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CBD — short for cannabidiol — is an active ingredient in the cannabis plant.

Over the past decade or so, CBD’s therapeutic potential has amassed an army of faithful fanatics. And while research is young, there has been lots of research that support these claims.

To get the effects of CBD, you can smoke it, ingest it, and/or rub it onto your skin. And an increasingly popular avenue is taking CBD in gummy form.

Not only are CBD gummies yummy, they’re discreet (they don’t reek like weed), and they don’t present the risks inherent to smoking.

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Since there aren’t official dosing guidelines for CBD and studies show lots of variation in effectiveness person to person, we recommend working with a healthcare professional to find the right dosage.

If you do decide to experiment on your own, 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.

Bear in mind, you might need to use a little more depending on your weight and/or severity of whatever condition you’re trying to address.

If you use CBD daily for chronic issues, like anxiety, you’ll want to gradually increase your dosage over time. For a detailed guide on increasing CBD intake, check out our article on finding the right dosage.

Possible side effects

While CBD is well-tolerated by humans, some people experience mild side effects such as:

  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in weight
  • jitteriness

If you take regular medication, talk to your doctor before using CBD as it’s been known to interact badly with certain medications.

The current boom in CBD products — combined with the limited government regulation — means there are tons of brands out there pushing exaggerated claims, misrepresenting CBD potency, and failing to test for potentially harmful contaminants.

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.

Remember, what works for one person — not to mention tastes good to one person — might not be your cup of tea. So use this as a guide but know you may have to try out a few brands till you find your personal winner.

CBD isn’t government-regulated

Because of this, there’s a lot of inconsistency brand to brand re: potency. In fact, a 2017 study found 26 percent of the products they tested contained less CBD than stated on the label.

To safeguard against this, make sure to shop for products that have been verified by a third-party lab, as all of the brands included here have been.

Best for pain relief

Social CBD Red Raspberry Broad Spectrum CBD Gummies

Price: $59.99
CBD per serving: 12.5 mg
Total CBD: 750 mg
Number of gummies: 60
Type of CBD: Broad-spectrum

These gummies have great reviews, and just enough CBD to help with low- to mid-level pain. This gummy is raspberry flavored, but Social CBD also offers gummies in peach-mango and lemon flavors. You can also buy gummies in packs of 10 if you’d like to test them before buying a large pack.

Best for calming anxiety

Calm by Wellness Hemp Vegan CBD Gummies

Price: $39.99
Mg per serving: 10 mg
Mg in total: 300 mg
Number of gummies: 30
Type of CBD: Broad-spectrum
Perks: Vegan

Calm by Wellness is widely recommended on chronic anxiety forums and judging from the impressive collection of positive reviews and testimonials on their site, they’ve cemented themselves as a go-to brand for anxiety-relieving CBD products.

There are two delightful tropical flavors of CBD gummies in each jar: orange hibiscus and strawberry guava.

Note: Unfortunately, Calm By Wellness doesn’t have test results available online for 2020. However, they will send you one by email if you request it.

Best for getting to sleep

Charlotte’s Web CBD Gummies for Sleep

Price: $44.99
Mg per serving: 10 mg
Mg in total: 600 mg
Number of gummies: 60
Type of CBD: Full-spectrum hemp

Each of these gummies also contain 3 milligrams of melatonin, which surprise, surprise, is why it’s another of our choices for sleep-improvement.

This gummy is also full-spectrum, meaning it contains all the plants cannabinoids — including THC. Research suggests this enhances the potential benefits of the CBD, a phenomenon called the entourage effect.

Note: This company only shows the lab results after you make a purchase.

Best for avoiding THC: CBD Isolate

FABCBD’s CBD Chews

Price: $59
Mg per serving: 25 mg
Mg in total: 750 mg
Number of gummies: 30
Type of CBD: CBD isolate
Perks: Gluten-free, non-GMO, fruit-flavored, and vegan

The cannabis advocacy group americanmarijuana.org gives FABCBD a 100 percent rating in quality, effectiveness, price, and transparency. Since CBD isolate gummies are less common than other types of gummies, we chose this brand based on their reputability.

Pure Kana CBD Gummies

Price: $40
Mg per serving: 25 mg
Mg in total: 500 mg
Number of gummies: 20
Type of CBD: CBD isolate
Perks: Vegan, fruit-flavored

Pure Kana’s CBD gummies are a big hit among those looking for THC-free CBD relief: Of the 103 reviews on their site, their average rating is 4.8/5 stars.

Many reviewers are particularly excited about the flavor. As one person put it on their site, “I love the flavor and texture of these gummies. They are really fruity but not too sweet so they’re just right…. I recommend them if you love convenience and good flavor.”

Nope, CBD cannot get you high.

Tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, is the intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis. In other words, THC is the reason weed gets you high. And CBD isolate and broad-spectrum CBD don’t contain any THC.

Full-spectrum CBD products do contain THC, but less than 0.3 percent, which isn’t enough to feel impaired.

That said, lots of cannabis products combine CBD with a fair amount of THC, which can definitely get you high. If this is the case, it’ll say so on the label. So make sure to read that label, folks.

This depends on your specific body and what condition you’re using it for.

In one study, for example, participants took 25 milligrams of CBD daily for a month to see their anxiety decrease and sleep improve. Anecdotally, many people report CBD easing their anxiety 30 and 90 minutes after taking it.

This lack of clarity is another important reason to work with a doctor or nurse practitioner. Otherwise, it might take quite a bit of investment before you land on your CBD sweet spot.

While CBD gummies can be purchased online, we suggest going to a brick-and-mortar store, if there’s one near you.

The people behind the counters at cannabis shops and health stores often know a lot about cannabis products, so you can bounce questions off them.

And not only is it ethical to support a local business, certain brands only sell their products in stores and don’t ship.

CBD’s most proven usage is to treat certain forms of epilepsy. In fact, the only FDA-approved form of CBD is a prescription drug named Epidiolex, which is used to treat rare seizure conditions.

There is also a great deal of pre-clinical research that shows that CBD has the potential to treat anxiety, inflammation (which helps with pain), and psychotic symptoms.

Since CBD was effectively illegal in the U.S. until 2018, funding for research was hard to come by. But now as regulation loosens and the market for CBD expands — in the U.S. and globally — new research is coming out all the time.

It’s complicated. In the U.S., hemp-derived CBD products are legal under federal law as long as they contain less than 0.3 percent THC. That said, the law still varies from state to state. Some states haven’t legalized CBD at all, while other states allow the sale of all cannabis products.

Check out where your state falls here.

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.