Determining which cannabidiol (CBD) products are best for you or someone you care for is difficult. This is because there are so many different products out there, and they are of varying quality. Individual patients also experience different success according to their medical condition and their body’s interaction with each product. What is best for one patient might not be best for someone else. This makes it hard for us to definitely say ‘X is the best product, period’. However, this blog talks you through the 10 best CBD products based on our patients’ experiences. Table of Contents Hemp Vs Cannabis CBD What is the Criteria for Deciding Which CBD Products go into a Top Ten? 10 Best CBD Products There is No #1 CBD Product Hemp Vs Cannabis CBD It is important to remember that there are two different markets: the legal, hemp-derived CBD (cannabidiol) products; and the federally illegal products using CBD derived from the cannabis plant, for which you need a medical marijuana card to purchase in a dispensary. In general, the federally illegal ones are probably a better source of CBD. This is because they use plants where cannabinoid production is maximized, as well as generally having a more stringent regulatory regime. Hemp-derived CBD products are easier to get a hold of, but the quality is inconsistent. Even some of the most reputable and well-marketed companies make mistakes, but this is also the case with illegal cannabis. Also, there are some great hemp companies doing some excellent work, who use CBD-rich flower (“hemp”, or legal, well-grown Cannabis sativa that tests under 0.3% THC). In a rational and ideal world, we would look at hemp and cannabis products through the same lens, as they are separated more by legal definitions than by scientific ones. CBD molecular structure. What is the Criteria for Deciding Which CBD Products go into a Top Ten? Here is how we determine what gets included in our 10 best CBD product list. Products : Transparent test results – Does the company regularly test their products for cannabinoid and terpene content? Are they willing to show their results on their website and labelling? Do they test each batch? If the answer is “yes” to all three of these, then the company is off to a good start. Scientific inquiry – Does the company want to put their money where their mouth is? Do they carry out patient studies, or are they willing to allow a third party to test and experiment with their products? If so, then this is another good sign. The company uses good quality cannabis or hemp plants, in an area where the soil is tested for pollutants. Safe methods of extracting cannabinoids from the cannabis or hemp plant, such as supercritical CO2 extraction. Alcohol extraction is good, too. Avoid products made using propane, butane, hexane or pentane, as these can leave behind contaminants. Ideally is made from the whole plant, which makes CBD more effective through the entourage effect. Some people may find relief from CBD-rich hemp products, but some may require the THC. Does not make any out-of-this-world medical claims. Remember: cannabis is not a panacea. Some people respond well, some people respond neutrally, some people negatively. Although many conditions arise due to endocannabinoid deficiency, this is not always the case. For example, some types of cancer may be treated by cannabinoids, others may not, as the cancer is not cannabinoid-responsive. This could be the case with multiple sclerosis (MS), arthritis and depression, too. Is widely available. Unfortunately, this means that some amazing smaller producers miss out. There is no doubt that some of the best product makers are people without huge advertising budgets. Related to the above, they may make both THC and CBD-only products. Is reasonably priced. Makes products with a medical focus. Although these can be gamed to a certain extent, a good website, good reviews and awards from various cannabis cup competitions can be a good sign as well. 10 Best CBD Products Here’s Leafwell’s top 10 CBD products that fulfil most if not all of the above criteria. The list is not in any particular order. Just to note, we may mention companies rather than just specific products they do, as they make several excellent CBD-rich products. We have given ratings based on the quality, accessibility and cost of the product, rather than efficacy. This is because, until we have high-quality studies objectively stating that “this product is suitable for condition/symptom x”, we cannot give a proper rating for effectiveness. Only companies that test their products, get their products appropriately tested, have some sort of scientific advisory board, and/or have significant numbers of people vouching for their products in a non-marketing manner are scored at 4 or above on the Research-Backed component. Scores are subject to change, and are not by any means an objective statement on the quality of the product overall (yet, anyway – we may get the data one day in future). 1. Aunt Zelda’s Aunt Zelda’s products are made by Mara Gordon and Stewart Smith, who are pioneers of data-driven cannabis-based plant medicines. They have a number of high-quality products, including extracts, topicals and infused olive oils, and they do consultations as well for those who require guidance and need to develop a dosing program. Unfortunately, Aunt Zelda’s products are only available in California. Leafwell’s Rating Research-backed: 5/5 Quality: 5/5 Accessibility: 2/5 Cost: 4.5/5 Aunt Zelda’s tincture. 