What does CBD stand for?
CBD stands for Cannabidiol (pronounced: can-na-bi-di-ol), it’s a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant. CBD is a key component of medicinal marijuana and has significant therapeutic potential.
CBD is one of 113 other cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are chemicals which act upon certain receptors in the human body and brain, known as cannabinoid receptors.
Despite evidence of cannabis use in human culture dating back thousands of years, the history of research into CBD in particular is relatively young. The chemical was first isolated and identified in 1963 by Raphael Mechoulam at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
What is CBD oil?
CBD oil is a concentrated extract from the cannabis plant, coming from its flowers or buds, and should not be confused with hemp seed oil, a very different product. Once extracted, CBD oil can be used to produce a myriad of CBD products, from oils you take under your tongue, to creams, balms and concentrates. CBD products come in many various forms and strengths.
CBD oil can be produced from large quantities of hemp that have a low cannabinoid concentration. This type of CBD oil is referred to as CBD hemp oil. Alternatively, it can be extracted from smaller quantities of cannabis plants that are specifically bred to contain high concentrations of CBD.
Depending on the source and strain of the cannabis plant, the extracted oil will contain varying ratios of CBD and THC, among hundreds of other cannabinoids. Nowadays, many cannabis plants are bred specifically to create certain products. It’s believed that products with differing CBD:THC ratios may produce different results.
The quality, strength and safety of an end CBD product is dependent on a multitude of factors, namely:
- Strain of cannabis used: Different variations of cannabis plants have different concentrations of cannabinoids like THC and CBD, among many others.
- Growing conditions and contaminant-free soil: High quality, organic crops product high quality CBD products. Low quality growing conditions can result in contaminated CBD products.
- Method of extraction: There is a variety of ways CBD oil can be extracted from the cannabis plant and it can impact the final product. Below we go into further detail about some of the main methods of extraction.
- Thorough product testing for each batch: Proper product testing ensures users are fully aware of product strength, composition and free from contamination.
The CBD industry is new and exciting. Many believe we are on the doorstep of a widespread, natural solution to a multitude of human conditions and problems. However, a new and exciting industry comes with its own challenges. This guide shows you how to identify trustworthy suppliers who produce high quality CBD oil.
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What is CBD isolate?
Single-molecule CBD or CBD isolate refers to products where CBD has been isolated from other cannabinoids. It is made by extracting the CBD molecule from the rest of the cannabis plant. If you’re buying CBD isolate it should look like snowy-white crystals.
The main advantage of taking CBD isolate is being able to use it as a base ingredient to make your own CBD products, for example, you can add it to your favourite vape e-juice.
Isolated CBD is not necessarily a better product than a full-spectrum CBD oil, which also contains an array of different compounds from the cannabis plant. The organic chemist Raphael Mechoulam – who is responsible for discovering how THC interacts with the human body – suspects that the medicinal benefit from CBD is enhanced when it is consumed in conjunction with THC and other cannabinoids and terpenoids found in marijuana. Mechoulam has referred to the phenomenon of cannabinoids working in a positive way together as the ‘entourage effect’.
Supporting this belief, studies have found that CBD in isolation from other cannabinoids has a more narrow therapeutic window. This means dosages need to be more precise to be effective compared to products that contain a full spectrum of cannabinoids.
CBD isolate (crystal, slab or shatter) is the most pure form of CBD you can buy. CBD isolate benefits include being THC free, cheaper & able to be used to make DIY CBD products.
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CBD oil from hemp compared to CBD-rich cannabis
As previously mentioned, it is possible to extract CBD oil from industrial grade hemp, which is a strain of cannabis plant especially bred to contain less than 1% of THC. Having such a low THC content allows it to be legally grown, processed and sold as a food in states and countries where medical or recreational marijuana isn’t accessible legally.
At a chemical level, CBD obtained from industrial grade hemp is the same CBD obtained from cannabis plants with high cannabinoid content.
“CBD is CBD. The human body does not care where the molecule comes from”
International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines
Advantages of CBD oil from hemp:
Low-THC hemp and products made from it are legal in all 50 states in the US, the UK and Europe, making them accessible to those who live in places where they cannot legally obtain medicinal marijuana.
Some suppliers produce hemp oils that contain 0% THC, potentially a safe choice for minors or those who undergo regular drug testing.
Disadvantages of CBD oil from hemp:
Industrial hemp has less CBD content than specially grown strains, meaning more of it is required to extract the same amount of CBD oil. This is less ecological and can lead to heavy metal accumulating in the oil.
CBD oil extraction:
CBD oil can be extracted from the cannabis plant a number of different ways. It’s important to understand and be aware of the extraction method used by your supplier, as it has a direct impact on the quality and safety of the final product. Be particularly cautious of CBD oils that are extracted using toxic solvents. Look for suppliers who use CO2 extraction or ethanol extraction and test their products for contamination.
Using very expensive equipment, carbon dioxide (CO2) is pressurised until it becomes a liquid and heated to specific temperatures to extract the different cannabinoids from the cannabis plant material. Low temperature (sub-critical) extraction is used to extract temperature-sensitive materials in the plant, before the same material is exposed to high temperature (super-critical) extraction to draw out the remaining desired cannabinoids and compounds.
While CBD oil can be extracted using only the high temperature method, some suppliers combine both extraction methods (total extraction process) in order to create a more complete, full spectrum CBD oil.
Considered to be the safest and most efficient method of extraction for CBD and other cannabinoids, CO2 extraction is commonly used in the food industry i.e. in the production of coffee, tea and fruit and nut extracts.
This is a whole plant extraction method where cannabis plant material is soaked in grain alcohol. Evaporating the remaining liquid results in an oil that contains CBD and other cannabinoids. Given that ethanol is used as a preservative and additive in foods, it is considered a safe method of extraction.
Using ethanol is cheaper than CO2 extraction, but there are some disadvantages. For one, the process may reduce the potency of the oil, as it can damage certain waxes in the plant. Secondly, unwanted chlorophyll is co-extracted from the cannabis, which results in the oil having an unpleasant flavour. Removing the chlorophyll poses an additional cost and reduces the potency of the CBD oil further.
Olive or coconut oil extraction:
This is an accessible and safe way to extract CBD oil from cannabis. It is made by heating an oil and filtering it through the cannabis plant material. This method is popular for extracting CBD at home, however the method results in a much less potent product, requiring users to consume more for the same effect. In addition, the product of olive or coconut oil extraction is perishable and must be stored in a cool, dark place.
Price comparison of popular CBD brands, breaking down the cost per dose and number of doses in different CBD oil products.
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