In reality, a CBD oil is only as good as its latest lab result. In fact, independent lab reports are important when it comes to verifying the components of just about any product. This is especially crucial for cosmetics, food, and pharmaceutical products that could potentially harm the consumer.
Your biggest concern when purchasing CBD oil is verifying what is in the bottle. After all, the last thing you need is a cheap product that has been made with toxic ingredients and filled to the brim with synthetics. Unfortunately, there are CBD products on the market today that include everything from illegal doses of THC to prohibited synthetic cannabinoids. Also, perhaps not so shockingly given the loosely regulated nature of the industry, some sellers add a lot less CBD in the bottle than they advertise.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) is one of the independent agencies that has the expertise and facilities to verify the claims of a cosmetic, food, and pharmaceutical company. Third party lab reports are often thought to be credible due to their autonomy, since they aren’t usually connected to a company seeking verification.
However, some company’s own lab reports can also be trusted if they have been done by a reputable laboratory such as a government science agency, a prestigious university, or a reputable private commercial research lab.
Third party lab reports are especially important for the CBD industry. It’s very easy for a company to make claims on the labels, but not all CBD products are manufactured equally. Nowadays, many brands offer third-party lab reports, often referred to as certificates of analysis (COA), and this is the key to knowing what is (and isn’t) in your expensive CBD product.
CBD oil lab reports: Why are they necessary?
The FDA recently approved the first pharmaceutical product that contains CBD in June 2018, called Epidiolex. However, the rest of the industry continues to operate in a more or less unregulated space. Currently, there is no content or quality control on CBD products that are sold in the general consumer market.
In addition, CBD has exploded onto the mainstream market, and the industry is growing rapidly. This has resulted in a huge influx of new brands flooding the market over the last few years.
Unfortunately, this opportunity has attracted quite a few poor quality players who are out to make a quick buck. With no industry standards in place and without the guidance of the FDSA, the quality of CBD products is very unpredictable. Unlabeled CBD products have become common, and more worryingly, there are reports of harmful synthetic knock-offs. This means that consumers need to be very cautious when shopping around for any CBD product, whether it be an oil tincture, capsules, edible gummies, etc.
A study that was done in 2017 by the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that the contents of high CBD products often vary drastically from the manufacturer’s claim.
As part of this study, researchers tested a variety of hemp-based CBD products that were available to purchase online. The samples included CBD vape liquids, oil tinctures, and capsules which were blinded and tested by a third party lab three separate times to determine the actual cannabinoid potency. Believe it or not, just 3 out of 10 CBD products tested within 10% of the amount listed on the product label.
Another recent report that was published in ArsTechnica found that nearly 70% of online products that claim to have CBD cannabis extracts are mislabeled. Out of 84 products that were sold online from 31 companies, just 31% had accurate CBD amounts stated on the label. Moreover, some products contained other components that weren’t listed, such as illegal amounts of THC.
The good news is that many industry-leading consumer brands have taken charge by pioneering transparency practices. Top brands and companies are publicly displaying full company information, providing product contents through lab reports, and disclosing their production practices.
Some lab findings are part of larger research that compares different products, as in the case of CBD products. For example, Diamond CBD tests several products with the Research Triangle Park Laboratories, Inc (RTP Labs). This is a reputable independent lab who conducts tests on various pharmaceutical products, food supplements, and pesticides. They also conduct lab tests on the environment, and their lab is in compliance with the International Standards for Testing Laboratories.
Lab reports empower the consumer by giving the opportunity to discover what exactly is in each and every product that they purchase. As we’ve emphasized, this is crucial in today’s unregulated marketplace. There is an increasing number of brands who are including this practice in their business model.
Third-party lab tests to look for before you buy CBD oil
In order to verify that a CBD product is pure, free of toxins and able to provide the claimed benefits, there are several analyses that need to be done. Generally, the cannabinoids that are tested are CBD, THC, CBC, CBN, and CBG. CBD is a non-psychoactive component and responsible for the majority of the health benefits associated with the cannabis plant.
Before you purchase a CBD product, you should be aware of the contents and the data regarding the product. Here are some analysis tests to look for before you purchase a CBD product:
- CBD/THC ratio: It’s desirable for a cannabis or hemp product to have a higher concentration of CBD, and in fact it is required by law that they contain little to no THC (less than 0.3% by volume). Also, it should have minimal concentrations of other potentially psychoactive components.
- Microbiological testing: This is done to ensure that there are no harmful mold colonies or bacteria on the cannabis or hemp plants. If there are pathogens on the plant, they can easily get inside the body if the levels are too high, and cause unwanted side effects.
- Pesticide testing: This is important for ensuring the safety of cannabis and hemp compounds since the plants can be treated with fungicides and herbicides and high concentrations of these can cause significant side effects.
- Terpene testing: This is used to identify those compounds that give the distinctive flavors and color to cannabis plants. Terpenes are pungent oils that give flavors like berry, mint, citrus, or pine and are also believed to have beneficial health effects.
- Residual solvents testing: Lab tests should include an analysis of residual solvents. Solvents are used when the plant is processed and turned into oil, powder or other products, but only for the solvent-based extraction process. Too high concentrations of solvents like propane, acetone, ethanol, and carbon dioxide can lead to unpleasant health effects and turn the product into a highly flammable one.
Final thoughts on why CBD third-party lab reports are so important
Consumers need to be cautious when buying CBD products and shouldn’t immediately believe the claims of CBD brands. The ones that have undergone rigorous testing and approval by government regulatory institutions are the most credible. Laboratory tests and third-party reviews are also very important, as only a handful of the countless products available online have adequate credibility.
Simply put, customers need to purchase products from brands that provide third-party lab reports. It’s important always to make sure that you get what you are paying for, and furthermore, you need to ensure that all components are safe and beneficial to your health.
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