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How to Read a CBD Product Label

*DISCLAIMER: This is a transcript of episode 10 – How to read a CBD Product Label on Full Spectrum Living with CBD podcast. Click here to listen to the podcast episode or click here to watch the video.

Ep10_HOW TO READ A CBD PRODUCT LABEL

Meredith [00:00:06] All right. Welcome back to this episode of Full Spectrum Living with CBD. I am Meredith, your co-host here with Jessica and Adriane, your host. And today, we are going to talk about how to read the label of CBD products. So, Jessica, I think you’re going to kick us off.

Adriane [00:00:29] It’s me! So a lot of confusing things when you look at a CBD label. CBD companies aren’t regulated. We don’t have special requirements that are meant to present our products in a certain way other than the standard FDA approved labels that you deal with on a daily basis. Right. So first and foremost, I like to tell people, your product whenever you buy a CBD product, the label should look like any other label that you get from any other product to the grocery store. Right. So it should have ingredients. It should have how much is in the bottle. It should be clear as to what you’re purchasing. And sadly, within the CBD industry, it’s not always that. I’m just going to start off with the milligram content. So typically on a front of CBD products on the bottle, you’ll see a really large milligram content. Some of them will tell you what it actually is. For example, ours will have the milligram content in the entire bottle, but it specifies this is a milligrams of CBD guaranteed in the bottle. Some will just have an overall milligram content, not really specifying whether it’s just CBD or if it’s overall cannabinoid content. Or some it really leaves you guessing of what are they talking about? I don’t even know what’s in here because even the back of the label isn’t as clear. So first and foremost, is just you know, that front milligram content is going to be, more often than not, again, there’s gonna be some crazy products out there that don’t fit this mold, more often than not its going to be the total, total content within the bottle. That total content is going to vary from product to product. It should disclaim whether it’s CBD only, whether it’s CBD content that they’re just calling out or the overall cannabinoid content within the product.

Jessica [00:02:14] And I think like the reason we bring this up first is because a lot of people are going for just the biggest number. And, its like “I want the biggest number for the fewest dollars” and that can get you suckered into buying products that are really misleading. So like we’ve mentioned before, I think on here, amazon and its rule against selling cannabinoids. But you’ll see on there plenty of products that are advertised to look like that. And it just says one thousand or five hundred or two thousand. It doesn’t even say milligram on some of the bottles, or some bottles it will say milligram, but it doesn’t say of what. And you have to say of what. You can’t say it’s a thousand milligrams and not define of what. It means nothing when you do it that way. So another thing that means something, but it’s like what that something is is kind of unclear is, you know, like thousand milligrams hemp extract. I’ve seen I’ve actually seen products where at a thousand milligrams, hemp extract. And then on the back of the label, you see that 10 milligrams come from cannabidiol. So it actually did specify that. But that was in that thousand milligrams. Ten milligrams came from cannabidiol. And so it can be really misleading or just so vague that you have to really have you have to have some knowledge as to why, you know, to figure out.

Adriane [00:03:45] Right. And I think it’s unfortunate because, yes, there are benefits to the other cannabinoids. Right. The science is digging into that. We already know about several of them and their benefits. But right now, the market is CBD, right. When people are going to buy these products and they’re looking for a hemp extract or a CBD extract, they’re looking for CBD. And so in my opinion, it should be clearly called out on a label. The consumer should know how much CBD am I getting one in my entire bottle? Two, per serving? Right. So it should be very clear listed on the back, you know, 10 milligrams per serving, 15 milligrams of CBD. Right. So not just ten milligrams hemp extract. I mean, honestly, at that point, some of the CBD products that are are denoted like that on their labels when you look at their testing, they only have six milligrams of CBD. And so consumers are like, “well, I’m not necessarily seeing results.” Well, I mean, you’re possibly not taking enough. Again, everybody is different and you may need more to activate that endocannabinoid system. And you’re thinking that you’re getting 10 milligrams of CBD, but you’re really not. So when you’re comparing products, it’s really a majority of the time. Apples and oranges just based on the information that manufacturers are putting on their labels for you.

Meredith [00:04:58] OK. So any any more info on the milligrams or do you want to move on to the next piece, which on the label is the ingredients?

Jessica [00:05:06] I think it’s important enough to say it again. Milligrams of what? Milligrams of what, everyone? Please!

Adriane [00:05:13] Yeah ask.

Jessica [00:05:16] Yeah, that’s it.

