CBDA oil tincture in a dropper held above a bottle.

Exploring the Benefits of CBDA in Hemp Products

Exploring the Benefits of CBDA in Hemp Products

Leaf411 member Myriam’s Hemp shares insights on CBDA and the importance of hemp consumer education

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN, and Eloise Theisen, NP
Written by Denise Gonzalez-Walker

We recently talked with Myriam’s Hemp Co-Founder and CEO Diana Peña about the company’s wide range of hemp products. The brand offers hemp topicals as well as tinctures featuring CBD, CBG, CBN and CBDA, as well as an Enhanced CBD Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO) packed with hemp plant compounds. Myriam’s Hemp also creates custom blends for customers with unique terpene profiles. 

Diana Peña, Co-Founder and CEO of Myriam’s Hemp

Diana Peña, Co-Founder and CEO of Myriam’s Hemp

When we asked Diana which of the cannabinoids she felt was most underrated, she was quick to respond.

“People are paying more attention to the different cannabinoids found in hemp and how they deliver different results. However, the product that we’ve always carried at Myriam’s Hemp and that I still think to this day that doesn’t get enough attention is CBDA,” said Myriam.

We’re guessing that many of you have never heard of CBDA (it’s different than CBD!) and thought it would make a great topic for today’s blog post after talking with Diana. We’ll also share tips for finding hemp products that truly deliver the CBDA and other cannabinoids they claim to contain.

Hemp is more than just CBD: Understanding hemp’s beneficial compounds

Usually when people discuss hemp, they’re talking about CBD (cannabidiol), but in fact, the hemp plant contains hundreds of plant compounds including other minor cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and essential fatty acids (a good fat!).

Understanding different cannabinoids can make all the difference when it comes to finding the best hemp product for your needs, whether you’re seeking relief or boosting overall wellness. In fact, you might have even tried a few of the minor cannabinoids—for example, CBN (cannabinol) or CBG (cannabigerol), though chances are that you’ve not heard as much about CBDA.

Two people looking at product test results showing beneficial hemp compounds.

CBDA: The precursor to the more well-known CBD

CBD itself is no slouch, with many people finding that CBD is a powerful tool when it comes to health concerns.

But did you know that CBD doesn’t start out as CBD in hemp/cannabis plants? In fact, the compound starts out as CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) which is found in fresh raw hemp and cannabis.

When CBDA is exposed to heat over 110 degrees Celsius (230 degrees Fahrenheit), it converts to CBD. The scientific term for this process is “decarboxylation.” Typically, decarboxylation occurs either during the extraction process or when someone smokes, vapes or cooks with the hemp flower, heating it up to over 110 degrees Celsius.

However, some hemp extraction techniques don’t involve heat. When these extraction techniques are used, CBDA may remain in the hemp product.

Whiteboard drawing of CBDA’s molecular structure

Is CBDA better than CBD?

CBDA works differently in your body than CBD. How? CBDA has a different mechanism of action. Instead of binding directly to CB1 or CB2 receptors found in the body’s endocannabinoid system, CBDA acts on COX-2 receptors which play a role in inflammation as well as 5-HT receptors which produce serotonin.

CBDA’s different mechanisms of action means that it provides different and wide ranging results which are currently being researched to better understand its potential. CBDA may also be far more potent than CBD when it comes to managing nausea and vomiting based on research that Dr. Ethan Russo shared in a review published last year.

While most research shows that THC is best for nausea, someone could start with CBDA if they are adverse to THC, or if they live in an area where cannabis is not legal. Our Leaf411 nurses suggest CBDA is best for anticipatory nausea. 

CBDA may help in other ways as well. At Myriam’s Hemp, Diana hears from customers who say that CBDA works well to help with multiple concerns.

“Some people have various ailments—they’re not just dealing with anxiety, but have anxiety, inflammation, pain and mood swings all happening at the same time. Those are the customers we hear from who tell us that CBDA has been especially helpful for them.”

