How to Pick the Best Medical Cannabis Oil?

Sylvester Spoon
September 27, 2017

Even if it is not your first time using or contemplating about using medical cannabis oil to address your ailments, or just seek anxiety and stress relief, there is a strong probability that you will get confused about all the possibilities manufacturers put at the consumer’s attention. And no-one can blame them, as the demand is soaring, people always want a product with a dimension of novelty, yet we are considering serious implications here, so it is best not to take things lightly.

As the designation implies, medical cannabis oil has the aim of treating or alleviating medical conditions, but with the shadow that hangs over the industry, information is scarce, patented cannabis specialists are few and far between. Therefore one should thoroughly do their homework before making a purchase.

Taking into account constrictions of space, we will peer at the ins and outs of the medical cannabis manufacturing process – from which types of plants are usually used and which sub-species, to commercial variants of cannabis oil; sprinkling each section with common misrepresentations that manufacturing companies and vendors employ, and finish by (briefly) discussing major disorders in which medical cannabis oil are beneficial.

How Do Types of Cannabis Oil Differ?

The first problem that arises when medical cannabis oil is discussed is a linguistic one. Nobody knows precisely what the designation singles out. There are many types of oils derived from the cannabis plant, and many of them are touted to have medicinal properties. Also, the cannabis plant has three sub-species that are quite different from one another: India, Sativa, and Ruderalis. The cannabis “community” wholly acknowledges the fact that only the first two breeds may be used in the production of cannabis oil with medical applications.

The second, the much more pressing problem involves the absence of a standard. The lack of regulations on the market – competent authorities do not go further than establishing if cannabis is legal or not in a particular jurisdiction. The “philosophical” faith in the market’s capacity to regulate itself may function in the long run (though many have their doubts, and it is beyond the scope of this article), but here and now there is a huge potential for abuse, especially in the current context of widespread misinformation and a lingering stigma attached to cannabis consumption.

In the absence of sanctioned designFull Extract Cannabis Oil – this type of oil can be considered as entry-level in the field of high-quality cannabis oils. Rarely manufactured from other parts of the plant other than leaves, it is supposed to keep almost all of the cannabinoids and terpenes from the original plant in the packaged form. It frequently has a THC concentration of over 30 percent. It differs from other, more sophisticated oils, by using plants whose precise cannabinoid composition has not been analyzed beforehand, in order to know the exact proportions, and another reason for this uncertainty is the practice of using more than one strain in the same batch.ations and standards, we are left to work with what the everyday practice of production, marketing, consumption and (in the end) word-of-mouth produces.

Before we proceed with the listing of the types of medical cannabis oil, we should brush upon what are criteria that differentiate the oils from one another:

  1. Cannabinoid composition – current theories concerning cannabis’ medical applications revolve around the ratio of the two main cannabinoids (chemical compounds, complex fatty acids from this point of view, that stimulate changes in the body’s endocannabinoid system, thus producing physiological and psychological effects): tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, psychoactive cannabinoid whose properties nevertheless, are more far-reaching than that) and cannabidiol (CBD, non-psychoactive and the component of cannabis widely believed to revolutionize pharmacology in the decades to come).

While (both scientific and speculative) literature concentrates on CBD and THC, being from a volumetric position the largest constituents of any cannabis extract, some products also feature a couple of lesser-known cannabinoids, which we mention later on in this text.

  1. Methods of extraction – this is a technical and rather sophisticated discussion, centered on which parts of the cannabis plant are selected, and what chemicals are used in the separation of actual extract from the plant residue.
  2. Jurisdiction of commercialization/consumption – as it is widely known, in the United States 29 states and the District of Columbia have legal provisions for the sale of medical marijuana. Departing from that, what makes cannabis marijuana (from a legal standpoint at least) is the concentration of THC – usually more than 0.3 %. Worldwide, countries that have legalized marijuana are an exception.

As the industry of cannabis-related products continues to grow, it aims to address the public in all kinds of jurisdictions. That is why we encounter commodities labeled hemp oil, CBD oil, cannabidiol solution, etc. Technically, these concoctions classify as cannabis oil (as they are all derived from variants of cannabis), yet current studies show that the best results are achieved from oil containing both CBD and THC (in various ratios), while the status of research into CBD by itself is in its infancy.

  1. Plants used – when we are concerned with THC-free oil, then most of the time we are talking about the hemp plant – leaves, seeds, and stalk. There is not much attention paid to actual plants in this case, though many manufacturers advertise and pride themselves in using plants from organic agriculture.

When discussing oils with differing THC/CBD ratios, we are considering only selectively bred cannabis Sativa and Indica. The large majority of oils are derived from hybrids, but this poses one important downside – in the absence of a state-of-the-art laboratory and trained specialists, it is impossible to generate oils with the exact desired THC/CBD ratio. This is why the handful of renowned medical experts who advocated therapies with cannabis-derived products argue that only the purest and best-studied strains of cannabis sativa should be used for obtaining high-quality cannabis oil.


