A Guide to CBD Strength Ratings – What Do the Numbers Mean?

A Guide to CBD Strength Ratings

It seems like CBD popped up in stores around us overnight. Now, every time you look for CBD products, there are more to choose from. From classic products like CBD oil and edibles to relatively new ones like CBD skincare products, it’s never been easier to enjoy all the benefits this compound has to offer.

Just like it is vital to use the correct dose of cannabis when you smoke, it is also important to get the right dose of CBD. Knowing what the right dose is, and even how much CBD is in each product, is trickier than you may expect.

Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about CBD dosing. You’ll learn more about the CBD strength ratings and what they mean, and how to figure out exactly how potent your CBD product is. Plus, we offer tips to help you shop for CBD to make sure you get a high-quality product.

A Look at CBD

Before we get into the ratings, what even is CBD? Most people are familiar with the term even if they have never used a CBD product. However, many don’t truly know what CBD even is.

Cannabis plants are made up of more than 100 different compounds. These compounds are similar to our DNA; they make the plant what it is. The different compounds play a role in determining how the plant looks, how it smells, how it tastes, and the effects you’ll experience when you use it.

Science knows surprisingly little about all these compounds, but there are two that are most prominent in plants and that we know more about: CBD and THC. 

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is the second-most prominent compound in most cannabis plants. It is known for helping users feel relaxed and calm. And, it can do all this without leaving people feeling high.

THC, the other most prominent compound in cannabis, is the compound responsible for giving users the high feeling most people associate with cannabis use. CBD, however, won’t. That’s one of the reasons CBD is so popular; it can give people many of the benefits cannabis does without them having to worry about getting high.

Three Types of CBD Products

The strength of CBD (or its potency) is just part of the equation when it comes to the effects you’ll feel. You will also want to know what type of CBD product you are purchasing. As you shop, you’ll notice three different options. Here’s what they mean:

  1. Full-spectrum CBD products mean that they contain more than just CBD. They will contain many of the other compounds from the original plant as well as trace amounts of CBD. Some users feel that having the full profile preserved gives better effects than CBD would by itself, thanks to the entourage effect. If you want to steer clear of THC completely, though, this wouldn’t be the best option for you.
  2. Broad-spectrum CBD will contain more terpenes and compounds than just CBD, but it will contain no THC. If you want a product that offers more of the entourage effect without the THC, a broad-spectrum product would be the way to go.
  3. CBD isolate is CBD in its purest form. It will contain no other compounds (including THC). It can be powerful in small doses and is great for those who only want to enjoy the effects CBD has to offer.

Three Types of CBD Products

Diving Into Strength Ratings and Potency

Those who use cannabis know that potency is important. Knowing how strong a strain is will help determine how much of it to use or smoke. Too much of a super potent strain can lead to a more negative experience and a high they were not anticipating. But not enough of a low-potency strain can leave users without feeling any effects at all.

The same is true for CBD. Too much won’t hurt you medically, but it can lead to effects you were not anticipating. But, too little can leave you feeling the same.

The product label and packaging will provide you with important information to determine how strong a CBD product is. However, you’ll have to do a little recon to make sense of what the label says.

First, let’s look at ratings you may see on the package, or some dispensaries may group CBD products this way.

  • Low-potency CBD refers to oil listed at 300 mg or less. This is generally a good place for people to start if they haven’t used CBD oil before. And, some people who use CBD daily for overall wellness and stress relief may choose a low-potency CBD product to use.
  • Mid-potency CBD (600 mg) is a bit stronger. If you find yourself needing to continuously take lower dose CBD, you may want to step up to this level of CBD. Some people use this level for day-to-day relief for things like anxiety or to help manage chronic pain.
  • High-potency CBD products (1,000 mg) are the strongest option. People with sleep issues and migraines often use them. If you take this and have a lower tolerance, you may find yourself unexpectedly drowsy.

Keep in mind, though, everyone has a different tolerance level. Low-potency may feel like mid-potency to some users. Or high may not even be enough for some people while it’s too much for others. It is always better to start at the lower range and work your way up.

Now that you know how CBD is classified, let’s look at how you can determine the potency of a product. This is where things get a little complicated.

First, let’s cover the milligram figure you’ll likely see. This number refers to the total amount of cannabinoids in the product, not the number per serving and maybe even not just the number of CBD if you use broad or spectrum CBD.

