Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Importance of Reading a Label

Reading labels is something we do every day. Teaching our patients how to read labels is something inherent in our ever-growing list of responsibilities as cannabis nurses. I personally had to go step by step through the process with a physician colleague who had purchased a CBD product over the internet. The process was enlightening and the end result showed that there was much less CBD in the product than was originally thought.   

Here is what you need to know when you are looking at product labels. Products labels are a valuable source of information. In states that are moderately to highly regulated, they have standards in place for what needs to be on a product label. The example below shows you everything you need to know (manufacturer and address have been removed but were clearly marked on this example).

Eileen Konieczny
Past President, RN

For others, deciphering the label requires you to roll up your detective sleeves and put some work in! Often, what’s not on the label can be as informative as what is. The main points of confusion on cannabis product labels usually arise from:

  • Quantities: How much total cannabinoid is in the product? How much per serving? Is this a good value?
  • Source: Where and how was the plant grown? What parts of the plant were used in the extraction?
  • Ingredients: What other ingredients are added to the product? Are they safe?

For products manufactured in regulated states, there are usually strict guidelines on testing and labeling in place. But for hemp-based products and other cannabinoid products that are purchased on the internet (CBD), knowing just how many cannabinoids you are getting in a product can be difficult. With tinctures, often the total milligrams of CBD will be labeled on the front of the bottle (though you won’t often see “CBD” explicitly alongside that number). 
Sometimes the amount of CBD per serving (usually one dropper) will be provided in the nutrition/supplement facts, and this will tell you how potent the tincture actually is. Ask for third party testing results for confirmation! If they are unavailable, ask questions of the manufacturer. Potency varies widely among tinctures.

Example: Some quick math to figure out the potency of tinctures if all you have to work with is the total milligram content:

Tinctures are generally sold by the ounce, and there are 30 milliliters in one ounce.
 Each dropper is approximately 1 milliliter, which means there is 30 droppers worth of liquid in one ounce.
 If your product contains 500 milligrams, then each dropper (1 milliliter) contains 500 mg/30ml = 17 mg.
Using the above information, if your patients is looking to take 50mg of CBD, they would need 3 full droppers and their bottle would last for 10 days. 

Other tinctures can be as potent as 50 mg/ml or more. Ultimately the choice depends on what your patients’ needs are, and what their price point is. Often patients don’t realize these extra steps; please take it upon yourself to help whenever possible.

By Eileen Konieczny

Past ACNA President, RN

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