Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s) and published for informational purposes only. We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to CBD, and check the laws in their local jurisdiction before purchase or use.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is exploding in popularity across the U.S. and across the world, with more and more brands popping up suggesting their products provide a wide range of health benefits. For consumers, the choices can often seem overwhelming.
Our goal with this article is to provide a clear set of criteria that consumers can use to evaluate CBD oil brands, and then recommend several CBD oil products.
What Matters When Comparing CBD Brands
One of the most important factors to consider when selecting a CBD brand is whether or not the brand publishes test results proving their products are accurately labeled and low in contaminants. Independent test results are better than in-house test results because there is less bias.
This is especially important for consumers who get drug tested, because CBD products are allowed to contain trace amounts of THC (up to 0.3% by dry weight), according to the FDA. Lab test results allow you as a consumer to see the exact amount of THC in the finished product.
Price is an obviously important consideration. It can be difficult to compare costs between brands because the CBD dosage is often different, but we’ll analyze by cost per 25 milligrams (mg) of CBD to standardize and simplify the price comparison. This is a dose at the low end of the effective range based on published medical research, which is typically used for general health maintenance. Specific disease conditions may require higher doses that patients should speak with a doctor about.
Clean formulation is the third factor we will consider. This means a product formulated without additives which could potentially be harmful, such as added sugars, added flavoring agents or added sweeteners. The filler ingredients should be whole foods, such as fractionated coconut oil or olive oil.
We will only recommend products which meet all three of these benchmark criteria.
Best Overall CBD Oil - Bluebird Botanicals
Bluebird Botanicals is an industry leader in the CBD space for a reason. Their batch testing is extremely extensive, and they pass the lab testing criteria with flying colors.
You can read more about their testing methodology in our Bluebird Botanicals review, but the important takeaway is that the brand tests every single batch of every single product for label accuracy, potency, contaminants and pesticides. They publish this data on their Batch Database.
The price of Bluebird Botanicals is impressively low given how much testing they publish. Bluebird Botanicals Classic CBD Oil costs $99.95 per ounce (oz). The product contains 120 servings of 25 mg CBD, so the price per 25 mg serving is $0.83.
This brand passes the clean formulation test, because the only ingredient in their CBD oil other than hemp extract is fractionated coconut oil, which is used as a carrier oil. This is a healthy, whole foods ingredient.
Bluebird Botanicals is a Certified B Corp, and they offer discounted pricing to consumers who can verify a low income with documents such as SNAP or SSI. Check out their Assistance Program page if you meet this criteria, because the discount can be significant.
Another minor consideration is that Bluebird Botanicals’ branding is quite good; the bottles look nice on a shelf and all of their products and labels are clean and well-designed.
Best Flavored CBD Oil - Manitoba Harvest
Manitoba Harvest isn’t just a CBD brand. They make a wide variety of products from hemp, including hemp granola and shelled hemp seeds.
Like Bluebird Botanicals, this brand publishes extensive test results for each batch of their products, so they pass the testing criteria. They test for contaminants of both microbiological and chemical nature, as well as for the potency of the CBD in their products.
Manitoba Harvest’s CBD oil costs $59.99 per 1 milliliter (mL) serving, which contains 900 mg CBD total. This equates to a price per 25 mg serving of $1.67 which is almost exactly double the cost of Bluebird Botanicals.
One benefit of Manitoba Harvest is that it’s THC-free, as verified by independent testing, so it should be safe for consumers who are drug tested. Manitoba Harvest CBD oil is broad spectrum, which is more isolated than the full spectrum CBD oil of Bluebird Botanicals which contains trace amounts of THC.
This CBD oil passes the clean formulation test. It offers two flavors: unflavored and peppermint. The unflavored simply contains hemp extract and coconut oil, while the peppermint uses organic peppermint oil as a natural and safe flavoring agent. This is vastly superior to “natural flavors” as a flavoring agent, which is a loosely regulated term.
The branding of Manitoba Harvest CBD oil is slightly inferior to Bluebird Botanicals in our opinion, but the bottles and packaging still look good. They use recyclable paper packaging which is more environmentally friendly than plastic.