CBDA is thought to be more water-soluble than CBD and in turn is more bioavailable, meaning that CBDA can be more effective at lower doses compared to CBD. This might address how it may be “better” or more effective than CBD. The lower doses can help people avoid side effects that may come with higher doses of CBD and it can be more cost effective.

At Leaf411 we suggest there may be a potential to use CBDA as a first line treatment option due to the lower doses needed for possible symptom relief. There is less research on CBDA metabolism so we always suggest  approaching it with caution. If THC is a barrier to a new cannabis user, CBDA could be an option as well due to easier access and again lower doses which could mean less side effects and drug-to-drug interactions.

Three arrows on the ground pointing in different directions, indicating choices about which hemp product is best.

How to make sure you’re getting high quality CBDA

Hemp products containing beneficial amounts of CBDA can be challenging to find. Obviously, when you shop for a CBDA product, you’ll want to make sure that it contains the cannabinoids being advertised.

How do you do that?

Look for companies that regularly test their hemp products via an independent third party laboratory. Test results will be provided as a product Certificate of Analysis (COA) showing the different percentages and amounts (usually milligrams per gram or “mg/g”) of cannabinoids in the tincture, edible, topical or other product. For example, the first page of Myriam’s Hemp COA for their CBDA tincture batch #2138 is shown below listing cannabinoids found in their tincture.

Five stars lined up on a tabletop, indicating high quality.
Screenshot of the top portion of Myriam’s Hemp CBDA Certificate of Analysis. The COA also shows results for terpenes and potential contaminants, and is available on the product page.

Screenshot of the top portion of Myriam’s Hemp CBDA Certificate of Analysis. The COA also shows results for terpenes and potential contaminants, and is available on the product page.

Some manufacturers like Myriam’s Hemp go beyond the basic tests to also include lab results for potential contaminants like solvents, heavy metals and molds. This voluntary extra level of testing helps ensure product purity for consumers.

When it comes to Myriam’s Hemp full spectrum CBD tincture, the brand even includes lab results showing the amount of beneficial terpenes in the oil.

Beyond independently lab-testing every lot, Myriam’s Hemp has built a long-term relationship with an Oregon organic hemp grower to ensure consistency and reliability in the plants that are grown for the brand. This attention to detail really sets Myriam’s Hemp apart from other hemp brands that may get their raw materials from the cheapest source, with little regard for product consistency.

Exploring Myriam’s Hemp’s full range of products, including the new Sunshine Orange flavor

 In addition to CBDA, Myriam’s Hemp also offers tinctures featuring CBG, CBN or CBD and Enhanced CBD Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO), along with CBD balms and pet CBD. 

Tinctures are available in unflavored olive oil, natural vanilla flavor or the new natural Sunrise Orange flavor. When ordering a tincture, you also have an option to add a terpene boost designed to promote specific effects, including calm, focus, energy or immunity.

The company can also formulate custom blends with unique cannabinoid and terpene profiles personalized to individual needs. For more information about how to customize your product, click on this link.

Freshly picked oranges in a fruit crate, mirroring Myriam’s Hemp’s newest Sunshine Orange flavor.

A personal connection to the healing power of hemp and cannabis

Talking about CBDA, COAs and product quality can leave you feeling a bit overwhelmed. At Leaf411, we understand! All of our Leaf411 staff have been there before, not sure where to start with investigating the therapeutic potential of hemp.  

In fact, Diana shares a similar story as our own co-founder, Katherine Golden, RN, when it comes to a family member’s health concern that brought Diana to the hemp space. 

In 2013, Diana’s mother Myriam was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor which launched the family on an exhaustive search for alternatives to manage Myriam’s pain and improve her quality of life while facing a terminal condition. The family’s journey ultimately led to the creation of Myriam’s Hemp with a focus on providing consistent product quality and transparency to other patients and consumers who were also seeking plant-based alternatives. 

