While hemp oil is nothing new, CBD oil is at the peak of its craze. Research is still catching up, but anecdotal reviews suggest CBD to be an effective anti-anxiety, sleep, and pain reducing aid. The overlapping harmony of these effects have led to CBD’s rising popularity as a total wellness solution.
Here, we’re going to get down to the bottom of what CBD oil is, what it is proven to do, what it certainly can’t do, cases where authority figures swear by it, and which brands make the best CBD oil products.
Rankings at a glance
Here is a look ahead at the 3 best CBD products for those short on time.
- Charlotte’s Web – Best CBD Oil Tincture
- MedTerra – Best CBD Capsules
- Kat’s Naturals – Best CBD Cosmetics
What is CBD oil?
CBD is the initialism (NOT acronym) for cannabidiol, a specific phytocannabinoid collected from the cannabis plant (1).
Cannabis or marijuana is known for two major things:
- Being a psychoactive drug – the THC effect.
- Having medicinal properties – the CBD effect.
Often times, a person will tout using marijuana for use-case #2 while truly seeking experience #1. And a lot of cannabis brands have leveraged this to their advantage, leaving true CBD seekers left in the dust, filtering bad from worse…
IMPORTANT: CBD oil is not to be mistaken for non-CBD disclosed cannabis oil, hemp seed oil, or any other variations. Pure or fully disclosed CBD cannabidiol is our focus.
That’s the main motivation behind why we made this guide and ranking, for our athlete readers who can’t afford to have THC show up on their drug test, yet can benefit deeply from CBD.
Don’t get tricked by ‘CBD’ hemp oil on Amazon
The first place that most people go to buy CBD is Amazon. When you type CBD in, you get plenty of results too! But they aren’t actually CBD.
Instead they are hemp extract and hemp seed oil, which contains very little CBD oil if any. That’s why you won’t even find CBD in the names or descriptions of these products – only in the comments!
Difference between hemp oil, hemp seed oil and CBD oil [Important]
CBD oil represents pure cannabidiol and is more expensive than standard hemp oil and hemp seed oil.
Due to this, it isn’t uncommon for brands to take advantage of consumer misunderstanding, selling you inexpensive to make hemp oil in place of CBD (labeled and marketed the same, but not the same)(2).
Here is the breakdown:
- Isolated CBD oil – CBD or pure cannabidiol represents 1 of 120 known cannabinoids. It is extensively purified to deliver only CBD, in a standardized dosage. At the end of the day you know exactly what you’re getting.
- Hemp oil (full spectrum CBD) – Hemp oil contains the whole range of known cannabinoids. This can include the psychoactive THC in micro-quantities. CBD oil is purified from hemp oil, which is why CBD oil costs more and is more effective in smaller quantities. Some hemp oil products may contain sufficient CBD, while others may have had their CBD contents taken out to create CBD oil! With that in mind, pay attention to disclosed CBD quantities.
- Hemp seed oil – Hemp seed oil does not contain CBD, though works well for cosmetic, commercial and culinary applications. Its rich in omega fatty acids and is comparable to other seed oils.
Bottom line: You’re typically after pure CBD oil products if you landed on this page. The others are no substitute.
How to take CBD oil (dosing strategy)
Whether you are using CBD oil topically, in food, as a tincture, or delicious gummies – the same dosing strategy applies.
The CBD dosing strategy is: start small and slowly work your way up over time. Weight matters too. If you weigh less, you’ll need less.
This is because everyone’s body contains a unique number of CBD receptors, natural CBD content, and tolerance. So, while standardized dosages exist as a ‘norm’ of regular use, you may not fit into them quite yet, or ever.
When you first start out, begin with ¼ of your products recommended dosage and slowly work your way up. If you find that 1/4th dosage works well for you, then stay at that and save $$. This can be referred to as your minimum viable dose.
10 Best CBD Oil Products [capsules, gummies, lotions, and drops]
Below we’ve rated and ranked our top CBD picks, based on personal experience of each product first, and ‘research digging’ second. We hope to bring to your attention the most qualified brands who produce the highest quality, purity and value CBD products.
#1 Charlotte’s Web CBD Oil – Preferred CBD tinctures
Servings: 30 – CBD dosage: 17 mg – Preservatives: none – Price: $74.99
The CBD industry has often been referred to as ‘the wild west’. This is because regulations are thin, demand is high, and it seems like everyone is jumping in with little experience to start CBD companies.
