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The cannabis plant is composed of more than 100 cannabinoid compounds, but when it comes to the “good stuff,” there are two that get most of the attention: CBD and THC.

If you want to get high, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is your jam. Cannabidiol (CBD), on the other hand, won’t even give you a buzz.

But research and CBD lovers claim that CBD — sold in a variety of concentrated forms — has more than a token list of therapeutic uses, including lowering inflammation, reducing pain and anxiety, and improving sleep.

CBD concentrate is a highly concentrated cannabidiol extract drawn from the hemp plant. This concentration allows the product to have higher levels of CBD than the hemp plant actually has to begin with.

The CBD can be extracted from the hemp plant using a chemical solvent like ethanol or butane, but these solvents can affect the CBD’s overall quality. Because of this, CO2 extraction has become a popular method, as it’s nontoxic and easily available.

Though the exact process can vary, the basics are similar when it comes to making CBD concentrate. Once active cannabinoids, terpenes, and waxes are extracted from the hemp plant, they’re then put through a purification process. The final product can vary depending on what phytochemicals the company or manufacturer removes from the CBD.

You might see any of the following:

  • CBD isolate (contains concentrated CBD only)
  • broad-spectrum CBD (contains all the active compounds of cannabis except THC)
  • full-spectrum CBD (contains all of the active compounds in cannabis, including terpenes, flavonoids, and a nonpsychoactive level of THC, under 0.3 percent)

You can find different kinds of CBD concentrate products, too:

Sure, there are many benefits to using CBD concentrate… but there are also some risks. Let’s break it down.

Potential health benefits

High quality research on CBD is scarce and still in its early stages, but CBD looks like a promising treatment for:

The entourage effect

There’s a theory that keeping all the compounds found in the hemp plant together boosts CBD’s therapeutic benefits — this is called “the entourage effect.”

This phenomenon is thought to make CBD more effective, particularly at:

  • reducing pain
  • easing headaches
  • lowering stress or anxiety
  • decreasing inflammation

Full-spectrum CBD is the only type of CBD that keeps all of those compounds together. Broad-spectrum CBD keeps *almost* all of them — it just has 0 THC.

Fast-acting effects

Concentrates often start working faster than other forms of CBD, thanks to the higher levels of CBD in each dose. This means you get the effect you’re looking for a lot quicker.

Less is more

Because concentrates contain higher levels of CBD than cannabis does, a little can go a long way and fewer doses are needed to achieve effects.

Side effects

While CBD is generally considered safe, it may also have some bummer side effects, including:

It’s strong

CBD concentrates pack a stronger punch than other forms of CBD, and a little can go a long way. But taking too much can lead to not-so-fun side effects.

Large doses in particular can be a bit much for CBD newbies or those with sensitivity to cannabinoids.

Impurity can happen

If a manufacturer is lax in its extraction process, the resulting product may be less than pure.

Purity is important when it comes to CBD concentrates, so finding impurities — such as solvents or chemicals — can affect the quality, taste, or impact of the product. It can even have an effect on how safe it is to use.

Unfortunately, impurities are common in the CBD world, especially if you’re purchasing your products online. In fact, one survey of 84 online CBD products found several discrepancies. Not only did 18 of the products evaluated contain THC in varying amounts, but a whopping 70 percent had their CBD content mislabeled. Ugh.

Possible drug test failure

No, CBD itself won’t get you high. But because some varieties (we’re looking at you, full-spectrum) contain trace amounts of THC, it can be possible to fail a drug test.

Plus, if you take a high enough dose of full-spectrum CBD, it’s possible to feel the psychoactive effects of the THC. But this is less likely if you’re using higher potency CBD products since you won’t need to take multiple servings to get the level of CBD you’re looking for.

Buying CBD products without getting burned can be a real challenge. CBD prices are all over the place — and since insurance doesn’t cover it, you’ll be denting your own bank account to pay for it.

Also, CBD products aren’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so you’re taking a chance that the quality and dosage inside the package doesn’t match what’s on the label.

Luckily, we’ve got a hella thorough vetting process in place to weed through the duds. The products on our list meet the following criteria:

  • made by companies that use third-party testing by ISO 17025-compliant labs
  • made with all-American hemp, grown in the U.S. of A.
  • contain no more than a tiny amount of THC (0.3 percent) — we figure this out by verifying the certificate of analysis (COA)
  • contain no yucky pesticides, heavy metals, or molds — again, for this, we check the COA

We also consider:

  • whether a company has any special manufacturing processes or impressive certifications
  • the potency of a product
  • added ingredients (especially ones known for helping pain, like arnica and menthol)
  • whether a brand is to be trusted and we figure that out by:
    • looking at customer reviews
    • checking for FDA warning letters
    • looking for any sus health claims, like “this product can cure you!”