Types of Cannabis Oil

As we have established in the previous section, there are many cannabis oils. All of them claim to have (more or less) definite medical benefits. As to what actually constitutes medical cannabis oil, an attempt at a definition is a more legalistic one –  cannabis oil sold in a jurisdiction which has legalized medical marijuana use, under the legal provisions of commercialization defined by the competent authority.

Nevertheless, we will list all types of cannabis oil (in ascending order, according to the concentration of cannabinoids), because most likely the reader has been exposed to many products stylized as such.

Hemp Oil

Containing only traces of cannabinoids, hemp oil is what you can find on the market with the least therapeutic potential. It is obtained from the seeds of the hemp plant (the cannabis ruderalis type) along with other by-products left over from the process of extracting textile fiber. Though nobody would dream of classifying it as medical cannabis, when hemp seeds undergo the cold pressing method of extraction, it is a welcomed addition to one’s diet thanks to its makeup: essential unsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Furthermore, hemp oil as such may contribute to the more careful dosage of cannabidiol in CBD oil dietary supplements.


In jurisdictions where marijuana (i.e., cannabis strains which feature a significant amount of THC) is not legal, CBD oil is the next best thing. For such a mixture to be considered as CBD oil, it should have a concentration of cannabidiol of at least 5 percent. CBD dietary supplements have developed into quite a craze in the last few years, for a number of The cannabidiol in the large majority of such pills is generally extracted from hemp, albeit a higher quality plant than that used in hemp oil. This aspect leads many manufacturers to use the seemingly incorrect moniker of “CBD hemp oil.”

There are several problems with these supplements. First of all, cannabidiol by itself still has no universally accepted medical benefits, although it shows a lot of promise in preliminary tests. Many readers may have purchased a CBD supplement, and they know they do not come cheap – for a decent concentration of CBD from hemp, the manufacturer needs a lot of hemp. Therefore, these supplements either cost more than they are worth or, as is often the case, the label and the product inside do not have much in common.

Another avenue for manufacturers is sativa strains bred primarily for harvesting cannabidiol, containing a meager amount of THC (less than 0.2 percent). While they are rare, they constitute the best avenue of obtaining highly concentrated cannabidiol oils. Solutions featuring CBD concentrations of more than 10 percent are usually considered High CBD Oils.

Medical Cannabis Oil

Also known as medical marijuana oil – a broad definition of medical cannabis oil would be an extract of cannabis featuring high amounts of THC (capable of producing significant psychoactive effects) along with other cannabinoids, prescribed for patients suffering from documented conditions.

At an ideal level, only resin harvested from the flowers of the female cannabis plant (usually cannabis sativa and far more rarely cannabis indica) should constitute the raw material in the fabrication of medical cannabis oils. This aspect is not observed by large-scale manufacturers, as it would put a substantial economic strain on their business. The extract must be separated from the plant residue using some kind of solvent and, depending on the method used, the quality of the oil can vary dramatically.

For example, when a solvent based on petroleum is involved, coupled with a temperature above 250 °F, reputable scientists estimate that sometimes close to 90 percent of cannabinoids (other than THC) and beneficial terpenes are lost. Large companies that must supply different jurisdictions and types of consumers often employ this technique as it yields a product high in THC (between 35 and 70 percent, sometimes topping that threshold), producing fast psychoactive reactions, with the long(er)-term medical benefits of cannabis being thrown aside for the sake of profit.

On the other hand, there is the option of using “green” methods of extraction. The best-known one is the “supercritical carbon dioxide” technique, though it does require expensive technology and highly-trained personnel, thus being employed mostly in scientific purposes using plants that have been bred by certified botanists. This method involves creating very high pressures as to change the state of aggregation of the carbon dioxide, which can act as a solvent to obtain the oil at very low temperatures, sometimes below 100 °F.

From the brief description of these two extremes, a logical conclusion emerges – as temperatures involved in the extraction process are lower, the diversity and concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes in the oil are higher. Therefore the product is of a better quality. Obviously, small manufacturers and home-based aficionados do not have the possibility of generating high temperatures (for large quantities) or other-worldly pressures (for top-notch quality). Therefore many oils are made using alcohol as a solvent, a method considered as being the easiest and the best compromise between the extremes presented above.

If you want to purchase medical cannabis oil, then you should know that there are many sub-types, the market being flushed with such products, as cannabis has already moved on from its underground status, and is in full swing towards becoming a big business. These sub-types of medical cannabis oil differ according to cannabinoid makeup:

Full Extract Cannabis Oil

This type of oil can be considered as entry-level in the field of high-quality cannabis oils. Rarely manufactured from other parts of the plant other than leaves, it is supposed to keep almost all of the cannabinoids and terpenes from the original plant in the packaged form. It frequently has a THC concentration of over 30 percent. It differs from other, more sophisticated oils, by using plants whose precise cannabinoid composition has not been analyzed beforehand, in order to know the exact proportions, and another reason for this uncertainty is the practice of using more than one strain in the same batch.

