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Variability in CBD and Hemp Potency Calls for Advanced Analytics, Standards

Contact Author Rachel Grabenhofer
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In response to the cannabidiol (CBD) trend beginning in 2018-2019, Nu Skin researchers sought to examine CBD and hemp extracts to get a feel for the supply chain. Findings were inconsistent, posing a challenge to research; the company will highlight these during the 2021 Society of Cosmetic Chemists (SCC) Annual Meeting.

According to Brian Cook, scientist and senior associate for the company's global R&D, the goal was to assess the quality standards of these materials and to dig "for a more concrete scientific justification for potential skin benefits." Cook adds, "From my perspective, the claims up to [that] point were at best a mix of hype and anecdotal stories and, at worst, a potential regulatory, legal or even safety issue."

He notes that Nu Skin is fortunate to have a robust internal analytical group but they found it difficult to get good, reproducible analytical results for cannabinoids, even with the certified reference materials purchased. "It turns out, this is quite a big issue, which the National Institute of Standards is actively seeking to help the entire industry address," Cook writes.

See related: CBD in Cosmetics; A Practical Primer

"Along with wide discrepancies between the supplier’s COA (certificate of analysis) and our own data, we found very wide variations, even biphasic responses, to the in-vitro gene expression responses of skin cells when exposed to various sources, concentrations and compositions of hemp extracts." He explains that biphasic refers to a cell responding one way at a certain concentration and entirely the opposite way at another concentration of the same extract.

"For us, this highlights how critical a clear understanding of the quality and quantity of cannabinoids present would be to the proper investigation of a finished product’s potential safety and efficacy profile," Cook concludes. He will present these challenges with an eye toward improved analytics and standards during the SCC Annual Meeting, held Dec. 13-15, 2021 in New York.

See the SCC Scientific Meeting Agenda for more information.



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