Used by millions of people worldwide, cannabidiol (CBD) oil has grown into a leading health and wellness trend. It's not hard to see why: CBD lacks the intoxicating effects of THC and has been touted to help with anxiety, pain, poor sleep, and many other health issues.
Although researchers stress the need for further human trials, thousands of studies have highlighted its useful properties.
But finding high-quality CBD oil isn't easy. The CBD industry is shrouded in scientific lingo, and many people get overwhelmed by the sheer variety of products and brands.
To help you make an informed choice, we compared leading CBD brands by their third-party test results, hemp quality, price, potency, and other factors. Here's a look at the best CBD oils on the market.
One of the most trustworthy names on the market, Lazarus Naturals CBD oil is high-potency and affordable.
Lazarus Naturals CBD is USDA-certified organic and undergoes extensive third-party testing. Choose between four delicious flavors, and enjoy free shipping on orders over $50.
Evaluating CBD products comes with its own set of criteria. Here's how we find the best CBD oils:
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 140 naturally occurring phytocannabinoids, the main active compounds in cannabis. Unlike THC, the cannabinoid most people are familiar with, CBD can't get you high. It's usually extracted from hemp, a variety of cannabis with a low THC concentration (below 0.3%).
CBD is used in various products, with CBD oil being the most popular. CBD oil contains hemp extract dissolved in a carrier oil, like coconut MCT oil, that helps your body absorb the CBD. When you place a few drops of CBD oil under your tongue, it's absorbed directly into the blood vessels. This bypasses the digestive tract, greatly improving CBD's absorption.
CBD has been the subject of over 9,000 research studies, highlighting a wide range of beneficial properties, including the following effects:
But most of this evidence is limited to Petri dish and animal studies, so more clinical trials are needed to confirm these effects in humans. So far, the clinical evidence is strongest for CBD's anti-seizure effects in rare types of treatment-resistant epilepsy.
Unlike most cannabinoids, CBD doesn't interact strongly with your cannabinoid receptors. But it can increase the levels of anandamide, one of the two main endocannabinoids produced by our bodies.
Endocannabinoids are the main players in the human body's endocannabinoid system (ECS). Discovered in the 1990s, this system regulates virtually every major process – including immune function, pain, metabolism, digestion, and brain function – to help maintain a state of internal balance called homeostasis.
CBD also affects dozens of other receptors and systems in the body.
Although more clinical research is needed for most conditions, there's evidence that CBD can help people with:
CBD oil is also popular among workout enthusiasts, with emerging research suggesting that it can support exercise recovery.
Researchers have studied CBD for decades, concluding that it's a relatively safe, non-intoxicating, and non-addictive substance. Its potential side effects include:
CBD can also interact with some prescription medications.
But the good news is that all these side effects are usually mild. More importantly, they've only been reported by studies using continuous high oral doses of purified CBD, which is far from how most individuals use CBD.
Instead, most people take sublingual (under-the-tongue) CBD oil and opt for full-spectrum extracts, which have been shown to have fewer and milder side effects than pure CBD.
CBD oil can contain one of three types of CBD:
It's important to understand how they differ so that you can choose the best one for your needs.
Isolate is a pure form of CBD that doesn't contain any other compounds. It's considered the least effective type of CBD because it's missing other beneficial hemp cannabinoids and terpenes.
CBD isolate products have two advantages: they're completely free of all traces of THC and sometimes cheaper. But most people who need to avoid THC opt for broad-spectrum products instead.
Full-spectrum CBD is a whole-plant hemp extract containing all of the cannabinoids (including less than 0.3% THC), terpenes, flavonoids, and other natural compounds found in the plant. All of these molecules work in synergy with CBD and can have beneficial properties of their own.
Dubbed the “entourage effect” by researchers, this synergy explains why full-spectrum, whole-plant cannabis preparations appear to be more effective than any cannabinoid by itself. For example, one study in epilepsy patients found that CBD-rich cannabis extract was up to 4 times more effective than pure CBD.
Using full-spectrum CBD oil for optimal effects is recommended. The only exception is people who have to avoid THC altogether, either because they're very sensitive to it or because they have to pass drug tests.
