Top CBD Hemp Strains for 2019
Now that spring is within sight, it’s time for cannabis farmers across the northern hemisphere to consider
their crops for 2019. A unique aspect of this year’s season is that it marks the first full growing season
with the new regulations, or lack thereof, allowed by the 2018 Farm Bill. Most of us in the industry are
already familiar with the significance of that bill. For anyone who is not, hemp has now become federally
legalized across all 50 states. It is an exciting example of progress in the cannabis industry and opens up a
wide realm of possibilities for hemp growers and those focused on CBD products. The horizon for hemp
growers looks bright and with abundant opportunity ahead comes a need to look at what factors are
involved with growing and obtaining the top CBD hemp strains out there.
Seed selection is one of the most important decisions a hemp farmer makes during the season. A stable,
productive seed will lead to bountiful crops high in CBD or other desired cannabinoids, while a
questionable seed can lead to fields of failure. All seeds are most assuredly not created equal and
thorough vetting needs happen before making a decision on what seeds to purchase.
According to Ryan Lynch, PhD and co-founder of Boulder Hemp, a licensed hemp research, production,
and breeding facility in Colorado, seed sources can vary with the needs of each farmer but a few general
considerations are important.
“It all depends on the goals of the farmer, as hemp can be cultivated in many ways, and used for various
outputs. But in general, they should source seeds that have been produced from a consistent source for at
least several years and grown by other farmers locally through previous seasons,” Lynch recommends.
Adam Kurtz of Fusion CBD in Oregon has a similar sentiment, prefacing seed sources in general by
noting “there are seed breeders and then seed makers. We work with a few seed breeders and trial strains
out a year or more in advance before we share with our partner farms. That way we will know if they pass
compliance, what yields to expect, and if our customers will like it.”
With many people in the industry focusing on the lucrative potential accompanying the broad legalization
of hemp and the flourishing CBD market, it is more important than ever before to secure high quality
seeds. Many farmers seeking fast cash have been quick to purchase seeds from questionable sources only
to wind up with a weak, or even worse, unviable hemp crop.
Calvin Bailey, former Hemp Production Manager of Blue Forest Farms and current Research and
Development specialist with Greenhouse Growing System says that “there are a lot of issues in the
industry right now with unstable seed being sold to farmers who are in the cash grab mode and are
unwittingly going out and buying totally unstable, heterozygous seed and wondering why their fields look
like crap.” He also believes “genetic stability is of the utmost importance right now and, in my opinion,
feminization and even sterility of fiber crops is really important.” Wise words from an industrial hemp
expert with over a decade of experience in agriculture of many varieties.
Kurtz adds, “Make sure whoever you purchase seeds from can explain the breeding process, show sample
crops growing, and provide test results and germination rates.” He also offers a word of caution saying
that “many farmers have bought seeds from unscrupulous ‘breeders’ only to have major crop failures.”
Other Factors to Consider in a Quality CBD Hemp Strain
The exact hemp variety is a choice left up to the farmer for their particular needs and growing conditions.
Several factors come in to play that can provide broad direction in securing a high quality CBD hemp
strain and should be given careful consideration.
To ensure high yields of flowers from a hemp crop, good apical dominance is a necessary characteristic.
This implies that a better choice for strain is one where vertical growth surpasses lateral growth, or as
Bailey puts it, a good quality hemp strain “has a Christmas tree structure and not a candelabra.” Apical
dominance ensures that the plant itself can hold high volumes of dense flower buds without
compromising its structural integrity, thereby increase yield through the plants natural genetics.
High terpene content is another consideration when selecting a CBD hemp strain. Compliance with the
regulations laid out in the 2018 Farm Bill dictate that all hemp grown to be legally sold nationally must
contain less than .3 percent THC. That distinction is critical if a hemp crop is intended for use or sale
across state lines. If hemp is grown in a legal state, there is room to play with cannabinoid profiles;
however, many top growers seem to recommend a minimum of a 20 to 1 CBD to THC ratio for top-notch
strains intended for the CBD market.
Top CBD Hemp Strains
All of the preceding information leads us to the heart of the matter – some of the top CBD hemp strains
around. Here is a quick list of some favorites to help lead hemp farmers to a successful season. Keep in
mind the importance of seed source and if you don’t go with one of the varieties below, be sure to
complete the necessary due diligence to ensure viability.
Berry Blossom – This CBD heavy variety is a favorite among many growers and for good
reason. The structural integrity of Berry Blossom lends to super productive plants suitable for
large scale production. It is a selectively bred cross between Cherry Kandahar S1 and
Chardonnay. Excellent in a variety of climate conditions and holds up well in harsh wind and
Elektra – Known to be one of the most potent CBD seed lines available, Elektra is a cross-
bred improvement on the already legendary ACDC variety. ACDC paved the way for CBD
production in the U.S. and this hybrid improves upon that renown with a stronger stalk, fuller
flowers, and earlier blooms.
