Consumer’s Guide to CBD

The CBD market is full of so much confusion that it is nearly impossible to understand the products and their claims. My goal is to inform consumers so that they can navigate the market to make more informed decisions when buying CBD products. The most important thing to understand is that this market is new, and therefore largely unregulated. If there are regulations in place, they are often not enforced. Therefore, every claim needs to be scrutinized: whether it be the dosage of a product, claims about the product or business, or claims on the label.

Important Terminology:

It is important to discuss terminology that has arisen in the CBD market as there is some confusion on terminology:

  1. Hemp seed extract

    This has nothing to do with CBD, and its only association is that it comes for hemp seeds, which CBD comes from extracting the buds of a fully mature hemp plant. The seeds are cold-pressed and the oil is put into products, and then those products are branded very closely to CBD products in order to get the markup without actually having CBD in them.

  2. Hemp Extract

    Technically speaking this is what is extracted from the bud of a hemp plant and should be synonymous with the phrase “Full Spectrum”, but very often it is used when selling hemp seed “extract”. So if you see a product that has this wording, check and make sure to see if it contains CBD or if it is a product from cold-pressed seeds.

  3. Cannabinoids

    Cannabinoids are what are extracted from the hemp buds. There are about 120 of them, and CBD, which is short for Cannabidiol, is one of the cannabinoids. So Cannabidiol (CBD) is 1 of 120 cannabinoids. The similar wording can make products confusing. CBD is also the most studied cannabinoid, and it has been genetically bred to be the most dominant cannabinoid in hemp.

  4. Full Spectrum

    This is what a product is called when it has all of the cannabinoids in it. CBD is still the most prevalent cannabinoid, but it isn’t the only one. Often you will see a product called CBD – Full Spectrum, and that is saying that it contains mostly CBD in it, but it also contains many other cannabinoids, including THC.

  5. THC

    It stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, and it is the cannabinoid in marijuana that produces a high. Full Spectrum extract from a hemp plant does contain THC, but it is so little that it is negligible in terms of getting someone high. Furthermore, the more CBD a product has, the less THC works. Currently, the law is that there must be below .3% THC in hemp products, and .3% is far below the amount needed to get someone high. THC, since it is a cannabinoid, has therapeutic properties. For instance, THC has the potential to protect the heart from heart attack damage. These health benefits are what gave legitimacy to the medical marijuana market.

  6. CBD isolate

    Also known as pure CBD. This is the most straightforward CBD product, as that is all that it is…CBD. All the other cannabinoids are left behind in the hemp bud, and only CBD isolate is extracted. It is believed that this is the least potent kind of CBD product because it is only CBD, and not the other cannabinoids.

  7. Entourage effect

    You will hear this term used around Full Spectrum products, and it refers to the cannabinoids working in tandem with CBD. How it works is believed that other cannabinoids will latch on to the enzymes that CBD works with and essentially makes it easier for CBD to attach itself to the enzyme. Enzymes have a port, or receptor, that is specific to its complementary molecule. The receptors of these CBD enzymes are better opened because other cannabinoids will latch onto a separate spot on that enzyme and reshape it to have a port that is more receptive to CBD.

  8. Major cannabinoids

    These often include CBG (Cannabigerol), CBC (Cannabichromene), and CBN (Cannabinol). Each of these has their own unique chemical structure and properties, however, they are largely unstudied. Here is what some people believe they have the potential to be involved in:

    1. CBG: Cannabigerol is most likely the next most prolific cannabinoid. CBG is thought to have the potential to slow or even kill bacterial growth, reduce inflammation, assist with bone growth, and even possibly inhibit growth in tumor or cancer cells. Because CBD is so unstudied (and every cannabinoid for that matter) every claim should be taken with a grain of salt.
    2. CBC: Cannabichromene is the next major cannabinoid. It is also anti-inflammatory, but in a different way than the other cannabinoids. It is also said to have an antidepressant effect, and it is believed that it can relieve physical pain. It also has the potential to stimulate bone growth and inhibit cancer growth. Once again, CBC is not yet properly studied, so this should not be taken in place of true medical advice.
    3. CBN: The chemical structure of CBN is actually similar to THC. What makes that interesting is the potential to transform THC into CBN. Products with this change would then be THC free and high in CBN. CBN is good for aiding in sleep disorders. It also has anti-inflammatory effects.

Understanding the Claims:

There are many claims about CBD, CBG, CBC, CBN, and other cannabinoids, and it is important to be aware of how many of these claims originated. Most of the potential effects that cannabinoids are talked about have originated from laboratory and animal studies. Animals have different endocannabinoid systems than humans, so just because it worked in an animal does not mean that it will work in a human. While the benefits of cannabinoids look promising, they must go through clinical trials to have the efficacy of the claims determined.

