Authenticating the Natural Content of CBD Products

Published on: 
Cannabis Science and Technology, November/December 2021, Volume 4, Issue 9
Pages: 45-46

Can Carbon-14 testing determine the natural content of CBD products and ingredients?

Here we describe the applicability of Carbon-14 testing for determining the natural content of cannabidiol (CBD) products and ingredients. Carbon-14 natural product testing is useful for the detection of adulteration of natural ingredients in materials such as plant extracts, flavors, fragrances, supplements, cosmetics, and essential oils.

The natural content of cannabidiol-based (CBD) ingredients can be validated via carbon-14 analysis. The method measures levels of carbon-14 to identify the percentage of naturally sourced material in an ingredient or product (1). The results can be used by manufacturers and distributors to reliably confirm that their CBD extract and products are naturally sourced. Testing also alerts to the presence of petrochemical-derived adulterants in product ingredients. Verifying the content of CBD products using carbon-14 testing substantiates “natural” claims on product labeling and in marketing schemes.

Carbon-14 Analysis as a Tool for Authenticating Your Natural CBD Products


Carbon-14 is an isotope present in all materials that are sourced from nature of plant or animal origin. All living organisms possess carbon-14 in known amounts while materials that are petrochemical-derived do not contain carbon-14 because they decayed out of the carbon cycle long ago. The percentage of carbon-14 present in an ingredient or product can be measured using natural product analysis, revealing how much of the material is natural-sourced or biobased. Less expensive, synthetic alternatives originating from petroleum-based sources can be distinguished from natural-derived materials because they no longer contain carbon-14.

Carbon-14 analysis is the only way to determine if a material contains petroleum-derived adulterants as opposed to natural-sourced ingredients (2). A result of 100% biobased content proves a material is completely natural-sourced. A product with a low or zero percentage of biobased content is made either in whole or in part of petrochemical-derived alternatives.

Why Verify the Natural Content of Your Products?

Authentication of the natural content of your CBD extract and products is a beneficial tool in support of quality control and marketing efforts. Products containing CBD have been attracting more and more interest in recent years. The market size is expected to increase at a growth rate of more than 20% annually between 2021 to 2028 (3). Demand for CBD extract in a wide variety of personal care, cosmetics, supplements, and food and beverage products creates the temptation for manufacturers to take shortcuts in product development by replacing more costly natural ingredients with cheaper, synthetic alternatives (4). Additionally, the popularity of natural products and an increase in consumer interest and demand heightens the possibility for falsification of product labeling. This leads to claims that products are made with natural ingredients when they are actually formulated with petroleum-derived ingredients.

Natural product testing provides scientific validation to ensure your CBD extracts and product ingredients are truly natural. You can be certain your products and ingredients are not adulterated with petroleum-derived synthetics by measuring their carbon-14 content. Quality assurance teams can rely on natural product analysis to identify the presence of natural versus artificial ingredients in their products before they reach consumers.


Measuring the natural content of your CBD products with carbon-14 testing provides reliable verification of the product’s natural source. Confirming your ingredients are natural-derived via natural product analysis dispels uncertainties in marketing and labeling claims and ensures CBD products are free of synthetic adulterants.


  1. Beta Analytic, "Authenticating Natural CBD through Carbon-14 Testing" (February 2021). Accessed here:
  2. Beta Analytic, "Verifying Natural Products: Is Carbon-14 Analysis Necessary?" (March 2021). Accessed here:
  3. Grand View Research. Cannabidiol Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Source Type (Hemp, Marijuana), By Distribution Channel (B2B, B2C), By End-use (Medical, Personal Use), By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2021-2028. (February 2021). Accessed here:
  4. C. O’Brien, Prohibition Partners. "CBD: Synthetic or Natural?" (June 2020). Accessed here:

About the Author

JORDAN TURNER is a marketing coordinator with Beta Analytic.

How to Cite this Article

J. Turner, Cannabis Science and Technology 4(9), 45-46 (2021).