Whether you’re completely new to CBD or you’re a seasoned consumer, trying to understand a product label can be overwhelming. Dosage and ingredients often appear vague and sometimes confusing, and navigating unfamiliar terminology isn’t always easy. It’s important that you know how to read labels so you can confidently determine product safety and efficacy, as well as properly dose your CBD to meet your needs. At Hemp Learning Channel, we’re here to help you make an informed decision when choosing your next CBD product.
Are there legal labeling requirements?
Most states have implemented their own requirements for labeling CBD products. Just as CBD, hemp, and cannabis laws differ state-to-state, labeling regulations also vary by state. Be sure to check your local guidelines before making any purchase.
What is third-party testing?
The CBD market is in many ways unregulated. As the industry grows, some companies take advantage of this by mislabeling products and misrepresenting product quality to consumers. Reputable manufacturers are easy to spot by their use of third-party testing, which works to ensure products are labeled accurately and consistently.
Third-party testing means that the manufacturer sends samples of their product to a separate testing laboratory. This company tests the products for things like cannabinoid profiles, terpene ratios, moisture content, biological contaminants, heavy metals, and residual solvents. They then return their results to the manufacturer, who labels their products accordingly. Testing should be routinely updated, and products should accurately reflect the results. While you may not be able to find third-party testing information displayed on the product itself, reputable manufacturers typically provide this information publicly in the form of a Certificate of Analysis (COA) on their website.
Are these ingredients safe?
As a CBD product, you should expect that CBD be listed under its ingredients. It may be listed as cannabidiol (CBD), broad or full spectrum CBD oil, or CBD isolate. Watch out for vague ingredients such as “hemp oil” or “hemp extract,” as these are often listed as the main ingredients in products that contain no discernable CBD content.
CBD products usually contain more than CBD alone. Depending on the type of product, you may see additional ingredients like carrier and essential oils, flavorings, vitamins, and supplements listed. Be sure that these ingredients are not labeled using general terms similar to those aforementioned; rather, they should be specified individually. For example, a reputable label often lists “Lavendula angustifolia (lavender) essential oil and Citrus aurantifolia (orange) essential oil” as ingredients instead of vaguely identifying them as “essential oils.” Avoid unclear terms like “natural flavors” or “vegetable oils” for this same reason.
Besides ambiguous ingredients, it’s also important to keep an eye out for artificial additives. Sweeteners (e.g., aspartame or high-fructose corn syrup), food colorings (e.g., erythrosine or tartrazine), preservatives (e.g., parabens or butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)), gums (e.g., gum arabic or guar gum), and compounds like polyethylene glycol (PEG) should all be avoided. Nonetheless, these are common ingredients found in CBD and everyday food products alike.
How do I determine dosage?
Properly dosing your product is a must. Consuming too little CBD may not produce the desired outcome, and too much may leave you with unintended side effects. To determine dosage, start by looking for total CBD content. The total amount of CBD contained in the entire package should be clearly labeled in milligrams (e.g., 500 mg). This information is usually provided up front. Liquid products may list their CBD content by concentration, as in milligrams per milliliter (mg/mL).
Besides total CBD content, labels should also state the serving size, amount of CBD per serving, and number of servings per package. The serving size defines a single serving (e.g., one gummy, one dropper of a tincture, or one scoop of a dry face mask). The amount of CBD per serving lets you know how much CBD you will consume with each serving (e.g., 10 mg). The number of servings per package tells you exactly how many servings are included in a given package (e.g., 50 gummies per package).
Keep in mind that serving sizes are merely suggestions. Your body may react differently than others, and what may be the perfect dose for someone else may be overwhelming (or even underwhelming) to you. Always start slow, building to your ideal dose and paying attention to how your system responds.
The CBD industry is ever-expanding with the advent of new research and continuously updated regulations. As the market inevitably floods with innumerable products, consumers are often left confused, wondering which products are best suited for their needs. By paying close attention to third-party testing data, specific ingredients, and clear dosing information, you can make an informed choice when purchasing your next CBD product. We hope you have a safe and enjoyable experience!