CBD has become an explosive industry in the US. You can find this stuff in dispensaries, head shops, health food stores, book stores, even souvenir shops in states from Maine to California, Texas to North Dakota, Florida to Hawaii.

Not only is it all over America, in stores you wouldn’t expect such a legally ambiguous substance to be in, but it’s also being sold in every form imaginable: CBD isolates, oral tablets, topical salves, bath bombs, lip balms, transdermal patches, oils, lotions and more.

That is an overwhelming spread to choose from, even if you know cannabis products well. For the unfamiliar, trying to pick a CBD product out of such a variety can be confusing, frustrating and can even turn people off to the product entirely. Option paralysis is a real thing and it’s one of the few issues that CBD can’t actually help you with.

Which CBD is the right one for me? One might ask, staring at a shelf lined with different CBD products. Should I get a topical or an oral product? Why are these prices so different? What is the difference between these companies? How do I know this stuff actually works?!

Important questions, all. And questions that might have different answers for each and every person asking them.

Most often, I use Stratos Soothe 1:1 CBD/THC salve for my knees after long ski weekends or during the work-week if my neck gets stiff. Sometimes I’ll also sprinkle a little Treehouse Hemp CBD isolate on top of my nightly bong-bowl like kief, which produces a really nice body-high. I know people who swallow CBD tablets in the morning like vitamins, people who put CBD in their tea like sugar, people who smoke CBD flower and even people who bathe in CBD baths.

Different strokes for different folks. No matter how it’s applied though, finding the right form of CBD for you personally is important to using it effectively. And the only real way to figure that out is to feel it out; experiment with a number of different CBD products, from salves to isolates and recognize which ones work best for you.

Often times two different forms of CBD work well together — I’ve had luck using Stratos’ 15:1 CBD/THC hybrid tablets with their Soothe salve when I’m on that third day of skiing and everything starts to ache. I also bring both on long backpacking trips because why the hell not? It can’t hurt. And, often times, people end up borrowing some from me and are grateful I brought it — which, to me, makes the extra pack weight worth it.

Sadly, depending on which state you live in, you might not be able to find CBD with THC in it. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that gets you “high,” (even though you won’t actually feel high from most CBD products that contain THC). Because CBD produces no psychoactive effect, it is allowed to be sold even in states where cannabis is still technically illegal.

The biggest downside with that, though is that CBD works best when it’s used with THC. The therapeutic benefits of using the two combined is greater than that of either one on its own. If you use cannabis medicinally, using CBD with it is a great way to boost the medicinal benefits of the cannabinoids.

(If you live somewhere where you can’t access legal weed, you might just have to access some illegally to use it on top of your CBD regiment. But you didn’t get that suggestion here.)

It’s easy to get carried away with the idea of a medicine like this. Especially if you’re someone who suffers regularly from an ailment that CBD might treat. But be warned: CBD is not like your typical “pain killer.” When it comes to CBD, less is actually more. In research published by CBDproject.org they found that patients experienced the most significant reductions in pain with around 21mg of CBD. Test subjects who received 52 mg of the same CBD experienced only mild reductions in pain, while subjects given 83 mg experienced the same reductions in pain as the study placebo produced.

It would be nice if you could just crank up the mg’s and experience more benefits, but that’s now how this stuff works. The window of therapeutic value seems to get smaller with CBD as you increase the dosage.

As for knowing if/which CBD products and companies actually work, that can be difficult. Without federal regulation and without any kind of testing standards, the door is open wide in the CBD industry for scammers and con men to take advantage of people. Buying bunk CBD is easier than one might imagine, especially if you’re in a state that isn’t very cannabis friendly and especially if you don’t know what to look for. This article is a good guide for seeking out reliable, trustworthy CBD companies in the unregulated industry.  

To recommend a few reliable sources: Stratos is my favorite company for CBD and hybrid products like the Soothe salve and their CBD tablets (they also have some pretty rad tinctures if you’re into that kind of thing).

My favorite CBD salve I've come across: Stratos 1:1 CBD/THC Soothe

Mary’s Medicinals is another company that is worth checking out if you’re looking for products that you can trust to be effective. And Treehouse Hemp is a Colorado-based full spectrum CBD hemp extract company that is making some of the highest quality CBD isolates on the market.

CBD is being called a modern “Gold Rush.” It is expected to become a $22 billion industry by 2022. That’s not just hype — there’s a reason that CBD is making such a gigantic splash in the business world and it’s because the product works. This is a revolutionary medicine that is still largely under-researched, still largely under-accepted as a legitimate medical option for people suffering from chronic pain, depression, anxiety, inflammation, arthritis and even cancer.

People are catching on, though. It’s difficult to ignore a medicine that’s this effective at treating so many different problems. If CBD is welcomed into the medical world, it’s not hard to imagine a world where your doctor is prescribing you pharmaceutical grade CBD to treat certain health issues.

Until then, though, it’s up to the consumer to make the right choices. So educate yourself, experiment and enjoy the benefits you’re bound to experience.