Boots joins the CBD world. Why is it not a good idea?

People all over the world are hungry for products containing cannabidiol, short for CBD, a non-psychoactive compound found in the hemp plant. CBD users have already spent hundreds of millions of dollars on this chemical boasting of a great number of therapeutic benefits. Just imagine that the exploding global cannabidiol market is valued at $553.7 million in 2020 and expected to reach $4,268.3 million by the end of 2026, according to the Global Cannabidiol Oil Market 2020 report. What is the hype around CBD products all about?

Is CBD a panacea for all diseases?

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Cannabidiol is one of more than 100 cannabinoids contained in cannabis that has a positive impact on our endocannabinoid system, or, more precisely, on our cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are responsible for our central neural activities, such as memory, appetite, mood, and much more. When something goes wrong in our organism, CBD helps our body cope with disorders. The compound doesn't alter our minds and has a variety of potential therapeutic applications, including helping with pain, anxiety, seizures, and inflammation. Several years ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report stating that this CBD isn't associated with addiction and doesn't induce any physical dependence.

Numerous studies in animals and people suffering from various disorders revealed that CBD could be effective in treating epilepsy, insomnia, arthritis, psychosocial disabilities, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, cancer, and other serious conditions. Moreover, researchers provided evidence that this hemp-derived chemical compound is safe and well-tolerated, with just a few common side effects reported, such as diarrhoea, nausea, changes in appetite and mood, dry mouth, and others.

The scientists were right to carry out these investigations because their efforts produced results – the governments of a number of countries gave CBD-infused products the green light. Nowadays it's legal to buy and consume goods containing cannabidiol in the USA and most European countries under specific conditions. For example, you can officially purchase a CBD product in the United Kingdom only if it contains less than 0.2% of THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive compound that gets people “high.”

CBD conquers the world

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There are various types and forms of CBD products available on the market. Cannabidiol found its way into oils, creams, lotions, capsules, e-liquids, smoothies, chocolate bars, gummy bears, and even in pizza and coffee as an option to ingest this chemical compound to improve your health and well-being. It's no wonder that new participants are coming to the CBD industry to hit the big time and make a profit on this growing cannabidiol wave.

There are a lot of options to acquire hemp supplements. Thus, you can buy the vast majority of products containing cannabidiol online. Purchasing online is a convenient and quick way of having your favourite CBD oil, or gummy bears delivered straight to your door, which is currently an extremely important opportunity when coronavirus is spreading everywhere, and you don't have to leave your house. In addition, you have an opportunity and time to study all available reviews about the supplement you're interested in before making a purchase.

The second way to buy hemp goods is to go to the specialised retail store where customers will be able to hold the product in their hands and ask sales assistants questions when they have no idea which CBD oil or tincture to choose. As a rule, the employees of these stores are very competent and well-trained to give you sensible advice. They can explain all the pros and cons of any form of CBD product, as well as provide you with information about CBD amount, dosage, administration method, storage conditions, cautions, and so on.

Having several ways to get the required CBD product is very convenient. Furthermore, your purchasing options are expanding every day because large wellness retail chains with stores on every corner are coming into play. This means that you can enter a CVS Health, Kroger, or Boots store located near your house and easily choose and buy necessary goods based on cannabidiol. Some of them, such as Boots, have even brought their own CBD brands to the market.

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British pharmacy giant Boots joins the CBD industry

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Boots is one of the largest health and beauty retail chains in the United Kingdom that was established 170 years ago. The company is a subsidiary of the Retail Pharmacy International Division of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc, the leading global health and well-being corporation. Boots has approximately 2,500 stores across the UK and Ireland running from local pharmacies to large health and beauty stores. Boots stores are primarily located in shopping centres and on the high street.

The company sells a wide range of products, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, health and beauty goods, baby and toddler clothing, maternity wear, foods and beverages. Boots also renders optician, hearing care, and even photo services. Of course, the retailer could not stay on the sidelines when all the world goes crazy over cannabidiol. Boots entered into a partnership with several CBD manufacturers to sell their products on the shelves and through its retail website.

