Cannabinoid Report: A Guide to CBD Extraction, Storage, Price, Benefits & More
In this post:
- What is CBD
- Benefits of CBD
- CBD for sleep and epilepsy
- How CBD works in the body
- CBD and the endocannabinoid system
- CBD vs Delta-8
- Products and strains with CBD
- CBD legality
- Potency and CBD testing
When it comes to hemp, no compound has taken the world by storm like CBD. In the last three years, CBD has exploded in popularity, and today you can find products everywhere, from gas stations to dispensaries. But all this noise can make it hard to discern fact from fiction, so we thought it was time to clear any confusion you may have. Here we break down the definition of CBD, where you can find it, and why CBD is so popular in the health and wellness space.
What is CBD?
CBD is a cannabinoid found in hemp and cannabis plants. In cannabis, CBD is second only to THC in prominence. But in hemp, CBD is the most potent compound.
CBD is federally legal (when derived from hemp) and will not get you high regardless of origin. In terms of its structure and mechanism of action, CBD is a trickly little compound that we still don’t fully understand. It doesn’t bind directly with the receptors in your endocannabinoid system as other cannabinoids do (we’ll get into that later).
CBD also has a limit on the dose-to-effectiveness ratio. The necessary personalization of taking CBD is part of the confusion surrounding its benefits. CBD has a U-shaped dose curve response, meaning higher doses don’t always work better or more effectively. There is a “sweet spot” of dosing to provide optimal effects, and that’s different for every person.
How Does CBD Occur?
CBD comes from the “mother cannabinoid” CBGa. Short for cannabigerol, CBGa is produced in large quantities by young hemp and cannabis plants. As the plant matures, the CBGa breaks down through a reaction called cannabidiolic acid synthase and becomes CBDa–the acidic precursor to CBD. CBDa then converts to CBD during the drying and curing process, known as decarboxylation. (Wow that was a mouthful).
Does CBD Get You High?
No, CBD is not intoxicating and will not get you high like THC will. But CBD is psychoactive, meaning it affects your brain, and you may notice some mental or physical effects, depending on the dose.
Reported Benefits of CBD
CBD is a heavily studied cannabinoid because it provides many of the same benefits as THC but without intoxicating properties. This makes it a favorite for medical patients and researchers looking for non-pharmaceutical treatment options for common ailments.
- A 2020 study showed CBD significantly reduced the production of proinflammatory cytokines and increased the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, influencing how we feel and interpret pain. Cytokines are chemical signals that tell our brain about pain.
- Another 2020 study tested the effects of topical CBD treatments and found participants had a “significant reduction in intense pain, sharp pain, cold and itchy sensations” with no adverse reactions.
- A 2021 retrospective study examined the effect of CBD on 279 people with pain, depression, and anxiety. Participants were classified into two categories: moderate/ severe symptoms and mild symptoms. Those with moderate to severe symptoms reported improvement in pain, anxiety, and depression levels.
A 2019 study tested CBD’s effects on public speaking anxiety. Participants received a placebo or a dose of CBD at 150 mg, 300 mg, or 600 mg. Scientists found that participants who received 300 mg had “significantly reduced anxiety” while public speaking, but there was no significant difference between the participants who received 150 mg v. 600 mg.
CBD has antidepressant effects in mice, and promising potential in humans, though studies are limited. A 2010 study suggested CBD counters depression by activating the serotonin receptor, 5-HT(1A). A 2019 study supports this, reporting CBD “promotes both a rapid and a sustained antidepressant effect in animal models” by inducing cellular and molecular changes in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex in the brain, areas that are chemically affected by depression.
May Improve Sleep
CBD companies would have you believe that CBD is the new melatonin, but the science is mixed. A 2019 case study examined 72 adults who used CBD to moderate anxiety symptoms and assist sleep. They found sleep scores improved in 66% of participants in the first 30 days of use, but effectiveness fluctuated over time.
A 2014 review found high doses of CBD can be sedating and may increase sleep time, but low doses of CBD may promote wakefulness during the day. CBD can be a treatment option for insomnia and may also help treat REM behavior disorders related to Parkinson’s Disease.
So will CBD help you sleep better? We can’t say for sure, but a self-reported 2021 study found that 42% of respondents used CBD to help them sleep better, so anecdotal evidence suggests it may.
CBD is federally approved to treat seizures resulting from rare forms of epilepsy for patients as young as two years old and has been since 2018. A 2016 review examined five pediatric epilepsy clinics with 74 patients who took oil with a 20:1 CBD to THC ratio. They found 89% of the children reported a reduction in seizure frequency, with 18% reporting a 75-100% decrease.