A note on vaping

We’ve excluded vape concentrates because of vaping’s dangerous health risks, including the potentially deadly (and also gross-sounding) condition known as “popcorn lung.”

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $70
  • $$ = $70–$1,400
  • $$$ = over $140

Best rated CBD concentrate

Medterra CBD Isolate Oil (6000 mg)

  • Price: $$$
  • CBD type: isolate
  • Form: oil
  • Total CBD: 6,000 milligrams (mg)
  • CBD per serving: 100 mg of CBD per 1 ml dropper
  • COA: available online

Boasting 99.6 percent pure, premium CBD in a coconut-derived MCT carrier oil, this oil from Medterra brings you a hefty dose of CBD without any THC — and it has the COA to back up its claims.

Medterra uses a proprietary extraction method that it says ensures zero THC makes its way into this isolate oil, resulting in a super potent, THC-free product. Simply fill the dropper, empty it into your mouth, swallow, and enjoy the sweet soothing benefits of CBD!

Reviewers rave about this CBD oil. Many find that it helps them keep calm when anxiety creeps in, helps them sleep, and eases back pain. Despite being “unflavored,” some peeps aren’t fans of how this Medterra oil tastes. Others have mentioned the high price tag, but say it’s worth the cost.

Best full-spectrum CBD concentrate

Lazarus Naturals Full Spectrum, High Potency CBD Oil Tincture

  • Price: $
  • CBD type: full-spectrum
  • Form: tincture
  • Total CBD: 6,000 mg
  • CBD potency: 50 mg CBD per ml
  • COA: available online

This potent Lazarus Naturals tincture contains full-spectrum CBD, meaning it’s got all the goodies needed to reap the benefits of the “entourage effect.” You also get a pretty good flavor selection: unflavored, chocolate mint, French vanilla mocha, or yuzu.

Lazarus Naturals uses an ethanol-based process to extract CBD from hemp grown directly on their farms. The extract is then diluted in a fractionated coconut oil for a highly concentrated tincture that delivers legit results.

Customers are big fans of this high quality, affordable tincture. Many tout their Lazarus Naturals tincture for creating calm and helping them relax. Others have found it an effective solution for sore joints and body pain. Some people say that the product’s flavorless option isn’t their favorite, though.

Best broad-spectrum CBD concentrate

Joy Organics Tranquil Mint: Organic Broad Spectrum CBD Tincture (2250 mg)

  • Price: $$
  • CBD type: broad-spectrum
  • Form: tincture
  • Total CBD: 2,250 mg
  • CBD potency: 75 mg CBD per serving
  • COA: available online

This USDA-certified organic tincture is free of THC and artificial flavors and colors, containing vegan-friendly broad-spectrum CBD in a blend of organic olive oil and organic peppermint essential oil (which gives it its fresh flavor!).

This tincture is manufactured in the U.S. via a proprietary extraction process. Because it’s broad-spectrum, you could be getting all the benefits of natural cannabis compounds like terpenes — all without any THC.

Reviewers enjoy this tincture’s minty flavor and say it’s super effective for helping them manage everyday stress and staying focused. While several users have found this to be a little on the expensive side, many of them say it’s worth it for such a clean and quality product.

Best CBD isolate concentrate

CBDistillery THC-Free Pure CBD Oil Tincture

  • Price: $$
  • CBD type: isolate
  • Form: tincture
  • Total CBD: 2,500 mg
  • CBD potency: 83 mg CBD per serving
  • COA: available online

This THC-free CBD isolate oil is hella popular. It’s made with U.S. Hemp Authority-certified non-GMO industrial hemp grown in the USA using natural farming practices to create a high quality product that people rave about.

Users find that a little goes a long way with each concentrated dose. Many say this tincture helps them sleep better and feel more well-rested every morning. They also enjoy the physical benefits of this CBDistillery tincture, with several saying it helps ease joint pain and stiffness.