2. Provacan Provacan is developed by CiiTech, who work with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and other universities to actually research the potential benefits of CBD. At the moment, they are looking into using CBD for asthma, as CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, whereas THC and pinene may be useful for opening up the airways to the lungs. Provacan also uses supercritical CO2 extraction equipment to “pull” the active CBD (as well as terpenes and other cannabinoids) from the organic hemp plants. Provacan is one of the better hemp-derived CBD companies. Leafwell’s Rating Research-backed: 5/5 Quality: 4.5/5 Accessibility: 4/5 Cost: 4/5 3. Papa & Barkley One of the more widely-available products, as they do CBD-only tinctures, capsules, balms and body lotions that are available US-wide, on top of their THC products, which are California-only as far as we know. Papa & Barkley is tested and has won several awards. There are few mainstream producers that are as good as Papa & Barkley. Leafwell’s Rating Research-backed: 4/5 Quality: 4/5 Accessibility: 4/5 Cost: 4/5 Releaf Balm by Papa & Barkley. You do not have to eat, drink or vape cannabis for therapeutic benefits! 4. Cibdol Cibdol is made from organic hemp grown in Europe. Cibdol is tested and analysed for CBD content, and has a wide range of products to choose from. One of the better hemp-derived CBD products. Leafwell’s Rating Research-backed: 3/5 Quality: 4/5 Accessibility: 4/5 Cost: 3/5 5. The Stanley Brothers’ Charlotte’s Web Charlotte’s Web was made famous by the Stanley Brothers developing a CBD-rich variety of cannabis for Charlotte Figi (RIP), who needed CBD for the treatment of Dravet syndrome. Since then, the Stanley Brothers have made a hemp-based CBD tincture that can be shipped US-wide. They also work with Realm of Caring, who are well-regarded by many for their cannabis education efforts. They have a good reputation for producing high-quality hemp-derived CBD tinctures. Leafwell’s Rating Research-backed: 3/5 Quality: 3/5 Accessibility: 5/5 Cost: 4/5 6. 4 Corners Cannabis Another widely-available, organic hemp-derived CBD product. 4 Corners Cannabis was started by Brian and Justin Jasiewicz, who took their cannabis growing experience to the world of hemp, and in the process have built a great reputation for themselves. They show third party lab reports on their website, and their experience with the cannabis side of things bodes well for them. Leafwell Rating Research-backed: 3/5 Quality: 3/5 Accessibility: 4/5 Cost: 4/5 7. Cheeba Chews Cheeba Chews have been around for quite some time, and were one of the first on the commercial edibles market. They make a range of CBD and mixed THC-CBD products, and the fact that they are still around shows that Cheeba Chews knows what they’re doing. Cheeba Chews’ taffies are particularly popular (and tasty). Leafwell Rating Research-backed: 2/5 Quality: 4/5 Accessibility: 2/5 Cost: 4/5 8. Mary’s Nutritionals Mary’s Nutritionals THC products are widely available in California and Colorado, and their CBD products are available nationwide. Mary’s Nutritionals created some of the first (and still amongst the best) transdermal patches, which allows for CBD to be delivered discreetly and easily via the skin. Leafwell Rating Research-backed: 3/5 Quality: 4/5 Accessibility: 4/5 Cost: 4/5 9. Vireo Health Products Vireo is a multi-state dispensary operator that makes their own products. They make THC:CBD ratios ranging from 19:1 (Red), 6:1 (Yellow), 1:1 (Green), 1:6 (Blue) and 1:19 (Indigo). The Red and Yellow colors are ideal for cancer and chemotherapy, whereas the Blue and Indigo colors are better suited for neurological conditions like epilepsy. The 1:1 may be useful for those suffering from chronic and neuropathic pain. Leafwell and Vireo Health partnered last month for a webinar to discuss the links between chronic pain and insomnia. Leafwell Rating Research-backed: 5/5 Quality: 4.5/5 Accessibility: 3/5 Cost: 4/5 Vireo Health products. Red, Yellow and Green, all with different CBD:THC ratios. See here for more: https://vireohealth.com/ny/products/ 10. Foria Foria has been creating “product lines for intimacy, relief, and optimal wellbeing for women and people with vulvas” since 2013. Foria are a rather unique brand with a unique focus, fusing together sexual health and intimacy with plant medicine. Foria are trailblazers in their field, and for this we shall include them in our top 10. Leafwell Rating Research-backed: 3/5 Quality: 4/5 Accessibility: 4/5 Cost: 4/5 There is No #1 CBD Product Leafwell can never expect to recommend only one CBD product. There is too much variation in terms of how the cannabis plant can be used and how patients experience different treatments and products. Sometimes, even the best companies get things wrong, as cannabis is a complex plant with hundreds of cannabinoids and terpenes. Getting consistency is difficult, but important if we are to look at cannabis as medicine. The most honest companies will usually refrain from selling anything that hasn’t been tested appropriately for safety and cannabinoid-terpenoid profile. There are certainly some smaller companies that get overlooked, but these can be hard to get a hold of for most people. Other companies have better marketing than products. Some companies, even some considered reputable, have received FDA warning letters for mislabeled products, where the FDA tested for CBD content and found the amounts listed on the label to be inaccurate. Sometimes, this could just be bad luck, but it is best to be careful. If you use any of the products from the above companies, feel free to tell us your experience of using them. Featured image: Atakan, Zerrin. (2012). Cannabis, a complex plant: different compounds and different effects on individuals. Therapeutic advances in psychopharmacology. 2. 241-54. 10.1177/2045125312457586.