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Think of CBD as THC’s sober family member: It’s not going to get you high but it may help you feel less stressed, get better sleep, and clear up your skin. And a fair amount of research suggests that it can also help ease chronic pain.

CBD, which is a chemical found in cannabis and hemp, can be consumed in lots of different forms — including edibles, topicals, and capsules. But what we’re really excited about here are oils and tinctures.

The glass pipette… the dropping under the tongue… it’s a ritualistic action that is as soothing as it is convenient. In oil form, CBD doesn’t smell strongly — plus, you can easily add a dose to your beverage, meal, or snack.

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Tincture vs. oil

CBD oil is extracted by slowly heating the plant matter in oil (usually MCT or hempseed) while tinctures extract the active ingredients by soaking the plants in alcohol.

CBD oils generally aren’t combined with additional ingredients and most people say they taste more strongly of cannabis. Tinctures often come with added flavors that dilute the plant taste.

Since there aren’t any official guidelines for dosing CBD, we recommend working with a healthcare professional who’s knowledgable about CBD.

Most brands give a recommended dosage on the bottle. So you can also use that as a starting point. But depending on what it is you’re treating, you may need to do some experimenting to find an effective dose.

Whatever you do, start small. For CBD that doesn’t contain THC (aka CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD) 25 milligrams is a good starting dosage. And for CBD that does contain THC (aka full-spectrum CBD), start at 10 milligrams.

The bottle will probably give a close estimate to how much CBD is in each drop but if not, you can do your own math using this equation: Total milliliters in the bottle divided by .05 (milliliters in a drop). Then, total milligrams of CBD in the bottle divided by that number.

Due to the limited government regulation with CBD products, there are a lot of dicey brands out there trying to capitalize on the current boom in popularity.

With that in mind, we used strict vetting criteria to put this list together. All the products we’re recommending have up to date test results showing accurate potency, and safe levels of mold, pesticides, and heavy metals.

When you’re shopping for CBD on your own, make sure the product has been tested by a third-party lab. Don’t be afraid to read over the lab results yourself, they’re pretty straight forward.

Oils for X condition?

Most CBD oils and tinctures don’t contain added ingredients and therefore aren’t marketed toward specific conditions. When choosing CBD oil for a specific condition, shop by potency. Especially for moderate to severe pain, or acute insomnia, look for oils labeled “high-potent.”

It’s also a good idea to work with a healthcare provider if you want to treat a certain issue with CBD.

Social CBD Meyer Lemon Broad-Spectrum CBD Drops

Price: $55
Form: Oil
CBD per bottle: 600 mg
Liquid per bottle: 30 ml
Type of CBD: Broad-spectrum

Social CBD has both CBD isolate and broad-spectrum CBD drops in multiple flavors. With 50 milligrams per serving, this oil packs quite a punch and is probably suited to treat high levels of pain. However, you can also get weaker drops in 12.5 milligrams and 25 milligrams per serving.

Bloom Farms CBD’s Potent Full-Spectrum CBD Oil

Price: $55
Form: Oil
CBD per bottle: 600 mg
Liquid per bottle: 30 ml
Type of CBD: Full-spectrum

This oil is super potent: just one drop (which they estimate to be a quarter of a milliliter) contains 5 milligrams of full-spectrum CBD.

Since there are no added flavorings (this oil is simply a combination of MCT oil and organic hemp extract) only buy this oil if you don’t mind the taste of cannabis.

Bloom Farms has three oils of varying strengths, so after you try this one (which is middle-strength), you can opt for either the less or more powerful version.

Lazarus Naturals High Potency Full-Spectrum CBD Tincture

Price: $110
Form: Tincture
CBD per bottle: 3000 mg
Liquid per bottle: 60 ml
Type of CBD: Full-Spectrum

If you’re looking for something to help you fall asleep quick, this might be it. With a whopping 50 milligrams of CBD per milliliter, this CBD tincture is very potent. Over 200 reviews praise this tincture, with many people sharing how it’s helped them sleep better.

This product is vegan and organic, and contains no additives or flavorings. The bottle has a graduated dropper, which makes it easier to measure out the exact amount of tincture you need.