Second, many CBD products often list a percentage on the label (i.e. 70 percent CBD). This percentage is referring to the concentration of the product. Or the strength of the product per serving. But you may not only use one serving (in the case of oil, one drop may not be enough, and you’ll need two). This number, however, is a better measure of the overall potency of a product than the number of milligrams listed on the bottle.

Finally, you’ll need to look at how much CBD a product contains. Not the other ingredients in there, but just the CBD to get a feel for how strong it will be. You may have a big bottle with very little CBD in it but a lot of other things.

So, how can you figure out what you need to know about CBD and its strength before buying? Let’s break it down.

  1. Look to see if your product is an isolate, broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum product. Isolate and full-spectrum are often considered more potent than broad-spectrum.
  2. Do some math to figure out how much CBD is in each serving of your product. Look at the label to find out how much CBD the entire bottle contains. Then, divide that by the amount of product you have. For example, you have a container of CBD gummies, listed at 1000 mg, and it contains 40 gummies. That means each gummy should contain 25 mg of CBD.

These two steps will give you a good starting point in determining how potent the CBD product is and helping you break down all the numbers listed on labels and CBD packaging.

How Long Does CBD Last

How Long Does CBD Last?

Although knowing what the numbers mean can help you determine how strong your CBD product is, how you use CBD can also impact your experience. How you consume it will dictate how long it takes for effects to kick in and how long you can expect them to last.

Products you inhale, like CBD vapes or even pure-CBD cannabis strains (yes, there are a few out there), will kick in pretty fast. You can expect them to take effect within 10 minutes or sooner. But the effects won’t last as long and usually wear off in an hour or two.

Eating CBD products like CBD edibles or using CBD oils and tinctures take longer to work but last longer as well. These need to be processed by the body, so it can take about 30 to 45 minutes for effects to be felt. But they can last anywhere from six to eight hours.

The method you chose to consume CBD is up to you. People who use CBD for immediate stress relief may want to use a vape. Others who take it as part of their daily wellness may find edibles or oils in the morning to be enough to get them through the day.

What Potency and Dose of CBD Are Right For Me?

The way CBD interacts with your body is unique to you. The effects you feel will vary based on many factors such as:

  • Your tolerance 
  • Your body weight
  • How you use CBD
  • The type of CBD and product you use

That means there is no standard that is considered the “perfect” CBD dose. It will vary from person to person. 

To determine what the right dose is for you, you’ll need to experiment a bit. It is recommended that you start with a low dose your first time and allow plenty of time for effects to be felt. Then, if needed, you can slowly increase your dose until you reach your desired effects. 

The adage of “start low and go slow” is common in the cannabis world and applies to CBD, too.

Buying Quality CBD

Buying Quality CBD

CBD is a hot product, and many companies are jumping on the CBD train. But not all companies are created equal, and some may present products as “CBD” that really are not. It is up to you to ensure you buy a high-quality CBD product from a reputable seller. 

Here’s what you should look for when buying CBD products online or in a store:

  • Look for third-party testing results. These should be available on the manufacturer’s website in the form of a certificate of analysis (COA). Compare the ingredients found in testing and the amounts they found with what is listed on the label to ensure they match (or are at least very close).
  • Look for a batch number listed on the package. Just like you can find batch numbers on food to trace where it came from, you should be able to find it on your CBD as well. This allows you to see where it came from, so you can know more about how it was extracted. 
  • Look at the ingredients list. Make sure it lists CBD and not hemp seed oil, which is something else altogether. Plus, if you have any allergies, looking at the label can ensure you don’t consume something you shouldn’t. 
  • Look at reviews from other customers. This will give you an idea of the quality of the product and the company you are about to purchase it from. You can feel more secure in your purchase if past customers seem generally happy with their experience.

CBD Strength Ratings: In a Nutshell

There is a lot you need to look at to determine how strong a CBD product is and if it is a good one. By doing some research, you can feel confident in the product you are getting. 

Many CBD products will be listed as low-, mid-, or high-potency, but that does not mean that is how it will feel to you. Mid may feel like low to you, or high may feel just right. You’ll need to experiment a bit to see what level gives you the effects you desire. 

To find out how much CBD is in each serving before you use it, you’ll need to do some math. This is important in helping you determine its potency and how much you should take.

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