Meredith [00:05:17] Then you also said that folks should, I’m going to see you with a shirt that says like “milligrams of what”. Like you’re going to have that on the shirt aren’t you.

Adriane [00:05:21] Oh I like it. Let’s do it.

Meredith [00:05:25] So next up was ingredients. So just like on a food label, we see ingredients, we’re seeing the ingredients on these product labels. And so what are we seeing in there? When they’re, when they’re listed?

Jessica [00:05:38] Well, I recently got a sample product at an event and it was like sucrose and flavoring. And what else was there? There was MCT oil and there was I think it had olive oil, too. Like it had another kind of oil maybe or something. And there was probably one or two more. But the ones that stood out to me was like the sweetener and the flavoring. I don’t want that in my product. Plus, it was disgusting. It was definitely disgusting. But that was a whole other story because the flavoring just didn’t mask at all the really inferior quality of the products that it was. And that’s often what we’re seeing is flavoring tends to be required when it’s extremely foul tasting, really dirt or bitter like, which can come from like ethanol extractions or chlorophyll, high chlorophyll content. There’s there’s a lot of things, but I think the most common ones are sweeteners and flavorings. And then from there you’ll start to get like ones that are marketed for sleep and they have melatonin or chamomile or something. Ones that are marketed more for pain with certain, you know, if it’s turmeric or something like, I mean, that’s all that’s all great. But it’s often a lot of things. So if it’s something you don’t know, like be sure you understand what that is like. I saw a detergent agent in a really popular brand that’s supposed to break down the fats and make it absorb better. But it’s a detergent. And so, you know, make sure that as a consumer, you’re okay with taking a detergent in your extracts.

Meredith [00:07:22] So it probably doesn’t say like detergent on it.

Jessica [00:07:24] No, no.

Meredith [00:07:26] No. How would I know if if that’s the thing I should be looking for?

Adriane [00:07:31] So essentially, when you look at your ingredients, if you don’t recognize it. I mean, you should really just Google it. And that’s what we did on this one. We looked at the back of the label, we’re like, and I don’t honestly I don’t remember remember either. It was something with an ‘S’. Sorry. Maybe I’ll put that in the blog. But it was literally like, what is this? And so we went to Google and we’re like, oh, well, that’s what that is. And we were kind of shocked by it. So, again, some added ingredients may make sense with regards to the product. But again, I’m always about the most natural way to consume it. Me personally and I believe that that’s best for consumers. So just look at the added ingredients on there and see what else is in there and what’s the purpose of it being in there. I think it’s just the best way for a consumer to kind of educate themselves.

Meredith [00:08:19] Yeah. Well, and I and my perspective on CBD products is that, you know, we’ve come to think of this is such a natural approach to improving our lives. Right. And like, you know, that’s kind of been the whole controversy of like hemp is a plant, you know. And so now if we’re seeing it move into this. I think consumers could easily be, you know, just believing that they’re taking something that is naturally based completely just because it’s it’s coming from hemp. Right. Right. And so I think what you’re sharing here is really, really important. You guys also were mentioning, too. There’s a difference in serving size. So where does serving size play into this conversation?

Adriane [00:09:07] Yeah, so you definitely want to make sure that on the back of the label, it does tell you how much they are recommending for you to consume. Products will vary between drops like certain amount of drops that you’re going to take to milliliters to drop or falls to you. I mean, there’s a variety of ways that is presented to the consumer, but honestly should be in something that’s repeatable or something that’s easily measured so that you can get that consistent serving twice a day, which is what we recommend or however often the manufacturer is recommending. It does need to be something that is repeatable. We do get a lot of questions from consumers that were previously taking another product that were to literally taking like three drops under the tongue twice a day compared to ours, a full spectrum product, where they’re taking a milliliter under the tongue. So it’s really kind of speaks to one what we talked about in a previous episode, whether it’s full spectrum versus isolate, because that higher milligram content typically denotes that you’re gonna be taking a lot less liquid. So it’s really a good indicator as to what’s in your product or what type of product it is that you can actually look at the front of the label and see if they’re being truthful. Is it full spectrum or is it isolate.

Jessica [00:10:19] And i think, you know a downside to the drops. I know there are a popular way to take it, especially in the higher concentrations, although they tend to be very much isolate based. But that’s another story. See also our previous episode. But for drops, you know, I mean, there are variations from product to product and the viscosity of your oil is going to change how much contains, how much is contained in a single drop. And so if there’s any variation in the manufacturing, which we have seen a lot from a lot of products, then your three drops is not always the same from bottle the bottle. And so the product that’s measured by milliliter that’s confirmed through lab testing by milliliter volume is I think a preferred is a more scientific approach to that.