In order to know if you get high-quality for your money (and this is more or less the case for any cannabis oils), try to find out before purchasing if the plants were grown organically, how many certified parties have tested the oil, how many cannabis strains were harvested for production, and if the oil contains any (and if it does, which) added substances. If a manufacturer supplies this information, along with a breakdown of the cannabinoids included in the oil, then you should proceed as you are more than likely getting a quality product.

One particular variation of the type is Rick Simpson cannabis oil, which stems from a sensationalist Internet craze started in 2008 by the “creator,” and now companies hope to cash in on it by using the name. Mr. Simpson’s endeavor consisted of a video tutorial describing the manner in which full extract oil can be obtained at home, using alcohol as a solvent, and claiming that the result may cure cancer. Although cannabis may have applications in oncological therapies, this was/is a wild assertion, to say the least. What you should remember is that Rick Simpson oil is just a variant of full extract cannabis oil, a dubious one at that, and you should not pay premiums for it.

CBD Cannabis Oil

There are many disorders that stand to benefit from a cannabis oil that has a high cannabidiol to tetrahydrocannabinol ratio, with the most touted proportion being 5 to 1. What makes this type of oil different than plain CBD oil is the THC concentration, which has the ability to produce psychoactive effects and is illegal in most jurisdictions (higher than 0.3 percent), although it may not be visible in most individuals.

1 : 1 Extracts Oils

As you may have guessed, this type features equal amounts of CBD and THC. Most respected cannabis pioneers in the medical field assert the superiority of this class of oil against all others. That is not saying that it is a universal solution, as different disorders need products with a different cannabinoid composition. What makes the 1 : 1 oil special is the care required to breed plants which would yield this type of oil (one will never get 1 : 1 oil by using hybrids, of course) along with the chemical training needed to oversee the extraction process successfully.

Medical Conditions Benefiting from Cannabis Oil

Most respected specialists consider that about 20 to 25 medical conditions can be treated or alleviated with the help of cannabis. In the majority of cases, the preferred method of administration is oral, in the form of oils, having a particular cannabinoid composition. Leafing through all disorders is beyond the scope of this article. Therefore we will consider the seven afflictions most often thought of to benefit from cannabis:

  • Anxiety and Stress Management – the association between cannabis and stress relief, is as old as the cultivation of cannabis in Neolithic cultures. The most recent scientific confirmation of this association comes from a 2013 study[1] performed on rodents at an Israeli university, which concluded that stress relief could be achieved through the manipulation of neural pathways in the endocannabinoid system stimulated by THC. In jurisdictions where medical cannabis is legal, oils high in THC are already a staple of medical recommendations.
  • Insomnia – hard anecdotal evidence, published in 2015 in the American Journal of Health System Pharmacy, points out that cannabis treatments (featuring plants containing as wide a cannabinoid spectrum as possible) are effective in insomnia cases deriving from post-traumatic stress disorder. Other such conjectures abound from experiments performed on rodents and other small mammals.
  • Appetite Stimulation – a reputable team of neuroscientists at Yale University in New Haven, have connected type 1 cannabinoid receptors stimulation via THC as determining the release of an appetite-promoting hormone in the bloodstream – POMC (pro-opiomelanocortin).[2]
  • Eye Health – eyesight declines with age because of a natural consequence of the aging process called macular degeneration. This outcome leads to a number of ocular conditions, with glaucoma being the most widespread. In a 2009 conference of the American Glaucoma Association, the multi-level action of tetrahydrocannabinol towards reversing macular degeneration has been revealed, with numerous documented instances.
  • Chronic Pain – in US states with medical marijuana laws, cannabis is a staple prescription in pain resulting from cancer. Nevertheless, another confirmation came in 2010 from a paper published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal which provided the link between pain relief and cannabidiol, as THC is illegal in Canada. New therapies involving high CBD cannabis oils are pursued since then, with cannabidiol coming under the attention of researchers at the Food and Drug Administration for its possible therapeutic effects.
  • Cardiovascular Health – although much more evidence is required on this subject, a study performed at the University of Nottingham in England and published in 2014 in the Pharmacological Resources journal concluded that cannabinoid action releases an enzyme in the bloodstream associated with effective vasorelaxation in the mesenteric arteries. 1 : 1 cannabis oil seems to be the option for improved heart health.
  • Epilepsy and other disorder manifested through seizures – numerous cases of significant seizure frequency associated with many subtypes of epilepsy have been reported in the last decade. In many of the cases, CBD oil with negligible amounts of THC seems to have done the job. New drugs against seizures featuring cannabidiol are in FDA trials for becoming approved remedies and become integral parts of complex therapies against epilepsy and other related disorders.


As with any other emerging product, picking out the best medical cannabis oil depends largely on the amount and quality of the information you possess. First of all, you need to know the ins and outs of the disorder you are addressing, then inquire about which type of cannabis oil works best for that disease, and finally gather information about the manufacturer along with its practices and raw material it uses. If you check out these boxes and look out for the pitfalls mentioned in this article, then you should not have causes for dissatisfaction.