FABCBD’s CBD oil

Price: $99
Form: Oil
CBD per bottle: 1200 mg
Liquid per bottle: 30 ml
Type of CBD: Full-Spectrum

FABCBD has five stars on this American Marijuana review and Tuck rated it as the best brand in terms of customer service.

This high-potency CBD oil might be especially helpful if your insomnia is severe. But FABCBD also offers oils in varying strengths and it comes in five different flavors.

Calm by Wellness Hemp CBD Chill Oil Tincture

Price: $64.99
Form: Tincture
CBD per bottle: 500 mg
Liquid per bottle: 30 ml
Type of CBD: Broad-spectrum

Calm by Wellness’s CBD tincture contains a “chill terpenes” blend of natural extracts found in fruits and flowers — including chamomile and hops — specifically intended to induce relaxation.

The flavor of this specific tincture is chocolate mint. Check out their site for a variety of strengths and flavors.

Lord Jones High CBD Body Oil

Price: $65.00
Type of topical: Body oil
CBD per jar: 100 mg
Amount of product: 1 oz
Type of CBD: Broad-spectrum

With mentions in the New York Times, The New Yorker, and Vogue (to name a few), the Lord Jones brand is enjoying quite a bit of mainstream hype at the moment.

This topical is great for massaging into sore muscles. It’s not potent at all, which makes it great for everyday use. It also has a roller-ball applicator to help you massage specific areas.

In addition to CBD oil, it combines avocado, jojoba, and safflower oils, as well as an evergreen and citrus fragrance.

Vertly Relief Lotion

Price: $48.00
Type of topical: Lotion
CBD per jar: 150 mg
Amount of product: 2.9 oz
Type of CBD: Full-spectrum CBD

According to the reviews, Vertly’s Relief Lotion is excellent for pain relief. This lotion, fragranced with lavender and citrus, contains a range of oils and aloe to hydrate the skin. It also contains arnica flower and magnesium, both of which are intended to reduce aches and pains.

Shop local

While it’s convenient to buy online, we recommend checking out a brick and mortar store. Not only can you chat with the clerks about their favorite brands, there may be a better selection in-person since many brands don’t ship.

Plus, if you can swing it, it’s always nice to support a local business and cut down on the environmental impact of shipping.

CBD can’t get you high. The compound in cannabis that makes you feel impaired — aka gets you high — is called THC.

CBD isolate and broad-spectrum CBD aren’t supposed to contain any THC at all. Full-spectrum CBD products do contain a tiny amount — less than 0.3 percent — but that isn’t enough to do anything.

That being said, there are lots of CBD products out there that are combined with a fair amount of THC. These products are meant to create a buzz. So always be sure to read the label, which will state whether or not the product contains THC.

THC might still show up on a drug test

Even with isolate and broad-spectrum products, there’s a small chance trace amounts of THC make their way into the batch. While we’re talking very small amounts of THC, there’s a possibility it could show up on a drug test.

We don’t know for sure but according to some research, CBD seems to be more effective when used in combination with all the plant’s compounds, aka with THC, due to a phenomenon called the entourage effect.

For this reason, many people opt for full-spectrum CBD oil.

The most conclusive science we have regarding CBD’s effectiveness is its anti-seizure properties. In fact, in 2018 the FDA approved a drug named Epidiolex that’s used to treat certain seizure conditions.

Although less robust, there’s a great deal of promising research that suggests CBD might be able to treat other conditions, including insomnia, anxiety, depression, and skin issues.

Because CBD wasn’t legal until 2018, funding for research was historically hard to come by. Since it was decriminalized, there’s been a boom in interest and new studies are coming out all the time.

CBD is generally considered to be safe for humans, although there’s a chance you may experience mild side effects like tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite.

CBD might interact badly with certain medications, so it’s a good idea to get the all-clear from your doctor before trying it for yourself.

Under federal law, buying and selling hemp-derived CBD — which contains less than 0.3 percent THC — is legal. However, the law on hemp and CBD varies from state to state, so you should take a look at your state’s laws here before buying.

Siân Ferguson is a freelance writer and journalist based in Grahamstown, South Africa. Her writing covers issues relating to social justice and health. Find her on Twitter.