Broad-spectrum CBD is almost the same as full-spectrum but with one key difference: the small amounts of THC have been removed. In that sense, it provides nearly the same effectiveness as full-spectrum CBD. Broad-spectrum products are best for those who have to pass employee drug tests, are extremely sensitive to THC, or live in states where any amount of THC in CBD oil is illegal.
However, keep in mind that broad-spectrum products can still contain undetectable, trace amounts of THC. Although unlikely, it's theoretically possible to ingest enough THC to test positive on a drug test if you regularly use a broad-spectrum CBD product.
Most people believe that CBD is non-psychoactive because it doesn't change your perception the same way as drugs like cannabis and LSD. In reality, a psychoactive or psychotropic substance is anything that affects your brain function (for instance, caffeine).
Since CBD has been shown to have anti-anxiety, antidepressant, and antipsychotic effects, it counts as psychoactive. The more accurate way to describe CBD is as "non-intoxicating."
There's no one-size-fits-all dosage of CBD because many factors impact the correct dose, including body weight, genetics, symptoms, and product type. That's why the best approach is to “start low and go slow,” gradually working your way up to the dose that provides you with relief.
CBD oil is far from the only CBD product. Other options include:
There are four main ways to administer CBD, each with its strengths and weaknesses:
There's growing evidence that cannabinoids work in synergy with each other, terpenes, and other compounds found in cannabis. Known as the entourage effect, this phenomenon means that full-spectrum CBD products containing the full range of hemp cannabinoids and terpenes may provide greater effects than CBD alone.
According to leading neuroscientist Dr. Yasmin Hurd, CBD can fight the opioid epidemic — the deaths, hospitalizations, economic costs, and other serious consequences caused by the misuse of highly addictive prescription and illicit opioids.
CBD has been shown to reduce opioid cravings and opioid painkiller use and have other anti-addictive effects.
According to a 2018 report by the World Health Organization (WHO), “CBD is generally well-tolerated with a good safety profile.” Safety studies also report that CBD has mostly minor side effects and that people tolerate daily doses as high as 1500 mg.
In simple terms, a mechanism of action is how a drug produces its effects. Most standard drugs have one or several mechanisms of action.
On the other hand, CBD appears to have dozens of mechanisms of action. One recent study found that it affects 76 distinct molecules, including various receptors, neurotransmitter systems, transporter proteins, and enzymes. This may explain why CBD appears to have so many beneficial properties.
Editor's choice and Best budget option
Our top pick goes to the full-spectrum high-potency CBD oil tincture from Lazarus Naturals. Lazarus Naturals is one of the most reputable brands in the CBD industry. It's employee-owned and vertically integrated, meaning that it controls every step from growing the hemp to manufacturing the end products.
This CBD oil costs significantly less than most others – only 2 to 3 cents per mg of CBD. The average price of CBD oil is about 9 cents per mg. On top of that, Lazarus provides free shipping on orders over $50 and a 60% discount for veterans, low-income families, and individuals with disabilities.
This tincture has a high potency of 50 mg/ml and comes in four bottle sizes ranging from 15 to 120 ml. It's also certified organic by the USDA and available in four flavors: classic, chocolate mint, French vanilla mocha, and yuzu.
Better yet, third-party tests confirm that it contains high levels of minor hemp cannabinoids and terpenes that work in synergy with CBD.
Full-spectrum CBD products are considered more effective because they contain the full range of synergistic cannabinoids and terpenes. If you're looking for the best full-spectrum CBD oil, we recommend Five CBD's CBD+THC Oil.
Like all Five CBD products, it provides higher-than-normal amounts of minor hemp cannabinoids. Most full-spectrum oils you'll find contain a 10:1 or lower ratio of CBD to minor hemp cannabinoids – Five CBD's tincture has a ratio of 5:1.
It has a high potency of 50 mg or 100 mg CBD per ml and comes in 30 or 60 ml bottles with 1500-6000 mg CBD. It's available in citrus and mint chocolate flavors and costs 3 cents per mg of CBD – one of the lowest prices on the market.
Five CBD uses organic American hemp to make its products and provides comprehensive third-party lab reports.
