The past few years have seen a rise in the used of CBD products. The most common form of CBD is in the form of a tincture where a user can take drops of CBD oil and place them directly under the tongue to allow the CBD to be absorbed into the bool stream.
But there’s still a stigma regarding the use of CBD. Because CBD is derived from cannabis, many believe that CBD is a marijuana product.
While CBD can be derived from marijuana, in most cases it is derived from hemp.
Hemp and Marijuana
For decades, hemp and marijuana have been grouped together and have been stigmatized as drugs. The fact is that while marijuana is certainly a drug, hemp isn’t.
Both hemp and marijuana come from the cannabis plant genus, but are different species. The 3 main cannabis species are:
- Cannabis Sativa (C. Sativa) – This is a cannabis species with low THC content (less than 0.3%) and higher CBD content. This is this the traditional species that’s been known as hemp. It was originally native to Asia but has spread across the world. These plants can grow up to 20 feet tall and the leaves are grouped towards the top of the stem. Sativa can prosper in many different types of climates and can be grown around other plants. Sativa is known as one of the most versatile plants in the world and can be used for a number of things including food, clothing, medicine, building supplies, paper, and as a way to fight erosion along rivers.
- Cannabis Indica (C. Indica) – Indica is the plant traditionally associated with marijuana. These plants grow much shorter than Sativa, with the tallest strains topping out at about 6 feet tall. The THC content in these plants can range from 5% to 35%. Unlike Sativa, Indica requires a lot of care to properly cultivate. It must be grown in a humid area to prosper. The plant must be isolated from other plants while growing and shouldn’t be cross-pollinated as it can affect the THC content. Indica was originally indigenous to India and in addition to marijuana, it is used in the hashish. Hashish is the resin made from cannabis.
- Cannabis Ruderalis (C. Ruderalis) – Ruderalis is another strain of hemp that’s indigenous to Russia. The plant rarely grows to more than 2 feet tall. For millennia, Russians have used it for medicinal purposes. In recent years, Ruderalis has been a popular plant to cross breed with Indica and Sativa as Ruderalis is a heartier plant and has an “auto-flowering” stage that’s based on the age of the plant, while other cannabis strains are based on light cycles. This allows quicker cultivation when crossbred. Ruderalis has the lowest THC content of the 3 species of cannabis. On its own, Ruderalis’ potential for other uses than medicinal purposes is limited due to the size of the plant.
THC and CBD
THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the most well-known component of the cannabis plant. It is actually a chemical compound known as a cannabinoid. At this point in time, there are 113 cannabinoids known to exist.
THC is the psychoactive substance in cannabis. In other words, it’s the chemical that causes a user to get high.
Most of the THC content in cannabis is located in the trichomes of fully grown female cannabis plants. Trichomes are hair-like substances that form on the plant.
Adult male plants only contain negligible quantities of THC.
While THC can be used as a way to get a euphoric feeling, its actual purpose in the plant is to protect the plant from predators, bacteria, parasites, and ultraviolet radiation.
The effects of THC can vary from person to person and are all short-term. These include:
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Decreased body temperature
- Decreased spatial memory
- Dry mouth
- Feeling drowsy or dizzy
- Feeling of physical heaviness
- Feeling uplifted and energetic
- Increased appetite
- Increased heart rate
- Red eyes
- Relief from pain
CBD is also a cannabinoid. CBD targets different receptors within the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Among these are the vanilloid (TRPV-1), adenosine and serotonin receptors.
When activating the TRPV-1 receptor, CBD can help regulate pain, inflammation and body temperature. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1575333/
CBD can also reduce the effects of THC. It does so by blocking the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) enzyme that acts on the CB1 receptor. By blocking this enzyme, the CB1 receptor doesn’t activate, preventing THC from binding to it. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23042808
CBD can help reduce anxiety and inflammation by activating adenosine receptors in the body. These receptors release the neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate. These control such functions as motor control, motivation, reward mechanisms, memory, learning, and cognition.
The serotonin receptor in the body is also activated by CBD. The 5-HT1A serotonin receptor controls pain perception, appetite, nausea, anxiety, addiction, and sleep mechanisms in the body.
CBD doesn’t have the psychoactive effects of THC on the body and while the 2 can work together to help some health issues, they are not dependent upon each other, and the health benefits of CBD can be had without the presence of any THC.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is a series of neurotransmitters that connect to special protein receptors throughout the body. These receptors are located in the brain, the central nervous system, and the peripheral nervous system. These neurotransmitters regulate many of the physiological and cognitive processes in the body. Among these processes are:
- pre-natal development
- post-natal development
In studies of the ECS, it has been found that cannabinoids, such as CBD act as neuromodulators. Neuromodulators are neurotransmitters that spread out through neural tissue to affect slow-acting receptors of many neurons. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3820295/
What Does THC-Free Mean?
