Tracing CBD Oil, From Seed to Shelf

Find out more about tracing your CBD from farm to shelf.

Understanding the origins of CBD will make you a smarter consumer. Image Credit: By Gilmanshin on shutterstock.

As more and more people are experimenting with CBD oil as a health supplement, many are wondering how they can be as careful when buying cannabidiol as they are about their food.

There are a multitude of smart, savvy reasons to trace the products you buy from their source to your shopping basket. For one, understanding the source will allow you to buy local and support businesses in your home state. Not only does this boost the local economy and owners in the community, but more often than not, it means the products are fresher and of a higher quality. That’s because, when products are sourced locally, they’re not being shipped from around the globe, nor must they contain artificial additives to preserve them while traveling. Most people consider this a major bonus — and they’re often willing to pay extra for it.

Unfortunately, cannabidiol (CBD) isn’t grown in every state in America. In fact, there are still some states where it isn’t legal, despite the passing of the Farm Bill last year. But if you’re interested in learning more about how CBD oil finds its way into products around the country, here’s what you need to know.

Seed to Shelf: The Life Cycle of CBD Oil

Knowing the origin of your CBD is important because the cannabis plant is a bioaccumulator, meaning it quickly absorbs both nutrients and toxic chemicals like heavy metals from the soil. Both marijuana and industrial hemp (from which most CBD is derived) share this characteristic, and while some growers use natural fertilizers and pest repellents, others — especially in China, where half of the world’s hemp is grown — treat their crops with heavy doses of pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

It’s also useful to know which part of the plant your CBD product (supposedly) comes from. Reputable producers extract their oil from the flowers, stalks, and leaves of the plants. Why don’t they use the seeds? Hemp seed oil is well known for its therapeutic benefits, after all. However, there’s no CBD in hemp seeds, which is why you should stay away from CBD beauty products that claim to be made with hemp seed oil.

Just as important as the origin is the extraction process. This varies considerably depending on what kind of oil is being made, and interestingly, less purification is actually better when it comes to CBD oil.

That’s because isolate or “pure” CBD oil has been stripped of all the hundreds of other therapeutic compounds in cannabis. Full spectrum extracts, on the other hand, contain the full range of cannabinoids, terpenes, and fatty acids found in the plant. These work together to create the “entourage effect,” in which these compounds enhance and support each other’s beneficial effects. Broad or partial spectrum CBD oils contain, as the name suggests, a selection of these compounds — with the exception of THC, which is what gives the entourage effect much of its power.

That’s why you should always seek products with full spectrum CBD oil. Usually if they contain a full spectrum extract, it’ll be prominently advertised on the packaging. However, you can’t always trust the label. While some states like Indiana have introduced new laws regarding the packaging of CBD oil to require that manufacturers give clear information about where their products come from, what they contain, and how they’ve been tested, at the moment the industry remains largely unregulated, making it difficult for potential consumers to make informed decisions when purchasing CBD oil and products containing it.

So, while we can sketch a general picture of the life cycle of CBD oil, following your particular product from “seed to shelf” isn’t easy. At the same time, having a general understanding of what matters — and what doesn’t — when it comes to choosing a quality product is rarely a bad thing.

Sarah Tyrrell
Sarah Tyrrell
Sarah Tyrrell is a health, wellness, and lifestyle writer based in Ireland whose work has appeared in The Irish Times and The Independent, among others. In 2017, she founded the lifestyle brand “Self Love and Sarah” to promote healthy self image and body positivity for women.

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