If you’re a CBD lover, you’ve probably already read up on how to take CBD, including what time of day and how often to re-dose or re-apply. What you might not have thought much about, however, is the actual concentration of CBD in your product.
When we talk about concentration, we mean the number of milligrams of CBD found in each serving of the product. Concentration can vary widely because it depends on the brand, type of product, and the volume of the container.
When it comes to CBD’s benefits, concentration does matter. That said, many companies tout their products as being “highly concentrated” for increased efficacy.
But is that really true? Is more always better when it comes to CBD? Here are three things to know about CBD concentration before you buy.
Rule 1: Be wary of “milligram marketing”
“A lot of companies market according to milligrams,” says Dr. Kerklaan, founder of Dr. Kerklaan Therapeutics. But when you see CBD product companies bragging about having “the highest concentration of CBD in the business,” this should be a red flag.
Why? “Oftentimes, they’re getting to that concentration by using CBD isolate,” says Dr. Kerklaan. That’s a problem because studies have consistently shown that isolates are less effective than full-spectrum hemp extracts. “We’re seeing a push into broad- and full-spectrum products for a reason,” he continues. And that reason is that they are more effective at lower doses.
When you make the mistake of being hyper-focused on concentration, you’ll get products that have some degree of full or broad-spectrum hemp extract that are then topped off with CBD isolate, which means they are probably no more effective than less concentrated but purely full-spectrum formula.
Rule 2: Know that concentration isn’t everything
If you’re looking for a CBD product, remember that the concentration isn’t everything. “It’s also about the quality of the base formula,” says Dr. Kerklaan.
So what should you look for in a base formula? “You want a product that will absorb into your skin quickly and efficiently,” says Dr. Kerklaan. “If it’s very oily and sits on top of your skin, it’s less likely that CBD will get to receptors and it will get rubbed off on clothing and bed sheets,” he continues.
Dr. Kerklaan creams and sprays are quick-absorbing to make sure the CBD gets exactly where it needs to go — and nowhere else.
Rule 3: When it comes to topical CBD, more isn’t always better
The skin has its own endocannabinoid system and therefore, the ultimate goal of a topical product is to deliver the CBD in the product to the skin’s ECS receptors. You might think that the more CBD you use, the more likely you are to get the desired effect. But actually, that doesn’t appear to be true.
“At Dr. Kerklaan Therapeutics, we did some research with dermatologists around absorptions,” says Dr. Kerklaan. The results of this research showed that if you look at different products and miligram concentrations, there’s a certain range where ECS receptors in the skin will respond to topical CBD. If you go above or below that dose, the efficacy actually decreases.
As Dr. Kerklaan explains it: “If you’re in that range and you have a quality product overall, then you’ll end up with much more effective use than purely shopping for miligram concentration.”
And if you think about it, this is a pretty intuitive concept. All remedies — whether they be natural or synthetic — have an ideal therapeutic window and anything above or below that will decrease their efficacy or lead to unwanted side effects. “Five times more Advil is not necessarily five times more effective,” says Dr. Kerklaan.
For anyone new to CBD or trying it for the first time, Dr. Kerklaan recommends starting with a low dose and slowly increasing until you get the desired effects. “Because even though a topical product isn’t getting into your bloodstream, the general message is that you don’t have to go crazy,” he says.