Quality of Product Matters
ECS Distribution carries all hemp extract manufacturers with the Realm of Caring's "Quality Seal."
The Realm of Caring Foundation has partnerships with Harvard Medical, Johns-Hopkins University, and the University of Pennsylvania to study the efficacy of cannabinoids on various diseases and conditions. Part of the Realm of Caring's mission is to provide public guidance regarding the importance of selecting high-quality and trustworthy sources of hemp extracts. The non-profit supports tens of thousands of people with severe conditions.
For our distribution purposes, the Realm of Caring Foundation awards its Quality Seal of Approval to cannabis-extract manufacturers that demonstrate transparency, clean products, and a consistent ratio of all major and minor cannabinoids in their products batch to batch, year after year.
We offer this advice to all retailers and consumers interested in selling or using hemp extract products.
1st Principle - Be Aware of Contamination Concerns
Avoid contaminated products. Project CBD conducted an investigation of hemp extracts available for sale and published its findings in an article titled "Hemp Oil Hustlers." Many hemp extract products were found to contain high levels of heavy metals like arsenic and industrial solvents like hexane. Potential contamination can arise from growing hemp in contaminated soil, farming with pesticides, and unethical manufacturers who add synthetic chemicals to the final product. Cannabis, with its naturally occurring cannabinoids and terpenes, is safe from abuse and chronic use. The toxins that can be introduced during hemp growing cycles, extraction processes, and packaging can be harmful or deadly. Only purchase and use products that have been tested in an ISO-17025 certified lab.
2nd Principle - Avoid Mislabeled Products (which Dominate the Marketplace)
According to a November 2017 JAMA article (Journal of the American Medical Association), 69% of the CBD-rich hemp-extracts products on the market today are mislabeled. That is, the vast majority of “CBD products” on the market do not contain the amount of cannabidiol listed on the packaging. Since most hemp-extract manufacturers on the market today do not properly report the amount of CBD on the packaging, reports from certified labs should be reviewed instead to know what is actually in the product.
3rd Principle - CBD Isolate has limitations and regulations
Full spectrum products have greater efficacy than CBD isolate. Studies show that the "entourage effect" of CBD in the presence of other cannabinoids has greater maximum efficacy in lower concentrations compared to CBD alone (aka, "CBD Isolate"). Also, the FDA is clear that CBD isolate is forbidden as an ingredient in food, drinks, and dietary supplements. CBD as an isolated compound is completely in the domain of the pharmaceutical industry and is only permitted to be sold by GW Pharmaceuticals in their drug, Epidiolex. Technically the FDA's rules allow only hemp products with naturally occurring cannabinoids, such as CBD, to be marketed for ingestion.
4th Principle - Seek Pharmacy-Grade (i.e., consistent) Cannabinoid Profiles
Choose hemp products with quality controls in place that ensure a consistent profile of cannabinoids and terpenes from batch to batch, year after year. To address these concerns, ECS Distribution carries all the products that have passed the Realm of Caring’s rigorous audit criteria. Manufacturers receiving the Realm of Caring’s Quality Seal are deemed to provide a consistent profile of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other plant compounds from one batch to the next.
Ways to ensure a consistent cannabinoid profile from batch to batch include:
a single variety of hemp
identical farming practices
consistent extraction methods
rigorous quality controls over the finished product
blending of chemically isolated cannabinoids to specific ratios (this method is rare, but it is an increasingly common way to ensure a consistent product).
If your patients and customers want to ensure the cannabinoid-rich products have reliable effects, the Realm of Caring’s Quality Seal should be a consideration when selecting trustworthy products.
Cannabinoids in Hemp
Cannabinoids are a group of chemical compounds defined by their molecular structure and their affinity for certain types of receptors in the human body. All hemp plants will contain some amount of cannabinoids, like cannabidiol.
Cannabinoids are produced in the cannabis plant and all animals with a backbone. There are more than 100 cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant. Other plants, like flaxseed, contain trace amounts of cannabinoids as well. Cannabinoids produced by plants are known as phytocannabinoids. Those produced by living animals are called endocannabinoids. All animals with vertebrae have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) to regulate health through cellular balance.
Trusted Sources of Cannabinoids
The highest quality products start by using the same organically grown hemp cultivar year after year. The hemp must be grown in the same soil type and climate conditions every season. The plants are tended by the same farmers with the identical cultivation practices. The extraction methods will be unchanged for each batch as well. Quality controls must be in place to ensure cannabinoid concentrations are within tight tolerances with minimal variance.
The products that work best for you today should be identical to future ones, so the controls mentioned are critical to ensuring a consistent cannabinoid profile.
These products will always have corresponding Certificates of Analysis from third party labs with an ISO certification in cannabinoid testing. The lab results must also show the products are free from pesticides, solvents, bacteria, mold, and heavy metals. These lab tests will confirm a precisely measured amount of certain cannabinoids (including CBD) in every batch.
These top-tier products are always processed in FDA-approved facilities following the FDA's Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP). For anyone who is using cannabinoids and finding an improved quality of life, the ratio of these natural compounds must remain relatively fixed. Doing so will ensure consistent results.
When a person finds a combination of hemp cultivar, growing practices, and extraction methods that works best for them, there should also be confidence that the selected product manufacturer has been audited by the Realm of Caring Foundation. Because each person will respond differently to various cannabinoid profiles, multiple manufacturers in this quality tier should be tried for a minimum of 30 days each. Only manufacturers' meeting these stringent criteria should be initially considered and evaluated.
These products offer a full spectrum of cannabinoids extracted different types of hemp from multiple farmers. These hemp products are often sourced from a hemp farming co-operative or outsourced to multiple farmers. Often the manufacturer will change the variety of hemp used season after season in an effort to maximize CBD yield. These products will have widely varying cannabinoid profiles from one batch to the next. What they gain from offering a whole plant, full spectrum product is lost by having inconsistent ratios of cannabinoids.
Pure CBD is an even lower level of quality. While the consistency of product may be high, the absence of other cannabinoids robs patients and customers of the entourage effect. The term "entourage effect" describes how CBD in the presence of other cannabinoids offers greater maximum efficacy at lower doses compared to CBD alone. Cannabidiol is a robust molecule that is relatively simple to isolate chemically, so there is a low barrier to entry for companies offering isolate products. CBD crystals can be purchased in bulk from multiple hemp processors, so these low cost products are ubiquitous. Many new "CBD companies" simply buy CBD isolate, add it to an edible oil or topical cream, and introduce a "new" product. The FDA does not allow this practice, yet CBD isolate is the basis for the majority of "CBD products" on the market today. These products have few characteristics that are unique.
These products contain little information about who grows the hemp or the chain of custody of their products. They have attractive labeling and marketing, but almost always contain something different than advertised. Often these tinctures contain very little CBD and may contain harmful toxins. Synthetic compounds, like benadryl or K2, can be added too. Product packaging often makes claims about efficacy and is guilty of other FDA violations. Avoid at all costs.