In my last two posts, I talked about the downfalls of the CBD boom and the necessity of product transparency. Readers learned what to look for when buying CBD, and how to stay safe in an age of misinformation.
SO! If you're crunched on time, too lazy to read the last two blogs (hey, no judgment!), or if you simply want a brief recap, here’s what you need to know:
(1) Make sure it's USDA certified organic and ethically sourced
The first thing you need to do is make sure your CBD product is derived from certified organic hemp.
Remember what I said about hemp being a bioaccumulator? That means it absorbs everything in the soil, including pesticides and toxins, at a faster rate that it is able to release or use them. If you’re concerned about pesticides, heavy metals, and other toxins, make sure that the oil you are buying is extracted from an organic plant.
It's also important to make sure your hemp is ethically grown, on US soil. Buying local, USDA certified hemp ensures that your product is pure and safe, while also supporting the local economy.
(2) Check the extraction method
Most of what you need to know will be covered in step three, finding a CofA. But if you aren't able to get your hands on one, or are crunched on time, you should at least check the extraction method. There are benefits and drawbacks to each method. For more information, check out my last blog.
(3) Get the lab results (aka the Certificate of Analysis (CofA))
Because of the gross lack of regulation in the CBD industry, companies are able to put whatever they’d like on the label. Remember the statistics from part 1 of this blog series? Out of 84 products from 31 different companies, nearly 70% were mislabeled (Bonn-Miller, et al. 2017).
A CofA ensures that the product was third-party tested, and is a great way to avoid fraudulent claims about potency and purity. Just look for the batch number of the product you’re looking to buy! At the end of this post, I've attached an example of Allay's most recent CofA- annotated to show exactly what to look for.
With a CofA, you’ll be able to find the following:
A CofA will show you exactly what pesticides, heavy metals, and toxic residue may still exist in the final product. CBD products that were extracted using butane, for example, can have toxic residue that may increase one’s risk of cancer. A CofA will also show you if there is any mold or bacteria in your product- just look for the “Microbiological Testing.”
Is what your buying really going to be effective? Is the money your spending really worth it, or will it be wasted on a weak product? You can find the total count of CBD, CBDa, CBN, and THC under “cannabinoid summary.” By looking at the full cannabinoid summary you can ensure that the product you are buying is truly full-spectrum, whole plant medicine.
And yep, that’s it. Just three steps! Buy organic, check the extraction method, and look for a CofA. All of this will ensure that your product is safe, accurately labeled, and potent.
Part 2: The importance of transparency
(and why Allay rocks☺)
On Monday I introduced Sanjay Gupta’s ‘Weed 5: The CBD Craze,’ which investigated the benefits and drawbacks of the new and booming CBD industry.
The problem, Gupta argues, is a lack of proper regulation leading to mislabeled, and occasionally harmful CBD products. There is, in other words, a blatant lack of transparency and honesty in the CBD market.
So, what can the consumer do to combat this?
How it’s made: Extraction, explained
First, it’s important to understand a little about how CBD oil is made. This is because the extraction process has everything to do with producing a clean and toxin-free final product. Not all CBD is created equal! When buying CBD it is crucial that the consumer pay attention to the specific method of extraction used to ensure that their product is clean, safe, and potent.
It all starts with the plant. The first thing to pay attention to is whether your CBD product is derived from certified organic hemp. Hemp is a bioaccumulator- this means that is absorbs all of the chemicals, pesticides, and toxins in the soil at a faster rate than it is able to use or release them. If a CBD product is extracted from non-organic hemp, it's going to carry all of those toxins, heavy metals, and pesticides with it. Yuck.
“As far as we’re concerned, there is only one way to grow anything: organically and sustainably. Because our soil is some of the richest, most fertile in the west, and because our climate is ideal for growing compelling cannabis, we let nature do her job. Every cultivation choice is based on bringing forth the perfection that is already inherent in the plants and on our farm” -Siskiyou Sungrown, Allay’s source of high quality CBD oil
There are two main extraction methods that consumers should look out for; CO2 extraction and Solvent extraction.
Simply put, supercritical CO2 extraction uses cooled and pressurized CO2 to draw out CBD and other phytochemicals.
At certain temperatures, CO2 becomes what is known as a 'supercritical liquid.' This means that it has the properties of both a gas and a liquid. In this state, CO2 acts as a solvent passing through porous solids and dissolving materials. Producers are able to fine tune which phytochemicals and compounds are extracted by controlling the pressure and temperature of the CO2.