Charlotte’s Web is one of the very few brands that sets itself apart from the pack, displaying clear ethics, transparency, and dedication to their craft. This brings with it a premium price, naturally, but you can be confident in the CBD your getting today as well as when you re-order for years to come.
- Positives: Family owned and operated by the seven Stanley brothers (not a mystery brand), Organic flavors, Wide variety of products and options, impeccable brand reputation and public relations.
- Negatives: Premium price, some customer reviews comment on faulty droppers.
Charlotte’s Web Review Verdict: Hands down the most trustable CBD brand, and we just about tried them all. We focused heavily on reviewing their tinctures/drops, however were quite impressed with their 3 specialized CBD gummies: sleep, recovery and calm.
#2 MedTerra CBD – CBD gel capsules at a great value
Servings: 30 – CBD dosage: 25 mg – Preservatives: none – Price: $44.99
MedTerra is an interesting brand, being one of the few that actually grow and process their own cannabis from seed to CBD.
In fact, MedTerra originally started out as a CBD wholesaler (3), likely providing manufacturing and processing services to brands like PureKana/Premium Jane (who are Arizona companies touting Kentucky grown CBD).
This gives MedTerra a clear price advantage, coming directly from the source. Why bother with the other guys if this is all true?
- Positives: One of 13 US Hemp Authority Seal recipients (4), Significant bundling and promo discounts, grows their own hemp, all natural.
- Negatives: May be same exact CBD as many other brands.
MedTerra Review Verdict: MedTerra has anchored itself as a key player in the CBD industry that is ready to consistently meet the needs of its clients – retail and wholesale alike. Its great that they grow their own cannabis, and offer direct-to-consumer savings via promotions and bundling.
#3 Kat’s Naturals Professional CBD Cream – Best Organic Topical
Size: 40 ml – CBD dosage: 15 mg/ml – Preservatives: none – Price: $70
Kat’s Naturals is a quality brand, being one of the few fully organic CBD providers. Kat’s Naturals is lead by herbalist and nutritionist Katy Merryfield, who originally began experimenting with CBD for her husband’s military PTSD.
Kat’s Naturals provides a full suite of products, from sublingual CBD drops to infused chocolate. Though what we found most valuable was their organic Professional CBD cream. This is pretty unique to the market, and delivers an effective CBD dose alongside therapeutic essential oils.
- Positives: Organic ingredients, Run by qualified nutritionist and herbalist Katy Merryfield, serious focus on quality, available at some retail locations.
- Negatives: Premium price, but worth it for peace of mind.
Verdict: For CBD infused essential oil creams, this is really the only option if you prefer the best. Taking multiple CBD products? That isn’t a problem, you can bundle your order with several other types of CBD all in one shipment. Very impressed by this brand and the quality of products.
#4 PureKana CBD Gummies – Best CBD gummies
Concern: Appears to have same owners + suppler as Premium Jane CBD. Premium Jane’s ‘main office’ is a post box one mile from PureKana’s rented office (which also goes by AZ medical marijuana doc), their websites are the same design, same CBD supplier in Kentucky, and same customer service. Deceptive? You be the judge. In their defense, both products were solid quality in our review.
Servings: 10 to 20 – CBD dosage: 25 mg to 50 mg – Preservatives: none – Price: $40
PureKana is a beautifully designed brand that manufactures the entire range of CBD products, from tinctures to gummies and topicals to dog treats. They are one of the more popular, too; taking full advantage of their head start early into CBDs popularity.
PureKana’s CBD isolate gummies are exceptionally appealing in their lineup, thanks to the key facts below.
- PureKana Positives: Flavored variations use natural flavors, reasonable concentration of CBD, Hemp grown in Kentucky and 3rd party tested, Solvent-free co2 extraction methods (no harsh chemicals).
- Potential Negatives: Might be connected to Premium Jane CBD, informational content on their site is rudimentary and not authoritative (lack of perceived qualification), latest published 3rd party lab result is nearly 2 years old (from FAQ page), orders can take up to 5 days to ship out.
PureKana Review Verdict: From a buy-and-try perspective, PureKana’s CBD products were spot on. Our favorite was their CBD Gummies, made with isolated CBD. It was also nice being able to source CBD vape pens directly from them, as opposed to other less-trusted sources. However, upon discovering a possible connection to Premium Jane we feel mislead.
#5 NuLeaf Naturals CBD Tinctures
Servings: 100 drops – CBD dosage: 2.4 mg / drop – Preservatives: none – Price: $38.50
It all started in Colorado, right? Well that is where NuLeaf Naturals got their start, sourcing CBD directly from high quality organic hemp using CO2 extraction. Operating since 2014, NuLeaf is one of the OG’s of CBD – providing reliable tinctures just like day 1.
