BEFORE YOU BUY CBD OIL, LEARN TO READ THE LAB TESTS
There are several analyses that need to be done in order to certify that a hemp product is indeed pure, free of toxins and able to provide the claimed benefits. I’ll first list these tests, then explain what each of them analyzes and why it’s important to be done:
- Potency testing
- Pesticide testing
- Microbiological testing
- Terpene profiling
- Residual solvents testing
The first test, Potency, is done for determining the levels of cannabinoids in the product. As you probably know, hemp doesn’t contain only CBD; cannabidiol is only one of the numerous cannabinoids that can be found in the cannabis plant, and a lab test is necessary for determining the concentrations of all these compounds and therefore the potency of the CBD oil.
In general, the tested cannabinoids are CBD, CBC, THC, CBG and CBN. CBD or cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive compound, and is responsible for a vast number of health benefits in the cannabis plant. CBD is known to act as a natural neuro-protectant and to exert antioxidant properties, being therefore effective in protecting against and reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders, as well as in strengthening the immune system and protecting against inflammations and infections. CBD is also believed to counteract the psychoactive effects of THC.
THC, the other abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, is the one that gives the psychoactive properties and can only be ingested in small amounts as a result. THC has analgesic effects and has been shown to have positive effects with cancer and undesirable muscle spasms in people with MS. It also has been shown to increase appetite and assist with glaucoma. However, as I said, only small amounts of THC can be tolerated before the psychoactive effects occur.
Just like CBD, attach to the cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Once it gets there, it can slow down the communication between brain cells and interfere with brain’s activity, preventing neurotransmitters from properly doing their job. By binding with the receptors in the hippocampus for example, THC impairs the memory function, as this area of the brain is responsible for the learning process; when it binds to receptors in the cerebellum, THC can affect the motor coordination and balance, and the list can go on.
Besides these two components, there are other cannabinoids tested during lab analyses. THCV for example is believed to have appetite-suppressing properties and to be effective in treating metabolic disorders. THCA or the acid form of THC is found in large amounts in raw cannabis and it known to have anti-inflammatory effects. Like THC, studies suggest that it might also be effective in inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells and in relieving muscle spasm.
CBN has mild psychoactive properties and enhances the effects of THC, while CBG is non-psychoactive, has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effects and is believed to be useful in preventing certain forms of cancer. Another compound usually found in hemp products is CBC, also with anti-inflammatory properties but believed to be a bone-stimulant as well.
The overall amounts of cannabinoids can differ from one test to another depending on several variables. In an ideal world, a high CBD product also has small amounts of all cannabinoids (as well as other essential plant materials). The synergistic quality of these compounds is what makes it truly effective.
Moving to pesticide testing: this analysis is important for ensuring the safety of hemp and cannabis compounds, as the plants can be treated with herbicides and fungicides and too high concentrations of these substances can cause significant side effects.
The microbiological testing is done for ensuring there’s no harmful bacteria or mold on the hemp or cannabis plants. Pathogens that are present on the plants can easily get inside the body and if the levels are too high, they can also cause unwanted health effects.
A complete lab test should also include analyses of the residual solvents. Solvents are used when the plants are processed and turned into oils, powders or other products, but only for the solvent-based extraction processes. Too high concentrations of solvents like ethanol, propane, carbon dioxide or acetone can lead to unpleasant health effects and can turn the products into highly flammable ones. With CO2-extraction, solvents are not involved. This makes a solvent test for anyone claiming they use CO2 important. There should be no detectable solvents.
Finally, Terpene testing is done for identifying those compounds that give the color and distinctive flavors to the cannabis plants. Terpenes are pungent oils that provide flavors like mint, berry, citrus or pine, and are believed to have beneficial health effects as well.
As you can see, a lab test for a hemp product provides information on more than the content of THC or CBD, and it’s useful to know these facts and to get informed before purchasing a CBD oil.