In the latest episode of Call Me Cannabinoids, we sat down with Mitchell Coven, CEO of Vitality Works Pure Herbal Extracts, to discuss CBD terminology, full-spectrum CBD, and standardizing industry regulation.
Mitchell graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a medical herbalist and has a strong background in a wide range of botanicals, having run an herbal clinical practice for 17 years. Additionally, he’s been the CEO of Vitality Works since 1982.
Vitality Works Pure Herbal Extracts’ mission is to “create efficacious and therapeutic herbal, vitamin and nutraceutical supplements to help people get and stay well.” Vitality Works creates environmentally sustainable, custom products for private labeling. Vitality Works also creates custom products for other brands.
Mitchell has made it a point to create a wide variety of wellness-supporting botanicals throughout his career, emphasizing the requirements and nomenclature of the medicinal botanical world. He’s passionate about creating environmentally sustainable botanical products that boost wellness.
Mitchell stresses the significance of using proper terminology when it comes to CBD, especially the need for standardization. He says companies and experts in the industry should come together and agree on a set of standards going forward.
“There needs to be more self-regulation where, as a group, we define these words together, and then we all use them in the same context so that we can eventually communicate with each other and to consumers in a better way,” he says.
An unfortunate side effect of the burgeoning hemp business is the sudden influx of well-meaning consumers and manufacturers that don’t have the necessary experience in the medicinal botanical world to fully understand the implications of improperly labeled products.
One such issue that Mitchell points out is the misunderstanding of what a tincture is. Many products are commonly marketed as being tinctures but are really just oils and various other solutions. A tincture, technically speaking, is a one-to-five extraction ratio.
These are simple examples of the types of issues arising from mislabeled products, and they lead to another common issue: many products claiming to be full-spectrum extracts that are not, in fact, full-spectrum.
There are many compounds present in hemp, including terpenes and esters that naturally occur in hemp that may work together with CBD to boost the effects of the plant. Unfortunately, many CBD products on the market claim to be full-spectrum, but in reality, they only have CBD and a variety of other cannabinoids while missing other compounds.
“Full-spectrum should represent what’s naturally in the raw material, proportionately. And that’s not how the term is being used in the hemp world,” he says.
“Almost none of the CBD supplements on the market are truly full-spectrum because they don’t represent the whole plant.”
Upon speaking with a number of CBD manufacturers, Mitchell noted that there was little to no consistency about how companies were using the terms “broad-spectrum” and “isolate” in reference to their botanical products. This makes it difficult for consumers to truly know what they are purchasing, especially since many companies aren’t conducting proper testing or labeling their products properly.
Vitality Works takes FDA standards and other regulatory procedures seriously for the health of the consumer. According to Mitchell, proper operating procedures, quality control, and testing can ensure that consumers are getting the best quality of product, one that’s in line with the medical botanical expectations that promote wellness.
Mitchell describes the Vitality Works manufacturing team and relevant processes as “180 standard operating procedures, a couple hundred job aids, 23 people, quality assurance, and quality control, just to make sure that we’re following FDA regulations and testing everything according to specifications.”
The end result of doing this due diligence is that Vitality Works products are exactly what they claim to be, living up to botanical medical best practices and FDA regulations and ensuring the consumers are getting exactly what they believe they are.
Mitchell is somewhat concerned that some manufacturers may not be following the necessary FDA regulations that are in place for any company creating products that don’t conform to the standards set forth by the FDA for consumables or the Health Education Act.
Following proper procedures is critical, and taking shortcuts isn’t helpful to manufacturers or consumers.
“It’s one thing to grow great plants, make extracts, and stick them in a bottle. Everyone is required to follow the regulations, too,” Mitchell says.