- NuLeaf Positives: Crafted from organic hemp, operated and sourced in Colorado since 2014, specializes in tinctures (doesn’t make anything else).
- Potential Negatives: Outdated branding and lack of products suggests developmental stagnation.
NuLeaf Naturals Review Verdict: If you’re looking for a grass-roots, Colorado based CBD provider, NuLeaf Naturals is one of the best options you can choose. You won’t find anything fancy, just pure CBD oil tinctures in a variety of strengths and sizes. We reviewed their 2.4 mg per ml smallest size priced at $38.50 and found it earthy and pleasant, comparable to other top brands.
#6 Plus CBD Oil soft gels Gold Formula
Servings: 30 – CBD dosage: 15 mg – Preservatives: none – Price: $49.95
Cool is important for clothing, but when it comes to medicinal items – trust is more important. That’s why we like Plus CBD, a lot. Plus CBD is owned by the parent company CV Sciences, a publicly traded company, who fully discloses their certified operating staff and project goals (5). Basically, they are a nutraceutical company operating at a pharmaceutical level of professionalism.
Out of their selection, we gravitate towards their Gold Formula CBD soft gels. Its effectively dosed at 15 mg CBD per capsule without any added preservatives.
- Positives: Reputable and disclosed brand, innovators in the CBD space, Quality products.
- Negatives: A bit premium, boring and generic branding.
Verdict: If you care less about story and more about raw qualifications, then Plus CBD is your ideal hemp brand. They make several types of CBD products, but we liked their Gold Formula soft gels most of all.
#7 CBD Distillery Crystalline CBD Isolate
Servings: N/A – CBD dosage: N/A – Preservatives: none – Price: $15 to $378
As a brand, CBD Distillery is huge! This is one of the few that make their own in-house products, as well as white-label for other CBD brands.
That means they are quite confident and anchored into the industry – something that typically shows in product quality and pricing! Hence, why our favorite product by CBD Distillery is their pure crystalline CBD powder. Very few brands are able to make pure powder at an affordable price. CBD Distillery does it the best.
- CBD Distillery Positives: Proven CBD manufacturer, Colorado based, Wide CBD selection.
- Potential Negatives: Some products may be same as other brands, since CBD Distillery is a manufacturer.
CBD Distillery CBD Isolate Verdict: The capability to make a pure CBD isolate crystalline powder, at affordable prices, shows that CBD Distillery knows exactly what they are doing. We have trust for this brand.
#8 FAB CBD Chews
Servings: 30 – CBD dosage: 25 mg – Preservatives: none – Price: $59
FAB is another Colorado sourced hemp company offering a wide range of options. Unlike the many mystery-owner CBD brands, FAB was proudly founded by entrepreneur Josh Delaney (6).
From topical creams to CBD drops and gummies, FAB has a vector for nearly every therapeutic method. Their overall brand direction is towards making a premium product, which often means higher CBD dosages at a higher price.
- FAB CBD Positives: Disclosed ownership, premium products, Colorado based.
- Potential Negatives: Premium price, hemp is sourced not grown.
FAB Review Verdict: In an ocean of questionable brands, FAB floats to the top as a reliable option. Their products are quality focused, and if you live in the US you can count on special free-shipping promos.
#9 Cannuka CBD Skincare
Servings: N/A – CBD dosage: N/A – Preservatives: potassium sorbate – Price: $28 to $58
Skincare is a specialized science, and due to that it takes a genuine skincare brand to fully tap the benefits of CBD for skin. Cannuka is one of the top skincare brands in CBD, and we have nothing but good things to say.
Cannuka doesn’t just use CBD in its formulas, but adds in skin-friendly hyaluronic acid, essential oils and vitamins to make their products cumulatively one of a kid.
- Cannuka Positives: Skincare is all they do… So they’re great at it.
- Potential Negatives: Known to sell out of stock quickly.
Cannuka CBD Skincare Verdict: If you’re looking for CBD skincare items with a typical cosmetic feel, then Cannuka has you covered. Not too corporate and not too ‘hemp world’, Cannuka delivers quality unique products you can count on.
#10 Infinite CBD Nano Shots (Energy, Detox and Rest)
Servings: 1 – CBD dosage: 10 mg – Preservatives: N/A – Price: $4.50
Infinite CBD makes one of the more interesting hemp products – CBD Nano Shots. Coming in 3 different types, you could compare: Nano Energy to an energy drink, Nano Detox to a typical detox shot, and Nano Rest to Dream Water.