From their own experience seeking out plant-based alternatives for an ill family member, the Myriam’s Hemp team knows that education is incredibly important when it comes to targeting specific cannabinoids to health goals.

Two hands holding a paper doll family, reflecting caring and connection.
Example of CBD journaling taken from Myriam Hemp’s Facebook page.

Example of CBD journaling taken from Myriam Hemp’s Facebook page.

How much CBDA, CBG, CBN, or CBD should you take?

While Diana is comfortable talking about the unique features of each of their hemp products, when it comes to dosing, she is thankful to have Leaf411 as a resource to share with consumers. 

“We provide a lot of education on our website and provide general information about starting low and going slow with hemp products,” said Diana. “However when it comes to individual questions about dosing, we refer consumers to the Leaf411 nurses who have the education and research to lead the consumer in the right direction.”

Some consumers reach out to Myriam’s Hemp wanting a thorough medical consultation, but Diana notes the cost may be prohibitive to many people.

“We have some really great doctors we can send people to, but to be honest with you, some of them are very expensive, up to between $600 and hour and $750 an hour. A lot of people can’t afford that,” Diana says. “Leaf411 helps fill the gap by providing free clinical guidance to patients who might otherwise be left to try and figure out everything on their own.”

Myriam’s Hemp supports Leaf411 as a business member to ensure the public has access to clinically-sound guidance at no cost, as one of many ways the company supports consumers. 

In fact, Diana points to the brand’s customer support as another element that really makes Myriam’s Hemp stand apart from the competition. 

“We get feedback from customers saying that other companies do not provide the same level of help and information that we provide,” Diana says. “I’m always happy to hear that type of feedback, because we have worked hard to make sure our own staff is really knowledgeable and able to help.”

Myriam’s Hemp also offers a Compassion Program for veterans, seniors, and people who may struggle with the cost of plant medicine, based on the belief that “good health should never be out of reach.”

Let our expert Leaf411 nurses help with your hemp questions

Our Leaf411 hotline nurses are knowledgeable about the wide range of hemp products available today, and are ready to answer your questions about the best options for your health and wellness needs, whether that’s CBD, CBDA, CBG, CBN or other cannabinoids. Our nurses also help with dosing, identifying potential medicine interactions and troubleshooting when a hemp product isn’t providing the anticipated effects. Best of all, our service is FREE to callers, built on the belief that cannabis education should be accessible to all. Call 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) or chat us from our home page during hotline hours, Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. MDT.

Also, if you share our belief that knowledge is power when it comes to plant-based medicine and want to support our mission, we encourage you to visit our fundraising campaign at: https://www.classy.org/campaign/leaf411/c350217  

The Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline provides free, anonymous education and directional support to the general public about the safe use of legal cannabis. We partner with select business members who meet our rigorous standards to extend our education and outreach efforts.

Smartphone with “Q & A'' displayed on screen. Leaf411 hotline RNs are ready to answer all your hemp and cannabis questions.

Workplace drug testing urinalysis cup on edge of toilet, testing for THC.

CBD and Workplace Drug Testing

Can hemp CBD make you fail a drug test? It depends.

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN, and Eloise Theisen, NP
Written by Denise Gonzalez-Walker

Our Leaf nurses recently heard from several upset callers who unknowingly tested positive for THC on workplace drug tests, despite limiting their use to hemp CBD products. How did this happen? What can you do to reduce your risk of failing a drug test as a result of legal CBD use?

Full-spectrum hemp CBD tincture bottle and liquid dropper with hemp leaves behind it

Natural hemp contains trace amounts of THC

Hemp is actually a form of cannabis that has been cultivated for specific characteristics, including high levels of cannabidiol (CBD) as well as very low levels of Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Federal law requires legal hemp plants to test at under 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. This hemp plant matter is then used to make the CBD tinctures, gummies, creams and other products that many of us rely upon for wellness and relief.

Graphic explaining different types of hemp CBD products: Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate.

