A highly requested post on CBD products we’ve tried over the past year. To learn more about CBD read this very in depth 101 post.
WANT MORE CBD INFORMATION?
With the passing of the updated Farm Bill, CBD oil and the hemp industry in general has exploded. There will be thousands of new brands and products coming to market over the next few years. For better or worse. What this means is likely the price of some products will go down, but also there will be more mediocre, poor quality and sometimes dangerous products that do appear as well.
Since I wrote the post on CBD oil research and our experience with CBD in early 2018, I’ve had so many emails and DMs from companies wanting me to link to them or guest post (no) or send me product to try in this category. I tell you this simply because I want you to know how MUCH is going on in this space. And how much junk there is to go through.
In this review I’m sharing several products, and I’ll continue to update this post as we try more. When we evaluate a product like CBD, or adaptogens or other supplements we look at several things. Chris and I both take a product and report back on the length of time to sense effectiveness, the length of time that it lasts, the level of effectiveness between male and female/taller person shorter person etc. We try the product multiple times, finishing out the product amount we ordered. We’ll also look at the sourcing (or lack of information on sourcing), transparency, what else is in the product blend (sometimes adaptogens, sometimes not). Lastly, it’s price.
Price tends to be a big barrier to entry as people try CBD. To many, since it’s SUCH an unknown for them, the price tag of a well regulated, effective product might be a bit shocking. You’re not going to Costco to buy bulk vitamin D for $5. I’m personally willing to spend money on CBD because it works for both Chris and I in terms of stress reduction and well being. Some companies, like Yuyo Botanicals offer a sample starter pack, and I wish more companies did the same. I understand the limitations of why that simply isn’t feasible for some companies (additional package sizing, bottling procedures, etc) but I acknowledge it is difficult for people to be willing to ‘risk’ upwards of $70 for a product they are unsure of.
I also want to say, if you’re going into this in search of a new product after trying a CBD product you didn’t think was effective, definitely give CBD another shot. We’ve tried products that didn’t work for us at all, or needed a dose tweak to be effective. I’m not advising you to not follow package directions (please always be safe, talk to a doctor, you know how it goes), but I have found if I experiment a little, sometimes things work better for me. And in general, after over a year of research, there is no truly accepted standardized dosage. CBD works differently for everyone.
I think Chris and I got lucky with the first product we tried because it was such a good fit for us. But had I tried a product that didn’t work…I would have written off CBD all together. (Side note: of course that product is discontinued now…hence my trial of so many other products).
More recently, we’ve also realized that CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD and CBD plus adaptogens all FEEL very different. I used to think that the calming sensation that occurred for me personally was due to the actual CBD compound, but in truth it may be the other botanical compounds when using the whole plant in full spectrum products (this is called an entourage effect). Or, it could be a specific blend of adaptogens. At this point, Chris prioritizes the effects he gets from CBD isolate alone whereas, I look for the more calming effect from full spectrum/adaptogen blends. My point being, there is probably a ‘right’ product for you, and the effects you’re looking for.
I don’t take CBD every single day. I use it when I’m likely going to be in periods of stress (be it for work, travel, dealing with people who stress me out etc). It’s important for me to mention that CBD, or anything for that matter, should not be used to mask symptoms or block out stress. You’ll always need to address the actual source of stress, but CBD is a way to help you conquer times when you need help in an effective way that allows you to thrive. I hope a look into our experience of what we’ve tried so far can help you find the best product for you.
Phytochemicals: any of various biologically active compounds found in plants. For example, polyphenos or cartenoids
Terpenes: multiple diverse types of organic compounds from plants and insects. They’re often characterized by a strong odor and act as plant protection by deterring herbivores and other predators
Cannabinoids: a class of compounds that act on specific receptors (cannabinoid receptors) in cells, causing a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) release in the brain.
Nano-liposome: tiny spherical ‘vehicles’ with a fat bi-layer that can be used to administer nutrients and drugs and sometimes improve effectiveness
CBD isolate: only contains the CBD compound
Full Spectrum CBD: contains CBD in addition to all of the terpenes, cannabinoids, flavoinoids etc from the hemp plant which have their own therapeutic values that work in conjunction with CBD.
CAP Beauty Daily Hit (original favorite- discontinued)
I’m sharing this (DAGGER) discontinued product because this is my starting point marker and what I measure things against. It was our first love of CBD oil. Daily Hit was everything we wanted and more. It was highly effective for both of us and lasted an entire work day. We reordered it several times before it met its end at the advice of the brand’s legal team because at the time it was a ‘grey area’ while it was in contention in the pre-farm bill approval phase. I hate that it hasn’t been brought back.
Daily Hit was CBD in an avocado and coconut oil base, blended with adaptogens like reishi and sea pearl. Looking back, I wonder if CBD in conjunction with a specific adaptogen made this such a stellar product for us.
Daily Hit was pricey at $96 for one bottle (half teaspoon= serving) but it is definitely not the most expensive product on the market.
Note: Now’s the time to mention (as it will come up again), that CBD needs to be ingested with some sort of fat to absorb or it needs to be put through a process that involves nanoemulsification.
Highly effective and the perfect thing for a short burst of time (about 3 hours of concentrated de-stressing). We’ve reordered them and will likely continue to reorder.
The gummies are cute with a good initial taste, although they do have a definite hemp aftertaste and Chris thinks he can also smell it through his sweat. They’re just right if you have a moment appear in your day and you could use some help (eg. a flight, a work emergency etc) vs taking a tincture every day to deal with potential stress. The best way I can compare it is like a medication vs an extended release version of that medication.
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Rise (Our current chocolate CBD winner)
Small chocolate rectangles in flavors that are all great! I’ve tried coffee, mint matcha and turmeric and they’re all great flavors with good mouthfeel. There’s no grit like other popular CBD chocolates I’ve tried. The product contains 25 milligrams of CBD. The actual stand alone good taste and texture of the product compounds the fact that this product also actually works for me.