Not sure if CBD concentrates are right for you? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using ’em:

Pros

  • powerful and fast-acting option that delivers quick relief, even for more severe symptoms
  • available in a variety of formats to best suit your preferences
  • can be used alongside other CBD products for a stronger effect
  • often more affordable than other types of CBD

Cons

  • higher potency than other CBD types, making dosing difficult if you’re new or sensitive to concentrates
  • manufacturer error is possible, leading to product impurities
  • not as widely available as other types of CBD

With so many CBD concentration options available, how do you know which product’s right for you? Here are some things to consider when shopping:

Product type

When it comes to concentrates, there are many different options available. Some of the most common are:

  • Oil. Exactly what it sounds like, these products typically contain CBD and a carrier oil like olive oil, coconut oil, or MCT oil.
  • Wax. A dark, oily substance that often contains other compounds. Waxes are usually used in dabs and vapes.
  • Crumble. Dark and oily like wax, but with added moisture for a crumbly texture.
  • Shatter. In solid form, this concentrate can look like pieces of opaque glass, but turns thick and honey-like when heated.
  • Budder. A fluffy, buttery product that’s extracted at a higher temp than other concentrates. Its texture is caused by using air pressure to complete the extraction process.
  • Powder or crystal. Available as a powdery substance, this isolate concentrate solely contains the crystalline CBD compound – talk about purity!
  • Live resin. A flavorful (and often pricey) concentrate that uses flash-freezed buds in the extraction process to increase the number of cannabinoids and terpenes.

Most CBD concentrates are designed to be vaped or smoked. Some — like powder or budder — can be mixed into foods or beverages.

Our current vetting process eliminates anything that can vaped or smoked because of the potential health risks associated with vaping/smoking, which is why you’ll only find oils on our list. But in the end, how you take CBD is your call.

CBD type

There are three types of CBD to choose from when shopping for CBD concentrates:

  • CBD isolate (only contains concentrated CBD)
  • broad-spectrum CBD (contains all of cannabis’ active compounds of, except THC)
  • full-spectrum CBD (contains all of cannabis’ active compounds in cannabis AND a small, non-psychoactive amount of THC, less than 0.3 percent)

The type of CBD you go for comes down to what you’re comfortable with. If you’re down to try full-spectrum CBD to see what the entourage effect could be all about, go for it. But if you’re not comfortable with THC, go for broad-spectrum or isolate.

Potency

Concentrates are more potent than other forms of CBD, so you might want to avoid them if you’re brand new to CBD. Our advice is to start low (usually 5 to 15 mg per serving) and work your way up over time.

Third-party testing

Always, ALWAYS make sure that you’re selecting products that have undergone testing from a third-party lab and double-check that the product has a current certificate of analysis (COA) available.

You should also take it a step further, making sure that the COA matches all the manufacturer’s claims about the product.

Extraction type

There are several methods used to extract CBD. The technique used can inform the overall quality of a product, including its purity and taste.

CO2 extraction is generally considered the “cleanest,” but as long as there’s proof that a product isn’t filled with residual solvents (per the COA), you don’t have to worry too much about this.

You already know by now that we’ve excluded smoking, vaping, and dabbing CBD from the narrative. We don’t recommend these products bc they come with a slew of harmful health risks. Instead, we recommend sticking with oils.

To use an oil, simply place a few drops in your mouth or add to your fave beverage. You can also add to your favorite moisturizer to use as a topical.

Dosage

When first using CBD, always start with the lowest dose possible. Over time, you can gradually increase your dosage to achieve your desired results.

If you have any questions about products or dosage, talk with your doctor.

What does CBD concentrate do?

CBD concentrate delivers high doses of CBD in a shorter amount of time, allowing for fast-acting benefits.

How do you take CBD concentrate?

We don’t recommend products that you smoke, vape, or dab because they come with a slew of harmful health risks. Instead, we recommend sticking with oils.

To use an oil, simply place a few drops in your mouth or add to your fave beverage. You can also add to your favorite moisturizer to use as a topical.

Are CBD concentrates legal?

It can depend on your location. While hemp-derived CBD products containing less than 0.3 percent of THC are legal at the federal level, they aren’t legal in all states. Do your homework and check out your state laws to find out more.

What is the strongest CBD concentrate?

Overall, CBD concentrates are generally stronger and more potent than other forms of CBD. Anything with at least 50 mg per serving is considered pretty strong, but you can find products over 100 mg per serving, too.

What does CBD make you feel?

This can vary from person to person. In general, CBD helps you feel more calm and relaxed, both physically and mentally. It’s best known for helping to relieve pain and ease stress.

Will CBD show on a drug test?

TBH, it can. Because some types of CBD contain small amounts of THC, it is possible that it’ll show up on a drug test.

CBD concentrates are potent CBD products that deliver higher dosages of the good stuff. There are a bunch of different ways to use CBD concentrates — including smoking, vaping, and dabbing — but we’re a health website, so we’re not going to recommend that stuff.

Instead, we recommend sticking with oils that you can either ingest or apply topically. But it’s your life, baby! How you take your CBD is your call.

Just make sure you’re buying from reputable brands that are known for making high quality products.

Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.