CBD is growing in popularity as a wellness supplement, and there’s a lot of conflicting information about what CBD can do. Skeptics and detractors express doubts about the safety or efficacy of many hemp-derived CBD products.
They’re right to be skeptical, but not for the reasons you may think. It’s important to remember that hemp plants are not the same as cannabis plants.
Pure, hemp-derived, high-quality CBD is perfectly safe. The big question is: how do you know what you’re getting is pure, high-quality hemp CBD? Anyone can stick a misleading label on a bag of CBD gummies or a bottle of CBD oil.
That’s why CBD lab testing is critical. Before you buy a CBD product, here’s what you need to know about testing requirements and certificates of analysis. Make an informed choice.
What Is CBD Lab Testing?
CBD lab testing is one of the most important things before your CBD reaches your doorstep. CBD companies extract their CBD from hemp and then use that extract to create things like CBD edibles. Before they do, they send a sample of that extract to an accredited testing laboratory with high-tech equipment for testing services.
The lab uses gas chromatography to analyze the extracted sample and each product's concentrations. Gas chromatography gives scientists the data they need to analyze everything the extract contains.
First and foremost, they’re looking for the presence of cannabinoids through potency testing. They want to know how much CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) each sample contains.
These cannabinoids are the source of the benefits of hemp products. The more CBD a sample contains, the more potent the final product can be in its cannabinoid profile.
They’ll also look for other minor cannabinoids and aromatic compounds called terpenes. Cannabinoids can include CBN, CBG, CBDA, CBC, and more. The terpene profile looks at terpenes, which give a unique aroma and flavor to each strain of hemp.
Labs will also check for microbial activity and the presence of contaminants. The batch isn't safe to use if a sample contains mold or bacteria.
Why Is CBD Lab Testing Important?
It’s easy to assume that the CBD product you buy has already passed all of these safety and purity benchmarks before it arrives at your doorstep. After all, dietary supplements seem like they should have a very high standard.
Supplements are supposed to support your health and wellness, so they must always be safe. Right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Without a certificate of analysis from a CBD testing lab, there’s no way to know that the information on the packaging or the website is accurate. Without legitimate testing, companies can only guesstimate how much CBD is in their hemp extract.
They also have no idea if their extract contains contaminants or potentially harmful bacteria. Simply put, using CBD that hasn’t been tested can put your health at risk.
Are CBD Products Required To Be Tested?
The FDA has a lot of rules and regulations for foods, medicine, vitamins, personal care products, and dietary supplements. They’re far less rigorous with dietary supplements.
CBD products are considered dietary supplements, and the FDA does not require testing products like CBD oil or edibles. About 25 percent of CBD products aren’t lab tested.
While the FDA will voluntarily test products it feels are sketchy, there is no legal requirement that makes CBD companies step up to the plate. That may change with time, but until it does, it’s up to savvy consumers to make mindful choices when choosing a CBD brand.
Transparency, safety, and honesty are important when choosing a dietary supplement. Most reputable CBD companies voluntarily do the right thing. They choose to have their products tested because they don’t want to put their customers at risk.
What Is a Third Party Lab?
There’s a reason why your teacher would never let you grade your homework. When you have the answers in front of you, giving yourself a little leeway with your eraser feels pretty tempting. That’s why trusting in-house lab results is not a good idea.
Third-party labs don’t have a horse in the race. They’re ethically required to provide honest test results. CBD companies send off samples of each batch to a third-party lab.
That lab conducts the tests and provides a lab report with a full analysis of the cannabinoid content of each batch. They’ll also report the presence of potential contaminants, like heavy metals or mold.
The lab completes a certificate of analysis and sends it over to the CBD company. The CBD company posts the certificate of analysis for each batch. You can verify your batch by matching the batch number on the packaging to the batch number on the lab report.
How To Review CBD Lab Test Results
Most people don’t have a reason to look at lab analysis reports daily. If this is your first time reviewing one, it can seem a little overwhelming and confusing. A lot is going on, but it isn’t as difficult to interpret as you think.
When reviewing the lab test results for CBD edibles or other supplements, you will look for three main things: the cannabinoid analysis, the heavy metals analysis, and the pesticide analysis. These three things will tell you how much CBD is in the product and whether or not it contains any contaminants you wouldn’t want to ingest.
Reading the Cannabinoid Analysis
CBD is one of the most important hemp-derived cannabinoids, but it’s one of many. Every hemp plant will contain detectable amounts of other cannabinoids. Unless your product is a CBD isolate product, it’s normal to see numbers in every column.
The lab report will list all the cannabinoids in the left column. The columns beside the cannabinoids will tell you how much of each cannabinoid was detected by weight in the form of a percentage.
The far right column is the most important. It tells you how many milligrams of each cannabinoid were detected per milliliter of extract.
High-quality hemp extract will contain a lot of CBD and very little 9-THC. Some cannabinoids may have “ND” or “non-detectable” in their columns. It would not be a big deal if the lab didn’t find the presence of minor cannabinoids. It’s the CBD that’s most important.
Reading the Heavy Metal Analysis
The heavy metal analysis sounds a lot cooler than it is. This part doesn’t involve guitars or facepaint, but it’s still very important.
Hemp is a plant that grows in the ground where heavy metals naturally occur. Therefore, it’s always a possibility that a hemp plant might contain heavy metals. Trace amounts of heavy metals aren’t always avoidable and probably won’t harm you. Even still, most people aren’t fond of the idea of ingesting any amount of heavy metals.
Most analyses will check for arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead. These are the heavy metals that pose the greatest potential danger. Ideally, you want every column to read “ND” for non-detectable. The last column will show you whether the sample passed or failed.
Reading the Pesticide Analysis
The pesticide analysis will tell you how much of each pesticide is in the hemp extract sample. Pesticides are almost impossible to escape. Even organic hemp can be grown with pesticides.
Organic farmers opt for naturally derived pesticides that are safer for use around food products. You need to know that no residual levels of these pesticides made their way into the final product.
You want to see every column reading “ND” for the pesticide analysis. You might occasionally see very small amounts of natural pesticides like pyrethrins (a derivative of chrysanthemum flowers) in organic hemp.
If you do, compare the amount detected to the acceptable limit of PPB (parts per billion) listed in the second to last column. Check the last column to ensure that every test was a “PASS.”
Before You Buy, View the Results
The old adage goes, “People with nothing to hide, hide nothing.” If a company isn’t willing to share third-party lab testing results with their potential customers, this is usually a sign that something is amiss.
You use hemp-derived CBD for your wellness. Using a wellness product that could be detrimental to your health is counterproductive. Review the results and make an informed decision before you purchase a CBD product.
Pure Relief’s hemp-derived CBD gummies are made to provide you with a blissful wave of relief that lasts all day or night long. Best of all, you’ll always know what’s in our lab-tested, naturally derived CBD gummies. Transparency and wellness go hand in hand.