Got questions? We’ve Got Answers.
Growing industrial hemp is new to even the most experienced farmers. Listed below are our answers to the questions we hear most often about this crop and its innovative applications.
What is CBD?
CBD is a product of the hemp strain of the Cannabis plant used to make nutraceutical products, cosmetics, food supplements and more. CBD binds to cannabinoid receptors found in nearly every cell and tissue type in the human body. Unlike marijuana, CBD is harvested from hemp, is not psychoactive, and produces no mind-altering effects.
What is THC?
THC is the compound found in the flowers of the marijuana strain of the Cannabis plant that produces the sensation of feeling high. THC binds to receptors in the brain and creates the psychoactive, intoxicating effects of marijuana. THC is present in very small amounts in Full-Spectrum CBD oil, but it is non-psychoactive and actually beneficial. This is because the amount is so small and because the CBD works to inhibit the THC from binding to certain receptors.
What is the EndoCannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system is present in all mammals. It is present throughout the body, but it is specifically found in the nervous system, the brain, immune cells, lymphoid tissue, and peripheral nerve terminals. The receptors for the EndoCannabinoid system are found on the cell membrane. According to the DrugBank database, through its modulation of neurotransmitter release, the endocannabinoid system regulates cognition, pain sensation, appetite, memory, sleep, immune function, stress reaction and mood among many other bodily systems. The Endocannabinoid system produces and accepts its own cannabinoids (called Endocannabinoids), which is why it is so receptive to other cannabinoids. The system is already in place to accept cannabinoids, which is why cannabinoids are so effective in mammals. The purpose of the system is balance and to keep the body in Homeostasis.
To what extent is CBD researched?
CBD, and all other cannabinoids for that matter, are largely unresearched. Much of the research that does exist is either in labs or in animals such as mice. It is hard to know if the promising effects that cannabinoids have in mice will replicate itself in humans. This is because there are differences in the endocannabinoid system in mice when compared to humans, so until later clinical trials happen many of the claims have potential but are largely unproven. There are a few pharmaceutical drugs that contain CBD, such as Epidiolex, and studies continue to be done at a great pace.
How does CBD work?
CBD and other cannabinoids work in the endocannabinoid system. The cannabinoids bind to the receptors of the endocannabinoid system. The most common receptors are simply called CB1 and CB2. These cannabinoids help the endocannabinoid system balance homeostasis. CBD also has the ability to suppress the enzyme FAAH, which in turn increases the amount of endocannabinoids (cannabinoids that the body naturally produces) thus enhancing the endocannabinoid system.
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that are home to Cannabis plants. While not all cannabinoids are exclusive to cannabis plants they are abundant and comprehensive to cannabis plants (hemp is considered a species of cannabis). While there are over 100 cannabinoids the most known ones are CBD, THC, CBG, CBN, and CBC. These cannabinoids tend to be even more effective when combined, thus resulting in the entourage effect.
How is Hemp different from Marijuna?
While both Hemp and Marijuna derive from the Cannabis plant, there cannabinoid profile is different. Hemp’s is abundant in CBD, while it has been bred to have very little THC. There are variations depending on which hemp strain, but there is about 20 to 40 times more CBD in hemp than THC. Furthermore, CBD binds to the receptors that THC binds to, thus effectively diminishing the effect that THC has on the body. Not only does hemp have much less THC to the point where it is often negligible, but the THC that is in hemp is less effective. Marijuna strains are the opposite, and while there are variations among strains, there tends to be a high THC to CBD ratio. Marijuana producers often try to propagate strains with low CBD because the CBD inhibits the THC from getting someone "high".
What are the differences in CBD Isolate vs. Full Spectrum CBD?
CBD isolate is what it sounds like, pure CBD. The CBD is isolated from every other Cannabinoid, which allows for very specific uses. On the other hand, Full Spectrum CBD, as it is often known, contains the most prominent Cannabinoid, CBD, and every other Cannabinoid that was extracted. While it is often called Full Spectrum CBD a more accurate term would be Full Spectrum Hemp extract. Full Spectrum products are known for the Entourage Effect, and therefore are often more effective and beneficial than CBD Isolate.
