As a consumer of hemp-derived CBD products, you may know that the industry is not regulated. The FDA is the governing body responsible for CBD products. Yet, as of the date of this writing, they haven’t decided how exactly they’ll regulate this emerging industry. In the meantime, it’s critical to be thorough in your research before buying a CBD product.
While looking into various CBD brands and products, confirm the existence of third-party lab testing results. This lab report is often called a Certificate of Analysis, or COA. Companies generally elect to test products to confirm cannabinoid potency. The COA shows this cannabinoid potency in a section called the ‘cannabinoid profile’. This section is the key to discovering the contents inside a CBD product.
In this article, we’ll explain how to read a cannabinoid profile using two real-world COAs and walk you through how to read them. We’ll also discuss why lab reports are important, and what else goes into the creation of a CBD product. By the end, you’ll feel more confident in knowing what exactly you’re putting in (or on) your body!
The Importance of Lab Reports
As mentioned above, there are no quality-control standards in place on CBD products. Because CBD products that target the general population are not yet regulated.
For an industry that’s seen nothing but growth, this can be a bit concerning. New CBD brands are popping up frequently. So, it can be hard to discern which brands have your best interest in mind and which ones are just looking to make a quick buck.
The range of CBD products available today is all over the board. Some products are fantastic, some are good;, yet others are average, sub-par, or even terrible. Poor quality CBD products can come without labels or even worse, they’re synthetic knock-offs.
Fortunately, for the sake of consumer health, top brands and industry leaders in the CBD space believe in transparency. CBD companies like NuLeaf Naturals and CBDistillery publish COAs on their website. By making these lab reports available, they’re proving they have nothing to hide.
A potential customer can read through the results and make an informed decision about whether to buy their product or not. In an unregulated marketplace, being transparent about their product separates companies from the rest of the pack.
At Earlybird CBD, we only partner with the best and most trusted CBD manufacturers in the industry. These companies send their products to third-party independent labs, who rigorously test every single product before making them available for sale.
The Composition of a CBD Product
To better understand a cannabinoid profile, it helps to first understand the general composition of a CBD product. Every product either contains a CBD hemp extract or a CBD isolate as the base ingredient. Most products contain additional ingredients such as carrier oils, thinning agents, herbs, and essential oils.
The distinction between CBD hemp extract and CBD isolates is worth noting.
CBD hemp extract contains naturally occurring cannabinoids found in hemp. It also has other beneficial properties like flavonoids and terpenes. These components exist in what is referred to as a ‘Full Spectrum’ CBD product, providing what is known as the entourage effect.
CBD isolate is a crystalline substance created by isolating CBD from the rest of the hemp plant’s compounds. What remains after this processing, is a product that’s usually 95%+ pure CBD.
Understanding these differences can be valuable when it’s time to read and interpret the results of a COA.
Besides testing for cannabinoid levels, some companies elect to have their products tested for contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, solvents, and mold.
How to Read a Cannabinoid Profile
Cannabinoids are responsible for the therapeutic properties people look for in a CBD product. The most common cannabinoid found in hemp is CBD. Hemp also has small traces of the other well-known cannabinoid, THC, and some lesser-known molecules like CBC and CBG.
CBD companies test the cannabinoid levels of their products for several reasons. The first is to verify the potency of any given product. The potency is generally expressed in milligrams, such as 500 mg of CBD per 15 mL bottle. To find this information on a lab test, you would need to look at the cannabinoid profile.
The cannabinoid profile is important because it proves whether a company is in compliance with federal law. To remain compliant with the 2018 Farm Bill, any product derived from hemp cannot contain more than 0.3% THC. One way to verify the levels of THC is to have this test performed.
Now that we’ve covered some background information, let’s explain how to read a cannabinoid profile. The best way to do this is by showing you an actual copy of a lab report. For this example, we’ll look at ProVerde Labs Test Certificate for CBDistillery’s 1000 mg Full Spectrum CBD Tincture. By the way, we pulled this report from the company’s website.
Cannabinoid Profile for Full Spectrum CBD
Before studying this report in detail, please take note of the abbreviation ‘ND’. It’s shown in both the ‘Weight %’ and ‘Conc.’ columns and it stands for 'none detected'.
The top of this lab report includes a description of the tested product. We’ll need this information later on when we perform some calculations. On the right-hand side, you can see the company name, CBDistillery.
Moving down the report, you’ll arrive at the cannabinoid profile. The column labeled ‘ID’ lists the cannabinoids that were tested. The next column discloses the ‘Weight %’ of each cannabinoid. And the third column shows the concentration of each cannabinoid in mg per mL.
Two of the most critical pieces of information are contained in the line items; Max THC and Max CBD. You can see that ‘Max THC’ by weight is only 0.16%. This falls well below the legal limit of 0.3%.
The number presented in the ‘Max CBD’ line item will help us assess the accuracy of the potency level shown on CBDistilley’s product label. According to the product description at the top of the report, this product contains 1,000 mg of CBD in its 30 mL bottle. Let’s see how the math holds up.
The goal is to confirm that the 30 mL bottle actually contains 1,000 mg of CBD. It doesn’t have to be 1,000 mg exactly, just a number that’s reasonably close.
We do this by multiplying the amount of CBD per mL by the total number of mL in the bottle. The report indicates that there’s 35.50 mg of CBD per mL (‘Max CBD’). Multiply this number by 30 mL (total amount of mL per bottle).
35.50 mg/mL x 30 mL = 1,065 mg of CBD
Then compare 1,065 mg of CBD to the actual amount of 1,000 mg per the product label. These two numbers are close and their small difference is reasonable.
Lastly, this report also provides confirmation that CBDistillery’s product is indeed a Full Spectrum CBD tincture. We know this because CBD isn’t the only cannabinoid that shows up on the lab report.
Cannabinoid Profile for CBD Isolates
A THC-free or CBD isolate product only contains CBD. As such, we wouldn’t expect to see the presence of other cannabinoids on the lab report.
In this example, the product name, ‘500mg-30mL Pure CBD Oil’ appears in the top left-hand corner. The right side of the Certificate of Analysis (COA) shows the company name, Balanced Health Botanicals. This is the parent company of CBDistillery.
When looking at the cannabinoid profile on the COA, you can see the product only contains CBD. Each of the other cannabinoids tested, including THC, came back at zero percent. This confirms that the product is, in fact, a THC-free CBD tincture.
Next, to prove the potency level of 500 mg of CBD is accurate, we need to perform a calculation.
The COA found that for every gram of oil there is 18.4 mg of CBD. And 1 gram is equal to 1 mL. So, the math looks like this:
18.4 mg/mL x 30 mL = 552 mg of CBD
Like the first calculation, the result of 552 mg of CBD is slightly higher than the actual CBD concentration of 500 mg shown on the product label. But, this is a reasonable difference.
After walking through the cannabinoid profiles on these two lab reports, we hope you have a better understanding of this topic. Before buying your next CBD product, read over the COAs and put your new-found knowledge to the test!
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