forms of pain (See What It Is and What It Does).
  • What did CL find? ConsumerLab found significant amounts of CBD in all of the products but the cost to obtain an equal amount of CBD from each product ranged more than 10-fold, from just 24 cents to $2.67 per 10 mg. Interestingly, there were many good, lower cost products available on the market than ConsumerLab found in its last Review in 2018. Levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive compound) also tended to be much lower, with THC not detectable in most products. (See What CL Found and use the Results table to compare the amounts of CBD and other cannabinoids in products).
  • Top Picks — Based on quality and value, ConsumerLab selected several Top Picks including an overall Top Pick as well as high, medium, and low-dose picks for oral use, a Top Pick among topical lotions and balms, and a Top Pick for Pets based on top quality and value.
  • What to look for? If you seek CBD, look for products that list the amount of CBD or cannabidiol per serving (and don't confuse that with the amount per entire bottle). If a product lists only "cannabinoids" it may contain some CBD but you won't know how much. Products may still have significant amounts of CBD if they list "hemp extract" as an ingredient, but don't expect much CBD if "hemp oil" is the only ingredient. Hemp extracts are more likely to contain a range of cannabinoids in addition to CBD (although it's not clear if this provides added benefit) and this is what is meant by the term "full-spectrum" on labels — but full-spectrum products may or may not contain THC. If you want to avoid THC, look for products that claim to be "THC-free." (See ConsumerTips)
  • How much to take and when? Most of the research with CBD has involved high doses (several hundred milligrams daily). However, many CBD products on the market are lower dose and it is not clear if this dosing is effective. Nevertheless, to greatly increase CBD absorption, take it with or shortly after a fatty meal. (See ConsumerTips: Dosage)
  • Other concerns: High-dose CBD can cause a range of side effects (particularly gastrointestinal) and affect certain medications. For details, see Concerns and Cautions.
You must be a ConsumerLab.com member to get the full test results along with ConsumerLab.com's Top Picks and ConsumerTips on how to choose and use CBD. You'll get results for 18 popular CBD products (including oils, capsules, lotions, balms, and one for pets) including 10 selected by ConsumerLab.com based on reader requests and 8 tested through our voluntary Quality Certification Program.

You'll get all of the following information about CBD liquids and pills in this comprehensive review:

  • Which CBD supplements passed or failed testing
  • Which CBD supplements, lotions and balms offer the best quality at lowest cost and are CL's Top Picks
  • What CBD can and cannot do for your health
  • Which products contain virtually no THC
  • The important difference between hemp oil and hemp extract
  • The best way to take CBD
  • The dose of CBD for specific uses and how the amounts in products compare to those shown to work in clinical trials
  • What to look for on product labels
  • Cautions about the safety and potential side effects of CBD

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