Meredith [00:11:08] So I think that’s good.

Adriane [00:11:10] Sorry. One last thing. Sorry.  One good thing to also call in on, its again, thinking about the droppers. Right. So these manufacturers are producing the extract, but they’re not necessarily producing the dropper. Right. These are mass produced in a large factory. Let’s be honest, it’s all coming from China. I don’t necessarily know that any of them are produced here in the United States. And there is going to be some manufacturing variability between the dropper and that end little hole at the bottom. So your drop could vary from bottle to bottle. Whether even giving the manufacturer the benefit benefit of the doubt of their product remaining consistent, the dropper may not. So you still could be getting that fluctuation. I’m just kind of throwing that out there again. You wouldn’t see that if it was a consistent milliliter serving size or a marked serving, whether it’s a milliliter or half, etc.. So my two cents.

Meredith [00:11:59] Well, that brings up an interesting point, too. And you’ve addressed it a little bit. So if I have been using one CBD product and now I’m listening to this podcast and I’m getting more and more educated and I’m now going to switch to another product. How do I do that effectively? You know, how do I how do I make the leap from one to another and not necessarily, you know, get more than I want or less than I want? Does that make sense?

Jessica [00:12:31] I think one of the best ways to do that is keep the bottle or the packaging from what you had, bring it into the next place and hopefully they can help you. I mean, if you brought it into our store, we’d be able to help directly by reading the label and seeing doesn’t have a lab test. And is this a confirmed amount? Is it labeled correctly? Giving you a better idea of how that compare to our products because there’s a lot to factor in. And most consumers say, “I got a 1 ounce. It was sixty dollars. What do you have?” You know, and like I mean, we we have what we have, but like to compare it to what you have. There’s so many variables that I don’t know from how you just described it. I need more information to accurately compare if that’s what you’re looking for. And so I think just keep packaging and bring that in to a supplier would be my recommendation, because otherwise most consumers just don’t automatically remember enough of the relevant information to really make an accurate comparison otherwise.

Meredith [00:13:33] For sure. So then we also wanted to talk a little bit about the THC indicator that is on the label as well. Right. So I think that was kind of the fourth important component. So let’s talk a little bit more about.

Adriane [00:13:45] Yes. So I think that if you’re going to have a full spectrum product or any kind of product. Honestly, you should. On the label denote very clearly for consumers that there is THC, whether it’s in compliance with the federal formula 2018 or there is honestly zero percent (0.0000%) THC in the product, so it’s strictly an isolate. I do feel very strongly that it does need to be in there because consumers, as they’re going out and their purchasing products, they are relying on the manufacturer of what is truth in labeling. And when their job depends upon it or when they’re pharmaceuticals that they’re trying to work off with their physician depends upon it, that physician care depends upon it. It’s really important to be 100 percent just transparent with the consumer.

Jessica [00:14:31] Absolutely. I mean, like we mentioned in the previous episode, like we have seen products labeled as 0 percent THC that are implying, you know, zero when it is zero point three or somewhere around there. And that does make a huge difference for some consumers. It could lose a job over something that they thought was absolutely not a risk. So at least to be transparent enough, transparent so that consumers can make an accurate risk assessment for their circumstances.

Meredith [00:14:59] So then we should really be looking for a percentage that is not just a single digit is what you’re saying that it should be, you know, if you just see a big zero. You might question that, but if you see 0.00, then…

Jessica [00:15:17] I think it just comes down to verify it through labs. And hopefully their quality labs, which is another story. But, you know, verify it through labs. That’s the best way to do it. So serialization of products is something that should be indicated on the label as well for a quality product. So either as a unique serial number on each individual bottle, which is corresponding in, for example, in our system, it corresponds to which batch in which lab test that that was bottled from. So you have a serial number with this certain number, we can look up and find the exact lab test. That’s really crucial. And that or a QR code is another popular way to do that. And so consumers can actually verify their unique product and not just see one posted on a Website that hasn’t been updated in a year and a half. And who knows when it was bottled. Maybe it is that. But that’s kind of scary in itself. You know, have a serialization so you can verify the specific content because all cannabinoid numbers tend to kind of fluctuate a bit, if you’re using natural plant based method and not in isolation process, you’re going to get a little bit of variation. And so you have to confirm the accuracy of the potency of that bottle.

