oes the idea of “pure CBD oil” make you feel skeptical? Like, what does pure even mean? We’re equally skeptical of unfounded claims and big promises. Not to mention vague words like “pure” and “all natural” that don’t really define for us what they mean for any given product.
So whether you’re curious to know more about what purity might mean for your CBD oil, or even if the thought never occurred to you… We DO believe purity matters. And we know your body heals itself best when it is fueled and supported by the purest nature-based goods.
So here’s the deal:
Until very recently, CBD has operated in a sort of regulatory limbo and so there is very little cohesion or regulation around how companies talk about their CBD products. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has announced its intention to take a more proactive approach to regulating CBD products, but until then, there are basically two camps of “pure CBD oil” that we discovered across most products.
Some people say that pure CBD is a CBD isolate. In such a case, the CBD has been separated from all the other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids that co-exist with it in the hemp or marijuana (cannabis) plant. We feel this is somewhat misleading because we value purity. To us, it means clean… and in no way harmful to the body. Yet CBD isolate isn’t pure so much as only CBD.
And frankly, CBD ain’t so cool when its flying solo. We much prefer our CBD oil in all its cannabinoid glory – meaning chock full of other phytocannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. So, while CBD must be in its isolate form in certain products, such as some edibles, you’ll benefit most from a full-spectrum or whole plant extract vs a CBD isolate.
So who’s in the other camp of pure CBD oil meaning-making?
(Since everyone’s pretty much winging it right now 😉)
Ahem. Mostly us. We were a bit miffed at how hard it was to verify the quality of most CBD products. And so we define pure CBD oil as an oil that adheres to strict quality and manufacturing standards from seed to shelf. The soil is pure. The plant is pure. The extraction method is pure. The carrier oils and other ingredients are pure.
Why purity matters
Hemp-derived CBD oil comes from the industrial hemp plant, which is part of cannabis plant family. This non-psychoactive plant is amazing in soooo many ways! Cannabis is a “bioaccumulator” which means it can suck up whatever’s in the soil around it.
True Crazy Fact: You can actually plant hemp in a toxic waste dump and it will help clean up the soil.
If hemp is such a superstar at sucking up toxins from the soil, you want to take extra care that any CBD oil or product you put in your mouth, on your skin, or *gasp* up your butt, is free of heavy metals, toxins, mold and other such soil squatters.
Would you want to use CBD oil made from hemp grown in a toxic waste dump? No, no you would not. Because those toxins would be present in the product and then be present in your body. So when we talk about using high quality, pure cbd oil we need to start by taking a look at the very soil used to grow the hemp.
A certified organic product is a great place to start. But know that because of the way organic products are regulated in the U.S., there are some perfectly safe products — grown and manufactured with the highest standards — that can’t necessarily earn the “organic” moniker. Some Canadian-grown hemp is a good example of this. When buying CBD, check that the grower is doing soil and water testing and you should be good to go as far as contaminants are concerned.
Extraction processes affect purity
One big factor to consider if you’re looking for the purest possible CBD oil is the extraction method that’s used to get all the good stuff out of the hemp plant.
Not all extraction methods are created equal.. Alcohol and solvent-based extraction methods can leave behind residual chemical contaminants. You’ll want to steer clear of ethanol (alcohol) or butane (solvent) extraction. (These methods are often used to produce vape oil.)
Instead, look for a pure CBD oil that uses CO2 extraction. This process uses pressurized carbon dioxide as a solvent instead of chemicals. It creates a safe and high quality product completely free of residual solvents.
A closer look at testing
Only rigorous product testing can ensure that the pure CBD oil you’re taking is precisely what you think it is. For example, if a CBD product is not lab tested, it may actually contain THC, which could cause you to fail a drug test. Another example: If you’re taking CBD and you experience negative side effects, it may actually be due to poor quality and contaminants rather than the CBD itself, as full-spectrum CBD has been shown to be well tolerated at a range of doses with only minor side effects for some people.
So, when you’re buying pure CBD oil, what test results should you be looking for and where can you find this information?
