Reading CBD product labels can be intimidating at first. However, as a smart buyer, it’s necessary to inspect product labels to ensure you’re getting exactly what you want and that the product is safe and of quality.
The same goes for CBD businesses. Yes, a stylish product label is nice but producing an accurate packaging label is more admirable.
Must-Know Basic CBD-Consumer Terminologies
Here are some of the basic terms consumers see on packaging labels of CBD products:
As the active ingredient in CBD products, CBD or cannabidiol is the cannabinoid extracted from the cannabis plant.
The most well-known cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is also extracted from the cannabis plant.
If CBD is non-psychoactive (doesn’t get you high), THC is psychoactive, especially in large doses.
Hemp & Marijuana
Hemp and marijuana are types of cannabis plants. CBD can be derived from either plant but the industry always chooses to derive CBD from hemp because it has no more than 0.3 percent THC, a standard THC limit that the 2018 Farm Bill allows. Marijuana-derived CBD products may cause psychoactive effects because they have higher levels of THC. Knowing whether the product is marijuana or hemp-derived is important because some marijuana-derived products may cause a positive drug test.
CBD isolate is the purest type of CBD product because it ONLY contains CBD. It is usually tasteless and odorless due to the lack of flavonoids and other aromatic compounds.
When a CBD brand is categorized as “broad spectrum,” almost all naturally-occurring compounds of the cannabis plant exist in the product EXCEPT THC. If you want all the benefits derived from the compounds of cannabis without the risk of getting high or a positive drug test, broad spectrum CBD extract is for you.
Full spectrum CBD has all of the naturally available compounds of the cannabis plant, including THC. However, in a hemp-derived full-spectrum CBD, most users will not worry about getting high because it only has 0.3 percent (or less) at the dry weight of THC. Some people want the full spectrum type because then they’d get the “entourage effect” of all the cannabis compounds.
The term cannabinoid refers to any chemical substance that binds to the receptors of the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) and that elicits similar effects produced by the Cannabis Sativa plant. There are over 100 cannabinoids identified in the varieties of cannabis plants. Some of the major cannabinoids from the Cannabis Sativa plants are CBD and THC.
Note: The ECS is a biological system that regulates key functions such as sleep, appetite, mood, memory, reproduction, fertility, and more. Cannabinoids like CBD exude part of their effects on the body via the ECS.
Terpenes are the primary aromatic compounds found in most plants including cannabis. They give plants their unique aromatic combinations, flavors, and even colors.
Terpenes naturally protect cannabis plants from harsh weather and predators. As for human benefit, researchers theorize that terpenes’ effects are further enhanced if combined with cannabinoids. Some of the terpenes found in cannabis are beta-caryophyllene, beta-pinene, humulene, limonene, linalool, and myrcene.
Cannabis plants have flavonoids unique to them called cannaflavins. Aside from terpenes, cannaflavins are responsible for giving color/pigmentation to cannabis plants. Research suggests that cannaflavins may also have an array of beneficial medical effects such as being an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, and a neuroprotective agent.
Important Product Label Information Consumers Need to Check
Make Sure that the CBD Product has Actual CBD in It
Don’t confuse products labelled “hemp seeds”, “hemp seed oil”, or “cannabis sativa seed oil” with “hemp-extract” with actual CBD products.
To make sure you’re getting real CBD, check the product’s COA (certificate of analysis) that’s mostly found on a brand’s product page website.
You may also access a product’s COA by scanning the QR code on the product with your smartphone. If they’re not available, email the company using their customer service email address.
COAs are verified documents completed by an independent, third-party laboratory. It shows what a product contains, down to the terms of type and concentration/potency of terpenes, cannabinoids, and other phyto-compounds, heavy metals, pesticides, molds, bacteria, and more.
Here’s how to check the Certificate of Analyis (COA)
First, check whether the concentrations of CBD and THC on the COA match the product’s label.
The CBD market is filled with brands that don’t accurately label their products. A study revealed that approximately 31 percent of the random products tested were inaccurately labeled.
Second, look for the “PASS” or “FAIL” marks across heavy-metal and pesticide analyses. Pass means the product has a safe concentration of that certain heavy metal or pesticide, meanwhile, the opposite means otherwise.
Look closely at the ingredient list
Look at the ingredient list. Some consumers are allergic to certain agents and would most likely veer away from such products.
CBD oil products will likely include a carrier oil to stabilize and preserve the CBD. Carrier oils such as grapeseed oil, MCT oil, olive oil, or even cold-pressed hempseed oil lets the body absorb CBD even better.
CBD products mostly adhere to the natural and organic promise but some (especially edibles) have artificial flavoring or coloring. The more natural and minimal the ingredients list is, the better.
Inspect What Type of CBD Extract You’re Getting
There are three types of CBD extracts: isolate, broad spectrum, and full spectrum.
Knowing what type of extract your CBD product is under gives you a better understanding of whether that product is right for you or not.
Determining CBD concentration
How much CBD you’re getting in a serving is important because then you’ll know how to give yourself the perfect CBD dose.
CBD products often indicate the amount of CBD in milligrams for the entire product, not the serving size or dose. So for labels, look for the milligrams per milliliter (mg/mL). That is the product’s CBD concentration.
For example, a CBD oil bottle with 2,000 milligrams (mg) of CBD oil gives you 40 mg of CBD per ml. Use the product’s dropper that has a measuring line for dosing.
The same principle applies to CBD edibles. If the packaging says 300 mg and there are 30 gummies in a box, then you’re getting 10 mg of CBD per gummy.