Hemp, a type of cannabis plant, has been used for centuries worldwide to make textiles, dating possibly as far back as 6000 BC. In recent years there has been a renewed interest in the industrial production of hemp plants for a variety of products, including the production of hemp products for human consumption. A few of these products are hemp seeds, hemp seed oil, hemp protein, and CBD oil.
Since the use of cannabis for medical purposes was legalized in California in 1996, other states have followed by changing their laws, first to decriminalize possession of small amounts, then legalization for medical use, and more recently, legalization for recreational use.
What is CBD?
CBD is an abbreviation for cannabidiol (pronounced can-uh-BIH-dee-all), a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant (Scientific name: Genus species = Cannabis sativa). Both marijuana (which contains THC, the active ingredient that has a mind-altering effects) and hemp (which contains only minute amounts of THC) are different varieties of Cannabis sativa.
In chemistry, an isolate is a substance or compound in a pure form. Through a chemical process that removes oils and other material from the stalks and seeds of the hemp plant, CBD can be extracted first as an oil, then “isolated” into crystals (99% pure), which can be ground into a fine white powder. Although the purification process is conducted in a laboratory-like setting, CBD is a natural product, not a synthetic one. Ideally, only organic, non-GMO hemp plants should be used to produce CBD isolate for human consumption.
How Is It CBD Removed From The Hemp Plant?
There are several different methods to remove CBD from raw plant material. Each method has pros and cons. Common methods include:
- 1. Steam distillation.
- 2. Solvent extraction.
- 3. CO2 extraction.
Steam distillation is the simplest way to extract oils from plant materials. When the plant materials are exposed to steam, vapors from the oils are released and then collected in a tube. This method has been used for centuries, with a variety of plants, to produce essential oils for aromatherapy. One disadvantage is that the high heat of steam may damage the essential oils. Another drawback is that the process is not effective in removing all of the oil.
Extracting CBD with a solvent is more complex than steam distillation but extracts a higher percentage of oil than is achieved with steam distillation. Different solvents can be used. When plant material is exposed to the solvent the essential oils combine with the solvent. In another step some or all of the solvent is removed. One advantage of this method over steam distillation is that there is no extreme heat used in the process, which can damage the essential oils. A major disadvantage is that not all solvents used to extract essential oils are safe for human consumption so it’s important to know the exact method of extraction before using a CBD product.
CO2 extraction is a specific type of solvent extraction with all of the benefits and none of the drawbacks of other commonly used solvents. The extraction process involves high pressure and minimal heat and is environmentally friendly. The process is efficient and the final product is pure, high quality, and safe for human consumption.
How Do I Choose A Quality Product?
First of all, choose a company that provides helpful and responsive customer service so that you can get specific information about the production process. Many companies that produce CBD will provide third party lab analysis reports, either online or by request, that document the purity of their product.
It is important to know the source of the hemp used and the extraction method. Both will effect quality and purity of the final product. The potency of any essential oil can vary according to the rigor of the plant, the soil type, weather conditions during the growing season, method of harvest and how the product is handled after harvest. As a result there may be slight differences in smell, color, and taste among high quality brands using the same extraction methods.
Cannabis plants contain more than 80 active chemicals, called cannabinoids. CBD is one of these cannabinoids. Certain cells in the human brain and body have receptor sites that are activated by cannabinoids; however, CBD only interacts with these receptors at very high doses. CBD may also interact with other body systems that influence brain activity and this interaction may be related to the reported therapeutic effects.
What Is CBD Used For?
There is a growing interest in the possible benefits of CBD, and there are many reports of people self-treating with CBD for the following conditions:
- Anxiety and depression.
- Psychotic disorders.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Inflammatory diseases.
- Neurodegenerative disorders.
Although preliminary research is promising, there is a need for large, clinical trials to study the safety and possible benefits of CBD therapy. The National Institutes of Health is currently supporting several studies on the therapeutic value of CBD on the above conditions and early findings are promising in the following areas:
- Anti-anxiety effects in both animals and humans.
- Treatment of substance use disorders.
More specifically the NIH is supporting studies on the benefits and risks of CBD in relation to the following:
- Pain from spinal cord damage.
- Treatment for epilepsy.
