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What To Look For On Labels Of CBD Products

Even if interpreting product labels necessitates rolling up your detective sleeves and putting in some effort, they are a vital source of information! What's not on the label is often just as important as what is. The following are the most common points of confusion on labels of CBD products:

  • Quantities: How much total CBD is in the product? How much per serving? Is this a good value?
  • Source: Where and how was the plant grown? What parts of the plant were used in the extraction?
  • Ingredients: What other ingredients are added to the product? Are they safe?

We'll go over some of the most common CBD products, such as oil-based tinctures, capsules, and vape cartridges, and show you how to make labels for them, but these general guidelines may be applied to any CBD product.

Quantities

Knowing how much CBD you're getting in a product might be challenging for a variety of reasons. The total milligrams of CBD in oil-based tinctures is frequently indicated on the front of the bottle (though you won't always see "CBD" clearly alongside that amount). The amount of CBD per serving (typically one dropper) is sometimes listed in the nutrition/supplement data, which might help you determine how effective the tincture is. The potency of tinctures varies greatly.

If all you have to work with is the total milligram content, here's some fast arithmetic to figure out the strength of tinctures:

  • Tinctures are generally sold by the ounce, and there are 30 milligrams in one ounce.
  • Each dropper is approximately 1 milliliter, which means there are 30 droppers in one ounce.
  • If your product contains 500 milligrams, then each dropper (1 milliliter) contains 500 mg/30ml = 17 mg.

Other tinctures can have up to 50 mg/ml of active ingredients. In the end, it comes down to what you need and how much you want to spend.

The varied methods producers label (or don't label) CBD content might further complicate the quantity question. While some products make it clear that CBD is present by identifying it in the nutrition/supplement data as "CBD" or "cannabidiol" and assigning a number to it, others do not. On the label, hemp may be included as an ingredient under the terms "hemp extract," "proprietary mix," or "aerial components."

To add to the confusion, "hemp extract" and "aerial portions" (any plant parts exposed to air) may not always indicate CBD concentration. It does for some manufacturers, but it also represents overall phytocannabinoid content for others (which would mean there is actually less CBD than listed). This is where having access to lab or batch results comes in handy, as cannabinoids are indicated in milligrams per milliliter (mg/ml) there.

With vape cartridges, you'll generally know how many milligrams of CBD are in the product, but not how much you're getting every inhale, which fluctuates depending on how long and how many times you inhale.Another complicated element when it comes to quantity is that some companies, whether intentionally or not, mislabel their items. Consumer watchdogs have been sampling and evaluating CBD products, as described at the start of the chapter, and many product labels misreport the CBD level. This is why lab results are an excellent approach to ensure that producers are labeling quantities accurately.

Because cannabis CBD products typically have clear labels that specify CBD, THC, and other cannabinoid components, the quantity issue is much easier to manage.

Five covered black tincture bottles arranged from the biggest to the smallest with cannabis leaves at both sides
Five covered black tincture bottles arranged from the biggest to the smallest with cannabis leaves at both sides

Sources

The origin of the plant material utilized to produce your CBD product, whether hemp or cannabis, is an important factor to consider.

Plants will have been grown and goods created within the state for cannabis-derived CBD products in adult-use and medicinal states. You can figure out what kind of growing conditions the plants were in from here. Many products nowadays are made from organic ingredients, and this is usually stated on the packaging. You can find this information on company websites or by contacting the producers directly to inquire about the growing conditions of their plants. The lab results aren't deceiving! If you ask for lab results as a consumer, you should be able to get them.

CBD products sold on the internet that claim to be "legal in all 50 states" are made from either imported hemp or Farm Bill–compliant domestically cultivated hemp, so the plant's provenance may be difficult to determine. Often, items created from hemp farmed in the United States take pride in this and state so on the label.

Imported hemp products aren't usually labeled as such, so manufacturer websites are an excellent place to look for more information about where their hemp comes from. Large-scale commercial growing operations can produce products created with imported industrial hemp. Heavy metals, solvents, pesticides, and other pollutants can contaminate these plants, and these contaminants will often make their way into the finished product.

To have confidence in what one is using, it is up to the consumer to do their homework and find out where the plants are from and how they were grown.

When it comes to the source of your CBD, another question to ask is what sections of the plant were used in the extraction. We examined product labels that include the word "aerial parts" in the previous section. When "aerial components" is specified, it could mean that the entire plant (flowers, leaves, and stalks) was extracted. You may also notice "aerial portions (seeds and stalk)," which is a little more suspect because hemp seeds have no CBD (but they are a rich source of polyunsaturated fats, essential fatty acids, and protein!) and hemp stalks have very little CBD.

This could indicate that the product was created with hemp cultivated in another country, possibly from huge commercial hemp farms with an industrial end use. This could also indicate that the hemp was not produced or processed with CBD in mind, but rather as a by-product (and a way to make additional money off a crop). Hemp stalks that have been processed for fiber are not intended for human or animal consumption, and they may have been farmed with industrial pesticides and/or in contaminated soil.

Using the "seeds and stalk" terminology could also help producers avoid the legal murky area that hemp currently occupies, as any resinous portion of the hemp and cannabis plants (flowers and, to a lesser extent, leaves) has previously been declared unlawful.

A ball of cannabis flower on a dark background
A ball of cannabis flower on a dark background

Ingredients

Depending on the product, CBD can be combined with a variety of components. CBD is one of many constituents in some products, such as tinctures or capsules, while it is one of many compounds in others, such as edibles. Some products are better than others, just like any other. The component list is an excellent source of knowledge.

Flavors may be added to tinctures to make the oil more palatable, and these are often natural essential oils that are recognized to be safe and used in a variety of culinary products. To make tinctures more appealing to youthful taste buds, some utilize artificial flavors such as bubblegum or cotton candy. Commercially produced edibles are processed foods that may or may not contain preservatives or other additives, depending on the product. Other chemicals are frequently added to topicals for smell and medicinal impact. Analgesic essential oils like menthol can be found in several over-the-counter muscle pain topicals.

Thinning agents like propylene glycol (PG), polyethylene glycol (PEG), and vegetable glycol are commonly found in vape oils (VG). There is no conclusive evidence on the long-term effects of breathing these chemicals. Another factor to consider is the vaporizer you're using with the oil, because not all models have reliable or consistent temperature control, which means these compounds may be "smoldered" rather than evaporated at high temperatures. We do know that when they are combusted, they can cause cancer. Flavoring agents can be found in vape oils, and while they may be healthy to eat, we don't know what inhaling them long-term will do to our lungs.

Terpenes are a naturally occurring molecule that may be found in cannabis, hemp, and a variety of other plants. They're a common addition to many vape oils and concentrates. Terpenes are praised for their scent and flavor, and they're an important part of the cannabis and hemp plants' synergistic relationship with cannabinoids and other substances. A properly labeled vape oil or concentrate should be able to tell if the additional terpenes are from cannabis or hemp (albeit hemp has a considerably lower terpene profile), other fruits, vegetables, or plants, or if they were synthesized.

Terpenes are found in trace amounts on the plant, but we don't know what impact increasing the terpene concentration of an extract to levels higher than those found naturally on the plant would have on us. There is currently no scientific evidence.

Finally

Consumers will be looking for information in the current regulatory gray area when choosing a product. Fortunately, there is sufficient flexibility to include this information, allowing customers to make more informed selections.

CBD, terpenes, and other cannabinoids may have a synergistic impact, according to some preliminary study. Trace levels of THC, on the other hand, can accumulate in the body over time, leading to users testing positive for marijuana usage. To determine if a product is good for them, consumers need to know the type of extract and purity.

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