Charlotte’s Web – This strain gained popularity for its medical uses, being developed and
perfected by the Stanley Brothers in Colorado. Charlotte’s web was one of the top strains available
before medical cannabis was legally accessible to patients with epilepsy.
Cherry Wine – Possesses a very strong terpene profile with CBD content ranging from 15-
22%, with total CBD varying due to harvest and climate conditions. This variety consistently
produces large flower buds that are exceptionally dense.
Lifter – Lifter is a reliable and tested strain that consistently delivers high yields of dense
flowers, rich in CBD and other terpenes. Generally possessing CBD content around 15%, this
strain grows thick and rich like a bush leading to some of the highest yields of any CBD heavy
These are just a few suggestions and by no means are they the only options to explore. While the above
come recommended, other varieties could be beneficial depending on the crops intended market and use.
Top CBD hemp producers like Kurtz “have trialed over 20+ varieties but have recently settled on about
10 strains” with current favorite strains including Elektra, Sour Space Candy, Canna Tsu, Original Cherry
and Abacus. He also says that “as we target the smokeable hemp market, our customers like to see a variety
both in cannabinoids and taste.”
A Look into Future Potential
As research behind CBD for medical purposes develops and the legal market grows, the future is
promising for those involved in hemp growth and production. The traditional sale of smokable flower has
given way to an increase in popularity of cannabis extracts, particularly those high in CBD. New products
offering new forms of consumption are increasing consumer awareness and driving demand ever upward.
This steady demand for CBD products necessitates a constant supply of CBD hemp and by taking proper
considerations to encourage the best crop possible, hemp farmers stand to profit from this boom.
Lynch sees that “the vast majority of hemp consumed by end users is in extracted form. I’m not sure what
the future holds for the smokable flower market, it’s a small but growing segment in the US as of
2019, but its sustained growth is highly dependent on state and federal regulations and enforcement.”
Kurtz, however, sees that “the CBD and hemp industry is just beginning. I believe a trend will shift to
full spectrum products in the near future and as technology evolves, we will then find isolated compounds
mixed with specific terpenes to target specific issues. Our main business is in hemp flower, and there is
no slowing down. I expect smokeable hemp to become a tobacco replacement.”
Regardless of the manner in which CBD is consumed, farmers will continue to be the ones supplying the
public. Obtaining one of the top CBD hemp strains while adhering to the other considerations mentioned
above is a great start to securing a solid harvest. Many different factors are at play when growing any crop
and paying attention to the basics is a dependable method to increase yields and profits from a popular
and competitive commodity.
What Is CBD Oil?
This cannabis extract may help treat nerve pain, anxiety, and epilepsy
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.
Meredith Bull, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor with a private practice in Los Angeles. She helped co-author the first integrative geriatrics textbook, "Integrative Geriatric Medicine."
CBD oil is an extract of Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa , the same plants used to make marijuana.
CBD oil may treat pain, lower anxiety, and stimulate appetite the same way that marijuana does, but without affecting your mental state. CBD might also help treat some types of seizures.
CBD is the short name for cannabidiol , one of the two chemicals in cannabis with the most health benefits. The other chemical is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
THC is what's responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis—in other words, what makes you feel "high." CBD oil generally doesn't have THC, although trace amounts might be in products sold in certain states.
CBD oil contains CBD mixed with a base (carrier) oil, like coconut oil or hemp seed oil. The bottled CBD oil is called a tincture and is sold in different concentrations.
There are also CBD capsules, CBD gummies, and under-the-tongue CBD sprays.
This article goes over what CBD is used for, possible side effects, and what you should look for if you choose to buy CBD.
What Is CBD Oil Used For?
CBD's exact mechanism of action is unclear.
Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t have a strong connection with cannabinoid receptors in the brain. These are the molecules that THC binds to create psychoactive effects.
Instead, CBD influences other receptors, like the opioid receptors that control pain. It also affects glycine receptors. These control serotonin, a brain chemical known as the “feel-good” hormone.
People that support the use of CBD claim that CBD oil can treat a variety of health problems, including:
- Chronic pain
- Drug use and withdrawal
- High blood pressure
- Muscle spasms
- Poor appetite
More research on CBD has been emerging as it has gained popularity. Still, there are only a few clinical studies on the effects of CBD oil.
As such, some of these health claims are better supported by research than others.
If you're thinking of using CBD oil to treat a health condition, talk to your healthcare provider to make sure it's an appropriate option for you.
