CBD Lab Results: How To Interpret CBD Oil Reports From A Third Party Lab
Hemp CBD is everywhere, from online stores to health shops. Just because the product is popular, does not mean that it is regulated. The hemp industry is not regulated by the FDA and the USDA. This means that if you’re buying hemp CBD products, it’s important to do your due diligence.
Lab reports are essential in assessing the purity and quality of CBD products, but not all reports are as trustworthy as one might hope. The best CBD brands employ third-party laboratory testing to avoid a conflict of interest, and yet, there are brands that choose to test in-house instead.
On the surface, lab reports provide additional transparency to consumers but they’re much more important than just that. Lab reports ensure that CBD products don’t contain harmful toxins or metals or pesticides. Lab reports also confirm the total CBD and terpenes. Reading labels and examining packaging won’t provide the peace of mind you need with a daily wellness product — only a third-party lab report can tell you what’s in your CBD.
Why is it important for brands to provide third party testing?
There’s no legal requirement for CBD brands to utilize third-party testing and the FDA doesn’t regulate CBD ingredients or make assertions about quality and safety. Some brands see this as an opportunity to cut corners and use their own in-house laboratory for testing, but consumers are often wise enough to spot this discrepancy.
The brands that use third-party laboratory testing do so because they stand behind their products and they want to ensure that there’s no skepticism on the part of the consumers with regards to purity or potency.
Reading Third-Party Lab Reports: Why You Should Read them
Independent labs are responsible for the accuracy of their reporting, and they don’t have a stake in the companies they test. Because the CBD industry operates outside of FDA regulation, what information is provided on a website will vary depending on the policies of the brand. You might encounter similar brands only to find that one is transparent and the other withholds valuable information like a complete list of ingredients of the quantity of terpenes.
Third-party laboratory testing lifts the manufacturing veil and exposes the true contents of a product. By reading a lab report, you’ll know exactly what’s inside of the products you buy and just as important — what’s not inside.
Components that should and shouldn’t be in hemp CBD products
Not everyone has the technical knowhow to easily interpret test results from a third-party laboratory. But you’ll have no issues understanding results once you know what you’re looking for.
You’ll find the CBD content of a product displayed on the product page — this is true to virtually all brands. While you can trust the figures listed on the product pages, lab reports display an exact breakdown of the amount of CBD contained within a product and the percentage of CBD. This information will tell you how contracted an oil is and how much total CBD is found in the product.
Compounds And Potencies
Full spectrum oils and broad spectrum products feature more than just one cannabinoid — and you can see accurate percentages of every minor cannabinoid found in a product represented in a lab report. Pay attention to CBG, CBC, and CBN concentrations to get an idea of which cannabinoids are working for you.
Full spectrum products are capped at 0.3% THC, but customers rest easy when they can see the results for themselves. By reading a third-party lab report you’ll know how much THC and THCA is contained in a product. This will ensure that you’re receiving enough THC for an entourage effect but not nearly enough to produce a high.
Lab reports cut through the marketing shtick and offer a candid view of a product. Brands sell full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate CBD oil along with various infusions of botanicals and vitamins. Third-party results will confirm that you’re receiving what you paid for.
- Full Spectrum: CBD, minor cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and 0.3% THC.
- Broad Spectrum: CBD and minor cannabinoids without THC.
- CBD Isolate: Pure CBD
If your broad spectrum product shows trace amounts of THC, or your full spectrum products are THC-free, it’s time to look for a new brand.
Terpenes exist in a wide variety of different plants. These unique compounds can add aromatic scents and flavors to CBD products, but they can also enhance the effects of tinctures when paired with cannabinoids. If you know of specific terpenes that work well for you, then you can verify that a product contains these terpenes by reading a third-party lab report.
Pesticides And Toxins
Naturally, nobody wants to take a product that contains harmful substances. Whether it’s pesticides or heavy metals, a third-party lab report will demonstrate the safety of a CBD product. If a report shows even a minuscule amount of pesticides or metals, avoid that brand at all costs.
The best CBD brands use CO2 extraction because it doesn’t require solvents, but some brands still use solvents in their CBD extraction; solvents such as propylene glycol or polyethylene glycol can break down into carcinogens that are linked to cancer. Verify that no solvents are found in a product before making a purchase.
Making An Informed Purchase
Third-party lab reports provide increased transparency and allow customers to make an informed purchase. For this reason, you should always buy CBD from a brand that uses an independent laboratory for testing. Remember to examine the potency and confirm that there aren’t any harmful toxins or pesticides present — just high quality CBD.
We are proud to display our COAs. Here’s a link for where you can see Balance CBD Lab Tests.
- Jikomes, N., & Zoorob, M. (2018, March 14). The cannabinoid content of legal cannabis in Washington state varies systematically across testing facilities and popular consumer products. Nature News. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-22755-2
- Lau, K., Swiney, B. S., Reeves, N., Noguchi, K. K., & Farber, N. B. (2012, January). Propylene glycol produces excessive apoptosis in the developing mouse brain, alone and in combination with phenobarbital. Pediatric research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3366500/
- Marinotti, PhD, O., & Sarill, M. (2020, June 16). Differentiating Full-Spectrum Hemp Extracts from CBD Isolates: Implications for Policy, Safety and Science. Taylor & Francis. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19390211.2020.1776806
This article contains information from multiple sources, including information from materials that have been medically reviewed by Eloise Theisen, RN, MSN, AGPCNP-BC, Dominique Fontaine, BSN, RN, HNB-BC, HWNC-BC and Bindiya Ghandi, M.D on a range of different websites. This information should not be taken as legal advice.
Dr Elizabeth Blackwell is a double board-certified integrative and family medicine physician. Dr Blackwell expertise lies in functional and holistic medicine.
She is the director of medical services at the Pacific Clinics MD, a comprehensive clinic focused on chronic stress, gut health, decreasing inflammation, improving hormonal imbalance, weight loss resistance and helping women get pregnant. Dr Elizabeth Blackwell also has significant experience in working with cancer, dementia and chronic pain patients.
In recent times Dr Blackwell’s work has focused on exploring the effects of cannabinoid therapies. Dr Blackwell has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Well+Good, Vogue, Healthline, Forbes, Medical News Today, Harvard Health and more.