The rapidly expanding cannabidiol (CBD) industry and the lack of regulations surrounding the sales of such products has flooded the market with low-quality CBD products sourced abroad or from biomass facilities. At present, several brands are exaggerating or being untruthful about the concentration of CBD in their products, and so, it is extremely important to research CBD companies and their products before purchasing to ensure your safety and health is preserved. For instance, certain UK CBD companies have been found to label their CBD products with a quality stamp despite the product being contaminated with harmful substances.
Nowadays, third-party laboratory testing has become industry-standard for quality CBD and trustworthy companies. The reports produced by these third-parties state the contents of the CBD oil being sold; providing peace of mind and informing customers that the CBD product contains no harmful ingredients. To ensure there is no conflict of interest, these labs are independent and do not profit from the companies sales of the CBD product, thus, providing assurance to customers that the lab report is accurate and reliable. The following article will discuss the various elements of a lab report that are important to note when researching new CBD products.
Arguably the most important aspect of the report is the cannabinoid review as this states the benefits which people seek. Third-party independent laboratory tests confirm the legitimacy of the concentrations of cannabinoid and the potency of the CBD product. Furthermore, these laboratory tests confirm what form of hemp-derived CBD oil is present in the product. It is up to the customer to read these test results to decide what variation of cannabinoid they want. The three final forms of CBD oil include isolates (pure CBD) which contain no compound other than CBD, broad-spectrum CBD products which contain many forms of cannabinoid but no traces of THC, and lastly, full-spectrum CBD products which contain a dynamic range of cannabinoids, including THC and terpenes (but within the legal limits). Be aware, for full-spectrum CBD products, many laboratory reports will not include a complete list of the cannabinoid profile. This does not mean that the CBD company is guilty of mislabelling but rather the report has chosen to focus on the cannabinoids with the greatest concentration in the Cannabis Sativa plant.
Cannabidiol (CBD) Content
CBD concentration is another key aspect of a CBD product report. The strength and content of CBD in a product is important to consider as people vary in height and weight, therefore, a particular CBD product that works well for one person may cause adverse effects in the other.
Legally, CBD products should contain the same levels of CBD as advertised on their labels, although, certain companies are still manufacturing products that contain different amounts of CBD than what’s stated on the label. This means that certain consumers do not achieve the desired results as they are not consuming the amount of CBD they expect. Third-party
laboratory tests offer an excellent opportunity to confirm true CBD content. The lab report lists the strength and content of cannabinoids in mg/g or percentage. The potency refers to the strength of a product, hence, a more potent oil means a stronger oil.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Content
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the component responsible for the high one experiences upon smoking or consuming cannabis. It is this cannabinoid which holds the psychoactive properties by interacting with brain cells and stimulating the release of the hormone dopamine.
According to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, it is illegal for CBD oil to contain more than 1mg of THC, regardless of the product volume. Food regulations state 0.05% of THC to be permitted and so most companies manufacturing CBD products aim to have THC levels matching or below this concentration.
The lab report will also discuss the other cannabinoids present in the CBD product, including but not limited to; CBC, THC, THCA, CBG, and CBN. These cannabinoids occur naturally in CBD oil.
Aside from cannabinoids, terpenes are elements present in the cannabis plant which play a significant part in producing the effects associated with cannabis. These organic compounds produce aromatic and flavour diversity. They function in a similar manner to cannabinoids in that they bind to receptors in the brain and produce different effects.
A satisfactory lab report will state an assorted amount of terpenes in the CBD oil and preferably at a higher level. Every CBD product will have different terpene content depending on the strain of the hemp plant. The method in which the CBD is extracted will also have an impact on terpenes content. For example, the conventional extraction method using carbon dioxide (CO2) or ethanol can reduce the number of terpenes present but research has shown this extraction method to also preserve the beneficial terpenes.
