What does this label say? Reading CBD labels Part 1

September 12th, 2019 by Cara Oorbeck

Posted September 15th, 2019

By op-ed Blogger Quinton CharlesReading CBD Labels


Hemp, Hemp Oil, or CBD?

Many of you, especially those who have tried more than one of our CBD products, may have noticed something about product ingredients: they don’t all say the same thing! What is a phytocannabinoid? Why do some bottles say aerial plant parts? How much is a serving? Who played Tetris on my bottle? Why are these labels so different? AAAAAAAAAAHHH.

Don’t worry; I’m going to help sort all of this out.

What’s on the box?

Since CBD isn’t regulated by the FDA, there isn’t a lot of standardization in CBD product labels (though this doesn’t mean that people aren’t trying, I’ll get to that). You’ll see different names for CBD on different products, and different serving sizes for each product. Often, companies will link to a website using a QR code (I’ll explain what that is later) that conveniently gives you information on the test data for a specific product. Shall we dive in?

Is bigger really better?

A common misconception about individual serving size, bottle size, and strength often arises. It is usually the result of confusing the different values on the bottle: so lets start with the basics. The mL/the oz  is the total amount of fluid in the bottle, this has nothing to do with strength or CBD.  The milligrams equals the strength of the Cannabinoids or CBD in the product and here is where it gets tricky! The total milligrams versus the serving size milligrams. Some companies just display the serving size milligrams on their packaging. Charlotte’s Web Mint Chocolate Hemp Extract Oil is one of these. Their packaging label displays the total amount of fluid in the bottle  and the amount of cannabinoids per serving but it does not tell the total milligrams per bottle (see example below). Other companies display both the total milligrams per bottle and the total milligrams per serving. Lazarus is one of these products (see example below).

Lazarus naturals and Charlottes web

Charlottes Web Example

  • Fluid in the bottle or Bottle Size: 30 mL= one fluid oz
  • 43 milligrams cannabinoids per serving
  • Total milligrams per bottle = does not show but if you do some math it is 1500 mg


  • Fluid in the bottle or Bottle Size: 60 mL= two fluid oz
  • 50 milligrams cannabinoids per serving
  • Total milligrams per bottle = 3000mg

This can seem confusing because you have to search for how much you should take. There are also differences in how much CBD is in each serving; some products are more potent than others. I’m going to cover this in more detail in next week’s blog, but make sure to always check the serving size and the milligrams per serving size. Not just the total number on the bottle.

What’s in a name?

When shopping for CBD products, it is inevitable that you’ll come across some different names for the CBD contained within the product. Names such as “phytocannabinoid hemp oil, hemp oil extract, aerial plant parts, and CBD isolate,” are common, yet confusing. Let’s break these terms down.

“Aerial plant parts” is just a very technical way of saying “not the seeds and not the roots.” Why would this be important? Well, according to Charlotte’s Web, “you want hemp extract filled with CBD and other phytocannabinoids, not hemp seed extract.

CBD and other phytocannabinoids are found in the aerial parts of the plant, not the seeds. Oils made from hemp seeds carry their own beneficial properties which are great for skin, but they are not going to deliver the internal wellness benefits you may be looking for.”

This brings me to another word (and a long word at that): phytocannabinoid. Phytocannabinoids are the naturally occurring cannabinoids found in the cannabis and hemp plant and not to be confused with synthetic cannabinoids manufactured artificially. Phytocannabinoids are also not to be confused with endocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids produced in the bodies of animals and humans. Most companies are wanting to use this, rather than synthetic CBD, but there is a difference between the full-spectrum and isolate.

What is this difference? An isolate usually contains only one cannabinoid and that is most commonly CBD rather than several cannabinoids like THC, CBN, CBG CBD and more. While removing some possible allergens, this eliminates the possibility for the entourage effect. And what is the entourage effect? Well, when several phytocannabinoids(CBD,THC,CBN,CBG and more) interact with your body they have a synergistic effect or they work better together.  This this is what is known as the entourage effect! A full spectrum product has most or all of the cannabinoids from the plant in it. This makes the product less processed and closer to the original version of the plant. The other term that is becoming more prevalent is broad spectrum. This means they have not processed the plant as much as an isolate but they have taken the THC out of the product. This is another place where we see a lot of confusion. A full spectrum cannot have 0% THC. If a company removes the THC it then becomes a broad spectrum.