You’d expect that THC-free would mean that the CBD has no CBD whatsoever. In the case of the manufacture of CBD products, this isn’t completely the case.
In order for cannabis in the United States and many other jurisdictions to be considered commercial grade hemp, the THC content must be less than 0.3%. So when you’re buying CBD products (at least the legal, non-prescription CBD products) there can be trace amounts of THC in the product.
The amounts of THC are so minuscule that they won’t show up on any drug tests or cause any euphoric feelings at all.
Because these trace amounts are undetectable, CBD with less than 0.3% THC is considered THC-free
How THC-Free CBD Oil is Made
CBD oil is extracted from the hemp plant. Once the plant has grown to full maturity, the plant is harvested and sent to a manufacturer for processing.
Manufacturers may employ a number of methods to extract the CBD from the hemp plant, but in most cases, they use either the solvent method or the carbon dioxide method.
The solvent method involves soaking the entire hemp plant in a solvent, most commonly grain alcohol. The plant, along with seeds are pressed then soaked in the solvent. The solvent then is allowed to sit for several days and eventually evaporates, leaving the pure CBD.
The carbon dioxide method involves pushing CO2 through the plant to extract the CBD. The pressurized carbon dioxide is forced through the hemp plant in a series of chambers that collect the CBD. The CO2 creates a chemical reaction with the CBD forcing the CBD to separate from the other substances in the plant. This method also allows manufacturers to produce other cannabinoid extracts as well.
Once the CBD is extracted, the manufacturer will either add a flavoring and send it to market or produce a CBD isolate.
When creating an isolate, manufacturers filter out the plant material and then put the CBD through a “winterization” process that removes plant waxes and residue to create a pure form of CBD known as a CBD isolate. This CBD isolate is over 99% pure CBD and is in a powder form.
While some find that the CBD isolate meets their needs, there are critics of isolates. CBD in a pre-isolate form has other cannabinoids, which critics of isolates argue are beneficial to users and may even help the body process CBD more efficiently when all the cannabinoids work together.
Benefits of THC-Free CBD Oil
The first modern studies of the effect of cannabis on disease started in the 1830s with the studies of cannabis by William Brooke O’Shaughnessy. O’Shaughnessy was an Irish doctor and scientist working in India when he was introduced to Indica.
His studies led to the adoption of cannabis a remedy for a number of illnesses in both Europe and North America. By 1850, the United States Pharmacopeia had listed cannabis as a treatment for nearly 2 dozen conditions and was considered an over-the-counter medicine that could be purchased from any local pharmacy.
Propaganda from the 1930s led to a widespread banning of cannabis and its eventual removal from the United States Pharmacopeia as well as its later classification as a Schedule I drug, meaning it had no medicinal value.
However, this started changing in the 1990s. In the time that cannabis was banned, scientists had isolated the cannabinoids THC and CBD and were able to determine their functions.
Since the 1990s, studies have found CBD effective in treating symptoms related to:
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis/Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS)
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Crohn’s Disease
- Endocrine disorders
- Epilepsy and Seizures
- Heart Disease
- Huntington’s Disease (HD)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disorder (IBD)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Kidney Disease
- Liver Disease
- Mood Disorders
- Motion Sickness
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Osteoporosis/Bone Health
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- Skin Conditions
- Sleep Disorders
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Furthermore, studies found that CBD had anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, analgesic, neuroprotective, and antiemetic properties.
CBD can be consumed in a number of forms. The oil itself can be added to may products. Most commonly, oils are sold as a tincture or as a vape. Other forms of CBD aren’t oils but are products that contain oil.
A tincture is the most popular way to consume THC-free CBD oil. Tinctures are liquids that are consumed by placing drops under the tongue using a dropper. Tinctures come in a variety of potencies based on the company that manufactures it.
Chemically, CBD and THC are almost identical. Both have 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. The difference is in the arrangement of one of the atoms. This difference causes each compound to behave differently and take on different characteristics.
These differences allow the 2 cannabinoids to focus on different aspects of the ECS to help with healing and overall health.
And while THC does have health benefits, most people prefer THC-free CBD oil to stay within the limits of the law. Some also want to be able to function normally. CBD oil containing THC won’t allow a user to do either of these.