Best high-potency option
If you're looking for a strong CBD oil, we recommend the 5000 mg tincture from CBDistillery. Founded in 2016, CBDistillery is a popular brand out of Denver, Colorado. Its products are made from organic hemp grown in Colorado, Kentucky, and Oregon and comprehensively tested by a third-party lab.
As a full-spectrum product with 167 mg of CBD per ml (one full dropper), this is one of the strongest CBD oils you'll find. Most high-potency offerings from other brands contain only 50-83 mg of CBD per ml.
This tincture is certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority, highlighting CBDistillery's commitment to stringent hemp industry quality standards. It costs 5 cents per mg of CBD, cheaper than average. It also qualifies for CBDistillery's free shipping on orders over $75.
Best THC-free option
If you need to avoid THC completely, our top choice is the Ultra Broad-Spectrum CBD Oil from Medterra. What makes it special is a higher concentration of minor cannabinoids like CBG, CBC, and CBN. Minor cannabinoids work in synergy with CBD, contributing to CBD oil benefits.
This tincture has an elevated 10:1 ratio of CBD to minor cannabinoids, whereas most broad-spectrum CBD oils have a ratio of 20:1 or lower.
Medterra's CBD oil is available in medium (33 mg/ml) and high (67 mg/ml) potencies, with 1000-2000 mg of CBD per bottle. It costs 5-6 cents per mg of CBD, which is cheaper than average and comes in unflavored, citrus, and chocolate mint flavors.
California's Medterra uses Kentucky-grown organic hemp to extract CBD. Its products are certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority and independently tested to verify their potency and purity.
Best flavored CBD oil
If you're not a fan of the taste of full-spectrum oil, Fab CBD has you covered with a variety of pleasant flavors. Aside from the standard natural flavor, you can also choose citrus, mint, vanilla, or berry.
These 30 ml CBD oils are available in four strengths ranging from low to high, with 300-2400 mg of CBD in total. Depending on the strength, you'll pay anywhere from 5-13 cents per mg of CBD, with free shipping for orders over $99.
California's Fab CBD uses organic Colorado hemp to make its products and provides detailed third-party lab test reports. It also donates to worthy causes like Operation Underground Railroad and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Founded in 2014, NuLeaf Naturals is one of the pioneers of the CBD industry. Its products are sourced from organic Colorado hemp and tested to verify their potency and safety.
NuLeaf Naturals Full-Spectrum CBD Oil has arguably the best customer feedback of any tincture on the market. This product holds an average of 4.9 out of 5 stars with over 20,000 reviews.
This naturally flavored full-spectrum CBD oil has a high potency of 60 mg/ml and comes in 5 bottle volumes ranging from 5 to 100 ml. It costs 7-10 cents per mg of CBD, depending on the volume, which is about average. But you also get free shipping on all orders.
Endoca's Full-Spectrum CBD Oils are some of the best on the market. You can choose from medium (30 mg/ml), strong (150 mg/ml), and extra strength potencies (300 mg/ml) in 10 or 30 ml bottles with 300-4500 mg of CBD. These straightforward tinctures only contain CBD extract and hemp seed oil.
Endoca offers two formulas: regular and raw, an unprocessed tincture with high levels of CBDa, CBD's “parent cannabinoid.” CBDa has its own benefits and is a great option for people who prefer products as close to natural as possible.
Endoca's oils cost $0.07-0.09 per mg of CBD, which is average. You can also get free shipping on orders over $74.
Founded by a Danish scientist in 2010, Endoca is one of the oldest CBD companies in the world. It grows organic hemp in partnership with local farmers in Denmark and extracts it with carbon dioxide. Endoca also comprehensively tests its products in-house in addition to third-party potency testing.
Colorado's R+R Medicinals is not the biggest brand out there, but its certifications, reviews, and high-quality products speak for themselves. This veteran and employee-owned company uses USDA-certified organic hemp to source its CBD and provides detailed third-party lab reports.
R+R Medicinals CBD Oil stands out for being one of the only tinctures on the market that's both USDA-organic and certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority. It comes in three strengths with 500, 1000, or 2500 mg of CBD, plus a 1000 mg broad-spectrum version. You can choose unflavored or mint flavors.
It costs 4-6 cents per mg of CBD, and R+R offers free shipping and a 25% veteran discount.
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