All CBD Is Not Created Equal

Different CBD oils such as broad and full spectrum and isolate.

Image Credit: By Try Media on shutterstock.

The number-one question you may have when considering CBD use for the first time is this one: How do I know what CBD product is a good, safe one to buy? That’s exactly the right question, and it can be challenging to get a good answer. CBD is an unregulated market at this point. That means the FDA has not approved any CBD product except for one specific epilepsy drug called Epidiolex. While the FDA states it is trying to put a regulatory framework in place because the consumer demand for CBD is so high, the government agency isn’t there yet.

“We remain concerned that some people wrongly think that the myriad of CBD products on the market, many of which are illegal, have been evaluated by the FDA and determined to be safe, or that trying CBD ‘can’t hurt,’” said FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy, M.D., Ph.D.  “Aside from one prescription drug approved to treat two pediatric epilepsy disorders, these products have not been approved by the FDA and we want to be clear that a number of questions remain regarding CBD’s safety.”

The FDA has compared today’s CBD marketplace to the “Wild West,” and consumers should beware and be careful when choosing a CBD product. However, the market is popular and growing due to the many reports of people finding relief in many areas of pain, inflammation, and stress-related issues after using CBD. If you are going to use CBD, what should you look for to find the right product for you?

How Do You Know What the CBD Label or Package Should Say?

In order to determine if you are getting a CBD product that could help but definitely should not hurt, you need to be a savvy CBD shopper. What does that mean? It means you need to do your homework and make sure your CBD label and packaging contains the following:

  1. A clear label with the brand name.
  2. A list on the label of all ingredients.
  3. An expiration date, manufacturing date, and batch number
  4. Whether the CBD is isolate, broad spectrum, or full spectrum
  5. The amount of product in the package and the amount of CBD in the product
  6. Company name and place of business

In addition, every CBD item you consider should have an independent, third-party lab report that you can see and read. Independent means the lab that tests the product should not have any affiliation or partnership with the manufacturer. The laboratory uses a machine called a chromatograph to see and measure every ingredient in the product being tested. Each report generated shows how accurate the manufacturer’s claims are. It states whether the product has what it is supposed to have and nothing else.

How to Read Third-Party Lab Reports

When you choose a CBD product to try that has an independent lab report, how do you know what to look for in the report? Here’s a breakdown of what you should and should not find in the lab report of your CBD:

Lab reports should have ingredients listed in sections for easy reading. They should have columns for each compound or ingredient tested. The columns show the amount of the compound in the product, the acceptable limit of that item in order to fall within “safe” range, and a “status” column that shows whether the product passes or fails for that compound. The common abbreviation PPM stands for “parts per million.”

The amount of CBD and any other item found in the product is usually listed on the report as the number of milligrams per milliliter. There are 29.574 milliliters in one ounce. So if a lab report tells you there are 30 mg/mL CBD, for example, you would multiply 30 times 29.574 (or round to 30 for easier multiplication) to figure out there are approximately 900 mL of CBD in one ounce of that product.

The lab report contains a Cannabinoid Profile. This lists the amount of CBD and any other cannabinoids, depending on what type of CBD you are considering. When looking at the lab report, make sure you calculate whether the lab testing shows that the product contains the amount of CBD it claims to have. The lab report should show the right amount of CBD.

If you choose a CBD isolate, CBD is the only cannabinoid that should be present. It should show no CBA, CBG, CBN, THC, or any of the other cannabinoids, just the CBD you were looking for.

If it is a Broad Spectrum product, it should show the right amount of CBD it claims to have, plus other cannabinoids like CBN, CBG and more. However, it should still contain no THC.

If you choose a full spectrum product, it should contain CBD, other cannabinoids, and THC.

Another thing the lab report should confirm is the type of carrier oil in your product. For most, this will be coconut oil. Other carrier oils could include olive oil or palm oil.

What Should NOT Be in Your CBD

Heavy Metals – Each laboratory should show you that arsenic, cadmium, and mercury levels should be nonexistent or contain only trace amounts that fall within the legally acceptable limits. Of course, the best CBD products have none.

Pesticides, Fertilizers, and Growth Hormones – Because hemp plants are bioaccumulators, they soak up everything from the soil in which they grow. If the soil contains pesticides, the plants harvested to make your CBD will also contain pesticides and your CBD may be contaminated. The lab report should show a “pesticide” section with 19 pesticides commonly tested for, including Pyrethrin and Bifenthrin. Any pesticides present should be trace amounts that fall within regulated acceptable limits. However, the best products should have none of these unwanted contaminants.

Other Unwanted Ingredients – other things you do not want in your CBD are chemical solvents such as glycols, which can break down into cancer-causing agents. Make sure you stay away from any CBD with a lab report showing it contains propylene glycol (PG) or polyethylene glycol (PEG). You want CBD that is free from microbes, or living organisms. Also, chemical solvents such as methane, butane, propane, and others should not be in your CBD.

CBD may be a helpful addition to your wellness routines, but only if you can rely on the product you buy. Also, because CBD can potentially cause changes to the effectiveness of other medications, it is important to first consult with your physician or medical professional before taking CBD. As a Christian, your body is not your own. It was bought with a price by the sacrifice of Jesus, and when you surrendered your life to Him you gave Him your body too. Make sure when you make medical decisions, you cover them in prayer first with the aim of honoring God with your body.

Natalie Gillespie
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Natalie Gillespie
Natalie Gillespie
Natalie Gillespie is an author, journalist and editor who has published more than 2,000 articles in the last 20 years in magazines and websites such as HomeLife,, and Publishers Weekly. You can reach Natalie with article ideas, personal testimonies, theological thoughts, or just to say “hello” at [email protected]

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