Meredith [00:16:40] So is there anything else that you wanted to share about labeling that you feel is important to talk about today?

Adriane [00:16:48] Jessica, I don’t know. I think we I think we covered everything. I don’t know if there was one more thing, because I thought serialization was the last thing. But refresh my memory.

Jessica [00:16:55] It was the last thing. But we skipped one. Stalk and stem. Do you want to talk about that?

Adriane [00:16:59] Yes. Absolutely. So it actually goes down to what your product is made from. Right. So, on our labels we will essentially say bloom only, you know, not derived from stalk, stem, or isolate. So we’re very blatant on our on our labels about what our product is made from. You’ll see in other places where they’ll just name, just ariel parts, which essentially means anything above the ground. So stalk, stem, fan leaves and bloom, sometimes seeds. I saw a product just the other day and it’s actually a really popular one that literally says that they’re CBD content is taken from the seeds and the stalks only. So again, going back to just the plant itself, the trichomes are found on the blooms. They’re not found in the stalks in the stems. They’re not definitely found in the seeds. You’re going to have no cannabinoid content or very miniscule, if any at all, coming from the seed. So, again, it really kind of speaks to how is the product made? What are they doing? Are they taking this hemp product that’s created from seeds and from stalks and then adding isolate to it because you’re not going to get any real level of cannabinoids from that product, from those parts of the plant. So I think more and more companies are at least adding that to their labels. But that should be a real big call out for consumers when they’re looking for a quality product. You want to make sure that it’s made from the best parts of the plant.

Jessica [00:18:24] And I think it goes a little bit beyond that. Like Adriane mentioned, there is no significant source of cannabinoids in the stalk, in the roots, in the seeds, in the fan leaves. There there’s no significant source there, but it’s more than just that for quality. So we mentioned before, but didn’t go into detail that, you know, so hemp is a bioaccumulator. It’s really good at cleaning soil. It leaches toxins from the ground. And hemp is currently being grown mostly on previously used agricultural land. So like soybean or tobacco or whatever was grown there recently and maybe it was organic or maybe it wasn’t. But whatever was on the soil from anything in the history or runoff water or a nearby field or rain or any kind of heavy metal or pesticide content the soil has present potentially can be absorbed into the hemp. Generally it’s stored in the stalk. And so that’s where you’re gonna find the highest concentrations of heavy metals and pesticides. And so use of stalk, because we generally see that being pretty much hand-in-hand with low yield plants, so not only are you using something that doesn’t have doesn’t add value, but it adds potential concern and it’s synced almost always with a really low yield plant. So you’re combining all these factors to where your mass harvesting a lot of plant material with very little content. You’re really elevating your risks of heavy metals and you’re doing it for cost savings and not quality. And so that’s that’s really the big reason. That’s why we say be careful about having stalk system. It generally implies not just one unfortunate thing, but a series of poor practices that do not yield best results for the client. And seeds are another example of that. Like if you look at marijuana production, a seed is a bad thing. It indicates that it’s been pollinated and you want a female plant that has not been fertilized or pollinated, whatever the right word is, because once your seed production begins, your cannabinoid production starts to really drastically taper off as the plant puts its resources into seed production, not cannabinoid production. So you’re again, you’re reducing the overall potency and quality of your plant. And so some plants are especially in mass grows, some are probably going to get pollinated. That’s not a good thing, though. And if you’ve got somewhere like us that’s careful about sexing the plants and having feminized genetics where you reduce that risk, then you generally indicate that there’s a huge difference in the overall potency of the plant material that you are using. You’ve got a much higher presence of the active cannabinoids and terpenes the beneficial structures. So that’s kind of why you don’t want stalk in stem to be present.

Meredith [00:21:26] Yeah, that’s awesome information. I love, I love that you’re taking it all the way back to how the hemp is grown and what that looks like, because I think we have the opportunity to look at the full lifecycle from the time that the plant starts until it makes it into the products that people are using. So awesome. So if people want to know more information about the work that you do and about the products that you offer, where would be the best place for them to go and get that info?

Adriane [00:21:50] Yeah, absolutely. Visit our Website, Bluegrasshempoil.com. Again, we’ll always have blogs that kind of reiterate or kind of support all the information that we brought here and then check us out on Facebook and Instagram. We do FAQ Fridays. So any kind of questions that you have let us know.

Meredith [00:22:05] Fantastic. Well, for this episode of Full Spectrum Living with CBD, I am your co-host, Meredith, here with Jessica and Adriane. And we will see you all the next time.

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