If You're Buying Hemp Oil, Make Sure It Follows These 5 Criteria

mbg Senior Sustainability Editor By Emma Loewe
mbg Senior Sustainability Editor
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care."
Bottles of Hemp Oil

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In the throes of a pandemic, when "stressed out" is everyone's baseline, hemp oil is one product that can help us relax our bodies without the jarring mental "high" of cannabis.* Extracted from the stalk of a hemp plant, the oil is low in THC but high in compounds that have a calming effect on the mind and body.* In addition to promoting a sense of chill, hemp can be beneficial for soothing aching joints and supporting healthy immune function and digestion.*

If you've heard the hype and are ready to dive into the world of hemp oil, here's a primer on what to look for on a label to make sure you're getting the purest, most effective product possible:

It should be full-spectrum.

First, let's clarify a point that can be confusing: Hemp oil is not the same thing as CBD oil. Hemp oil is always extracted from a hemp plant, while CBD can be extracted from a hemp or marijuana plant or can even be synthetic. Unlike hemp, CBD oil is an isolate, meaning it contains only one phytocannabinoid: CBD. Phytocannabinoids are the plant compounds that give these products their chill factor: They can help support a healthy response to stress and promote feelings of relaxation due to the unique way they interact with the body's endocannabinoid system.*

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Safe, full-spectrum organic hemp blend to ease anxiousness & stress.*

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Emerging research is finding that the more types of these phytocannabinoids a product has, the better: "We know that phytocannabinoids are more effective and better tolerated when taken together and in concert with their co-occurring terpenes, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals than when they are taken in isolation," Jessica Knox, M.D., MPH, co-founder of the American Cannabinoid Clinics and a preventive medicine physician, recently told mbg. For this reason, you might want to consider a hemp product over a CBD one. The effects will feel comparable, but with hemp you'll get more active compounds for your buck. Look for one that is labeled "full-spectrum," meaning it contains a full spectrum of plant compounds.

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It should be organic, non-GMO, and tested for toxins.

According to Carl Germano, R.D., CNS, CDN, the author of Road to Ananda: Simple Guide to the Endocannabinoid System, Hemp Phytocannabinoids/CBD, and Your Health, the use of pesticides, herbicides, and genetic modification is not uncommon in the hemp industry. Plus, hemp is a bioaccumulator, meaning it's very efficient at removing toxins and pollutants from the air, water, and soil. (The plant is so good at this that it's actually being used to help clean up dirty environments.) This means that if your hemp is not grown and processed carefully, you might be getting toxins in your extract. Look for an organic, non-GMO product that's been certified from a third party and tested for heavy metals.

Also, if not stored and handled properly, hemp is prone to growing certain kinds of fungi that can produce aflatoxin, a substance that can cause liver damage and other health issues. Yet another reason to buy from a reputable brand that handles the crop properly and tests for aflatoxin.

It should be CO2 extracted.

Most companies extract the active compounds from a hemp plant using a process known as CO2 extraction, which uses pressurized carbon dioxide to weed out (no pun intended) those beneficial phytocannabinoids. Germano says that this tends to be more efficient than other extraction methods like ethanol and olive oil extraction. And unlike butane or hexane extraction, it doesn't leave any potentially harmful solvents behind on the product.

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It should contain validated hemp strains.

Any time you're considering buying hemp oil from a new-to-you brand, Germano says it's important to dig into their sourcing practices. Since growing industrial hemp in the U.S. was illegal until relatively recently, there isn't much information in this country about the types of plants that are now being cultivated. This is why Germano recommends looking for strains that have been deemed safe in the European Union, where growing hemp has long been legal. That way, you'll know your product is more established and has been subject to regulation and oversight over the years. "The EU commissions website has certified, validated hemp strains that have been used by humans for decades," he says.

It should come in a dark bottle.

When you're buying hemp oil, you'll want to treat it like any other edible oil. Though it's shelf stable, it can still go rancid. To protect your oil, limit the bottle's exposure to air, heat, and light. Especially if you're buying hemp in liquid tincture form, make sure it comes in a dark glass bottle that protects it from the elements.

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The bottom line.

Armed with this information, you're set to find a hemp oil that lives up to expert standards. mbg is proud to say that its hemp multi+ supplement ticks all of these boxes. The full-spectrum organic hemp product is EU Certified Organic and 100% CO2 extracted. It combines phytocannabinoid-rich hemp oil with other ingredients that foster relaxation such as rosemary, hops, and black cumin seed into a powerful formulation that eases anxiousness and stress.*

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