From being valued at just over $1 billion in 2014 to more than $8 billion in 2019, the CBD industry has expanded rapidly. But with so much growth happening so quickly, has led to a lot of misconceptions surrounding products containing CBD. Never is this more obvious than when reading CBD labels.
The FDA has strict rules about labeling CBD products, and knowing how to read those labels is one of the best ways to avoid a subpar purchase. That’s why we are here to help guide you through everything you need to know on how to understand the labels on CBD products. Are you ready to start making more informed decisions about your CBD products? Then this guide is for you.
Basics of the CBD Label
It may surprise you that the first thing we recommend when picking up a new CBD product is to research the brand. As of just recently, some CBD companies have received warnings from the FDA regarding misleading customers about their products. One of the easiest ways to avoid these companies, is to make sure you are looking at their company website, checking product reviews, checking Google reviews, and checking for third party lab results (COA’s). Preferably, your CBD product should be tested by a third-party lab to avoid conflicts of interest. If the product is not lab-tested, it’s best to avoid it at all costs.
As more CBD research emerges, most CBD brands are getting better at serving recommendations. While there is no cookie cutter dose that is going to work for everyone, most companies will print serving suggestions on the bottle. Even if your CBD products do come with a serving guide, we always suggest speaking to your physician about how much you should take, in addition to starting low and working your way up with a process known as microdosing.
One of the most important qualities of your CBD product is determining the amount of active ingredients it contains. Determining CBD content is one of the best things you can do to rule out a poor product. Some companies CBD products have low levels of CBD so they try and get around this by labeling their product as “Hemp Seed Oil”, or “Hemp Extract.” If the label says either, check to see how much CBD is actually in the product. If you can not find a consistent milligram amount on the bottle, it’s best to stay away from that particular product.
CBD Oil and Tincture
When examining the label of your favorite CBD oil or tincture, pay attention to the CBD content. Most brands print this number on the front or side of the bottle where it is easily distinguishable.
CBD content may vary depending on the product, and whether the company is marking the amount of just CBD, or if they’re including all of the cannabinoids. In our case, our tinctures range from 100mg/oz for our pet tinctures, to 2500mg/oz for our human tinctures, which describes the amount of actual CBD in the entire bottle. So, for example all of our 500mg/oz full spectrum CBD products, are labeled for the total amount of the one single cannabinoid CBD, not including all of the other beneficial cannabinoids such as CBDa, CBN,CBGa, etc. that are in the bottle as well.
Again, if you are looking at a bottle labeled “Hemp Seed Oil” or “Hemp Extract,” check to see how much CBD the bottle actually contains. A 1000mg Hemp Extract may only contain 500mg of CBD with the remaining 500mg being “extract.” One of the easiest ways to determine the CBD content per dose, is to simply divide the mg per bottle by the amount of servings. This will give you a rough estimate of the CBD concentration per 1 ml dropper of your product. We take it one step further and break down how much CBD is in each ¼, ½, and one full ml dropper for every strength tincture we sell.
CBD Capsules and Edibles
CBD capsules or soft gels are some of the easiest CBD products to understand. Most brands will list the CBD content per capsule. But all brands should list the entire CBD content per bottle, which is something that will be changing on our bottles, as we are in the stages of creating new product labels for each of our products to meet these standards.
Examining CBD content in edibles like hard candies, or gummies, is nearly the same as for capsules. Most brands will list either the CBD content per package, CBD content per edible, or both. We will have both listed on our new product labels that will be coming out soon.
CBD Balms, Lotions and Topicals
CBD topicals are most typically found labeled with CBD content per bottle or jar of topical product. However, we always mark our CBD products with the total amount of CBD per ounce, and our new labels will provide the mg per ounce, as well as the total mg in the entire container. When comparing products, always determine the amount of CBD per ounce of product. That way, you can choose the CBD concentration that best suits your needs.
Unless you’re purchasing a 100% pure CBD isolate, you can be sure your product will have a few added ingredients. Here are the ones to look out for:
A common cannabinoid found in full spectrum CBD products is THC. Federal and the majority of state laws allow for up to no more than 0.3% THC in industrial hemp derived CBD products. This is due to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, that classified all cannabis plants containing less than 0.3% THC to be hemp plants, as they are non-high inducing, they will not create any kind of intoxicating feelings, and will not cause a change in mental status.
However, there are companies out there that claim to offer completely THC-free CBD products which are known as Broad-Spectrum CBD. Always use caution and check third party lab tests to ensure that there is no THC. Some companies will label their products as THC free or broad-spectrum, simply because THC does not show up on their lab results. However, this does not mean that THC isn’t present in their products, it just doesn’t show up on their testing.
More common in full spectrum CBD products, phytocannabinoids are the additional cannabinoids found on the hemp plant (we touched on this a little bit above when talking about CBDa, CBGa, CBN, etc.) Full spectrum CBD products may also be referred to as whole plant material, as they contain all of the other beneficial cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, found on the hemp plant.
It is also good to note that full spectrum CBD products may offer significantly greater benefits than isolates. Research suggests that the added phytocannabinoids and terpenes can help increase absorption of CBD resulting in what is known as the entourage effect. This means you’ll feel the effects of your product faster and with smaller amounts since all of the cannabinoids are working together, instead of by them self.
Terpenes and Other Flavors
Terpenes and other flavor compounds are commonly used in ingestible CBD products like CBD tinctures and edible gummies. You may also see terpenes referred to as all-natural oil flavors on the ingredient list.
Sweeteners, Preservatives, and Other Oils
In addition to phytocannabinoids and terpenes, CBD products are often combined with sweeteners, preservatives, and high-fat oils. The oils help boost the absorption of the product since CBD is very fat-soluble. Sweeteners help improve the flavor of products like edible gummies and tinctures. Preservatives are used to increase shelf life so you can enjoy your edibles longer.
By now, you should be an expert at reading your favorite product’s CBD label, as well as knowing what to look for to ensure you are getting a high-quality CBD product. In addition to checking the label, always remember to ask for COAs, and read customer reviews. Please feel free to browse all of our CBD products by clicking here.
Read our previous blog CBD vs CBDA What’s the Difference by clicking here.