At the present time, the company offers the following CBD brands, such as Vitality (CBD sprays, topicals, gummy bears, drops, tablets, and bath bombs), Green Stem (flavoured CBD oils, topicals and bath bombs), Ambience (CBD oils and topicals), Dragonfly (CBD oils), Revolution (CBD topicals), Healthspan (CBD capsules and drops), Love Hemp (CBD sprays), Barber Pro (CBD hair masks), Simple (CBD masks and topicals), BYBI (CBD booster), Better You (CBD sprays), Boots (CBD oils), Boots Pharmaceuticals (CBD muscle gel), Eco Styler (CBD oil), Mr Makeup Obsession (CBD spray), Naturopathica (CBD lozenges), and Westlab (CBD bathing salts).

Besides, the retailer launched its own brand CBD Muscle Gel and Ingredients Hemp Seed Oil. The gel consists of menthol, witch hazel, lemon oil, magnolia bark, wheat protein, and NaturHex complex developed by the Boots team. Although the bottle claims that it contains no THC, it doesn't actually provide evidence of how much cannabidiol it has. The gel is relatively inexpensive, which can be an indicator that the company hardly used any CBD to make this product because it requires costly manufacturing processes. The label of the second product – CBD oil – doesn't have any proof regarding the CBD amount, either.

We analysed the CBD items represented on the Boots website and saw that some of them also contain no information about the cannabidiol amount on the label. Some data on the CBD dosage and volume is provided in the 'Product Details' section on the website. Therefore, we recommend you to carefully study these sections before clicking the 'Add to Basket' button. If you visit the physical store and don't see any information on the package, ask the shop assistant about the content or simply put this item back on the shelf. Why? Consuming such mislabeled products could be dangerous for your health.

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One scabbed sheep will mar a whole flock

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Bear in mind that not all CBD products are made equal and have the same effects. That CBD-rich smoothie you bought from your local health food store might not have any cannabidiol at all. Why? Because the CBD market is not regulated, which allows dishonest companies seeking only profit to provide false information about the goods they produce or sell.

The International Research Center on Cannabis and Health conducted a study and found that most CBD products available on the market are mislabeled and contain incomplete or false information about ingredients and dosage. Imagine that you buy a bottle of CBD oil that is labelled 600mg of CBD. However, this doesn't mean that your daily dose should be 600mg; this value refers to the entire bottle. Your dose should range from approximately 5 to 20mg. Such unclear information often confuses customers.

Furthermore, the labels of seven out of ten tested cannabidiol-based goods didn't contain the CBD amount, according to the research published in JAMA in 2017. The US Federal Food and Drug Association (FDA) conducted similar investigations and came to the same conclusion – dishonest companies misinform consumers stating incorrect information about the dosage and CBD amount on the labels of their products. The agency warns users that they should carefully read the labels and avoid purchasing and consuming such goods. So, there’s a lot of fake CBD products out there. But where can customers find the good ones?

The best option is to buy CBD-infused products from a well-known brand. Unlike CBD supplements you find on the shelves of Boots or other retail chains, CBD oils, foods, and beverages sold by big market players are of high quality which is confirmed by appropriate Certificates of Analysis (COAs). The COA is a special document that provides the results of third-party laboratory testing, which checks the products for contaminants and potency. The batch number on the COA should correspond to the number on the CBD goods' label or packaging. Well-established cannabidiol manufacturers have to test every batch of their items and accurately mark those results.

Since the FDA has not yet approved products containing cannabidiol officially, some dishonest CBD manufacturers found a loophole and are not constrained by the obligation to follow the standards in producing, labelling, and selling their CBD goods. Unfortunately, there are a lot of CBD oils and other supplements on the market that have unnatural ingredients and harmful fillers. Why do such businesses do this? Obviously, to make a quick dollar. Synthetic ingredients are easy to buy and cheap to procure.

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Dishonest CBD manufacturers are not aimed at helping you relieve your pain, improve your sleep, or making your life easier. They are looking to earn as much money as possible. They won't cudgel their brains over searching for a trusted supplier to procure raw materials, they won't apply safe and environment-friendly CBD extraction methods, they won't add natural supplements, they won't specify the exact amount of CBD. It won't be their problem if you fail the drug test and lose your job or disfigure your career. What is even worse, they don't bother that these synthetic substances could do harm to your health.

In 2018, fifty-two Utah residents suffered from taking oil with synthetic CBD, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Thirty-one persons even required the help of the emergency room doctors. This sad event shows us once again that we should draw our attention to what we buy and consume.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of companies dedicated to providing only the highest-quality CBD products. We have prepared a short guide on how to determine which brand to choose. Don’t let the bad guys in the industry deter you from enjoying CBD supplements.

