The wide range of therapeutic benefits attributed to hemp, a plant in the genus Cannabis, and its derived products has led to widespread use in the form of cured flower buds, edibles, concentrates, and more. Accurate testing is vital to the determination of potency and purity of hemp products to ensure their efficacy and safety. IndigoBridge Laboratory is registered with the DEA to handle controlled substances and is a Hemp Analytical Testing Laboratory under the USDA US Domestic Hemp Production Program. In addition, we hold ISO 17025 accreditation for analysis of cannabinoids in hemp and hemp-derived products.
Our goal is to customize analysis of hemp and CBD products to the needs of users. This includes providing the customer with percent CBD (in the forms CBD and CBD-A) and THC (in the forms THC and THC-A) in their products or raw material, as well as identifying and quantifying several other phytocannabinoids as needed. Additional analyses include pesticides, terpenes, microbials, heavy metals, residual solvents, mycotoxins, and lipids.
POTENCY: Cannabinoid Content (ISO17025 Accredited)
Determination of potency and absolute cannabinoid abundance within a product is an unconditional must within all sectors of the cannabis and hemp industry. Whether potency testing is required to fulfill regulatory compliance of farmed crop, or for the safe and efficacious recreational or medicinal use of a final product, accurate and precise analysis of active cannabinoids within the matrix is necessary. Depending on the individual needs and requirements of clients, IndigoBridge Laboratories provides three options for testing, ranging from basic analysis of CBD and THC to a full analysis of 18 cannabinoids. The customer will be provided with a Certificate of Analysis (COA) detailing the composition of the sample. Basic*: THC, THCA, CBD, CBDA Extended*: THC, THCA, CBD, CBDA, CBN, CBL, CBLA, CBDV, CBDVA Full*: THC, THCA, CBD, CBDA, CBN, CBL, CBLA, CBDV, CBDVA, CBG, CBGA, THCV, THCVA, CBNA, CBC, Δ8-THC, Δ10S-THC, exo-THC *IndigoBridge Laboratory is accredited to ISO 17025 for Basic and Extended Analysis of dry hemp buds. More About the Assay: Phytocannabinoids are first extracted from the product to be analyzed, whether it is hemp plant material or hemp-derived products, with the extraction method dependent on the product. This initial extraction enables analysis of a variety of products, including hemp buds, CBD oil and full spectrum hemp oil, edibles, and concentrates. The cannabinoids are then present in a suitable solvent, and are subjected to Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography (UPLC). While many cannabinoids are of similar or identical molecular weight, variations in structure result in differing interactions with the UPLC column. This leads to separation of the molecules prior to their detection. Dual acquisition by UV-Vis and mass spectrometry detectors ensures a high degree of specificity to the desired analytes. Concentration of the analytes is determined by plotting on a standard curve. Our testing can ensure that your crop or product is USDA compliant with a THC concentration of less than 0.3%, and that your products contain the desired concentrations of CBD and other cannabinoids.
Microorganisms and bacteria are ubiquitous; they can be found in soil, water, air, and in and on plants and animals. IndigoBridge Laboratories provides microbial testing for the presence of pathogens that are common to agricultural crops and food products. We utilize gold standard methodologies such as qPCR to detect microorganisms on a molecular level and provide product COA’s that are accurate, precise, and reliable. Available Tests Include... Group 1 Microbial: • Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) • Salmonella • Aspergillus species (fungal): A. flavus, A. fumigatus, A. niger, A. terreus Group 2 microbial (environmental): • Total yeast and mold • A. flavus, A. fumigatus, A. niger • E. coli • Pseudomonas aeruginosa • Listeria • Total coliform and enterobacteriaceae • Total aerobic count • Bile-tolerant Gram-negative bacteria More About the Actions of Microbes: Microorganisms and pathogenic bacterial microbes are pervasive organisms that play a vital role in almost all types of ecosystems on our planet, especially those of plants, including hemp. There are numerous species of bacteria and fungi that are quite beneficial, helping plants uptake nutrients and fend off pathogens. These organisms can be found in the soil of growing fields and are frequently added into the growing medium of hemp plants grown indoors. The bacterial species produce growth promoters that play important roles in fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere and making key nutrients available to plants, while the endophyte fungi Paecilomyces lilacimus and Penicillium copticola can inhibit certain pathogenic bacteria that can harm the hemp plants, particularly during their growth phase. However, pathogenic bacterial microbes as well as harmful fungi can be present along with the beneficial microorganisms. Even at low levels, some contaminants can be very harmful to the user and lead to serious adverse health effects. One of the most concerning of these contaminants is the fungi Aspergillus. While it has been shown that there have been no overdoses from medicinal cannabis in the 33 states that have legalized its use, there have been documented cases of medicinal cannabis patients who have died from aspergillosis, a condition caused by inhaling Aspergillus spores. It is, therefore, critical that products be tested for microbial contamination!