A 2015 review of studies in the journal Neurotherapeutics suggests that CBD might help treat anxiety disorders.
The study authors report that CBD had powerful anxiety-relieving effects in animal research. But the results weren't what you'd expect.
In most of the studies, lower doses of CBD (10 milligrams per kilogram, mg/kg, or less) improved some symptoms of anxiety, but higher doses (100 mg/kg or more) had almost no effect.
The way that CBD acts in the brain can explain why this happens. In low doses, CBD may act the same as surrounding molecules that normally bind to the receptor, which "turns up" their signaling.
However, at higher doses, too much activity at the receptor site can lead to the opposite effect. This would take away the helpful effects of CBD.
There aren't many study trials that look at CBD's anxiety-relieving effects in humans. One of the few is a 2019 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry.
For the study, 57 men took either CBD oil or a placebo (sugar pill) before a public-speaking event. The researchers based anxiety levels on measures like blood pressure and heart rate. They also used a fairly reliable test for mood states called the Visual Analog Mood Scale (VAMS).
The men who took 300 mg of CBD oil showed less anxiety than those given a placebo. Interestingly, the men who took 100 mg or 600 mg of CBD oil didn't have these results.
CBD oil might help people with substance use disorder, per a 2015 review in the journal Substance Abuse.
The review analyzed 14 published studies. Nine of the studies looked at the effects on animals, and five studies looked at the effects on humans.
The researchers reported that CBD showed promise in treating people with opioid, cocaine, or psychostimulant addiction.
However, CBD affected each type of addiction very differently.
For example, CBD without THC didn’t help decrease withdrawal symptoms of opioid use. On the other hand, it did reduce drug-seeking behaviors in users of cocaine, methamphetamine, and other similar drugs.
Some experts suggest CBD may help treat cannabis and nicotine dependence, but more research is needed.
Doctors may prescribe medical marijuana to people with pain that’s resistant to treatment, like those with terminal cancer. There’s some evidence that CBD plays a role in this benefit.
One interesting piece of research is a 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. Researchers injected rats with chemicals that prompt inflammation. Then they gave the rats CBD.
The rats that got CBD experienced less inflammation and nerve pain (pain caused by damage to your nerves).
Scientists believe CBD reduces nerve pain by binding to receptors in the brain that control the speed at which nerve signals pass between nerve cells.
However, there aren't many studies that examine the use of CBD in treating chronic pain in people. The studies that do exist almost always include THC. This makes it hard to isolate CBD's unique effects.
High Blood Pressure
CBD oil may reduce the risk of heart disease by relieving high blood pressure in some people, per a 2017 study in JCI Insight.
For the study, nine healthy men took either 600 mg of CBD or the same dose of a placebo. The men who took CBD had lower blood pressure before and after stressful things, like exercise or extreme cold.
The study also looked at stroke volume (the amount of blood remaining in the heart after a heartbeat). The stroke volume in the men who took CBD was lower than that in the placebo group, meaning the heart was pumping more efficiently.
The study suggests CBD oil may be a good complementary therapy for people whose high blood pressure is affected by stress and anxiety.
However, there’s no evidence CBD oil can treat high blood pressure on its own or prevent it in people at risk. While stress can complicate high blood pressure, it can’t cause it.
In June 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Epidiolex, a CBD oral solution.
Epidiolex is used to treat two rare forms of epilepsy in children under 2: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. These are very rare genetic disorders that cause lifelong seizures that start in the first year of life.
Outside of these two disorders, CBD's effectiveness in treating seizures is uncertain. Even with Epidiolex, it's unclear if the anti-seizure effects are from CBD or some other factor.
There’s some evidence CBD interacts with seizure medicines like Onfi (clobazam) and boosts their concentration in the blood. More research is needed, though.
CBD oil might help relieve stress, anxiety, seizures, drug withdrawal, and nerve pain. But taking higher doses doesn't always mean they'll have a stronger impact. Also, many studies on CBD have been done on animals, so it's hard to tell if these same effects will apply to people.
Possible Side Effects
Clinical research has shown that CBD oil can trigger side effects. The severity and type can vary from one person to the next.
Common side effects include:
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in mood
- Dry mouth
CBD oil may also increase liver enzymes (a marker of liver inflammation). People with liver disease should consult their healthcare provider before taking CBD oil and use it with caution. Regular blood liver enzyme level checks are recommended.
Don’t take CBD oil if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises pregnant women to avoid marijuana because of the potential risks to a baby’s development. Although the effects of CBD itself are unclear, CBD does pass through the placenta.
Don't drive or use heavy machinery when taking CBD oil since some of them contain THC. This is especially important when you first start treatment or use a new brand.
