The natural plant extraction CBD has been a popular trend for quite some time. It is an effective and safe way to calm anxiety, ease inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, reduce epileptic seizures, and even fight cancer.
CBD products are fairly new to the market, and the name behind the initials is challenging to say: ka-na-BID-ee-ol (cannabidiol).
That tongue-twister is similar to one that is related: cannabinoid, pronounced ka-NA-bi-noid. That word is actually kinda fun to say – it sounds like something from outer space. There are over 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. The most famous ones are THC (gets you high) and CBD (doesn’t get you high).
Many U.S. states have legalized medical, recreational, and/or hemp cultivation and sales. Because it has no significant psychotropic (mind-altering) properties, CBD has been available commercially through specialized shops and online stores.
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved CBD but it has approved using the oil some people call a “miracle” for a few severe medical conditions.
To date, the FDA has not approved a marketing application for cannabis for the treatment of any disease or condition. The agency has, however, approved one cannabis-derived drug product: Epidiolex (cannabidiol), and three synthetic cannabis-related drug products: Marinol (dronabinol), Syndros (dronabinol), and Cesamet (nabilone). These approved drug products are only available with a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider. Importantly, the FDA has not approved any other cannabis, cannabis-derived, or cannabidiol (CBD) products currently available on the market.
CBD is quickly growing into a cash crop – and turning government budgets around in states that collect taxes from licensees, producers, and consumers.
No wonder Cannabis, aka marijuana, is native and grew prolifically throughout the Americas and certain other parts of the world. One of its early nicknames in the United States was “weed.”
This hardy, tall, leafy plant with its thick, woody stem grew especially well in Kentucky. But cannabis cultivation was banned and replaced by tobacco farms decades before the Surgeon General ruled that using such substances can cause cancer.
Since the dawn of the New Millennium, CBD has gained ground as a non-prescription therapy for health problems and maintaining general wellness. We know that this healing herbal byproduct comes from the cannabis plant. But then what? How do you make the gooey oil?
The Making Process
A process called supercritical CO2 extraction separates the chemical component CBD from hemp plants. The resulting extract is very high in CBD content and contains a myriad of other beneficial phytochemicals (nonnutritive bioactive plant substances, such as flavonoids or carotenoids, thought to be beneficial for human health).
A whole plant extract comes from the complete plant: stem (or stalk), leaf, and bud (flower tops). Healthcare practitioners give this method the nod because most cannabinoids come from this type of extraction, and more is better.
Most kids know that you can find water (H2O) on Earth in any of the three so-called physical states: solid, liquid, or gas. But not so many people know that CO2 has the same properties.
A closed-loop extractor takes advantage of this trait to produce high-grade CBD. Here’s how it works:
1. A solid piece of CO2 pumps into a second chamber that holds cannabis material – often hemp. The chamber is pressurized such that the CO2 remains in a liquid-like state, able to absorb the oils and flavors of the plant.
2. The CO2-cannabinoid mixture then pumps into a third chamber where the CO2 is allowed to return to its gaseous state, leaving behind the oil and flavors from the plants as residues.
Alternative extraction processes substitute for the CO2 either ethanol, butane, hexane, or isopropyl alcohol. The process itself remains very similar to the CO2 method.
Does Price Matter?
Producers use another technique to extract CBD from cannabis, but many consumers consider these products less savory. While liquid solvent extraction is a less expensive, easier way to extract the curative oil, some solvents can carry unwanted impurities and chlorophyll from the plant. If that happens, the oil takes on a greenish tinge and tastes bitter.
A CBD extract begins as a thick greenish-brown paste. It is then suspended in carrier oil to make CBD oil. Adding the paste to a pleasant-tasting oil gives the extract more versatility and a better taste. It also has a buffering effect.
Producing high-quality CBD oil starts, not too surprisingly, by choosing a strain of cannabis that contains high levels. Selecting a top-shelf carrier oil is equally important to the quality of the final product.
People report worlds of differences between cheap CBD products and those that cost more. They advise getting the best you can afford.