How much THC are you really getting in your hemp CBD?

The product you are taking may meet the legal limit for a hemp CBD product because it registers at 0.3% dry weight of THC. But after processing and packaging, the amount of THC per milliliter may exceed that amount. 

Our Leaf nurses have seen many products on the hemp CBD market that are over 1-2 milligrams of THC per milliliter (1 milliliter is typically one dropper full). 

Unfortunately many consumers may start off consuming 1-2 droppers full of full-spectrum hemp instead of a lower dose due to limited education when they purchased the product. As a result, they may unknowingly test positive on a drug screen because they are actually consuming 1-2 milligrams of THC on a regular basis.

Wouldn’t a consumer feel it if they were ingesting a couple of milligrams of THC? Sometimes yes and that’s why we have callers complaining that a CBD hemp product made them “high.” Not everyone will feel this type of effect, though, due to the low dose and fact that CBD impacts how THC is absorbed when both are taken together.

How to read a hemp CBD Certificate of Analysis (COA)

You may be wondering about the hemp products in your own cabinet, wondering where you can find information on the amount of THC in your full-spectrum CBD. The best place to look is the product’s Certificate of Analysis (COA) showing lab results from third-party testing.  

  • The amount of THC (milligrams per gram or “mg/g”) number is typically the last row on the right hand side (see example below). 
  • This number, mg/g, is approximately the same as milligrams per milliliter–in other words, the amount of THC that you will get per each milliliter (mL) dropperful. (Visit this article to learn more about volume conversion between different cannabis products.)
  • Looking at the example COA below, you would expect to get about 0.4 mg of THC in each dropperful of the hemp tincture that was tested.

Young man leaning toward his open laptop, reading a hemp test results on his computer.
Screenshot from a third-party testing lab Certificate of Analysis (COA) for Elixinol’s Everyday Daily Balance Full-Spectrum CBD Tincture, showing CBD content as well as trace amounts of Delta-9 THC and other minor cannabinoids.

Screenshot from a third-party testing lab Certificate of Analysis (COA) for Elixinol’s Everyday Daily Balance Full-Spectrum CBD Tincture, showing CBD content as well as trace amounts of Delta-9 THC and other minor cannabinoids. 

Understanding how much THC is really in your hemp is one part of the puzzle when it comes to potential drug testing. Another clue can be found in how those small amounts of THC are stored in your body, building up over time, when assessing whether your hemp use puts you at risk of failing a workplace drug test. 

Leaf411 understands how complicated understanding medical formulations can be and that’s where our hotline nurses can help! If you have your COA in hand, our nurses will do the math for you and figure out the amount of THC you are taking with each dose. Call 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) or chat us from our home page during hotline hours, Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. MDT for help in understanding COAs and hemp CBD dosing, at no cost to you.

Person adding full-spectrum hemp CBD tincture to their tea in the morning.

Understanding how THC is stored in the body

Many people prefer full-spectrum hemp CBD, finding it provides better quality symptom management for them than broad-spectrum or CBD isolate products. 

With full-spectrum CBD, different plant compounds including minor cannabinoids and small amounts of Delta-9 THC are believed to work together to create an entourage effect. In other words, all the plant compounds working together have a stronger effect than any one compound would have by itself.

THC levels in full-spectrum hemp CBD products are low. However, they can pose potential risks when it comes to workplace drug testing.

Why is that?

When you ingest full-spectrum hemp either orally or through inhalation (smoking or vaping), the trace amounts of Delta-9 THC breaks down into non-active metabolites (THC-COOH) that stay in your system for days or even weeks. While these non-active metabolites don’t make you “high,” they are the markers of cannabis use that urine drug tests look for as evidence of previous cannabis use.

These THC-COOH metabolites accumulate or build up in your system over time, stored in fat cells until they are more slowly excreted, showing up in urine and saliva.

As we just mentioned, this buildup of THC-COOH does not cause intoxication or any other side effects, and is not a problem for most people–unless they are subject to drug testing.