This method is generally safe and clean, although it does have a few drawbacks. Namely, if the cannabis plant isn't dried adequately before hand, the final product may contain carcinogens and rancid fats. This method is also costly, and requires a lot of energy.
CO2 extracted products also lack a number of helpful phytochemicals (or active compounds). Because this method can only extract oil soluble compounds, the range of phytochemicals it is able to extract is limited. But more on this later...
Ethanol extraction typically involves decarbonating the plant (i.e. heating the plant to remove carbon atoms), and then soaking the plant in solvent- usually ethanol or butane- to extract its active compounds.
This method has its disadvantages. For one, using a solvent such as butane can leave behind toxic and harmful residue if the solvent isn't completely evaporated. Ethanol, on the other hand, is a natural solvent which works just as effectively as butane without the risk of toxins.
Because this process extracts both water soluble and oil soluble phytochemicals, the final product carries a wider range of helpful compounds. This includes compounds such as polyphenols, which can prevent degenerative disease, boost brain function and digestion, and more! The final product is truly full-spectrum, containing in it more helpful compounds than its CO2 derived counterpart.
Extracting with a solvent also creates ‘esters.’ These are water-soluble organic compounds, which replace hydrogen with a hydrocarbon group (Clark 2004). Because these compounds are water soluble, they have much higher bioavailability (that is- they are easier for our bodies to break down and digest!). Oil-soluble compounds, on the other hand, need to be broken down by our bodies acids and enzymes, making them difficult to digest. Reduced bioavailability means reduced potency!
Allay believes that ethanol extraction is the best method to ensure a clean, potent, and pure product. Siskiyou Sungrown uses only USP grade organic cane oil as a solvent, creating a product that is truly full-spectrum!
“ [...] Ethanol extracts both water soluble and oil soluble plant constituents very effectively. Consequently, hemp oil extracted with ethanol is truly full spectrum, exhibiting the synergy of all available beneficial phytochemicals. The ethanol that Siskiyou Sungrown uses for extraction is strictly USP grade, certified organic cane alcohol”
Remember Jay Jenkins from the last blog? The young man who almost died after consuming entirely synthetic, mislabeled CBD?
Companies aren’t always required to include all of the ingredients they put into their CBD. Manufacturers can add a number of different things to increase profit, including preservatives, non-cannabis derived terpenes, various food colorings, thinning agents, and more. A lot of this stuff can be harmful to your health. If a company isn’t transparent about what goes in to their final product, don’t buy it! A great way to make sure you’re being safe is to ask for the lab results of the final CBD product.
Radical. Transparency. That’s what we’re after here at Allay medicinals.
In my next post, I’ll give you all a quick recap of what this all means, and provide a succinct and easy-to-follow guide on how to buy CBD!
“CBD Oil Extraction Technique - Ethanol vs. Supercritical CO2.” CBD Oil Review, 2018, https://cbdoilreview.org/cbd-cannabidiol/ethanol-vs-supercritical-co2-extraction/#What-Is-Supercritical-CO2-Extraction?
Clark, Jim. “An Introduction to Esters.” Chem Guide, Sept. 2004, https://www.chemguide.co.uk/organicprops/esters/background.html.
Siskiyou Sungrown. “Ethanol extraction vs. CO2." Instagram, 27 Sept. 2019, https://www.instagram.com/p/B27OHaaFP3j/
A three part series on Sanjay Gupta,
CBD product transparency,
and how to navigate through it all.
Last week, Dr. Sanjay Gupta released his latest addition to "Weed," a documentary about cannabis's potential as medicine from the perspective of medical professionals, patients, and first hand accounts. The newest episode, "Weed 5: The CBD craze," breaks down everything you need to know about the new and booming industry of CBD. Gupta, in his trademark resolute style, looks at the story in its entirety- we see the miracles as well as the downfalls.
I want to offer a three part series, inspired by Sanjay Gupta’s latest documentary, about the wild world of CBD; the advantages and drawbacks of a rapidly booming industry, the necessity of transparency, and how to navigate through it all.
And yep, it's a little complicated. But have no fear! Companies like Allay are here to walk you through the process. This isn't about plugging a certain product. This about informing people, keeping people safe, and demonstrating the immense potential of cannabis as medicine when done correctly.