Any company worth its salt will keep records of its testing results for every batch sold. Some companies post this information on their website, while others offer the information to anyone who makes an email or a phone request. Double check that any product you’re buying has been tested (and that you’ve seen the test results yourself). Here’s a rundown of the most important tests.
This type of testing lets you know the exact concentration of the active cannabinoids in the product you’re purchasing. Most labs use a process called high performance liquid chromatography (LPLC). Basically, a sample is placed in a solvent in order to isolate the compound that’s being tested, then a UV detector measures the concentration of the compound. Labs usually test for several cannabinoids including CBD, CBDA, CBN, and THCA. (Remember that you want to use a full-spectrum pure CBD oil to ensure you get the benefits of the “entourage” effect.)
Pesticide & Fungicide Testing.
As we mentioned, cannabis is a bioaccumulator, so you definitely don’t want to use a CBD product that been grown with pesticides. Labs often use both high performance liquid chromatography and triple-quadrupole mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS) to ensure samples are free of harmful contaminants like bug spray and weed killer. Blech.
Heavy metal contamination testing.
Cannabis can pick up heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury from soil and water. These heavy metals can be dangerous to your health if they accumulate in your system in too large amounts. Various forms of spectrometry and flame tests can be used to make sure heavy metal levels in your pure CBD oil are below allowable levels, which vary by state. (Don’t totally freak if there are trace amounts of heavy metals, they are naturally occuring and are present in lots of the fruits and veggies you eat, too!)
If you’re already dealing with health issues like chronic pain, the last thing you need is to ingest bacteria, yeast and/or mold. Third party testing should rule out contaminants like E.coli, Coliforms and Salmonella as well as yeast and fungus.
Terpenes are essential oils found in the cannabis plant that contribute to the entourage effect. The presence of different terpenes and their concentrations is what creates different “strains” of cannabis. Cutting edge technology like gas chromatography with flame ionized detection (FID) is used to identify terpene compounds and their concentrations in your pure cbd oil.
Residual Solvent Testing.
Super concentrated forms of cannabis, such as hemp oil, are sometimes manufactured using industrial solvents. If you choose a CBD oil using one of these extraction methods, you definitely want to check these test results. Common solvents are: acetone, butane, propane, pentane, hexane, heptane, and isopropanol. This gets really tricky because there’s not a universal standard set for how much residual solvent is “safe.” In states where cannabis is fully legal, regulations vary for allowable amounts. Make sure you understand the way the lab is notating the results from these tests as often they’re not “pass/fail,” but instead state how many parts per million of solvent remain. It’s up to you to decide if you’re comfortable with that amount or if you want to seek a product that uses a different extraction method. Like we said, at Heal thy Body we prefer CO2 extraction for this very reason.
In general you want to look for a producer who controls their entire growing and production process, what ‘s often called, “from seed to shelf.” You also want a pure CBD oil that’s made in a cGMP facility. (That’s shorthand for a manufacturer that’s certified under the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Processes guidelines.) If it’s not produced in the U.S., look for that country’s equivalent.
Other purity considerations
Be a savvy label reader. Before you buy that CBD tincture or capsule or other type of product, scan the label for concentration information and ingredients. Some CBD tinctures contain sweeteners or other natural flavors to mask the grassy taste of hemp. That may be fine, but avoid any weird preservatives or additives if you can.
Also note the type of carrier oil if that’s used. CBD is fat soluble, so it’s often suspended in an oil to help absorption in your body and let you dose accurately. (The dropper will help you control the serving size.) Common carrier oils include avocado oil, olive oil and hemp seed oil — and most commonly — MCT oil (which stands for “medium chain triglycerides” which are easily digested) made from coconut or palm oil. Make sure you store your pure CBD oil properly based on the type of carrier oil to avoid it turning rancid, especially if you choose an olive oil-based product.
As you’ve seen, the word “pure” just doesn’t go deep enough when it comes to choosing a pure CBD oil. Now that you’ve taken a deep dive into what “purity” means, it’s time to start reaping the benefits of CBD. Check out this article about all the conditions CBD can assist. From chronic pain to anxiety to psoriasis, hemp-derived CBD is one of nature’s botanical powerhouses with health benefits it would be a shame to ignore.