Further Understanding Full Spectrum CBD:
Among the Cannabinoid profile of Full Spectrum products CBD is usually anywhere from around 50% to 85% of the total volume of Cannabinoids. The other cannabinoids make up the remaining percentage. This means that the effect of Full Spectrum products are not only from the presence of Cannabinoids but also the amount of each cannabinoid. With over 100 cannabinoids there are over 100 independent variables, and much of how different ratios interact with each other is largely unexplored ground. Combine this with the presence of terpenes and you have an even more complex formulation. There is much potential in the differing ratios in Full Spectrum products. One example from the marijuna industry is the difference between Sativa strains and Indica strains. Sativa strains have a higher THC to lower CBD/CBN ratio while Indica strains have a lower THC to higher CBD/CBN ratio.
What is the Entourage Effect and how does it work?
As it was alluded to earlier, the Entourage Effect is the term coined when all of the cannabinoids and terpenes work together to be even more effective than if they each were separate. It is not fully known why the Entourage Effect is so effective, but here is a theory. The CB1 and CB2 receptors are enzymes on the membrane of cells, and each enzyme has a “port” or lock for certain Endocannabinoids. As mentioned earlier, CBD fits into these ports because its chemical makeup is so similar to the Endocannabinoids. What some other Cannabinoids do is they latch on to other parts of the enzymes to reshape them to even better accept CBD.
What are Terpenes and What do they Do?
If you have ever smelled a fully budded Hemp (or Marijuna) plant then you are smelling Terpenes. Terpenes produce the aromas that are distinct in Cannabis plants. For instance, the Cherrywine strain in Hemp truly smells like Cherry, and it stays in the oil after extraction (Depending on the type of extraction). While they are most known for their smells, terpenes have other potential therapeutic uses. Terpenes are not exclusive to cannabis plants, (they are found in many herbs, spices, and foods) but they are auxiliary in the benefits that Cannabis plants have. Terpenes have potential healing properties such as anti-inflammation effects, anxiety relief, stress relief, and relaxation. Terpenes are not essential in CBD products, but they are beneficial to have in the products. A few common Terpenes are: Myrcene, Pinene, Limonene, and Linalool.
How do different methods of extraction effect CBD as a final Product?
Ethanol:Ethanol is the most common method of extraction in the hemp industry and has a low initial set up cost relative to the other two methods. Ethanol is a great solvent and is able to capture many of the desired materials in the hemp plant. However, ethanol often extracts more compounds than what is desired in the end product. These include; chlorophyll, fats, waxes, and other non-cannabinoid compounds. These extra compounds, along with the ethanol itself, need to be removed from the hemp oil before it can be used in formulation. The process of refining the oil can have a negative impact on the quality of the final product.
CO2: CO2 is a common method of extraction, and it is often referred to as Supercritical CO2. Because CO2 is not the best solvent, the extractors increase the pressure upwards of 5000 psi to break apart the cell walls of the hemp biomass. Because of this and the heat that is used many of the terpenes and some of the cannabinoids are broken apart or denatured. Furthermore, CO2 leaves behind many cannabinoids, only getting about 70% of what is in the plant. CO2 is the easiest method of extraction, and is seen as “safe” due to the solvent not being harmful to humans. There is a potential issue of the CO2 forming plastic micro-particles due to the intense pressure and heat it is under during extraction.
BHO BHO is also referred to as hydrocarbon extraction, and it is seen as the best solvent. BHO is able to extract all cannabinoids and terpenes, and it does so at low pressure and temperature, thus preserving the cannabinoids and terpenes. BHO is able to get around 90 to 95% of total cannabinoids in the hemp biomass. Extracts from BHO have the fullest profile and are seen as the highest quality. Because of the cold extraction BHO is able to extract “Fresh Frozen” biomass (plant material that has been frozen immediately after harvest), thus creating “Live Resin”. BHO is typically the most difficult to set up and have properly purged oil, so this method tends to be less common in the current hemp marketplace even though it is better quality.
What is bioavailability and how does it affect which products I buy?
When CBD is taken, only a percentage is actually utilized by the body. Different methods of delivery yield different results as well. Oral ingestion (Pills, drinks, and gummies) has the least bioavailability, but the effects last the longest. When placed under the tongue to be absorbed into bloodstream bioavailability increases, but the effects do not last as long as they would if it were ingested. Pills are best for patients who want the effects to be constant, and tinctures are best for patients who need stronger results. With topicals the CBD only interacts on the skin level, so the Bioavailability is irrelevant for topicals.