CBD is having a moment, showing up on the ingredient lists for everything from edibles, drinks, cosmetics, and even skincare. One of the most popular hemp-derived products on the market right now is CBD oil. This classic method of ingesting CBD has gained momentum as an effective way to absorb its therapeutic properties that can provide relief from pain, anxiety, insomnia, seizure disorders, and more.
With all of the new herbal lingo floating around, a lot of people aren't sure what CBD actually is. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 100 chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids, found in the cannabis plant. CBD can be extracted from a hemp or marijuana plant. While hemp and marijuana are both classified biologically as cannabis, only CBD derived from industrial hemp with less than 0.3% THC is legal in the United States.
Extraction is the process that turns the whole hemp plant into CBD oil to use in products. When shopping for CBD oil, you will notice three main types of extracts listed on the labels: isolate, full spectrum, and broad spectrum. The type of extract determines the profile of cannabinoids in the finished product.
Isolate is the purest form of CBD. It is produced by removing all other compounds from the hemp plant, including terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids. The main benefits of using CBD isolate are that it has the highest CBD concentrations and contains no THC. CBD isolate is typically sold in a powder form, but some companies mix it with an oil carrier, like MCT oil or coconut oil.
Full spectrum hemp extract could be considered the opposite of CBD isolate because it contains all of the naturally occurring compounds found in the hemp plant. The full spectrum of terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids work together to enhance the therapeutic properties of each individual cannabinoid. This interaction between compounds is commonly referred to as the "entourage effect".
Broad spectrum CBD falls somewhere in the middle of full spectrum and isolate CBD. Like full spectrum, the plant's full range of compounds are preserved. However, the extract goes through a refinement process to remove THC, similar to how CBD isolate is produced.THC vs CBD: What's the Difference?
The two most well-known and marketed cannabinoids are CBD and THC. Both compounds have the same molecular structure, but the minor differences in how the atoms are arranged dictate how each compound interacts with your body's endocannabinoid system.
THC is the cannabis plant compound known for its psychoactive properties. THC binds with receptors in the brain that typically produces a sense of euphoria, often described as feeling "high".
CBD is a non-psychoactive compound primarily used for its therapeutic properties to treat a range of conditions. CBD is most commonly found in hemp plants, grown to maximize CBD content while minimizing THC concentrations.Can CBD Make You Fail a Drug Test?
Although drug tests do not screen for CBD, some CBD products contain trace amounts of THC that could cause someone to fail a drug test. In most cases, it is highly unlikely that CBD oil will show up on a drug test. Much like eating a poppy seed bagel can result in testing positive for opiates, taking CBD oil with a THC concentration of less than 0.3% can result in testing positive for cannabis use.
The federal government sets cut-off levels for drug and alcohol testing based on the U.S. Department of Transportation concentration limits. If the test detects a substance under the concentration threshold, it will return a negative result for that substance.
The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that THC could be detected on a drug test three days after a single-use or 30 days after heavy use. This happens because THC is soluble in the fat the body stores. People with a higher percentage of body fat may metabolize THC slower than someone with lower fat concentrations.
To avoid the risk of failing a drug test, you can buy CBD products that are THC-free, such as CBD isolate and broad spectrum CBD oils. You should only purchase your CBD oil from companies that publish lab results verifying THC and CBD levels in each batch of products. These lab results are known as a Certificate of Analysis.How to Read a Certificate of Analysis
A Certificate of Analysis (COA) is a document from an accredited lab that verifies the levels of cannabinoids in a product. This is one of the best ways to determine the quality and purity of a CBD product. For CBD, a Certificate of Analysis should include a complete list of cannabinoids, microbiological levels, terpenes, and possible contaminants such as pesticides, solvent residue, or heavy metals. While these documents are designed to understand, it's important to know the type of information you should be looking for in the report.
Who performed the test?
The test should not be performed by the same company selling the product. A Certificate of Analysis is a third-party test to ensure the company is transparent about the results. We aren't saying a company can't perform their own tests, but this does leave room for bias in the reporting.
The bottom half of the report will show the cannabinoids detected in the product, as well as their concentration levels. D9-THC should report levels below 0.3% for the product to be legally produced and sold in the United States.
Labs commonly test for a variety of heavy metals, including arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead. 'Conc.' is the concentration of metal in the sample. 'Units' refers to the measurement size. 'Use Limits' are determined by the state Department of Public Health and U.S. Pharmacopeia as the amounts that are safe to ingest per day.
Much like reading the results for heavy metals, pesticides use 'Units' for measurement and 'Limits' for the maximum amount allowed for safe ingestion. 'Status' will say PASS if the sample is below the legal limit or NO PASS if it is above the limit.
Terpenes are responsible for the taste and aroma of a CBD product. This section breaks down which terpenes are present in the sample and at what levels of concentration. Much like other cannabinoids, terpenes are usually not harmful and can even enhance the effects of CBD.
What to do if there is no COA
Most companies will publish lab results on their website or available by entering the lot number listed on the product. If you are concerned about the quality and potency of cannabinoids in your CBD oil, it is highly recommended that you only purchase from companies that provide a Certificate of Analysis.Learn More About the Herbal Revolution
Whether you're new to the land of green or a seasoned pro, it can be hard to keep up with the pace of CBD products and information. CBDnerds is here to help. We purchase products from major brands and test them ourselves to give you authentic feedback on product quality. We also provide tons of educational content to help you make informed buying decisions and become your own self-proclaimed CBD Nerd.