November 8, 2021

Did you know that 69% of CBD products have inaccurate labeling? Walk into your local health + wellness store and it can be difficult to understand which products to purchase. It’s so complex to navigate quality, dosage, labeling, and safety. How do you know if a product is “good”…and what does that even mean?

The confusing world of labeling kept me from utilizing CBD products in my practice, and for myself, for years. It was so hard to gather proper data on product testing, research, and dosage that I just let it go by the wayside. I felt like if I couldn’t 100% trust a product or brand for myself, and if they didn’t have absolute transparency, then I couldn’t recommend it.

Feel similar? Read on, I’ve done the legwork for you! Here are the issues with CBD labeling and how to know if your product is high quality and effective.

FDA Regulations (or lack thereof)

Currently there is no FDA approval for cannabinoid product use for therapeutic benefit. What does this mean? The CBD industry is self regulated, and a bit of the “wild wild west.” The information on CBD products and labels can vary dramatically, and there is a huge lack of consistency across the board.

Variability in Product Type

There are many different types of CBD products, and it can be hard to know which to choose. Products you’ll see on the shelf include:

  • Full spectrum hemp extract (<0.3% THC)
  • Broad spectrum hemp extract
  • CBD isolate (isolated from hemp extract)
  • Phytocannabinoid rich hemp (PCR)
  • Hemp seed oil (contains no cannabinoids)

CBD content vs. hemp oil content

In a good quality product, it should clearly distinguish on the label how many milligrams of CBD you are getting. Many CBD products on the market solely distinguish the amount of ‘hemp oil’ available in each serving, which tells you nothing about the cannabinoid content! Some products have ZERO cannabinoids in them and are labeled as CBD…but when you look at the ingredients, it’s just pure hemp seed oil. This blew my mind when I started looking at the different products out there!

What’s with the numbers?

There are a few different numbers you may or may not see on any CBD products label. There will be the total amount of product in the container (ie: 3 fl oz), the amount of total CBD in the entire container (ie: 750ml), and the amount of CBD per serving (ie: 30mg). All of these numbers should be accounted for on any CBD label.


While it’s common to see sugars and/or sweeteners used in CBD products to improve flavor, pay attention to this. If there are a bunch of chemical sounding ingredients, or artificial sweeteners, stay clear!     

Quality standards

You should be able to easily access information regarding your product. Look for a certificate of analysis from a 3rd party testing company to ensure the product is free from heavy metals, pesticides, and microbials. Very few CBD companies actually perform this critical step, as hemp can commonly be full of chemicals and microbials. Some products will have a QR code you can scan, a batch number, manufacturing date, or source of product.

I hope this helps you more easily navigate the world of CBD products! The other critical step is to be very cautious of the quality of the product, from seed to shelf. Stay tuned for a future blog post all about assessing quality!

For Reference:

Bonn-Miller, M. O., Loflin, M. J. E., Thomas, B. F., Marcu, J. P., Hyke, T., & Vandrey, R. (2017). Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA318(17), 1708.

About the Author Dr. Abby Kramer

Dr. Abby’s mission is to empower others to feel and function as their most vibrant selves. Through her personal history of medical struggles, she realized that her symptoms were her bodies’ way of communicating deep physical, mental, and emotional imbalances. Dr. Abby has been inspired to bring that same type of healing transformation to her patients – becoming one of the foremost voices for progressive, holistic medicine in the Greater Chicago area. Dr. Abby can also be found talking with other thoughtful healthcare leaders on her podcast, “Coffee with the Docs”, or spearheading Medical Education and business development for Fringe Inc, a company committed to helping others regain their health through the power of natural medicines.

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}