If you would like to look at current literature for particular claims here is a list of studies based on each disease that CBD has some kind of claim in. We recommend looking into the studies of your particular ailment to further understand how CBD and cannabis affects your particular syndrome:

  • Addiction
    • Cannabidiol as an Intervention for Addictive Behaviors: A Systematic Review of the Evidence
      https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.4137/SART.S25081
    • Cannabidiol inhibits the reward‐facilitating effect of morphine
      https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1369-1600.2012.00483.x
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
    • Amyloid proteotoxicity initiates an inflammatory response blocked by cannabinoids
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5514994/
    • Cannabidiol in vivo blunts β-amyloid induced neuroinflammation by suppressing IL-1β and iNOS expression
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2189818/
    • Cannabidiol: A Promising Drug for Neurodegenerative Disorders?
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6494021/
    • Alzheimer's disease; taking the edge off with cannabinoids?
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2190031/
  • Anxiety and Stress
    • 1. Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, as an anxiolytic drug.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22729452
    • 2. Central anandamide deficiency predicts stress-induced anxiety: behavioral reversal through endocannabinoid augmentation.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Central+Anandamide+Deficiency+Predicts+Stress-Induced+Anxiety
    • 3. The anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol in chronically stressed mice are mediated by the endocannabinoid system: Role of neurogenesis and dendritic remodeling.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29510186
  • Arthritis
    • The abnormal cannabidiol analogue O-1602 reduces nociception in a rat model of acute arthritis via the putative cannabinoid receptor GPR55.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21683763
    • Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=transdermal+Cannabidiol+Reduces+Inflammation+and+Pain-Related
    • The nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an oral anti-arthritic therapeutic in murine collagen-induced arthritis.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10920191
    • Preliminary assessment of the efficacy, tolerability and safety of a cannabis-based medicine (Sativex) in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=preliminary+Assessment+of+the+Efficacy+of+Cannabis-based+Medicine
    • Cannabinoids, endocannabinoids, and related analogs in inflammation.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19199042
    • The role of cannabinoids in inflammatory modulation of allergic respiratory disorders, inflammatory pain and ischemic stroke.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22420307
  • Asthma
    • Evaluation of Serum Cytokines Levels and the Role of Cannabidiol Treatment in Animal Model of Asthma.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=role+of+Cannabidiol+treatment+in+animal+model+of+asthma
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
    • Cannabinoid receptor type 2, but not type 1, is up-regulated in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of children affected by autistic disorders.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=cannabinoid+receptor+type+2%2C+but+not+type+1%2C+is+up-regulated
    • Endocannabinoid Signaling in Autism
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604173/
    • Israeli Doctors to Use Cannabis to Treat Autism in First-of-its-kind Study
      https://www.haaretz.com/science-and-health/israeli-doctors-to-study-use-of-cannabis-to-treat-autism-1.5430382
  • Autoimmune Disorders
    • The Analgesic Potential of Cannabinoids
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3728280/
    • Cannabidiol as an Emergent Therapeutic Strategy for Lessening the Impact of Inflammation on Oxidative Stress
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3085542/
  • Blood Pressure Reduction
    • A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5470879/
  • Depression and mood
    • Cannabidiol induces rapid-acting antidepressant-like effects and enhances cortical 5-HT/glutamate neurotransmission: role of 5-HT1A receptors.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/?term=cannabidiol+induces+Rapid-acting+Antidepressant-like+Effects+and+enhances+Cortical+5-HT
    • The therapeutic potential of the endocannabinoid system for the development of a novel class of antidepressants.
      https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165614709001217?via%3Dihub
    • Modulation of the Serotonin System by Endocannabinoid Signaling
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110547/
  • Diabetes
    • Cannabinoids and Endocannabinoids in Metabolic Disorders with Focus on Diabetes
      https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-642-17214-4_4
    • CBD compound in cannabis could treat diabetes
      https://www.diabetes.co.uk/news/2015/apr/cbd-compound-in-cannabis-could-treat-diabetes,-researchers-suggest-95335970.html
    • The endocannabinoid system in obesity and type 2 diabetes
      https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-008-1048-2
  • Eating disorders
    • Cannabis: From a Plant That Modulates Feeding Behaviors toward Developing Selective Inhibitors of the Peripheral Endocannabinoid System for the Treatment of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome
      https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6651/11/5/275/htm
    • The role of the endocannabinoid system in eating disorders: neurochemical and behavioural preclinical evidence.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23829365
  • Multiple Sclerosis
    • The biology that underpins the therapeutic potential of cannabis-based medicines for the control of spasticity in multiple sclerosis
      https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2211034811000356?via%3Dih
  • General Pain
    • Role of Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Pain and (Painful) Spasticity
      https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/11585260-000000000-00000
    • Non-psychoactive cannabinoids modulate the descending pathway of antinociception in anaesthetized rats through several mechanisms of action
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3041249/
  • Seizures
    • Involvement of transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 channels in the pro-convulsant effect of anandamide in pentylenetetrazole-induced seizures
      https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0920121112000393?via%3Dihub
    • CBD-enriched medical cannabis for intractable pediatric epilepsy
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26800377
  • Skin conditions
    • The endocannabinoid system of the skin in health and disease: novel perspectives and therapeutic opportunities
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2757311/
    • Topical cannabinoid agonists. An effective new possibility for treating chronic pruritus.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16874533
    • Attenuation of allergic contact dermatitis through the endocannabinoid system.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17556587
    • Epigenetic control of skin differentiation genes by phytocannabinoids
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3791996/
  • Sleep disorders
    • Potential Effects of Cannabidiol as a Wake-Promoting Agent
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4023456/
    • Functional role for cannabinoids in respiratory stability during sleep.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12071539
    • Cannabidiol can improve complex sleep-related behaviours associated with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder in Parkinson's disease patients: a case series.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24845114

How much CBD is too much CBD?