Pesticides are frequently utilized to control pests in hemp production. However, many pesticides are harmful to human health when consumed, and residual pesticides may be concentrated in hemp-derived products in the production process. We utilize UPLC/MS or GCMS to analyze plant material or derived products for pesticides that may remain in the final products. More About Pesticide use in Hemp: Hemp is oftentimes used for its medicinal properties, and as such, users often have preexisting medical conditions. This scenario can place them at an increased risk for harm when consuming goods that are potentially contaminated with common agricultural products including insecticides, fungicides, and plant growth regulators. Though such products are deemed by many to be necessary for the safe and efficient cultivation of such crops, carryover of these substances into the final product can pose serious health risks to the user. Testing the final product for such compounds is therefore necessary before reaching the marketplace.
Terpenes are secreted in the same glands that produce cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. These aromatic oils give each plant variety its unique distinctive “flavor,” and they may play a key role in the varying medicinal effects from one strain to another. We utilize GC/MS to measure a wide range of cannabis species terpenes. More About Terpenes: Terpenes are aromatic compounds that give many plants, such as cannabis, lavender, and pine their distinctive scents. Therefore, they are the primary constituents of the essential oils of many types of plants and flowers. They also play important roles in such diverse parameters as plant membrane permeability and plant-plant communication. Terpenes may play a key role in the varying medicinal effects from one strain of hemp to another. Some terpenes could engender relaxation (such as Myrcene), and stress modulation, while the terpenes in a different strain might promote focus and acuity, (such as Terpinolene). Additionally, the effects of a particular strain may vary when its terpenes are combined with other terpenes in a type of synergism that is not well understood. More research, however, is needed in this area. It is fairly accepted that these complex compounds have an effect on the therapeutic value due to distinctly different medicinal properties. For example, the only terpene known to also act as a cannabinoid is Caryophyllene. This compound can activate our endocannabinoid system to provide anti-inflammatory effects, whereas Terpinolene is touted to have antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-cancer effects. The terpenes in any given hemp plant are predicated on conditions such as climate, soil type, age and maturity of the plant, weather, etc. Over 100 different terpenes have been identified in plants in the species cannabis. They are actually the very molecules that act as biosynthetic building blocks for phytochemicals such as THCA, which can influence the overall effect of THC in terms of its calming or stimulating characteristics, as one example.
The cannabis plant is known as a hyperaccumulator; as it grows, it can take up unusually high levels of metals from the soil or growing medium through its roots and potentially into its flowers. IndigoBridge Lab utilizes Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) to identify the presence of heavy metals in the range of parts per billion, ensuring that products are safe for consumption. More About Heavy Metals in Cannabis Since plants of the cannabis species are naturally adept at removing heavy metals from soil, some strains have even been bred for phytoremediation—the use of plants to remove contaminants from the soil. This can have a positive impact on the environment, but care must be taken when hemp is grown for use in products intended for health purposes. As careful as the grower tries to be, contamination is rampant and each batch must be tested for the presence of heavy metals in all flower, water, food and solvent-based products.