Out of the 3, we liked Nano Rest the most… For some reason CBD before bed is amazing!
- Infinite CBD Positives: Unique brand with a wide variety of Colorado based CBD products.
- Potential Negatives: Branding is a bit cheesy and doesn’t inspire overwhelming confidence.
Infinite CBD Nano Shots Verdict: Infinite CBD’s Nano Shots bring a unique and useful CBD fast-shot to the market. They make a wide variety of other products too, like their Asteroids CBD isolate gummies. We tried their Asteroids and loved them, the only problem is that its hard to restrict your usage since they are in a delicious candy vector.
Consumer Alert: Potential ‘CBD clone companies’ we dropped from the ranking
While formulating our rankings, ordering products, and doing extensive due diligence we had many instances where products were shipped from the same place, or contained eerily similar characteristics. This led us to the following discoveries (judge at your own discretion, we’re not 100%).
Verified CBD – Dropped
Verified CBD is owned by ‘Premium Health Labs’ who also appear to operate clone companies: Get Sleep Spray, CBD for Dogs, The Kings of CBD. They also appear to operate Verified Forskolin which has the exact same design and ‘feel’ as Verified CBD. This doesn’t make us feel confident in their products, so we dropped them from the ranking.
Premium Jane CBD – Dropped
Appears to be operated by the same guys that own PureKana. We loved both brands products, as we discussed above (and maintained PureKana’s ranking), but could not let this leaf go unturned. Refer to the PureKana ranking at #4 for more information.
How does CBD oil work?
CBD oil is often marketed as a jack-of-all-trades.
That’s cool, but doesn’t objectively explain the ups and downs of cannabis for medicinal value (7).
So, we dug in deep to figure out what current research knows about CBD:
- Which receptors get activated.
- Which receptors get blocked.
- Basically, what happens at the smallest level.
Talk about interesting, check out what we learned…
For starters, CBD reduces or ‘throttles’ the effects of THC by blocking binding sites (CB1 and CB2) in the endocannabinoid system (8). The endocannabinoid system is specific to cannabinoid molecules, made by the body (endo) as well as ingested (exo) (9).
CBDs effect on the endocannabinoid system occurs competitively, meaning sometimes CBD gets to a receptor first, and sometimes THC (when taken in conjunction)(10). Blocked THC is free to then seek out an unblocked receptor until it finds its target or is metabolized (11).
But CBD modulating the classical endocannabinoid system is only the beginning.
CBD also interacts with (but not in the same competitive inhibition):
- Opioid receptor systems
- Dopamine receptor systems
- Serotonin receptor systems
Making things even more complex is the theory of endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD), where several conditions may be caused by not enough bodily produced cannabinoids (14).
Specific Benefits of CBD oil products (Reasons people take CBD)
As you read above, we understand that CBD works by activating (and sometimes blocking) different types of receptors.
Here, we will cover how research connects the effects of CBD to relief from specific conditions (both acute and chronic). The goal is to provide a better idea of what you can expect and if it’s a good fit at all.
Lessening anxiety with CBD
Anxiety is a very human experience. More times than not, non-anxious appearing people do not lack anxiety, rather their confidence and unconscious social behavior overcomes present anxiety.
The point is, everyone has anxiety to a degree (15)… It’s not just you. I personally get anxiety, and have yet to discuss the topic of anxiety with anyone who claims to not deal with it either.
The Research on CBD and Anxiety
The endocannabinoid system has been linked to stress tolerance and response for quite some time. While under temporary stress, the endocannabinoid system acts to relax nerves that may be firing too rapidly (16). However, under prolonged stress this response may wear out similarly to adrenal fatigue.
This has led to researchers observing endocannabinoid system dysfunction in mood and psychiatric disorders. Basically meaning, an unbalanced endocannabinoid system caused by stress or diet often times leads to mood and mental health imbalance (17).
It would appear that supplementing with CBD oil can help to exogenously (from outside) balance the endocannabinoid system (endo is ‘inside the body’).
- One study in particular evaluated the effects of CBD oil on PTSD in a young girl (18). They observed that over time, CBD reduced markers of stress and allows her to grow past her traumatic experience.
- Another study evaluated CBD oils use in the acute stress situation of public speaking (19). What researchers observed, was that students given CBD displayed significantly reduced symptoms of stress and anxiety both during and after public speaking. Though, the response was dose-dependent – meaning, too much or too little and the desired effect wasn’t observed.