Finally, hemp oil extract is a blanket term, usually referring to extracts from the oils of aerial parts. Often, a label that says “hemp oil extract” will also say aerial parts next to it.

What about the label?

So what about label literacy? I’m going to break down a couple of product labels here so that I can help you to understand what is in the product.

  • Let’s start with the Endoca Raw Hemp Oil Drops. The front of the box displays how many mg of CBD per drop, which is handy, and it also has a little plus symbol next to the “15% CBD.” What is this? It is referring to the total percentage of cannabinoids in the total bottle.  Remember in a tincture they also put a carrier oil and the percentage can vary. The label states that it “contains only full Endoca oil drops 300mg cbdaspectrum organic certified hemp oil from hemp.” It goes on to specify that it contains 1500mg total of CBD and CBDa(CBDa is another phytocannabinoid, like CBD, that works with CBD in the body to produce the entourage effect). The label also lists some other vitamins and terpenes found within the plant matter of the hemp that are not CBD, such as Omega-3, Omega-6, and vitamin E. As it is full spectrum, and contains all the phtyocannabinoids found in the plant. This product is going to produce that entourage effect that we discussed.

What about another name?

  • Let’s look at the Medterra CBD Softgels (one of my personal favorites). Their label says “99% Pure Cannabidiol (CBD), Medium-Chain Triglyceride (MCT), Bovine Gelatin.” So what is all of this? Well, the CBD is an isolate, which means that it is not going to contain the CBDa or any Medterra CBD Tinctures 1000mgother phytocannabinoids, like the Endoca we just discussed; but what is MCT? It is a very fancy word for a fatty acid commonly found in plants, primarily coconut oils. Its significance in this product is that if one is allergic to MCT, one is going to have a reaction to it in this supplement. If you know that you’re allergic to hemp or MCT in plants, make sure to watch for this compound in your products. Oh, and the Bovine Gelatin? It means that this product is NOT vegan.

Into the future!

Sometimes being able to tell the different products apart can seem almost impossible.  Often all the information you need is not listed on the bottle. One of the best things about the internet is that it enables wide and easy access to more information than you could ever want or contemplate. Of course, this is a double-edged sword. Where does one begin to look for information regarding the quality of the hemp that their product came from? Luckily, many companies have links in the form of QR codes on their product packaging that leads directly to the test data for a specific batch. What’s a QR code? It is that little black and white square that looks like someone played a losing game of Tetris. And it’s there for you to use. Guess what that means; all of the info that could help you to better understand a product and its safety is accessible with nothing more than a smartphone! Just download a QR code reader, open the app, scan the QR code (the black and white tessellated square), and wait for it to take you to the test data! One of our products that has the QR code prominently displayed is Plus CBD. You’ve got to love living in the modern age.  If all this seems to be too much,we are continually checking our products lab results to ensure our customers have the best possible products.  We also eat,drink and sleep CBD so if you have a question about a product we are happy to help!  You can call, email, facebook message, instagram or you tube message us.

A note on Medterra:

As I noted before, there is no real standardization in labels, which requires vigilance on the part of the consumer. But this may change in the future. How? Medterra, a prominent CBD company, is pushing for the adoption of the U.S. Hemp Authority by other merchants as a way to standardize labels across the industry. They proudly display the certification stamp on the front of their packaging. You can check out which companies are certified on U.S. Hemp Authority’s website.

What should you start looking for?

If it is your first time purchasing CBD products, you should be aware that not all products are the same. CBD gummies, in particular those manufactured by Koi, do contain CBD, but they also contain corn syrup, sugar, and other ingredients that may affect you and your health (though they taste delicious). I often recommend that, if someone is new to CBD products, they start with a tincture or capsule. This allows for a lot of those additional ingredients to be cut out, allowing you to determine what you need both serving-wise and product-wise (I’ll cover this more next week). One of the reasons that I don’t always advise starting with other products is that it is hard to determine which ingredient is having what effects. Starting with a tincture or a capsule has limited ingredients and allows for some of those questions to be answered.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog: Serving Size!

Hopefully this information was helpful. Nowadays, with so many additives in our food and drink, we have to take care to question what we are consuming; the CBD industry is no exception. Any step towards better understanding what is in our products is a step in the right direction. As always, we are more than happy to answer any questions that you may have; feel free to email us, call us, or hit us up on social media!

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