- Treatment for drug addictions such as alcohol, opioids, methamphetamine, and cannabis.
- Overcoming cognitive decline induced by THC.
- Risk of schizophrenia from cannabis use.
How Do You Use CBD Isolate?
There are many simple ways to consume or absorb CBD. It’s a good idea to measure the amount of CBD that you use with each method, then experiment with different quantities until you get the desired effect. Below is a short list of ways to use CBD. For specifics of each method, please consult a reputable CBD distributor or manufacturer and follow their directions.
- Mix a small amount with a vegetable oil (coconut oil is a great choice) and place under your tongue. It will be absorbed in one to two minutes.
- Dilute it in vegetable oil, and then add it to food or beverages. High heat will damage CBD so cook foods at a low heat, around 300 to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, to maintain the potency of the CBD. Similarly, CBD should only be added to hot beverages when temperature has cooled to less than the boiling point.
- Blend it with body or face cream or massage oil.
- Dab, vape or smoke it.
What Are The Effects Of Using CBD?
The first question many people ask is will CBD give me a “high”, like marijuana? Will it affect my behavior, awareness, or reaction times? The answer is no to all of the above, for several reasons. First, the hemp plant has very little THC (tetrahydrocannabinol – the active ingredient in marijuana that gets you high) before processing, and any minute amount is removed during the purification process. Second, despite being chemically similar to THC, it does not activate the cannabinoid receptors in the human brain in the same way as THC.
Some people report that taking CBD makes them feel calmer and more alert. Since most reported effects are anecdotal, more research is needed to determine if a majority of people would be likely to experience these reported benefits.
The most common side effect reported is dry mouth. Some have reported low blood pressure and feeling drowsy or tired after taking CBD isolate. Preliminary research indicates that CBD may interfere with liver function, so it is important to consult a medical practitioner before using any CBD products. There is little information about interactions with other drugs, whether prescription or over-the-counter medicines.
CBD Side Effects
An excellent source of information about CBD is a report to the United States Senate by Nora D. Volkow. In 2015 she presented information about current research and possible medical benefits at a Drug Caucus Hearing on Barriers to Cannabidiol Research to the United States Senate.
Researchers Iffland and Grotenhermen conducted a literature review of clinical studies in animals that addressed the safety and the side effects of CBD and possible drug interactions. The study was published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, Volume 2, 2017 and is frequently cited on the internet. The reviewed research indicated that, in general, CBD is safe for humans. Most of the clinical studies were with patients suffering from either epilepsy or psychotic disorders. Although some adverse side effects were reported, such as changes in weight and appetite, tiredness and diarrhea, these effects were less troubling
- Hepatic enzymes.
- Drug transporters.
- Interactions with other drugs.
- Effect on hormones.
Additionally, they reported a need for more clinical trials with a greater number of participants and also studies where CBD is given over a long term.
Is CBD Legal?
In the USA the answer is a bit complicated and varies in each state. Below are some generalities; however, it’s best to check with your state and local government offices to find out what’s allowed where you live. Regulations vary by state, county, and city.
- In some states selling or using any form of cannabis is illegal, including CBD products.
- Use of CBD may be allowed in states that allow the use of medical marijuana, and may require a prescription.
- In states where it is legal to purchase or use CBD products, there may be an age requirement for purchasing or using.
The National Cannabis Industry Association maintains a list of current regulations for each state in the USA. State laws, allowing the use of CBD products, are not necessarily in agreement with federal laws regarding cannabis plants and related products; therefore, use comes with some legal risks.
Is CBD Safe for Children Or Pets?
Although it’s common knowledge that people have been giving CBD products to children and pets for many years, as of yet there are no scientifically based recommendations for use in children or pets. Many studies on CBD are conducted with animals; however, the research is not yet sufficient to make recommendations for treating pets for various conditions.
In the last few decades there have been a few clinical trials using CBD to treat epilepsy in children. Although the results were positive, the studies were not scientifically rigorous enough to come to any conclusions regarding the efficacy of CBD as a treatment for epilepsy.
Disclaimer: The statements in this article come from a variety of sources and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and the CBD products described are not intended to prevent, treat or cure any disease or ailment and this article is not meant to be interpreted as medical advice. Before using any CBD product you should consult with a licensed physician.