CBD oil can interact with some medications, including those used to treat epilepsy.
Cytochrome P450 (CYP450) is an enzyme in your body that breaks down certain drugs. But CBD oil can block CYP450 from working the way it normally does. CBD oil can either make some drugs you take have a stronger effect than you need or make them less effective.
Drugs that could potentially interact with CBD include:
- Anti-arrhythmia drugs like quinidine
- Anticonvulsants like Tegretol (carbamazepine) and Trileptal (oxcarbazepine)
- Antifungal drugs like Nizoral (ketoconazole) and Vfend (voriconazole)
- Antipsychotic drugs like Orap (pimozide)
- Atypical antidepressants like Remeron (mirtazapine)
- Benzodiazepine sedatives like Klonopin (clonazepam) and Halcion (triazolam)
- Immune-suppressive drugs like Sandimmune (cyclosporine)
- Macrolide antibiotics like clarithromycin and telithromycin
- Migraine medicine like Ergomar (ergotamine)
- Opioid painkillers like Duragesic (fentanyl) and alfentanil
- Rifampin-based drugs used to treat tuberculosis
To avoid interactions, tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist what medicine you're taking. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, herbal, or recreational drugs.
Many of these interactions are mild and don't demand a change to treatment. Others may require you to substitute the drugs you are taking or to separate doses by several hours.
Of course, never make changes to your medication regimen without your doctor's OK.
You might experience nausea, diarrhea, or dizziness when you take CBD oil. Don't take CBD oil if you're pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, CBD oil affects the way your body breaks down certain drugs, so talk to your healthcare provider if you're on any medications.
Dosage and Preparation
There are no guidelines for the proper use of CBD oil. CBD oil is usually taken by placing one or more drops under the tongue and holding it there for 30 to 60 seconds without swallowing.
There's no known "correct" dose of CBD oil. Depending on your needs and what you're treating, the daily dose may range between 5 mg and 25 mg.
The tricky part is calculating the exact amount of CBD per milliliter of oil. Some tinctures have concentrations of 1,500 mg per 30 mL, while others have 3,000 mg per mL (or more).
Most oils come in 30-milliliter (mL) bottles with a dropper cap.
How to Calculate CBD Dose
To determine an exact dose of CBD, remember that each drop of oil equals 0.05 mL of fluid. This means that a 30-mL bottle of CBD oil will have about 600 drops. If the concentration of the tincture is 1,500 mg per mL, one drop would contain 2.5 mg of CBD (1,500 mg ÷ 600 drops = 2.5 mg).
Capsules, gummies, and sprays are easier to dose, although they tend to be more expensive.
What to Look For
CBD oil comes in different forms. Isolates contain only CBD, but full-spectrum oils have several compounds from the cannabis plant. This includes proteins, flavonoids, terpenes, and chlorophyll.
Alternative medicine practitioners believe these compounds provide more important health benefits, but there's no clear evidence to support this.
Remember that CBD oils are mostly unregulated, so there's no guarantee that a product is safe, effective, or what it claims to be on its packaging.
A 2017 study reported that only 31% of CBD products sold online were correctly labeled. Most contained less CBD than advertised, while 21% had significant amounts of THC.
Here are a few tips to help you find the best CBD oil:
- Buy American: Domestically produced CBD oil may be safer.
- Go organic: Brands certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are less likely to expose you to pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
- Read the product label: Even if you choose a full-spectrum oil, don't assume that every ingredient on the product label is natural. There may be preservatives, flavorings, or thinning agents that you don't want or need. If you don't recognize an ingredient, ask the dispenser what it is or check online.
Are CBD Oil and Hemp Oil the Same?
Not necessarily. While some use these names interchangeably, hemp oil might also be used for hemp seed oil, which is used for cooking, food production, and skincare products.
CBD oil is made from the leaves, stems, buds, and flowers of the Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa plant and should contain less than 0.3% THC. Hemp oil is made from the seeds of Cannabis sativa and contains no TCH.
Unlike the THC that's in marijuana, CBD oil doesn't get you high. It contains a chemical called cannabidiol that might help relieve stress, anxiety, drug withdrawals, and nerve pain.
However, CBD oil might change the way your body breaks down certain medications. This could make the drugs have a stronger or weaker effect, which can be dangerous. Talk to your doctor before you use CBD oil, especially if you take any medicine or have liver disease.
Frequently Asked Questions
It would be hard to overdose on CBD oil because human tolerance is very high. One study reported the toxic dose would be about 20,000 mg taken at one time.
It depends on where you live, the form of the product, how it was sourced (via hemp or marijuana), and its intended purpose (medical or recreational). In many states, you must be 18 or 21 to buy CBD oil. Check your state's laws.