This question is still one of the unknowns in the CBD world. It is generally accepted that CBD is not hazardous at higher dosages. A study found that dosages up to 1500 milligrams per day result in no sign of toxicity. Something to be aware of is that there are no studies yet on the long term effects of daily high dosages. We built a dosing chart to help people standardize their CBD intake. Like marijuana, you cannot overdose on CBD, but side effects of taking too much or taking high dosages for extended periods of time are still unknown.

What makes some products better than others?

The 2018 Farm Bill triggered a significant shift in federal cannabis policy by legalizing industrial hemp cultivation and removing hemp from the CSA. Since then, a plethora of CBD companies have launched, and almost all of them, including Catoctin Hemp, claim to have the best CBD products. What makes one product better than another? Here are some common ways that CBD products differentiate:

  1. Full Spectrum vs. Isolate

    While CBD isolate has its uses, Full Spectrum extract is a better product. Full Spectrum extract contains all the cannabinoids from hemp, while isolate is just a single cannabinoid (CBD). Full Spectrum usually has somewhere between 50% to 85% CBD, and the rest will be other cannabinoids, Terpenes, or other plant proteins. So for example, a 1000mg CBD tincture that is Full Spectrum will have 1000mg of CBD as well as somewhere around 100mg of other cannabinoids, somewhere around 50mg of Terpenes, and a few hundred milligrams of other plant proteins in varying mixtures. The Terpenes and cannabinoids assist the CBD, and make it a better product.

  2. Quality Assurance

    GMP: GMP stands for Good Manufacturing Practices. Being GMP certified means that the company took certain measures, such as wearing long sleeves and hair nets while working in the lab, in order to produce a cleaner product. Being GMP certified is important to assure consumers that the product was made under standard procedures. Most CBD products are not made with GMP. Catoctin Hemp is currently working towards becoming GMP-certified.
    The Hemp Authority: This is a hemp-specific certification program. Made up of industry regulators, the Hemp Authority has developed comprehensive guidance for growers and processors of hemp. Catoctin Hemp is currently working towards becoming Hemp Authority-certified.

  3. Vertically integrated vs. Whitelabeled

    Vertical integration refers to a company that has control over all aspects of a supply chain. For example, Catoctin Hemp grows their own hemp, has their own drying and bucking system, and extracts and formulates products using their own hemp. Basically, all of its production is “in house”, meaning that it is all under one roof.

    White-labeled companies are CBD brands that either buy oil and formulate it themselves, or just create their own brand and have a vertically integrated company create their products for them. While not a bad business model, whitelabelers often will not know the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of hemp growing, extraction, and formulation. Whitelabelers are also subject to their extractor’s (supplier’s) practices. So if someone who is white labeling has a bad supplier, they can have a bad product without knowing it. While we do have white labeling relationships at Catoctin Hemp, we invite these companies to tour our facility so that they can have an understanding of how the process works and see their products being made. The general rule of thumb is to make sure that you know where your CBD was extracted.

  4. Method of Extraction

    There are 3 methods of extraction; each with pros and cons:

    1. Ethanol: With a low initial set-up cost relative to the other two methods, ethanol is the most common method of extraction in the hemp industry. 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.
    2. CO2: CO2 is a common method of extraction that 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 percent 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 are potential issues with the CO2 forming plastic micro-particles due to the intense pressure and heat it is under during extraction.
    3. BHO: Also referred to as hydrocarbon extraction, BHO is considered the best solvent. BHO is able to extract all cannabinoids and terpenes at a low pressure and temperature, thus preserving 90 to 95 percent of the total cannabinoids in the hemp biomass. Extracts from BHO have the fullest profile and are considered the highest quality. Because of its cold extraction process, 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 extraction process to set up and have properly purged oil, so this method tends to be less common in the current hemp marketplace.
  5. Live Resin (Fresh-Frozen)

    In Marijuana Extraction, live resin is considered the best product available. In the CBD industry, it does not yet exist as a mainstream product. What makes it unique is that it comes from a “wet” extraction method. This means that the buds are fresh, often only hours from when they were harvested. The terpenes and cannabinoids have yet to deteriorate, making this the highest quality product. Only certain types of extraction can do this, and Catoctin Hemp is capable of Live Resin products. We hope to launch a Live Resin product line soon.