Best CBD Oil Isolate - CBDistillery
The two products we’ve discussed so far have been a full-spectrum hemp extract (containing CBD along with all other cannabinoids and trace amounts of THC) and a broad-spectrum hemp extract (containing CBD and all cannabinoids other than THC). But there are also CBD oil isolate products, which provide only CBD and no other cannabinoids.
Some consumers prefer the effect of this type of product, so we wanted to recommend a CBD oil isolate brand.
CBDistillery sells a CBD oil isolate supplement with test results proving the CBD potency and a lack of contaminants. It’s worth noting that this product contains a higher CBD dose per serving (83 mg) than the previous products we’ve recommended, and we don’t recommend taking the full dose if it’s your first time trying CBD. CBDistillery recommends starting with a lower dose of 5-10 mg and adjusting up over time as needed.
CBDistillery’s CBD oil isolate contains 2,500 mg of CBD total and costs $120, which equates to $1.20 per 25 mg serving. Thus it falls right between Bluebird Botanicals and Manitoba Harvest in terms of price. We find this to be a reasonable price given that there are increased costs to isolate CBD compared with simply selling the full hemp extract.
This isolate passes the clean formulation test. It’s unflavored and the only ingredient apart from CBD is fractionated coconut oil, which is clearly the most popular carrier oil for CBD products.
The branding of this product is worse than Bluebird Botanicals and Manitoba Harvest in our opinion. None of their supplements are particularly visually appealing, but it’s a high-quality product.
Cheapest CBD Oil - Lazarus Naturals
Lazarus Naturals sells a CBD oil which is impressively priced. The brand even posts the per-mg CBD price ($0.03), clearly indicating that they’re targeting consumers who are focused on cost.
Lazarus Naturals passes the test results criteria, as they publish testing data on a Test Results Repository database on their site. Their CBD oil is tested for potency, label accuracy and a wide range of contaminants including pesticides and heavy metals.
The price of Lazarus Naturals is the cheapest of any CBD oil brand we reviewed which met our quality criteria. The CBD oil costs $120 for 6,000 mg of CBD total, which equates to $0.50 per 25 mg dose. This is about 35% cheaper than Bluebird Botanicals per CBD serving.
Consumers can often get confused about pricing, because the individual unit price may be higher than other brands, but because CBD dosage varies so much across products the only way to compare pricing between brands is to compare per-dose pricing. Lazarus Naturals costs $120 but provides 240 25-mg doses of CBD, so it provides nearly a year’s worth of a standard CBD dose even if the product is used daily.
This product passes the clean formulation test, because the “Classic” flavor only has two ingredients apart from the hemp extract: organic hempseed oil and organic coconut MCT oil. We recommend purchasing the Classic flavor only and not the flavored versions which contain flavoring agents.
Lazarus Naturals’ branding is better than CBDistillery but worse than Bluebird Botanicals and Manitoba Harvest in our opinion.
Best CBD Oil for Dogs - Holistapet
CBD oil is often prescribed to dogs as a natural alternative to pharmaceutical medications. We only recommend giving CBD oil to your dog at a dosage approved by a veterinarian. Because the weight of dogs varies significantly by breed and sex, dosage is extremely important to have double-checked by a medical expert.
A medical review of hemp-based medicines in dogs published in the Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics found that CBD oil is “safe” and “can contribute to osteoarthritis and idiopathic epilepsy treatments.” It’s also recommended by vets for anxiety in dogs in some cases.
Holistapet’s CBD oil for dogs is lab tested, and is one of the few CBD brands for animals with lab testing data. The lab tests prove the potency and label accuracy of the CBD oil, but there is no test for contaminants.
The price of Holistapet CBD oil for dogs varies based on the dosage and dog’s weight. It ranges from $25.95 for small dogs (under 20 pounds) to $144.95 for large dogs (over 160 pounds). However we want to reiterate that you should not trust these guidelines and instead check with a vet for dosage instructions.
We don’t compare the price per 25 mg of CBD with the brands for humans because dosage varies so much between species that there’s no benefit in doing so.
Holistapet’s CBD oil passes the clean formulation test, because it only contains two safe ingredients: CBD extract and hemp seed oil. Many products for pets have unnecessary filler ingredients so we were pleased to see this simple and clean formulation for a pet product.