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Potential Contaminants in CBD Oil: What You Need to Know

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of more than 100 active compounds found in the cannabis plant.

CBD oil manufacturers extract cannabidiol from hemp plants, a specific type of cannabis plant, and use the extract to create CBD oil. CBD extracts are typically mixed with a carrier oil such as hemp seed oil or coconut oil to create CBD oil that is used in multiple products. You can buy CBD oil as a tincture, concentrate, capsules, topical cream, spray, wax, edibles, and more!

What’s the experience like?

Users report a wide variety of health benefits such as relief from chronic pain, inflammation, anxiety, and other issues without the side effects that often come with FDA-approved medications.

Some report that cannabinoid products help control blood pressure. Much research still needs to occur to know all the benefits, but scientists continue to study hemp, CBD, and THC to learn more.

As you might imagine, CBD is the primary cannabinoid in CBD oil, but some CBD oils also contain THC. CBD and THC are the two well-known cannabinoids in the hemp plant.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the phytochemical commonly known for causing users to get high. Many CBD companies use industrial hemp plants with trace amounts of THC content, so users can benefit from CBD products without worrying about psychoactive effects.

Unfortunately, not all CBD oil products are created equal.

Even CBD products from reputable companies can have a certain amount of chemicals and potentially some contaminants. Below we provide a broad overview of information related to CBD oil contaminants, their dangers, and how you can avoid them.

Common CBD Oil Contaminants

CBD is only as safe and healthy as the soil where it grows and the materials to which it has been exposed.

The most common CBD oil contaminants are heavy metals. Heavy metals occur naturally in the soil, but they are also a result of environmental pollution from industry and agriculture.

Fertilizers, especially phosphate fertilizers, byproducts from sewage plants, and soil amendments are the main agricultural culprits that add more heavy metals into the environment. Mining operations, refineries, coal-burning power plants, plastic manufacturing, petroleum operations, nuclear power plants, and paper production also contribute heavy metals to the earth's crust. The heavy metals most commonly found in soil include:

  • nickel
  • zinc
  • manganese
  • copper
  • lead
  • chromium
  • arsenic
  • cadmium
  • mercury

Other CBD oil contaminants include mold, bacteria, pesticides, and leftover solvents from the extraction process.

Dangers of Contaminants in CBD Oil

Using contaminated CBD oil products isn’t a good idea. Potential contaminants like pesticides may lead to dangerous, long-term effects. Many of the heavy metals listed above have serious health consequences for those who ingest them because they are poisonous.

Even metals like zinc, which is used to treat a variety of health issues, can be toxic at high levels. Each heavy metal contaminant has its own specific dangers on a cellular level and a broad level. Some dangers include:

  • Failed cell respiration
  • Cancer
  • Brain damage
  • Organ damage
  • Muscle and nerve damage
  • Increased free radicals that cause cell damage

Additionally, long-term use of contaminated CBD oil or any other substance with toxic levels of heavy metals could promote physical, muscular, and neurological degenerative processes that imitate some of the worst conditions including Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and muscular dystrophy.

Testing CBD Oil for Contaminants

Know before you buy.

Responsible and reputable CBD oil manufacturers send their extracts out for testing at an independent laboratory that identifies the type and quantity of components and possible dangerous contaminants.

According to the Cannabis Safety Institute, a full-time chemist with a Ph.D. or a minimum of eight years of experience in analytical chromatography must conduct tests to meet testing standards.

Typically, cannabis testing labs perform the following five panels to ensure products are consistent and safe for public consumption.

  • Testing CBD potency involves the analysis of active cannabinoids to determine the amounts of CBD and THC, as well as others in full spectrum or broad spectrum products. THC content is especially important for states that have not yet legalized cannabis.
  • During the growth of cannabis or industrial hemp plants, pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals are used at different stages to control the size of the plant. A pesticide panel shows the amount of pesticides in the CBD product.
  • Labs test for different types of microorganisms such as mold and bacteria that can lead to health issues. Microbiology panels also reveal any diseases, microbes, foreign fibers, pests, or harmful additions to the final CBD product.
  • Residual Solvents. Extracting CBD from a hemp plant typically involves using solvents such as butane, propane, or ethanol. After extraction is complete, all traces of the solvent should be gone. A solvent panel will show any leftovers that still remain and could make a product dangerous for consumption.
  • Heavy Metals. These panels test for the exact concentration of the heavy metals listed above, especially dangerous ones like arsenic, mercury, and lead.

How to Avoid Contaminants When You Use CBD Oil

It's no secret that the CBD industry has been largely unregulated. Fortunately, as cannabinoid use becomes more mainstream, watchdog agencies and organizations are implementing standards to create some consistency, even though the FDA does not regulate CBD products.

The best way to get premium CBD oil and avoid contaminants is to ensure the manufacturer has sent out their CBD for testing and received results covering the panels listed above.

Cannabis testing labs provide producers with a Certificate of Analysis (CoA) that shows all the test results. Asking for the CoA is the first step to avoiding contaminants.

Yet, many laboratories haven't been inspected, nor are they standardized, making tests inconsistent. Avoiding contaminants in your CBD products also means you need to ensure testing was done at an accredited facility that meets quality standards set by the International Organization for Standardization, showing the lab has the capability to produce accurate data.


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