The authors of the study note five children had adverse reactions, including drowsiness, irritability, and gastrointestinal distress, and ceased treatment.
- ALS. A 2019 study examined 32 patients with ALS on a combined CBD/ THC treatment. Researchers separated patients by their muscle tightness and stiffness as mild, moderate, or severe. Patients classified as moderate or severe took higher doses of CBD more frequently and reported a reduction in spasticity-related pain. The authors note that CBD may be a valuable addition to ALS treatments but not a replacement.
- Alzheimer’s Disease. A 2019 review of cannabis and Alzheimer’s found that CBD may help treat or prevent Alzheimer’s because it could inhibit the main causal factor of Alzheimer’s by activating receptors in the brain to protect from neurotoxicity and oxidative stress.
Other CBD Benefits
- Reduce Nausea. A 2011 study suggested CBD may help reduce nausea by interacting with serotonin receptors, but researchers noted that THC might be more effective.
- Combat Opioid Addiction. Due to CBD’s curved dose-response, a higher dose doesn’t give your brain positive reinforcement to crave more, making it a good option for people struggling with addiction. In human studies, CBD can manage problems like insomnia and anxiety that exacerbate addiction and may indirectly regulate neural systems that modulate opioid-related behavior and reduce withdrawal side effects.
How Does CBD Work in the Body?
CBD gets absorbed through the bloodstream, where it interacts (indirectly) with your endocannabinoid system. How effectively it gets into your bloodstream depends on the administration method.
If you smoke CBD, it is absorbed into the lungs first and then into the bloodstream. If you consume an edible, your body breaks the CBD down in your liver and digestive tract before entering your bloodstream. If you’re using a topical application of CBD, it’s absorbed into the skin and interacts with the endocannabinoid receptors that reside there.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex chemical signaling system in the body. If you didn’t know you had an endocannabinoid system, you’re not alone- but every person (and, in fact, every mammal) has an ECS.
The purpose of your ECS is to process plant-based cannabinoids like CBD and endogenous cannabinoids like anandamide. The ECS has receptors on every organ in your body that help you stay healthy by improving biological functions.
Research on the ECS is still in fairly early stages, but experts have identified two primary receptors–CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are concentrated in the brain and nervous system and appear in your spinal cord and liver. CB2 receptors are present in the immune and gastrointestinal systems as well as the brain.
CBD & the Endocannabinoid System
Remember when we said CBD was a trickly cannabinoid? Scientists know CBD activates your endocannabinoid system- but they don’t fully understand how. CBD doesn’t bind with CB1 or CB2 receptors like other cannabinoids. THC unquestionably binds to CB1, and for a while, researchers thought that CBD was a CB1 antagonist.
But CBD has shown little binding affinity for either receptor, leaving scientists to ponder its exact mechanism of action.
Here’s what we do know. CBD is polypharmacological, meaning it acts on multiple targets in the body. It seems to work mostly indirectly by modifying the effects of other compounds or changing certain processes. CBD doesn’t bind with your CB1 receptor, but it acts as a negative allosteric modulator, changing how CB1 interacts with THC.
As a result, CBD can actually negate or counteract some of the adverse side effects of THC, including anxiety, paranoia, and increased heart rate. CBD may increase the effect of endocannabinoids, like anandamide, in the body as well. Scientists believe CBD stops anandamide from being broken down too quickly, allowing this “bliss molecule” to build up in your system and amplify its effects.
Other Hemp Derivatives
CBD became a protected cannabinoid when hemp cultivation was federally legalized in 2018. But since this bill also protects hemp derivatives, innovative brands recently began experimenting with creating new compounds from CBD extracts.
CBD & Delta-8 THC
Delta-8 reacts in the body like THC and doesn’t have much in common with CBD. But Delta-8 products as you know them wouldn’t exist without CBD. Delta-8 naturally occurs in quantities too small to commercially produce. In order to synthesize enough to sell, scientists typically transform CBD into Delta-8 THC through a chemical reaction spurred by a catalyst that converts crude oil into this THC isomer. Learn more about Delta-8 THC.
CBD & Delta-10 THC
Like Delta-8, Delta-10 THC is another hemp-derived innovation that brands are creating through CBD conversion methods. The process is also similar, requiring a catalyst and chemical reaction. Delta-10 is newer to the mainstream market than Delta-8 and is less studied. Learn more about Delta-10 THC.
