Figure 6. Table of Hemp Extract Characteristics
For Consumers, labels are to inform or to ignore. For Marketers, labels are to perform or to obscure. For the Food and Drug Administration, labels are for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth . . . (we sure by-god hope.)
Many CBD product labels highlight “Hemp Extract” instead of “CBD” itself, even when it is allowed, since they try to grab your attention with a bigger number. And since only about half of an extract is actually CBD, the “mg Extract” is usually at least twice as big as the actual “mg CBD”. 100 mg “Hemp Extract” always sounds better than “50 mg CBD”. So, listing Hemp Extract, instead of actual CBD, makes it seem like they are giving you twice as much as they actually are. Again, “Buyer Beware”, or at least, be aware.
And another peculiarity of the CBD market is that it generally lists the total amount of CBD per container, not per oz or a percentage. This creates some confusion and difficulty in comparing apples to apples. If you have, let’s say, 1000 mg of extract in each of two jars, but one extract has 500 mg CBD and another has 750 mg CBD, then the second has 50% more CBD than the first. And if they are priced the same, then you are getting a much better deal with the second even though they both say “1000 mg.” And this is sort of what is going on.
Hemp Extracts typically have 40 – 60% CBD, while Full Spectrum Hemp Extracts typically have 50 – 80%. The only way to actually tell is to take calculator in hand and hie thee to the C of A (Certificate of Analysis) for some significant ciphering (since the amount of CBD is typically listed in %, not mg and you need to know if they used oz (28,300 mg) or fl. oz. (30 ml (30,000 mg at standard temperature, pressure, and density))). Which most people won’t do.
Even I don’t. I just figure if it says extract or full spectrum it means 50% and I just cut in half whatever mg they claim. If I short-change them, that’s their fault for not telling me upfront exactly how many mg of CBD their product contains.
And then, usually, the Full Spectrum folk trumpet the terpenes their product contains to make up for it. Touting the magic of terpenes and the so-called entourage effect (that always sounds off-key to my ears. Remember there are only two cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, and only one terpene, Caryophyllene, has any effect on them at all. (And that is only a minor effect, less than a tenth of CBD’s. (i.e. it takes 10+ mg of Caryophyllene to equal the effect of 1 mg CBD,) and the other terpenes have no effect at all on CB1 or CB2. More on that later). Needless to say, I am not a fan. I don’t like to be suckered and when people start talking magic, I grab my wallet.
And one other thing to keep in mind, extracts will typically contain a small amount of THC. (It’s hard to breed a plant that will make only CBD and absolutely zero THC. They sort of go together. (Isolates can actually separate the THC.)) And the more concentrated the extract, the more any existing THC is also concentrated. Maybe enough to make you fail a drug test. A fact they try to hide.
And my alarm bells go off when someone highlights “less than 0.3% THC” – OF COURSE IT IS! That’s the definition of HEMP! But that’s dry weight, roots and all. Think of it like moonshine. The fermented mash has a small amount of alcohol, 10 – 12% before the alcohol kills off the yeast.
Then, when you concentrate it by extracting it via a still, the alcohol rises to as much as 40-80% ofthe extract. THC is concentrated in hemp extracts in much the same way. So,saying you started at 0.3% in the plant has nothing to do with the final concentration. The final content depends on how much THC was in the original plant and the degree of concentrating you did. And 0.3% in the final product would give you 85 mg per oz, and that would lead to a failed drug test.
So buyer beware and look at the C of A to determine if it is THC free or “nd” , for “non-detectable”.
If it says “Isolate”, then I know they are using 96-99 % pure CBD and if they say 500 mg Isolate then that means 500 mg CBD minus maybe a few mg. And it will also generally have Non-detectable THC. (I have seen a couple of cases with 1 % of so of THC – which I always reject.)
Water soluble CBD is another animal altogether which we’ll cover later. (It’s OK, just a few more caveats, more applicable to water, and much more expensive than CBD. It hasn’t really reached industrial scale yet.)
So, in summary, LOOK YE TO THE LABEL.
- More CBD is better than less,
- A higher concentration of CBD is better than lower
- Lower cost is better than higher
- But it is tricky to figure all that out
- 200 mg of isolate has more CBD than 200 mg Full Spectrum Extract has more CBD than 200 mg Hemp Extract, so you need to know what kind of CBD it is. (Usually it will say.)
- 200 mg in 1 oz is stronger than 200 mg in 2 oz (100 mg/oz) is stronger than 200 mg in 4 oz(50 mg/oz), so even at the same total mg, the size of the unit plays a part as well. And don’t just think “oh well, 4 oz will go further than 1 oz.” That’s only true if you don’t have to use four times as much to get the effect you want.
- And cheaper isn’t necessarily a better deal. You’ll pay more than twice as much per mg of CBD at $25 for a jar with 200 mg than you do at $50 for a jar with 1000 mg. (the former would take 5 jars to get to 1000 mg, at a cost of $125)
You have to look and understand. And until the Food & Drug Administration standardizes the market like they do food, it will be more complicated than it needs to be. Until they require suppliers to note actual mg CBD per unit, and per oz, and require them to note the cost per unit of CBD so it can be compared without resorting to a calculator, it will still be a wild, wild West, where some will skirt the margins to make a buck.
So that’s how to look at the CBD aspect. But what do you do when they have the same amount of CBD, same size, same or equivalent price?
THEN you have to consider is there any other special ingredient or special factor that can make a difference. Which we’ll talk about next time when we cover just what the heck IS this “K” Channel, and how does it compare to other types of ingredients.
-Dr. Steve Monroe PhD