In a highly stressed society of high-expectations, CBD oil will likely begin to play a more important role in the improvement of neurological health (20). From lifestyle stress to occasional stress, CBD appears to calm our bodies tendency to overload (as if we’re being chased by lions).
How to take CBD for anxiety
From the studies we’ve evaluated, CBD is best taken orally for treating anxiety (both acute and chronic). The tough part about dosing CBD for anxiety, is that everyone has their own unique number of receptors. For that reason, start low at approximately 10 mg CBD. If you don’t feel anything, work your way up slowly to a maximum of around 45 mg for heavier individuals.
We’re optimistic towards CBD Oil’s ability to help reduce anxiety and face complex situations given the research. Though, not all anxiety is the same and it’s important that you better understand the anxiety you experience, in order to better understand yourself and make progress (21). You can take a free anxiety test here provided by Psychom.
Falling asleep faster with CBD
Sleep is often the most overlooked superpower in our day-to-day toolkit.
Why stress and procrastinate all day when you could be sleeping instead, waking well-rested and charged to tackle your goals like a precision instrument?
Well, duh… You get that.
We already know sleep is important. It’s the falling asleep that isn’t easy when you have a million-and-one life stressors stacking up.
The research on CBD and sleep
It appears that CBD helps induce sleep by reducing underlying anxiety – something that melatonin sleep products completely miss on. This was laid out in the most recent 2019 large-scale study evaluating CBDs use-case for anxiety and sleep (22).
- In rats, scientists have observed CBD supplementation to increase sleep duration (23).
- In human trials, insomniacs given CBD report having slept significantly better with CBD versus placebo (24).
Overall, broad studies suggest that CBD has interesting potential for treating sleep problems, especially when compared to prescription medications (25). However, users should self-medicate with caution as it’s likely not a one-size-fits-all option.
How to take CBD for sleep
Where you would typically take melatonin immediately before bed, CBD oil appears to be better to take about an hour before lights out.
Supplemental dosage is inline with CBD dosages for stress: that is, start around 10 mg and work your way up if need be.
Users report CBD to be both an effective short-term and long-term solution to improving sleep. Where some sleep supplements tend to wear off after a week or so, CBD stays strong.
CBD oil has demonstrated clear use-case as a sleep promoting agent. This effect appears to be most predominant in stress-related insomnia, taking credit to CBDs total stress-reduction capability.
This may also be why CBD has been observed to improve wakefulness and alertness during the day (26). One could compare it to CBD taking the weight of stress off, allowing you to function during the day and wind down at night (27).
Eliminating marijuana withdrawal using CBD
This is a rather interesting use-case for CBD oil. We know that CBD can be used to reduce anxiety and promote a healthy sleep schedule. But what happens when long-time chronic marijuana users decide to quit?
Answer: Quitting marijuana causes a CBD imbalance that can be soothed with CBD oil to eliminate ‘weed withdrawal’.
While this is incredible news for those having a hard time eliminating marijuana from their lives, it also brings up the question of CBD oil dependency in CBD users – a reason to always pursue minimum viable dosages.
Summing it all up on CBD
The CBD oil industry is still in its cutting-edge infancy. There are quite a few good CBD brands like the ones we covered in our ranking, but there are even more questionable ones.
The use-case for CBD supplements is impressive. The heavy hitters we covered above are just a few, and do not even delve into CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects (29).
Here is a recap of our best CBD oil ranking:
Table of Contents
- What is CBD oil?
- How to take CBD oil (dosing strategy)
- 10 Best CBD Oil Products [capsules, gummies, lotions, and drops]
- #1 Charlotte’s Web CBD Oil – Preferred CBD tinctures
- #2 MedTerra CBD – CBD gel capsules at a great value
- #3 Kat’s Naturals Professional CBD Cream – Best Organic Topical
- #4 PureKana CBD Gummies – Best CBD gummies
- #5 NuLeaf Naturals CBD Tinctures
- #6 Plus CBD Oil soft gels Gold Formula
- #7 CBD Distillery Crystalline CBD Isolate
- #8 FAB CBD Chews
- #9 Cannuka CBD Skincare
- #10 Infinite CBD Nano Shots (Energy, Detox and Rest)
- Consumer Alert: Potential ‘CBD clone companies’ we dropped from the ranking
- How does CBD oil work?
- Specific Benefits of CBD oil products (Reasons people take CBD)
- Summing it all up on CBD
If you have any questions, comments or scientific journal studies you’d like to share – jump in below. We expect this topic to expand greatly over the next 5 years and appreciate any cutting-edge studies you can send our way.