How We Rate CBD Products: The Metrics and Criteria

Cannabinoid and terpene profile rating

At Herbonaut, we rate CBD products according to a systemized and standardized rating system.

There are various metrics that differ in their importance to consider.

When rating a CBD product, there are different metrics to consider. However, some of these are more important than others.

Let’s start with one of the most important ones.

Beneficial Value and Effectiveness

While CBD products like tinctures and gummies can be classified as ‘foods’ or food-supplements’, CBD products are mainly used for the beneficial effects that are associated with cannabidiol, ‘CBD’, in short.

The main reasons why CBD products are used are the following:

  • Their anti-inflammatory effects that result in effective pain management/pain-relief;
  • Anxiety-relief;
  • Improvement in quality of sleep;
  • Certain types of epilepsy.

Therefore, to rate a CBD product, we are not interested in traditional nutritional metrics like:

  • Its fat-content;
  • Its vitamin-content;
  • Its protein-content, etc.

To rate a CBD product, we are mainly interested in how well it improves or relieves the aforementioned conditions like pain, anxiety, etc.

Now:

Rating the effectiveness of a CBD product has a theoretical side and a practical side.

Let me first explain the theoretical side.

The Theoretical and Data-Based Side of Rating the Effectiveness of CBD Products

When it comes to CBD products, the compound we are most interested in, is, of course, CBD. After all CBD itself is THE main compound that’s responsible for the beneficial effects that are attributed to CBD products.

But rating the nutritional and beneficial value of CBD products ‘just’ on their CBD-content would be a grave mistake.

There are two main reasons as to why this would be a grave mistake:

First, the hemp plant from which your CBD products get extracted contains a multitude of beneficial compounds besides CBD. Some examples:

  • CBG (a cannabinoid associated with anti-inflammatory effects);
  • CBC (a cannabinoid associated with anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety effects);
  • Linalool (a terpene associated with anti-inflammatory, painkilling, anxiolytic effects);
  • Limonene (a terpene associated with anti-inflammatory, painkilling, anxiolytic effects);
The scientific literature shows that some of these other hemp-derived compounds have uniquely beneficial effects. If your CBD product contains a good amount of these other hemp-derived compounds it has a better beneficial value compared to CBD products that only contain CBD, and therefore has a better chance of being effective (1).

Scientific Sources

  • 1. Baron, E. P. (2018). Medicinal Properties of Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Flavonoids in Cannabis, and Benefits in Migraine, Headache, and Pain: An Update on Current Evidence and Cannabis Science. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain58(7), 1139–1186. https://doi.org/10.1111/head.13345

Secondly, the scientific literature shows that there are strong indications to think that all these other hemp-derived compounds can improve the effects of CBD itself, while at the same time reducing the risk of its potential side effects.

For example, one study found that epilepsy patients that used CBD-extracts that contained additional hemp-derived compounds, reported using an effective CBD-dose that’s 4-times smaller than patients using a CBD-only CBD-extract. This indicates that these other hemp-derived compounds potentiate CBD’s beneficial effects, at least when it comes to epilepsy (2).

Scientific Sources

  • 5. Pamplona, F. A., da Silva, L. R., & Coan, A. C. (2018). Potential Clinical Benefits of CBD-Rich Cannabis Extracts Over Purified CBD in Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy: Observational Data Meta-analysis. Frontiers in Neurology9, 1. https://doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2018.00759

The bottom line:

To rate a CBD product’s nutritional and beneficial value we are not only interested in its CBD-content, but in its complete cannabinoid- and terpene-profile.

Example Cannabinoid- and Terpene-Profile Rating:

Cannabinoid and terpene profile rating

Cannabinoid and terpene profile rating

The Practical Side of Rating the Effectiveness of CBD Products

Now the practical side of rating the effectiveness of a CBD product:

The effectiveness of a CBD product should also be rated in a practical way. This can only be done by testing the product and report its effects.

This is like the mini-version of a scientific study:

You use the product and document its effects.

But when it comes to CBD products, how can you test a particular product’s effectiveness in relieving pain, if you don’t have pain to start with? Well, you can’t.

At Herbonaut we test CBD products on their effectiveness for:

  • Exercise-induced inflammation and pain;
  • Situation-dependent anxiety, and;
  • Sleep in general.

Example Practical Effectiveness Ratings:

CBD Practical Effectivness rating

CBD Practical Effectivness rating

Example Sleep Report:

SabaiDee Mega Good Vibes Sleep Test

SabaiDee Mega Good Vibes Sleep Test

But CBD products should be rated on more than just their effectiveness.

Safety and Transparency

In a largely unregulated market like the CBD-market, transparency is of the highest importance.

Hemp is a plant that absorbs all sorts of contaminants from the soil. These contaminants can end up in your product with the extraction process.

Hemp farmers can also make use of pesticides that can end up in your product.

Yeast, mycotoxins, and bacteria, can also develop in improperly stored hemp plants and hemp-extracts

When using a CBD product, you want to be sure it’s completely free of these toxic compounds.

Transparency with regards to the products CBD-content and cannabinoid-profile is also extremely important. At Herbonaut, we also prefer a report of its terpene-profile.

A CBD brand can tell us that their product contains a certain amount of CBD and other cannabinoids. But we want proof. FDA-tests have shown that some ‘CBD products’ don’t even contain any CBD.

CBD brands are only eligible to be reviewed if they provide third-party lab-test reports that show results of:

  • Contamination-tests (pesticides, heavy metals, and other toxins)
  • Cannabinoid-profiles, and;
  • Preferable also terpene-profiles.

But even then, there are different degrees of transparency. Some CBD product manufacturers have full control over the whole manufacturing process from the moment the hemp seed gets planted into the soil to the moment the final product gets produced.

If they then also disclose exactly how they cultivate their hemp plants, what exact strains the cultivate, and how exactly they manufacture the final product, they score high on transparency.

Value for Money

There are huge differences in price when we look at CBD products.

To compare different products on how much value you get, it’s important to standardize the price. A bottle of CBD oil that costs $200 may seem expensive, but if it contains 6000mg of full-spectrum hemp-extract it’s actually great value.

We standardize the price of CBD in the following ways:

  • How much CBD you get for $1, and;
  • How much hemp-extract you get for $1.

To rate a CBD product on ‘value for money’, we usually look at how much ‘hemp-extract’ we get for $1. As explained before, when looking at CBD products we aren’t only interested in CBD. We are interested in all the other hemp-derived compounds as well.

But since CBD is the main compound, we also always look at how much CBD we get for $1.

Example:

Value Calculation

Value Calculation

Customer Service and Customer Ratings

How the company you buy from treats you, is also highly important.

Do they offer fast shipping? Do they offer free returns? Do they offer a satisfaction guarantee? How do they handle complaints?

All are important questions that have a role in rating a CBD product.

In our final rating, we also take the average rating of customers that have rated the product we’re rating. Usually, these ratings can be found on their own website, therefore these ratings should be taken with a grain of salt.

CBD Customer Reviews

CBD Customer Reviews

Taste

When using a product for its beneficial effects, taste, in our humble opinion, is of less importance than metrics like effectiveness and safety.

However, a horrible-tasting CBD product will be difficult to use.

Therefore, taste still has a minor role in rating edible CBD products.

Go to our list of Best CBD Oils

Go to our list of Best CBD Gummies

Go to our list of Best CBD Creams

Go to our list of Best CBD Vape Juices

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