In fact, the American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA) has come out against urine-based workplace drug testing due to the fact these tests are unreliable and do not accurately measure on-the-job impairment, with positive test results negatively impacting nurses and other workers who use hemp CBD and cannabis responsibly and legally while off the clock. Click on this link to download the full ACNA resolution regarding workplace drug testing of nurses for cannabis.

Do small amounts of THC from full-spectrum hemp build up to a detectable level?

Unfortunately, research is sparse on how small amounts of THC-COOH metabolites accumulate in full-spectrum hemp CBD users.

In regular cannabis users consuming higher-THC products, we know that these THC-COOH metabolites can stick around for up to a month following discontinuation of daily marijuana use, based on research.

We can also assume that even though the amount of THC in full-spectrum hemp is very small, it will accumulate in daily hemp users the same way that larger amounts accumulate in marijuana users, stored in fat cells with levels of THC-COOH increasing over time.

This is one plausible explanation for recent calls our hotline has received from daily hemp users who failed workplace drug tests based on the levels of the THC-COOH metabolite in their urine, even though they were using an average daily dose of full-spectrum CBD. We’ll discuss what amounts of THC-COOH the drug tests look for further down in this blog post.

Also, it is important to note that workplace drug tests look for evidence of Delta-9 THC, not other cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, or even hemp-derived Delta-8 THC which is created through a chemical process. (Learn more about Delta-8 here https://leaf411.org/answering-your-delta-8-questions/.)

Row of dominoes falling, triggering a red domino which represents a positive THC drug test limit.
Two people sit looking at graphs that indicate good CBD product quality.

Hemp CBD product quality matters

When investigating why hemp users may fail workplace drug tests, another potential issue comes up as well—product quality.

The hemp CBD product market is largely unregulated for now, putting the onus on the consumer to research product quality and trustworthiness.

The most powerful tool available to a consumer is the product Certificate of Analysis (COA) from a third-party laboratory (i.e. the product is not tested by the company itself); however, lab testing and COAs are completely voluntary for hemp manufacturers, and hemp lab testing technology lacks precision when it comes to very small amounts of cannabinoids when compared to drug testing technology. (To learn more about COAs, what they show and how to read them, we suggest checking out the article and video at this link.)

You can usually find product COAs on the manufacturer’s website, checking them out before you purchase a product.

We took a quick look at some of our Leaf411 hemp CBD members’ sites, and found that links to the COAs may be found either on the top menu or on the bottom of the main website, as well as on product pages themselves. You can also directly contact a manufacturer to request the COA for a particular product. If they don’t offer COAs, it might be best to keep looking for a different brand that does.

Product COAs provide a good start. If you’re buying from an established high-quality brand, you can be more confident that the COA can be trusted. Unfortunately some shady brands have been known to make fake COAs for their products. 

Keep in mind, though, that a lack of standards across different third-party labs as well as the natural variability in plant-based products can result in cannabinoid levels that fluctuate between product lots or even individual product items, meaning that even honest companies face challenges in accurately reflecting the amount of THC in their products.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently tested 147 hemp CBD products on the market, with some surprising findings:

  • Over half (108) of the products did not contain the amount of CBD listed on the label. Of those, 18% contained significantly less CBD than advertised, and 37% contained significantly more CBD than advertised.
  • Nearly half the products contained THC levels above the limit of quantitation (LOQ), which is 3.1 mg per serving.

(Read the FDA summary in pdf format here.)

In other words, even reputable companies face challenges in accurately reporting precise test results, and less savory CBD companies often take advantage of the lack of standardized testing to sell products that don’t come near their product label claims.

Looking for hemp COAs? Check the manufacturer’s home page header, footer and individual product pages” with screenshotted examples from Leaf411 member pages.
50 kph speed limit sign, alluding to the 50ng/ml THC limit used by many workplace drug tests.