Heavy Metal Content
Heavy metals - like zinc, copper, iron and manganese - are present in many food and water products, and even the air we breathe contains certain heavy metals due to erosion and weathering. In small amounts, these metals pose no threat to human health, however, nowadays, increased industrial and agricultural pollution has led to a significant increase of pollutants entering crops which can be extremely harmful to animals and humans if consumed at elevated concentrations.
Hemp strains hold many benefits, with one key function being that it can absorb most elements and compounds in the soil. For this reason, hemp is commonly used to detoxify
areas of land polluted by oil, heavy metals, pesticides, and other contaminants. Once the hemp plant is harvested, the contaminants are no longer present in the soil.
The contaminate absorption ability of the hemp plant poses a threat to individuals who consume cannabis-based products as extreme exposure to heavy metals can result in severe health risks, particularly for individuals already suffering from a medical condition. An independent laboratory should test for heavy metals and describe them in the published report.
Toxic Agents and Additives
In order for a product to be beneficial to health, it must be free from synthetic chemicals including pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones and fertilizers. Although these chemicals can be useful for improving crop yield and increasing nutrients, excessive applications of fertilizers and other chemicals is extremely harmful to the environment. These chemicals can pollute air and water; killing wildlife and damaging people's health. For instance, the pesticide DDT, which was banned decades ago in much of the world, can still be detected to this day in the fatty tissue in birds known as Penguins in the continent of Antartica which experts believe to be due to the chemical’s accumulation in melting glaciers.
Cases of individuals consuming hemp contaminated with fertilizer or pesticide has resulted in severe adverse effects such as vomiting, stomach aches, fatigue and migraines. Contaminated hemp strains have also been linked to endocrine imbalances, reproductive issues and certain types of cancer.
Another unique feature of hemp is that it is a plant which requires little help or guidance to grow. It is extremely resilient to unfavourable growing conditions and has fast-growing properties. Furthermore, a study aiming to determine pests of hemp and cannabis reported over 300 insects to live in the plant, yet only a few possessed any threat to the health of the plant.
When reading a third-party laboratory report, it is crucial no chemical agents such as fertilizers or pesticides are documented. Pesticides may be noted in minute amounts due to them being present in water from surrounding areas, however the concentration in each sample should be a tiny trace.
Microorganisms (microbes) are living organisms that are present everywhere. Only in recent years were humans discovered to possess their own microbiome meaning every person contains several different species of microbe that live on and inside the body. Most of these microbes pose no risk to a person's health. Instead, the main role of these organisms is to shield us from other harmful and infectious microbes.
In order for these harmful microbes - like tuberculosis and pneumonia - to infect the body, they must first enter the body. A common entry point is through ingestion and CBD oil is an example of an edible product which is prone to microbial contamination. This happens when the hemp plant supply is contaminated during growth or storage by microorganisms such as mould, bacteria or fungi. When certain microbes are ingested, they can produce toxins within the body which is extremely dangerous to health. Third-party lab tests can confirm if the CBD product contains any form of microbe and any CBD company not willing to publish a report on their products should be avoided.
CBD extracts refer to aqueous extracts, extracts by pressing, extracts based on fat extraction or extracts synthesized by traditional extraction agents (e.g. ethanol (alcohol) or Carbon Dioxide (CO2). At present, CBD extraction using chemical solvents remains an extremely popular method as it's cheap, quick and relatively easy to perform.
Although solvent extraction is commonly used within the cannabis industry, it is the method which carries the most risk for consumers. Chemicals are removed by heating during the evaporation step, however, traces can still remain in the resulting CBD product despite the manufacturers best effort to remove them. Over time, repeated consumption of these chemicals can cause harm to an individual's health. Any CBD product which a lab report detects harmful chemicals in should be avoided at all costs. The potentially harmful residual solvents to look out for are propane, hexane, pentane, and butane.
To conclude, when purchasing any CBD product from a new or well known CBD company, always read the third-party independent laboratory report. Never trust a company who isn't willing to show you a lab report of their products. Get your money’s worth and peace of mind by shopping only with reputable companies like Cannacares.