Spotlight on Hemp
The past several years have seen an explosion in public awareness of hemp and CBD (also known as cannabidiol). Much of this awareness and enthusiasm is merited; research continues to emerge highlighting CBD as a promising therapeutic compound for pain, inflammation, anxiety, and more. Meanwhile, hemp has emerged as a game-changing sustainable crop for food, fuel, paper, and building materials.
With this wave of awareness has also come a great deal of confusion. Inconsistent regulation in the CBD industry has resulted in misleading claims and unclear language between brands and products. One common question we receive at Frogsong Farm is: “Does this hemp oil I purchased have any CBD in it?” Unfortunately, many hemp products on the market have little or no CBD in them. Websites like Amazon are teeming with companies looking to capitalize on the excitement and confusion surrounding CBD, while peddling simple hemp seed oil to unsuspecting shoppers who think they’re getting a CBD product.
Don’t make the same mistakes others have. Here’s a quick primer to help you decipher between hemp seed oil, hemp oil, hemp extract, CBD oil, and CBD extract, and find the best products specific to your needs. Just a few minutes of reading could save you hundreds in costly shopping mistakes and help you find valuable CBD that really delivers.
Good To Know
Hemp is an amazing plant. For decades, the United States has been importing hemp fabric and garments, hemp seed oil for cosmetics, and shelled hemp seeds which are a popular health food. Hemp seeds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, Vitamin E, and antioxidants, making them a popular addition to cereals, smoothies, and protein supplements. Hemp seed oil has been studied for its benefits on heart health, brain health, and a variety of skin conditions thanks to its fatty acid profile. Medicinal compounds like CBD and THC, with many other cannabinoids and terpenes, are found in the plant’s flowers. There is no CBD in hemp seed oil, which is often deceptively marketed as “hemp oil”.
Before the popularity of CBD supplements exploded in 2018, CBD was almost strictly found in certain strains of high-THC cannabis (also known as marijuana). These CBD-rich strains of cannabis were recognized by medical marijuana users for their therapeutic effects on pain and anxiety. Soon, patients began searching for high-CBD strains that were less intoxicating. They wanted the pain relief and anxiety-relieving benefits without the high caused by THC. Some desperate families sought CBD products to treat pediatric epilepsy in their young children.
Plant breeders responded to this burgeoning demand for CBD products. In the last five years, high-CBD strains of cannabis have been intensively bred for reduced THC content, resulting in what we now recognize as “craft hemp” – that is, low-THC, non-intoxicating strains of cannabis that are still rich in therapeutic compounds like CBD. Legally speaking, if a cannabis plant has less than 0.3% THC, it is considered “industrial hemp”.
The CBD industry is new and inconsistently regulated. Hemp first became legal to grow in select states in 2014 under the 2014 Farm Bill. Later, the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp nationwide. Now, legal CBD extracts are derived from hemp and sold as tinctures, edibles, vapes, gummies, capsules, body rubs, and more. However, there is little direction at the federal level and different states each have differing levels and types of growing, extracting, and manufacturing regulations.
The biggest problem? There is currently no law governing how CBD products are labeled and sold. Adding to the confusion, some stores and websites like Amazon will allow CBD products, but they restrict the use of the term CBD. As a result, large companies began using the term “hemp extract” rather than “CBD” or “Cannabidiol” in order to easily sell their products online. Soon, hundreds of companies followed suit and flooded the market using terms like “hemp extract” “hemp oil” and “Cannabis sativa seed oil.” Some of these are true CBD supplements, while others are nothing more than hemp seed oil which makes a nice salad dressing.
True CBD supplements are measured in milligrams. Most offer serving sizes of 10-50 milligrams per dropper. Others are broken down into milligrams per drop (example: a dose of 10 milligrams in 10 drops.) These days, non-CBD containing hemp seed oil products are being advertised in milligrams and even sold in tincture bottles, which confuses customers and implies that there is CBD inside. One need only flip over the bottle and examine the list of ingredients to know what’s inside. The savvy consumer will ignore what the front label says. All that matters is the ingredients list.
Decoding Your Hemp Products
So. Does it have CBD in it?? If your label says:
Hemp Oil: Could come from seeds, whole plants, or flowers. Likely contains low levels of CBD, if any.