CBD & THCO-a
THCO-a or THCo Acetate does not naturally occur in hemp or cannabis plants, nor is it a THC isomer. It is, however, a derivative of hemp products. THCO-a is synthesized from Delta-8, which is typically first created by synthesizing CBD. Learn more about THCO-a.
What Types of CBD Products are Available?
CBD is increasingly common across the country, both in dispensaries and in CBD-specific stores. You can find CBD in flower form, but it can also be in oils, tinctures, edibles, topical treatments, and cartridges. As the legal market continues to grow, CBD beverages and skincare lines are also hitting the market.
CBD product availability varies by state, and not all forms may be available where you live. Some CBD products may contain THC if you’re purchasing in a recreationally legal state. However, in states without recreational cannabis, the CBD won’t have more than 0.3% THC as per federal law.
Though CBD is also available at gas stations and grocery stores across the county, those are not advisable places to purchase and consume CBD. Always buy CBD products from a dispensary or trusted hemp company that provides a COA to validate its components and safety.
Can You Smoke, Vape, and Ingest CBD?
Yes. You can consume CBD in any way THC can be ingested, including smoking the flower and vaping the extract. You’ll also find CBD in a number of tinctures and concentrates as well as in edibles and beverages.
Popular Strains With CBD
CBD is everywhere in modern cannabis strains! While most strains are more THC forward, the 2018 Farm Bill combined with expanding legalization means CBD-forward strains are growing in popularity. Strains high in CBD tend to provide a chill, calming high that lacks the forcefulness of THC.
- Harlequin. Grown from the cannabis sativa plant, Harlequin is one of the most popular CBD forward strains on the market, with a 5:2 CBD to THC ratio that delivers an alert, mood-boosting high that keeps you functional.
- Sour Tsunami. Sour Tsunami was one of the first CBD-forward strains developed and has an earthy, diesel taste with no noticeable intoxicating effects.
- Cannatonic. This earthy strain offers a balanced profile of CBD to THC for a short-lived but powerfully relaxing high favored by medical patients across the country.
- Ringo’s Gift. This high CBD strain was named for CBD pioneer Lawrence Ringo and can have ratios of CBD to THC as high as 24:1. It has an earthy aroma and delivers a focused high with full-body relaxation.
- ACDC. This strain is a favorite with medical marijuana patients, offering a calming high that lifts anxiety but keeps your mind active and clear.
- Sweet and Sour Widow. This indica/sativa hybrid delivers a 1:1 blend of CBD and THC that produces mild psychoactive effects without sending you to the stars.
- Harle-Tsu. The love child of Harlequin and Sour Tsunami, Harle-Tsu has almost no THC, delivering a gentle and pain-relieving high that doesn’t cloud the mind.
The CBD Market
Is CBD Legal?
Yes, but it’s a little complicated because CBD comes from hemp and cannabis plants. CBD derived from hemp is federally legal, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, which protects hemp cultivations with less than 0.3% THC. You can purchase CBD in all 50 states, but the products and types of consumption methods vary.
CBD derived from cannabis plants is not federally legal, however each state has its own cannabis legislation.
Is CBD Profitable?
After the 2018 Farm Bill passed, hemp was touted as a “get rich quick” crop for distressed farmers. And for the first year, it was. But the market was quickly flooded with too much supply to meet the demand, and hemp prices plummeted in 2019.
Part of the problem is the lack of infrastructure for hemp manufacturing. While the proper processing can turn hemp into a number of materials, from clothing fabric to housing insulation, the primary market in the US right now is smokable CBD flower and CBD products.
The hemp industry in the US is relatively new and needs time to stabilize. Continued supply chain development and better, less expensive manufacturing processes could see the price for hemp rise in the future. Today, high-quality CBD can sell around $300 per pound for flower, according to the PEW Research Center, while high-quality oil can fetch as much as $1,000 per kilogram.
CBD Potency and Testing
Like all cannabinoids, CBD potency is measured with a potency test from a verified third-party laboratory.
At ACS, we use Ultra-High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) to test for the presence and potency of 21 cannabinoids, including CBD and THC. The HPLC machinery is the preferred instrument for edibles and extracts because it can test samples at room temperature without needing heat, which can influence the results.
At ACS, we understand the importance of accurate THC potency tests for brands to market products successfully. We test hemp and cannabis products for CBD as part of our 22 Analyte Potency Test. We also test for Delta-8 THC, Delta-10 THC and have recently developed a method to test THCO-a. With its ability to reduce pain, treat epilepsy and addictions, and lower anxiety levels, CBD is the gateway into a new form of plant medicine.
Want to test with us? We deliver precise results fast. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a potency test.