How Do I Understand CBD Test Results?
Any CBD products you are purchasing or consuming should come with test results verifying their efficacy and safety. While testing labs serve an important and irreplaceable role in any responsible consumer product industry, it can be a big ask to expect people to understand what the test results actually mean.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the CBD industry, that’s exactly how things are for now—as the FDA has yet to establish federal regulations for hemp-based products. This means that CBD companies themselves have to take on the responsibility of making sure their products are accurately labeled and safe for consumption. This involves third-party testing laboratories checking products before they're made available to the public. These test results are almost always made available to customers, but what good are they to the average consumer if they're too complicated or technical to understand?
Lazarus Naturals prefers transparency, and empowering you to know for yourself that you can trust our products.
Below you'll find a high-level guide to better understand test results.
DIFFERENT TESTS FOR DIFFERENT PRODUCTS
The first thing to understand is that there are different sets of product tests that are necessary depending on which type of product you're purchasing. (i.e. full spectrum, broad spectrum, or THC free isolate)
THC free isolate should consist entirely of pure, crystallized CBD. That's the only cannabinoid or terpene left from the hemp plant that should appear on those product tests. Broad spectrum products (which Lazarus Naturals does not offer) contain CBD isolate with other terpenes and flavonoids added to product. Those product tests should cover those bases. Finally, full spectrum hemp products should include tests for all potential cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
All of the products above, if coming from a reputable CBD source, should include tests for potential contaminants like heavy metals, pesticides, fertilizers, and microbials (such as mold or yeast).
HOW PRODUCT TESTING WORKS
Hemp CBD products are tested through the process of analytical chromatography, just like any other organic consumer product. This involves dissolving a hemp product sample into a mixture known as the “mobile phase,” a solvent or gas that—when subjected to intense pressure—allows said mixture’s unique chemical components to be separated from one another. This separation is usually accomplished via High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) if the mixture is a liquid, or Gas Chromatography (GC) if the mixture is gaseous.
In either case, lab scientists are able to separate and analyze each individual component of the sample by slowly heating it up, which allows for the separation of each component as one by one they reach their various boiling points. They can then measure and record the sample’s individual components by exposing them to electromagnetic radiation (AKA light) and analyzing the results.
In fact, many times products are tested using both methods. The HPLC process has proven particularly useful for detecting cannabinoid potencies, while GC is apt at detecting more volatile compounds (such as terpenes, pesticides, and any residual solvents).
POTENCY TESTING RESULTS
High potencies usually make for the best selling point in the CBD industry. One unfortunate side effect of this trend, however, is that some companies are exaggerating (or flat-out inflating) the CBD content of their products. That’s why Lazarus Naturals always lists total CBD content for every product, and makes sure it matches (or even exceeds) what’s on the label. One of our primary goals is to never short our customers on product potency.
Potency test results should at the very least describe the product’s cannabinoid profile: this number is usually dictated as a percentage that represents how much of each cannabinoid is in the product. Oftentimes, however, companies will also include cannabinoid totals in milligrams—and list how many milligrams are present in an average serving.
Usually, potency numbers focus on just CBD or THC, the most common cannabinoids. Some laboratories, however, have recently started including potency results for other cannabinoids that are increasing in popularity—such as CBG, CBN, THCV and others. Highly detailed potency tests should also include readings on a product’s terpene and flavonoid content.
If you’re using full spectrum hemp products, be sure to check that all cannabinoid potencies (especially THC) are listed—not just CBD. It's technically possible (albeit unlikely) to fail a drug test for THC, even if you haven’t consumed any cannabis-based products.
HEAVY METALS, MICROBIALS, AND PESTICIDES
Hemp is an amazing bioremediator crop—meaning that it’s excellent at cleaning contaminated soil through absorption. Unfortunately, this also makes the hemp-based products particularly susceptible to contaminants like heavy metals and pesticides. Any reputable CBD provider knows this, and will provide lab tests upfront that verify product safety.
Additionally, as an organic compound, hemp crops are susceptible to mold and other microbes. Moldy hemp plants can cause serious illnesses, as those microbials will often lead to highly contaminated hemp extractions (which can be particularly dangerous for sickly patients seeking relief from CBD). Even for more casual consumers, nobody wants to run the risk of consuming E.coli, Aspergillus, or other dangerous pathogens.
REVIEWING A SAMPLE PRODUCT TEST
You can view test results in full on our website for every product we offer.
If you'd like an in-depth guide to better understanding our results (with visuals) head here!