Emerging scientific research highlighting the therapeutic potential of CBD — as well as various celebrity endorsements of its beneficial properties — have raised public interest in the cannabinoid to an all-time high. Industries from contemporary casual restaurants to sports medicine are realigning their product selections to include CBD specifically, and consumers are responding positively to the trend.
But it isn’t all good all the time, as in any burgeoning new industry. Among a minority of new consumers, a generalization has formed that CBD is a snake oil of sorts, backed by little more than marketing hype. This is likely due to some shoppers getting taken in by slick CBD product labels or branding without stopping to check for crucial information; the most important of which is arguably product potency.
What is CBD potency?
“Potency” is another word for the concentration of CBD within a product, such as a tincture or vape cartridge. This value is typically measured in milligrams per milliliter (mg/ml), and can help consumers determine if a CBD product is right for them.
For instance, if you are using CBD as a sleep aid supplement, a lower potency is best since you can easily adjust your dose; an average of one dose of CBD with a potency level of 5.7% can reduce insomnia symptoms. However, conditions with severe symptoms like chronic anxiety can require 200mg to 600mg of CBD per dose; in this case, higher potency products would be more convenient.
What’s listed on the label is typically the total CBD content (in mg) within the bottle. Reputable retailers, like UK-based Hemp Hash, make sure this information is clearly visible on each bottle to ensure customers can easily find what they’re looking for.
It’s worth noting that there are important factors other than potency or concentration that separate quality CBD products from ones that are sub-par. In this post, we go over everything from extraction methods to third-party lab testing and what they can mean for your personal experience when using CBD as a health supplement.
How Extraction Methods Influence Quality
Each CBD extraction method has its own benefits and downsides. Some techniques are expensive but precise, while others are simpler and quicker but less thorough. The following are examples of common CBD extraction methods and how they affect yield:
- CO2 Extraction, otherwise known as the supercritical CO2 method, is considered one of the safest and most effective methods. This process is able to isolate and preserve, resulting in the purest form of CBD hemp oil, but requires specialized equipment and trained professionals.
- Olive Oil Solvent Extraction is consistent but it isn’t very good for extracting CBD because CBD is lipid-soluble, and thus not extracted well by fats like olive oil. This leads to lower yield and more residue in the end product.
- Rick Simpson Oil Extraction is a favorite among DIYers. It uses an organic solvent like ethanol or naphtha. This can yield very good results, but is not as safe as other options because residues from these solvents are often carcinogenic, and therefore risky for consumption.
Label Transparency & Company Ethics
When it comes to shopping for CBD oils, labels are a great way to determine the quality of a company and their products. Reputable companies always endeavor to clearly list their complete ingredients on their labels or packaging.
A thorough ingredients list is key to ensure that you’re getting the right type of CBD (ex. full-spectrum vs. isolate) or the correct CBD-terpene blend for your particular use case, both of which rightly affect cost.
Ethical companies will also include the carrier oil (if applicable) as well as recommended dosage information (how much to take, the amount of CBD per dose, and suggested methods for consumption). Some products use synthetic ingredients like propylene glycol as carriers; these are mostly intended to be vaped rather than taken directly.
Sourcing Information & Viability for Personal Use
It may be an underappreciated fact in states where recreational cannabis consumption is legal, but marijuana is still technically illegal at the federal level because of its concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive cannabis compound categorized as a schedule 1 drug by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
In states where recreational cannabis is not legal, or with certain employers, you may want to ensure your CBD is sourced from industrial hemp. Hemp has a negligible concentration of THC that stays well under the limit set by existing federal regulations, especially when compared to other varieties of cannabis.
Quality Assurance via Third-Party Lab Testing
As of this writing, the single best way to safeguard yourself from mislabeling and exposure to harmful compounds is to only buy products that have undergone third-party testing. According to a recent Forbes Health article, “results are more likely to be accurate and unbiased with third-party testing.”
Products with a certificate of analysis from third-party testing have had a sample from their specific batch subjected to independent laboratory testing in order to verify the contents and accuracy of all specifications printed on the package. This serves as an invaluable guarantor of quality for shoppers and consumers alike.