Solvents such as acetone, ethanol, and butane are used to extract cannabinoids from hemp plant material in the production of hemp-derived products. If not removed, these solvents will persist in the product and may cause serious health risks if inhaled or ingested. We utilize gas chromatography coupled with detection via mass spectrometry to identify harmful residual solvents that may be present down to concentrations as low as parts per million.
Mycotoxins are extremely toxic metabolites produced by mold, and are some of the most ubiquitous toxins in the environment. Fungi that produce these toxins can grow on almost any surface, especially under the warm, humid conditions which are ideal for growing hemp. Mycotoxins can cause serious illness even in very small quantities. Our analysis by UPLC/MS has the sensitivity to detect minute amounts and ensure that cannabis products are safe for use. We test for the mycotoxins most commonly associated with cannabis: Aflatoxins B1, B2, G1, and G2, produced by Aspergillus species Ochratoxin A, produced by Aspergillus and Penicillium species More About the Health Hazards of Mycotoxins Diseases and symptoms linked to mycotoxin exposure include depression, ADD and ADHD, anxiety, fever, liver disease, pneumonia-like symptoms, heart disease, rheumatic disease, asthma, sinusitis, cancer, memory loss, vision loss, chronic fatigue, and skin rashes. Even if the fungi or mold is killed, the mycotoxins that they produced still persist on the plants and in the environment. They are incredibly robust and are not destroyed during the manufacturing process of hemp-derived products. Contamination can occur at any point from growth of the plant through harvest, drying and curing, processing, and packaging. It is therefore very important to test plant material and finished products frequently.
Some vaping products contain lipids such as vitamin E acetate, propylene glycol, and vegetable glycerol to improve the viscosity of the vape liquid or to adjust the concentrations of its components. While the full effect of inhaling the aerosols of these lipids is still unknown, evidence strongly suggests that they upset the natural balance of surfactants that protect the lungs. This can lead to accumulation of lipids in the lungs, and eventually to lipid pneumonia. By February of 2020, over 2000 cases of vaping-associated lung injury have been reported to the CDC, including 68 deaths. We can analyze your samples via UPLC/MS or GC/MS to ensure that they are unadulterated with harmful lipid additives.
About the Actions of Cannabinoids
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a natural biological system that plays a critical role in many bodily functions, including memory, digestion, pain, immune response, and sleep, among others. Humans (and all mammals) naturally synthesize endocannabinoids that bind to receptors throughout our bodies to regulate these functions. Plants in the genus Cannabis contain similar molecules, phytocannabinoids, which also interact with the ECS to support bodily function and general health. Preclinical data show that these molecules may have wide-ranging beneficial effects on the body, including the following: supporting immune response via modulation of biochemical pathways associated with the immune system, supporting neurological health by acting on diverse central nervous system pathways, supporting digestive system health and intestinal integrity, as well as supporting a healthy stress response by modulating key neurotransmitter pathways.
Cannabis plants, which include both hemp and marijuana, contain over 115 different phytocannabinoids and terpenes, occurring in differing quantities in different varieties and parts of the plant. The characterization of cannabis as either hemp or marijuana is determined by its content of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC. By definition, a cannabis plant must contain less than 0.3% THC by weight to be considered hemp. A higher concentration of THC leads to a designation of marijuana by the United States Department of Agriculture; the legality of marijuana is determined by state.
The cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) is the main cannabinoid of the hemp plant, and it is gaining in popularity for everyday use. CBD from hemp is not currently regulated by the FDA or the DEA, however, state laws mandate specific cannabinoid requirements for CBD products. Users report a wide range of beneficial effects on their health. CBD is currently being utilized in a variety of products aimed toward helping with a multitude of symptoms as well as diseases. These include, but are not limited to, anxiety, depression, pain, inflammation, sleep disorders, addiction, neuropathic pain, muscle spasms, epilepsy, bipolar disorder, and the debilitating nausea that can be a result of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments as well as the cancer itself.