Curious About Hemp Oil? Ask these 5 Questions Before Buying

Written By Dr. Steven Kraus

With stress and anxiety at an all-time high, more and more people are becoming aware of the powerful benefits of hemp oil products. When used correctly, these tinctures and capsules can relieve pain, quell anxiety and provide a good night’s sleep to an individual who hasn’t had one in weeks.

But for those who are new to hemp oil, the sheer number of products on the market can be confusing. It’s critically important to weed out the snake oil salesmen from the hemp oil solutions that will genuinely improve the quality of lives.

With this in mind, here are five questions to ask when searching for the hemp oil products that might be best for you:

1. What’s in the plant and where the product comes from?

The power of any hemp oil product begins with the plant the oil it is drawn from. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that with any product you’re taking comes from a plant that has quality, natural genetics. Is it organic? Has it been tested for contaminants or heavy metals? Is it pure and unadulterated in its natural form? Was it made in a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certified facility for safety and good quality practices?

The hemp plant produces more than 80 phytocannabinoids (some experts say 105) that are capable of providing therapeutic effects for humans, including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). While many hemp products focus solely on just one molecule called CBD, it’s crucial to look out for a product that comes from a plant that produces the full suite of phytocannabinoids. Otherwise, you won’t receive the full entourage of therapeutic benefits that only premium hemp oil can deliver.

2. How are the plant’s ingredients extracted?

There are many ways of extracting hemp oil out of a plant and into a pill or tincture, and the way this process is done has a huge effect on the quality of the final product.

Be wary of products that use carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction to pull out and reassemble phytocannabinoids, as well as those that use the isolate extraction method to pull out the CBD and leave the rest of the phytocannabinoids out of the equation. Electron microscope images have shown adulterated cell walls mangled when using harsh chemicals to extract the cannabinoids.

Look for gentler infusion methods that capture all phytocannabinoids and do so while keeping these important molecules intact. It’s important that the hemp plants’ terpenes, phytonutrients and the full array of cannabinoids are all available inside the full-spectrum hemp oil so that the true entourage effect can sync with your endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS balances and regulates our bodies’ nervous, immunological, and endocrine systems.

3. Is it okay for the product to include THC?

THC is the primary psychoactive ingredient in the hemp plant, so people are understandably wary about this.

However, hemp oil products with THC are generally safe as long as the THC content remains below .3%. Federal law allows THC content to be .3% or less of a hemp oil product, and it would take over 20-40 times that amount to produce even a minor psychoactive effect or “high” effect on the patient.

So long as the hemp oil producer keeps THC below the .3% limit, this THC acts as an important phytocannabinoid in the solution, one that’s necessary to produce the full therapeutic impact of the capsule or tincture. It’s the combination of the phytonutrients that makes it more effective.

4. Should I take a tincture or a capsule?

Tinctures are droppers that squirt liquid hemp oil into the mouth or under the tongue and can be held for several seconds, swished around or simply swallowed immediately. This is absorbed faster and the effects can generally be felt within 15 minutes. However, tinctures can be a bit “hempy” in taste and for some who don’t like that all-natural flavor, there are ingredients such as lemon or peppermint that can be added to mask the hempiness of the natural form.

Capsules, by comparison, don’t have any taste. I normally take a 50mg capsule an hour before bedtime and I’ve experienced my best sleep in decades. Most Americans using hemp capsules take 25mg on average a day. Smaller doses such as 10mg are often used for pets. 

Other forms include creams, lotions, and balms that are topically applied to the skin. For superficial skin conditions and muscle aches those are great. But the skin only has so many CB1 and CB2 receptors, so the impact is directed more for skin and musculoskeletal issues. Hemp oil also has anti-inflammatory properties and certain anti-aging applications that some products are also formulated for topical use.

5. What’s the right dosage to take?

Ultimately, your body will know best when it comes to the right dosage. I recommend starting small and gradually increasing the dosage if you don’t feel the desired effects.

The majority of people who take capsules are taking anywhere from 25 to 50 milligrams per day, and those using tinctures usually take a daily droplet containing about 12 to 25 milligrams. If an effect is not occurring after 2-3 days then consider increasing the dose. The product should have a standard dosage recommendation on the container.  

I’ve seen first-hand how tablets and tinctures can relieve anxiety attacks, insomnia, and severe joint pain in a wide variety of individuals. One of my previous patients was a 23-year-old graduate student with no prior health complications who began experiencing significant anxiety from attending a new school, the stress of her doctorate program, and her new geographic surroundings. She began having fainting spells, insomnia, and anxiety. She started taking a prescription medication that gave her side effects and did not help her condition. After just two days of taking 100mg of full-spectrum hemp oil, she slept the best she had in five months. Over the next 30 days, she improved dramatically and went from wanting to quit graduate school to getting A’s and B’s in her classes. She didn’t experience any side effects. She now takes 50mg before bed and is stable.

The world of hemp oil products can be intimidating at first, but when navigated correctly, they can provide extraordinary benefits to users.Dr. Steven Kraus (DC, FIACN, DIBCN, CCSP, FASA, FICC) is president at Functional Remedies, a pioneer in the wellness industry. Visit www.functionalremedies.com for more.