What Type of CBD is Best – Part 2

Understanding What You Are Getting.


In part 1 of this post, we explored the different classifications used by CBD manufacturers: Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, Isolate and Water-soluble. When you’re ready to select a product,  how will you know what the label states is what you are actually getting? It begins with validation.

Validating the Classification & Compounds in The CBD Product

How do you know if the product you are considering is truly full spectrum, broad spectrum or an isolate? And how do you know if the amount of CBD (or THC) in the product is what is claimed on the label? In an unregulated marketplace there is only one way to be certain, ask for the Certificate of Analysis (COA**).

Any credible manufacturer in this space will package their products with clear labels following accepted standards for supplements which should include at a minimum: the brand name, supplement facts, ingredients and a batch number. In addition to clear labeling, the manufacturer or retailer should happily provide you with a Certificate of Analysis (COA).

How to Read the Certificate of Analysis (COA)

Once you have this document for the product you are considering, follow these steps:

1. Look at the date the batch was tested. I generally like to see six months or less.
2. Ensure the batch # on the COA matches the batch # on the product you purchased or are considering.
3. Review the following sections of the COA .

Cannabinoid Profile 
On the COA you will see a section that breaks down the total cannabinoids present in the package, usually titled Cannabinoid Profile.

Look for a column heading labeled Total mg/mL (in the example below, this is the far right column). In this section you will see the various cannabinoids such as CBD and this should closely align with the total mg of CBD in the bottle as stated on the package.

The label of the product this COA goes with states there is 750 mg CBD in a 30 mL bottle. The COA values for CBD tested at 27.7 mg/mL Multiply that number by the bottle size (30 mL) and the result is 831 mg CBD, which is actually more than the label states. When it comes to most cannabinoids, this is a bonus.

Look for values of other cannabinoids that are present. In this product, we see delta 9 THC at 1.01 mg/mL, CBG at 0.31 mg/mL and CBD at 1.19 mg/mL. These are all compounds I personally like to see present.

For hemp CBD products, the combined delta 9 and delta 8 THC values should be between 0.0% – 0.3% by weight (Wt%). This is the legal limit under which a product may be called Hemp. In the COA above,  the delta 9 THC is 0.11%, well beneath the 0.3% maximum limit, yet still measurable enough to better activate the CBD.

TIP: Actual THC will vary, but I always look for values of at least 0.5mg/mL and I always look for at least 0.3mg/mL of the other C- cannabinoids, the higher these numbers are, the better the formulation, in my humble opinion.

Buyer BeAware:
If the CBD value is far less than the package states, you aren’t getting the full value. For example, if the product states there is 300 mg CBD in a 30 mL bottle, the value on the COA should be at least 10 mg/mL (300 mg divided by 30 mL bottle). If the COA value states 2 mg/mL, then the product would only contain 60 mg CBD, far less than the product label suggests.

I also see many products that state 1,000 mg Hemp Oil on the package. Review of the COA often reveals far less than this amount. This is because the manufacturer is counting all compounds which usually also represent the total mg of hemp seed oil (usually the carrier oil). These practices are among my biggest pet peeves with the CBD industry.

If the only measurable results you see on the COA is CBD or if the values of the other compounds are less than 0.05 mg/mL, then the product is likely not truly a full spectrum or broad spectrum product in the traditional or intended meaning of the term.

Below is an example of a product that where the label states: Full Spectrum CBD 150 mg. The COA validates that the 150mg of hemp is actually CBD (147.4mg is pretty darn close), but as no other cannabinoids presented, all other values are zero, using term full spectrum on the label is misleading.

Terpenes Present
Next, look at the terpene section. Except for isolates, you should see at least two to three dominant terpene values. In this product, we see a tiny amount of a-pinene (0.07 mg/g) and measurable concentrations of b-myrcene (3.77 mg/g), z-b ocimene (3.34 mg/g), linalool (3.64 mg/g) and e-nerolidol 3.84 mg/g).

The terpenes listed with the label showing <LLOQ means these compounds were beneath the levels measurable by the machinery, therefore not present in the formulation.

Tip: Look for values of 1.0 or greater for best synergy with the cannabinoids.
If you see the letters NT in the results column, this means the compound was Not Tested.

Organic Matters

Hemp is a bio-accumulator, therefore selecting products that are produced using organic practices is very important. We are now beginning to see the USDA organic stamp on some hemp products. And while this is a good start, the only way to be certain that your product is truly organic is to review the COA for pesticide residuals.

I always look for ND which means None Detected when I review these tests. If your CBD product manufacturer will not provide the COA to validate this or if the COA does not show a test for pesticide residuals, I recommend going with one that will.

Other areas you should look for an ND result include: Microbiols, Mycotoxins and Heavy Metals. Truly ‘pure’ and top quality CBD products will be free from all these contaminants and other potentially hazardous substances.

Key Takeaways

  • Full Spectrum products will show measurable values on at least three or four cannabinoids and terpenes.
  • Broad Spectrum products will show values of THC at zero and measurable values on at least three or four cannabinoids and terpenes.
  • Isolate and most Water-soluble products will show CBD values only.

We hope this overview has been helpful. Be sure to tune in for Part 3 where we’ll explore the pros and cons of each product type and we’ll even provide basics of how to use each type for most effective results.


**Whether you purchase direct, online or from a dispensary, the COA should be available to you on request. If you are told is not available, my best suggestion is to find a product manufacturer/retailer that will provide this information as it is the only way to confirm 100% what is in the product you are purchasing.