The branding is amazing. The concept is good (and forecasted to be a huge trend in 2019 of hemp and adaptogen beverages). But to be honest, I don’t like these in their current formulation. The price is high for a beverage and I understand why- there’s lots of pricey ingredients inside. I wouldn’t buy it and wouldn’t drink it if offered to me at a party, from a taste perspective. Not only was the product not effective for me personally, but I just wish it had more carbonation and stronger flavors. Hypothetically, blackberry chai sounds so good! But I just don’t get the impact of flavors I hoped for.
I also have questions about how the CBD can be effective in this form since CBD is fat soluble (needs fat to work properly in your body). Based on my research apparently it can be made water-compatible if it’s in a micro/nano-emulsion (making it stable in an oil water mixture), but I didn’t see anything on the Recess website about this issue and wonder if the product has taken this into account.
*Note: For ‘edible’ products like Recess and Lord Jones chocolate, NYC just ceased restaurant ability to sell CBD cookies etc because CBD is not a FDA approved additive. Since this is truly the transitional phase of CBD usage in the overall market place, I expect to see clarity as time goes on.
Lord Jones chocolate
If you’ve read some reviews that Lord Jones is more about the culinary aspect than the CBD, I’d agree with that...at least from our trial of this product. It wasn’t effective for us, the chocolate wasn’t great and it was expensive. I wouldn’t buy again. Keep in mind, the brand sells many products including gummies, an oil capsule and a tincture as well as topical items. I haven’t tried any of these other things, so maybe I just picked the dud of the brand!
LEEF Organics Thrival CBD Oil
My initial reaction to LEEF was it had an intensely strong taste. At their recommended dosage, I did not find it to be effective for me. Unfortunately at the time of trying the product, it hadn’t occurred to me to mess with dosage (Honestly, why would it? Most consumers will and should always follow package directions). The bottom line however, was the taste was straight up unpleasant in my opinion, it didn’t work for me and so I moved on.
Yuyo has been recommended to me by a few people as a tincture replacement for Daily Hit. They are very sustainable (actually biodynamic), transparent and seem like ‘good people’. I tend to tell people about this brand if they’re starting off with CBD because they have a low cost trial size entry point which I love.
After trying their full spectrum oil, I think they’re a solid choice, especially if you’re looking to support a woman owned business or a business that practices sustainability. I sleep really well after taking this product in the evening (not even their PM formula- just the full spectrum). This is my pick for the consumer who wants to vote with their money so to speak.
Reset Bioscience Balance (Chris’s choice)
The differentiating concept behind this brand is a good one (increasing bioavailability via a nano liposome) and the branding itself is nice. The headline here with my experience is I can’t help but like this brand. While it didn’t give me the effects I enjoy with what I now think is full spectrum CBD and/or adaptogens (more relaxation), it worked for Chris (anxiety reduction related to having too many projects). And after testing it for a while it’s really interesting to me that this is the case, and a big difference between CBD full spectrum blends and CBD isolate (more on this below).
I mentioned earlier the importance of CBD and a fat working together. Reset takes this important fact by the reins and tries to set itself apart by encapsulating their CBD isolate with ‘nano liposomes, which take a more direct route to the cell than regular CBD. They can better endure the digestion process and flow straight into the blood stream. This means more impact and less stress.” I also want to note, because I mentioned the fat source in Daily Hit, Reset uses non-GMO sunflower phospholipids and caprylic triglycerides.
Reset also chooses to use CBD isolate vs full spectrum since they have found '“no empirical evidence to show that full spectrum actually works so we chose to extract what is proven to work. At Reset we are extremely committed to only delivering products where there is quality data showing the benefits of the supplement, such as CBD isolate, at this time full spectrum does not have that supporting research.”
In general Full Spectrum CBD oil products contain hundreds of phytochemicals (like cannabinoids and terpenes) and can contain other plant molecules as well (the whole plant is used). In theory, and what’s currently being studied, is the possibility that these have a potential wider health reach.
Isolates, like those used in this product, are very researched for therapeutic value. They are only the CBD molecule and have no other active ingredients (it does not contain the other phytochemicals that full spectrum does).
A major important note: this is to be taken sublingually. It doesn’t say it anywhere on the package, but it is noted on the website (I do think they should add it to the package). While Reset doesn’t have ANY hemp aftertaste, it does have an extremely strong flavor, dulled a little by taking it sublingual vs anywhere in the mouth. While I don’t personally like the flavor, it does live up to its promise of no aftertaste (and there is a different flavor available now). And it’s definitely a personal preference- Chris doesn’t mind it at all!
Charlotte’s Web Extra Strength (Carlene’s pick)
A true standard in the CBD oil industry, Charlotte’s Web is highly available . You’ll probably know them from news stories of the young girl Charlotte who was born with a rare disease. The brothers who founded the company (Now called Charlotte’s Web) worked to help Charlotte’s parents and other families in similar situations, access CBD products.
I’ve found this to be a trustworthy, effective full spectrum CBD oil. I feel fast results with this product and know I can rely on it for periods of stress that extend beyond a few hours. I like the olive oil flavor (personally, the highly flavored oils overwhelm my senses).
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Garden of Life Sleep + (Best Taste Period)
This broad spectrum blend is the best tasting product we’ve ever tried, unfortunately it is formulated for sleep. It’s whole hemp extract plus D3 (800 IU), lemon balm and chamomile with 15 mg CBD/serving. It’s sweet and floral and citrusy! We do find we sleep better with this, although taking most CBD varieties could help promote sleep.
CURRENTLY TESTING: other Garden of Life varieties
Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.