What are your workplace drug testing policies?

We’ve talked a lot about the CBD and THC cannabinoids in full-spectrum hemp, and how THC-COOH metabolites are stored in the body. Now, let’s turn to the urinalysis drug testing process, a topic we’ve written about before, but geared more toward marijuana users.

Most workplace drug tests, as well as the federal Department of Transportation (DOT), use a 50ng/ml limit for presence of THC-COOH metabolites. Hit that number or any higher, and you will fail the test.

In fact, drug testing laboratories are even able to test urine for lower levels of THC-COOH metabolites, at either a “sensitive” level of 20ng/ml, or an “extra-sensitive” level of 15ng/ml.

Is it possible for regular, responsible full-spectrum hemp use to put someone over the 50ng/ml limit? Based on recent calls to our hotline, we believe so.

Leaf411’s guidance for hemp CBD users who are subject to drug testing

  • Be proactive. Take a look at your daily hemp CBD regimen, including all tinctures, gummies, beverages and other products you use to get an approximate idea of how much THC you might be ingesting or inhaling on a daily basis. As we mentioned before, though THC amounts are small, they can build up over time.
  • When looking at the hemp CBD products you use (including those that claim to be THC-free), check if the manufacturers provide their COA lab results online on their website. COAs provide an extra level of assurance that the company is committed to transparency and high quality standards, though it’s not an absolute guarantee due to variations in lab testing techniques.
  • Find out your workplace’s drug testing policies, as well as what sensitivity they test at. If you have a pending test scheduled at a lab, you can contact the lab directly to confirm what level they will be using. As we mentioned before, 50 ng/mL is the most common level employers use.
  • Consider doing your own home drug testing with plenty of time before you face any potential workplace drug tests. We suggest utest which offers marijuana drug tests at different sensitivity levels, including 15 ng/mL, 20 ng/mL, and the standard 50 ng/mL, so that you can prepare based on what you know about your workplace’s testing policies.
  • If you find that your current hemp CBD use triggers a positive THC drug test result, you may want to consider either taking a break from hemp CBD altogether, or switching to broad-spectrum or isolate products which should be THC-free. Of course, you’d want to repeat your home test in a few weeks to ensure your levels of the THC-COOH metabolite have gone down. 
  • For nurses and other healthcare workers: Consider sharing the ACNA position statement on workplace drug testing with your organization (click this link to download). Alternatives exist to more accurately test on-the-job impairment.

Keep in mind that our Leaf411 hotline nurses can help guide you in this process, at no cost to you. Call 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) or chat us from our home page during hotline hours, Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. MDT.

The Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline provides free, anonymous education and directional support to the general public about the safe use of legal cannabis. We partner with select business members who meet our rigorous standards to extend our education and outreach efforts.

A Leaf411 cannabis nurse sits at her work computer with a phone headset on, answering CBD questions.

CBD Hemp 101: Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, Distillate and Isolate

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Gonzalez-Walker

Are you confused by all the different types of CBD? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there before!

All cannabinol (CBD) starts off as a compound in either hemp or cannabis plants. The plants undergo various processes to extract CBD, resulting in a range of CBD products. We break down the main types of CBD below, along with the pros and cons of each type.

Full Spectrum CBD: Wide-Ranging Hemp Benefits

Full spectrum CBD oil contains most of the of the hemp plant compounds, including terpenes, flavonoids, essential fatty acids, CBD, cannabigerol (CBG), and trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), staying below the 0.3% federal limit for CBD hemp products. The plant compounds work together to create a synergistic entourage effect that can boost the benefits of the CBD hemp plant. Full spectrum CBD oil is often a green color, reflecting the presence of those compounds. The color and flavor can even change between product batches due to variations in the plants.