Recommendations to follow

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  • Carefully read the label

It's vitally important to read the labels because they provide crucial information that inspires us to or discourages us from making a purchase. If the data on the label seems insufficient or off, put the product back on the shelf.

Real CBD product labels should contain the following key phrases: THC-free, full-spectrum, pure CBD, hemp-derived, certified CBD, etc. Besides, the label of high-grade CBD products will contain the concentration data in a numerical amount to let you know how much cannabidiol is in the product. This means that you will always be able to calculate how much cannabidiol you can take per day if the label doesn't provide this information.

What else? Draw your attention to expiration dates and lot numbers. These figures demonstrate how the manufacturer tracks every product for safety and quality control purposes.

  • A source of origin is an important link in the chain

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approves only hemp-derived CBD products. When you put CBD product under your tongue, eat or drink it, or rub it on your skin, don't you want to know where this cannabidiol comes from? Trustworthy and reliable CBD manufacturers will precisely specify where they grow their hemp.

If the manufacturer or the website doesn't specify the country of origin of the hemp contained in your CBD supplement, we recommend you to put this product aside because there is a high probability that it's nothing to be proud of or a fake. Why? Because if you don't know where the plant was grown, you cannot be sure that the good-quality hemp was used to produce the goods you're going to buy.

  • Remember about COAs

Does the manufacturer of the CBD product you'd like to buy test its supplements at independent laboratories? If not, forget about this brand because it's duff. We are not joking, throw it into the trash bin. Without independent laboratory testing, you cannot be sure that your CBD supplements consist of high-quality and safe ingredients. Even if the concentration is stated on the label, only COA can verify the quality. Speaking of which, we didn't find any COAs on the Boots website.

Your health and personal safety depend on this information. You don't want to harm yourself, take additional medicines, or have a Quincke's disease caused by unknown and dangerous ingredients, do you? Taking fake CBD products can even get you into legal trouble. How? Without independent laboratory testing, you'll never know that your CBD goods contain no more than 0.2% THC that is considered the maximum legal concentration in the UK.

When you are looking for a reputable and high-quality CBD retailer, it is also important to ask about the product’s independent test results. This way, you will be assured that you are getting a high-quality and safe product as reputable companies will invest in such tests to gain the trust of their customers. A reliable brand will never endanger its customers' health with harmful CBD supplements.

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  • Take into account the extraction method

To make CBD products, manufacturers should first extract oil from the hemp plant. To do so, companies apply various extraction methods. Some of them are safer and more eco-friendly than others. At the same time, these methods are more expensive, which makes businesses use cheaper but more harmful manufacturing processes. For example, CO2 extraction is free from any dangerous chemicals and solvents. It allows producers to preserve all terpenes and flavonoids in the course of the manufacturing process.

In contrast to CO2 extraction, steam distillation and hydrocarbon solvent extraction methods require more hemp amount and are inefficient. If you're not ready to consume potentially toxic goods, make sure you check how your CBD product was made.

Being guilty of cutting corners with skipping the third party lab tests step altogether is not only about small startups that don’t have substantial capital to invest in the business off the bat. As we have mentioned, COA is a very expensive and time-consuming process not everyone can afford financially. It is also a common problem among large dominant multi-brand and multi-product enterprises that are not interested in becoming experts in any particular field, even though they can theoretically dedicate the capital. Instead, they use their fame and market dominance to produce goods that are profitable to sell. From our research, this is exactly the case of Boots dipping their toes in the CBD industry. 

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This doesn't mean that you should stay away from the Boots' or other retailers' stores. You just need to be smart about your supplement choices and take simple precaution steps to avoid being disappointed of having a negative experience or even putting your health at risk.

We hope that our simple recommendations will help you find a trustworthy and reliable brand and enjoy effective CBD edibles and topicals without any concerns to get to the hospital or fail a drug test. 

If you still don't know how to choose a trusted CBD brand, what COAs look like, or have any questions regarding CBD products, please refer to our research and articles on Alphagreen Academy and Medium blog.

Verified by a Healthcare Professional

Anastasiia Myronenko

Anastasiia Myronenko

Anastasiia Myronenko is a Medical Physicist actively practicing in one of the leading cancer centers in Kyiv, Ukraine. She received her master’s degree in Medical Physics at Karazin Kharkiv National University and completed Biological Physics internship at GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research, Germany. Anastasiia Myronenko specializes in radiation therapy and is a fellow of Ukrainian Association of Medical Physicists.