Hemp Seed Oil: Comes from seeds. Does not contain CBD.
Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil: Another name for hemp seed oil. Does not contain CBD.
Hemp Extract: Could come from seeds, whole plants, or flowers. Likely contains low levels of CBD, if any.
Full-Spectrum Hemp extract: Minimally processed extract of hemp plants or flowers. Contains all of the plant’s naturally occurring cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Possibly contains CBD, though it could be 5 milligrams or 500 mg. No way to know. (Any milligram numbers are meaningless unless you know the percentage of actual CBD in the extract). May contain small amounts of THC.
Broad-Spectrum CBD extract: Minimally processed extract of hemp plants or flowers. Has had THC removed, but still contains the rest of the plant’s naturally occurring cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. (THC is an essential component of the Entourage Effect, making Full-Spectrum preferable to Broad Spectrum.)
**Full-Spectrum CBD extract: Contains all of the plant’s naturally occurring cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Look for this minimally-processed, cannabinoid-rich form of CBD. (Should specifically state milligrams of CBD, not extract). Contains small amounts of THC.**
CBD Extract: Comes from flowers. Contains CBD. Likely broad-spectrum or full-spectrum and minimally processed. (Should specifically state milligrams of CBD, not milligrams of extract).
CBD Isolate: Pure CBD, but more processed and less bioavailable. Lacks the benefits of all essential plant compounds working together to maximize effects. (This is known as the Entourage Effect*, and is a benefit of full-spectrum hemp extracts.) CBD isolate is less effective for this reason.
Cannabidiol: Pure CBD, either from full-spectrum extract or CBD isolate. (Should specifically state milligrams of CBD, not extract).
CBD Concentrate: Another term for CBD extract. Contains CBD. (Should specifically state milligrams of CBD, not extract or concentrate).
*Entourage Effect: A scientifically recognized phenomenon in which full-spectrum cannabis products work more effectively within the body than an isolated compound like CBD on its own. The numerous cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other compounds have a synergistic effect on one another. This is why Full-Spectrum CBD Extract is preferable for those seeking consistent benefits from a CBD supplement.
Your product should clearly label how many milligrams of CBD or cannabidiol are in the bottle, and delineate whether the CBD is full-spectrum or isolate. The company should readily offer lab tests to prove these claims.
Don’t trust products that say “300 milligrams Full-Spectrum Hemp Extract”- they have unknown amounts of CBD, as the percentage of CBD in the extract is unknown. There is no way to know how much CBD is in “hemp extract” products if they are not clearly labeled. Unless the ingredients clearly say CBD, you’re probably getting ripped off and buying hemp seed oil or very low-CBD hemp extract from low-quality plants or flowers.
And definitely don’t expect CBD-type benefits from products marketed as “hemp oil” since they are just overhyped hemp seed oil.
Know Your Farmer
At Frogsong Farm we strive to resolve confusion and make it easy to effectively work CBD into your wellness or pain management routines. Our products are clearly labeled, front and back, with the milligrams of CBD found within each bottle. Our tincture droppers are marked so you know precisely how much CBD you’re getting every time. Our products are third-party lab tested by the reputable Pixis Labs, and we offer these results for viewing on our website.
From now on when perusing hemp products, remember the following: look for farm-direct, full-spectrum CBD, and products with clearly labeled milligrams of CBD or cannabidiol. Walk the other way from products touting “hemp oil” or “hemp extract.”
Unless, that is, you’re looking to make a heart-healthy salad dressing.
We are available by email or on Facebook and Instagram to answer any lingering questions you may have. Contact Frogsong Farm for more information, and shop for tested, trusted, full-spectrum CBD tinctures and topicals at FrogsongFarm.com.
Until Next time,
The Frogsong Farm Family
Rebecca Recker is Director of Communications for Frogsong Farm. With a background in organic farming and permaculture design, Rebecca has been writing about soil health and local food access for nine years. The author of several blogs, she has contributed to articles for Oregon Leaf and Green Living PDX magazines, as well as the following websites: Civilized, Splimm, Miss Grass, and Flowertown. She has been a featured guest on the Periodic Effects and Your Highness podcasts.