You can look forward to two follow-up blogs, 'Transparency' and ‘How to buy CBD,' on Wednesday 9th and Friday 11th respectively.
So, Who is Sanjay Gupta?
Sanjay Gupta is chief medical correspondent for CNN, and an avid supporter of the medical potential of cannabis. But it hasn’t always been that way- before airing the first installment of ‘Weed,’ Sanjay was skeptical. It was his steadfast commitment to science, regardless of personal or political leanings, regardless of faith or belief, which lead him to see its potential. In ‘Weed 5’ Sanjay pushes back against the term ‘advocate.’ This is because, for Sanjay, CBD is more than its accompanying political narrative. It is more than something to rally behind so long as it adheres to your personal philosophy. The fact that CBD and Cannabis have immense medical potential is a scientific truth.
“Make no mistake” Sanjay states in an Op-ed accompanying the series, “Cannabis is a medicine.”
The Wild West of CBD
Since 2013, when the first episode of ‘Weed’ aired, we have seen a massive growth in popularity concerning medical marijuana and CBD products. CBD will soon be a $22 billion dollar industry, with CBD products being sold in coffee shops, grocery stores, bars, and more (Dorbian 2019).
This stuff is everywhere. But is this really a good thing?
Thanks to the rising popularity of cannabis as medicine, there have been countless success stories.
In “Weed: 5,” Gupta got an exclusive look at GW pharmaceuticals’ own cannabis greenhouses, where they are extracting and selling CBDV (another non-psychoactive cannabidiol found in cannabis plants) as a treatment for epilepsy, and potentially autism. In an earlier op-ed, titled “Why I Changed My Mind on Weed,” Gupta tells the story of Charlotte Figi- a young girl whose seizures were reduced significantly after consuming a high-CBD cannabis oil (Rashidian 2019). Individual accounts of CBD helping with anything from seizures, to anxiety, to muscle pain are innumerable.
But the stories aren’t always so bright.
Gupta also interviewed a young man named Jay Jenkins. Within seconds of consuming what he thought was CBD oil Jenkins started severely hallucinating, eventually losing consciousness. At the hospital Jenkins scored a 3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale- he was in critical condition.
It turns out that what Jenkins had tried was not CBD at all, but an entirely synthetic product marketed and sold as CBD.
This is where the problem lies. Without adequate regulation in most states, there is nothing requiring these products to be tested, safe, and authentic. One study found that out of 84 CBD products from 31 different companies, 69% were mislabeled (Bonn-Miller, et al. 2017). Although this study was conducted in 2017, recent studies show that not much has changed (Grubb 2019). Other studies found that some CBD products contain dangerous synthetics.
“CBD has been hijacked by unscrupulous actors peddling crooked, corrupt, and
Consumers are lost in a wild, unregulated world. Finding a trustworthy product- knowing what goes in to it, feeling confident that you are making a healthy choice, knowing what to look for when buying CBD, has become increasingly difficult. It is, as Gupta says,
“a bold promise, hijacked.”
Stayed tuned for more blogs about the importance of transparency in an age of confusion and misinformation. Allay is dedicated to providing clients sustainably sourced, full spectrum cbd that is guaranteed to work.
No empty promises,
no snake-juice cure-alls,
just pure, consciously derived, effective cbd products.
Bonn-Miller, Marcel O, et al. “Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online.” JAMA, American Medical Association, 7 Nov. 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5818782/.
Dorbian, Iris. “CBD Market Could Reach $20 Billion By 2024, Says New Study.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 20 May 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/irisdorbian/2019/05/20/cbd-market-could-reach-20-billion-by-2024-says-new-study/#7a6b09cc49d0.
Grubb, Bill. “Noramco Cannabidiol FDA Presentation.” US Food and Drug Administration , 31 May 2019, pp. 4–10 . Noramco.
Gupta, Sanjay. “CNN Health.” CNN Health, WarnerMedia, 27 Sept. 2019, https://edition.cnn.com/2019/09/27/health/weed-5-cbd-craze-gupta/index.html.
Rashidian, Nushin. “Q&A: Three Questions for Sanjay Gupta on CBD.” Cannabis Wire, 27 Sept. 2019, https://cannabiswire.com/2019/09/27/qa-three-questions-for-sanjay-gupta-on-cbd/.