CBD Potency: Why it Matters & How it’s Measured

CBD potency

What’s your CBD potency? How strong (and thus, effective) is the tincture or gummies you’ve purchased? And what impacts how well those items will work?

There have been many reports of CBD product mislabelling in recent months. Of labels showing one level of potency, the Certificate of Analysis (or independent testing) showing another. This is an issue, and it makes understanding how to read labels (and Certificates of Analysis) that much more important. It also makes understanding how potency is measured that much more important.

How CBD Potency Works

Potency means the strength of a CBD oil. Finding the potency of a product may seem simple – just read the label to see how much CBD a product contains, and you’re good to go.

But what exactly does 200MG, 500MG, or 1000MG mean? That’s the strength of the oil. That means there are 200MG, 500MG, or 1000MG of CBD oil in that bottle. The higher the number, the stronger the tincture.

So, each ML of the oil contains more CBD as you move up in potency:

  • 200MG/1oz – 6.6MG of CBD per ML 
  • 500MG/1oz – 16.6MG of CBD per ML 
  • 1000MG/1oz – 33.3MG of CBD per ML 

With me so far? Awesome.

The thing is, because you can get full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate CBD products, determining strength gets a bit tricky.

CBD isolate is the pure form of CBD. Full-spectrum CBD contains other beneficial compounds of the hemp plant, such as terpenes and other cannabinoids like CBD, THC, CBG, CBC, THCV, CBN. Broad-spectrum CBD contains other beneficial cannabinoids, without the THC.

When those different cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are combined, they work synergistically to optimize relief and well-being thanks to something called the entourage effect. Because full-spectrum CBD contains all cannabis plant compounds, it has a more potent effect than pure CBD. Research suggests that CBD’s health benefits may be more prominent when multiple compounds from the cannabis plant are present.

Figuring Out the Strength of Your Product

So, how can you determine if the CBD product you purchase contains the levels of CBD noted on the label?

Look at the Certificate of Analysis. This is a certificate from a third party lab that shows the levels in a specific product. It will tell you how much CBD is actually in a product, as well as any other cannabinoids, etc.

CBD potency

A Certificate of Analysis will also tell you if the product contains any heavy metals, solvents, or other nasties you don’t want in your oil.

RELATED: There’s more information on Certificates of Analysis right here.

If the company you’re buying from does not offer a certificate of analysis, move on to the next one. Any reputable company will provide this information as a matter of legitimacy and transparency.

What Impacts CBD Potency?

A few different things can impact the potency – or efficacy – of your CBD oil.

The first, is the substance itself.

Take tinctures. CBD oil by itself, no matter how many milligrams are in the bottle, or the total cannabinoid count, is not super bioavailable. That means it’s not easily absorbed by the body. This is because it’s a fat-soluble substance. If the body can’t absorb it, it’s not going to be much use.

In order for your body to use a fat-soluble substance, it needs to mix with something else to form little clusters of molecules called micelles. These micelles then enter the fatty lymph tissue, which is a network of fat-based compounds and immune cells. Only then can they be distributed through the bloodstream to the different parts of the body.

That something else is called a carrier oil. This might be coconut oil, hemp oil, avocado oil, even olive oil. The carrier oil acts as that “something else” to form those micelles to help the CBD get to where it needs to go.

Our favorite (and the one we use) is coconut oil. Read this to find out why.

The second is how you take it.

How to use CBD impacts bioavailability as well. If you just swallow it, it has to travel through your digestive system and be broken down by the liver. This can reduce the concentration However, if you take is sublingually, meaning holding it for several seconds under your tongue, it gets absorbs by the mucous membranes and goes right into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system. That’s way better. Vaping is also good – it gets into the bloodstream faster, and again doesn’t need to be digested, making it more bioavailable.

Final Thoughts

To make sure you’re getting what you pay for, you need to make sure that the CBD potency on the label matches what’s really in the bottle. And look for full-spectrum to get all those beneficial cannabinoids that give you that ‘entourage effect.’

CBD can take time to work, but starting off with the perfect product gets you on the right track as soon as you open the bottle!