  • Pro: Full spectrum CBD provides all the power of the hemp plant, available in a variety of product types from topicals, tinctures and edibles to vape concentrates, as well as crumble that can be dabbed (smoked with a special rig). It’s less processed than other CBD concentrate types, as well.
  • Con: Full spectrum CBD contains trace amounts of THC (under 0.3%). While it’s not enough THC to be intoxicating, the verdict is out on whether it’s enough to trigger a positive drug test result. Also, because full spectrum CBD retains the original plant compounds, it has a natural flavor that some people may find off-putting. Many manufacturers add fruit or mint flavoring to their full spectrum products to balance out the flavor.

Broad Spectrum CBD: A THC-Free Option Loaded with Hemp Power

Broad spectrum CBD is similar to full spectrum CBD, except that the product goes through additional refinement to remove all THC. It’s important to note that the terms “full spectrum” and “broad spectrum” sometimes get confused, even by product manufacturers and marketers. Furthermore, past research has shown that product labeling can sometimes be inaccurate. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s test results on the product Certificate of Analysis (COA) to confirm this!

  • Pro: Broad spectrum CBD maintains most of the plant benefits while eliminating THC, and can be used in the same ways that full spectrum is used. This may be an appealing option for people who want or need to avoid THC due to workplace drug testing; however, given the confusion around labeling, a safer option would be CBD isolate, which we discuss below.
  • Con: Removing trace amounts of THC requires additional refinement which also pulls with it additional minor cannabinoids and lessens the CBD content in the process, moving CBD further away from its full plant form. Also, given the concerns around inaccurate labeling and testing, broad spectrum CBD is not the ideal choice for athletes and professionals who are subject to drug testing.

Distillate CBD: A Powerful Hemp Concentrate

Distillate CBD is a concentrate containing between 80% – 90% CBD. In order to make distillate CBD, additional steps take place to filter out impurities and remove most of the non-cannabinoid compounds, including terpenes, flavonoids and essential fatty acids. This process results in a product with a honey-like consistency that is odorless and tasteless.

  • Pro: Distillate CBD retains the plant cannabinoids, including minor cannabinoids and THC (less than 0.3%). Distillate is often used in vape products, edibles and topical products given its high concentration, purity and lack of odor or taste. This results in a more consistent product.
  • Con: Distillate CBD undergoes additional post-processing extraction. Also, it provides a narrower range of plant-based benefits when compared to full spectrum products.

Isolate CBD: Pure Cannabidiol

Isolate CBD is the purest form of CBD available, consisting of approximately 99% CBD in white powder form. Unlike distillate, CBD isolate doesn’t contain any other cannabinoids or plant compounds. This makes it a favorite among people, such as professional athletes, who cannot risk ingesting even trace amounts of THC. Products made with isolate CBD are often labeled as “No THC,” though you’d want to check the Certificate of Analysis (COA) test results to ensure this is true.

Our Leaf411 nurses recommend using isolate CBD consumer products that are designed to provide consistent, pre-dosed administration, and which are manufactured by reputable companies, such as our member partners.   While isolate CBD is also sold as bulk powder, we have concerns about product quality and dosing.

  • Pro: Isolate CBD does not contain any THC, making it the safest bet for people who cannot risk positive drug tests. Manufacturers use isolate CBD that they mix into their drink products, foods (edibles), topical products or tinctures, while isolate CBD wax can be dabbed but should be used with caution. 
  • Con: The drawbacks are similar to those we discussed with distillate CBD. Isolate CBD’s purity means that many other beneficial plant compounds have been stripped out.

How to Choose the Best Type of CBD

We wish there was an easy cheat sheet or quiz for finding the best type of CBD. Beyond a few basic considerations, though, it can be a process of trial and error.

We encourage you to continue your journey into finding reliable, accurate CBD information from reputable sources. One of our favorite sources is ProjectCBD.  You can find more CBD 101 information that we stand behind at this link

Our Leaf411 cannabis-trained nurses are happy to provide guidance on the different types of CBD and how they might help address your specific needs. Call our free, anonymous hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) for medically-sound answers to your cannabis and hemp questions.