As indicated in the first part of this three-part blog series on CBD oil, we have received many inquiries about the legality, benefits, and sourcing of CBD oil. Most of these inquiries come from persons in states where there is no other legal access to cannabis, so they are trying to better understand the “legal in all 50 states” advertised CBD oil. Please see part I of this blog series for a detailed discussion regarding the actual legality of CBD oil.
There is a significant amount of misinformation, both purposeful and unintended, about CBD oil. The confusion starts with nomenclature. Consumers are faced with “hemp seed oil,” “hemp CBD oil,” and “High CBD oil” … to name a few of the most common. All of these oils are derived from the cannabis plant; however, they are processed from different parts of the plant, have different phytochemical makeups (thus, different health benefits), and have varying degrees of legality.
It is important to understand the difference between cannabis, marijuana, and industrial hemp. Industrial hemp has less than .3% of the cannabinoid THC (for more explanation of cannabinoids, please see our previous post) and has historically been cultivated to produce more seeds and stalk than resin. Marijuana has varying degrees of cannabinoid content (though, usually higher in THC) and has historically been cultivated to produce larger resinous flowers known as buds. Both industrial hemp and marijuana are names given to cannabis to compartmentalize the plant into the way it is used.
Hemp seed oil is made from pressing seeds of industrial hemp. Hemp seed oil contains nearly no cannabinoids, so it is not used to produce CBD oil (though, it is sometimes combined with industrial hemp CBD oil to assist the consistency and supplement the nutritional content). Hemp seed oil does have a variety of health benefits either as a consumed supplement or as a topical. It is 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 mercury free fatty acids. [i] It contains sterols, alcohols, tocopherols, Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), vitamin E, and 25% of the oil is comprised of a complete protein source offering all of the essential amino acids. [ii] Because of this makeup, it is used as a supplement for heart health, inflammation, hormone balancing, and immune health. [iii] It is also used topically for acne, eczema and as a moisturizer. Hemp seed oil containing the most nutritional value is cold-pressed and unrefined. Refined hempseed oil is most commonly used for body care products, but the more refined the oil, the lesser degree of phytochemical bioavailability there is for presumed health benefits.
Regulatory compliant industrial hemp CBD oil (legal industrial hemp is described in the first part of this blog series) is CBD-rich oil derived from the mature stalks and sterilized seeds of an industrial hemp cannabis plant – a plant that has less than .3% THC. If a company is compliant with the DEA’s definition and not using the resinous plant material from the flowers and leaves of the industrial hemp plant, the process to extract enough CBD oil from the stalk (the seed provides oil, but is essentially void of CBD) requires large amounts of hemp. Also, it usually involves solvents such as hexane and thinning compounds like propylene glycol (that may convert to formaldehyde when heated/inhaled). [iv] In the rare cases of finding solvent-less/additive free industrial hemp CBD oil, there is also a significant chance for accumulated toxins in the oil due to cannabis being a bio-remediator – it absorbs toxins from the soil. As the plant is processed for oil, the toxins in the plant are concentrated and passed to the consumer. In addition, industrial hemp CBD oil often lacks other phytochemicals in the plant that create a more therapeutic entourage effect compared to isolated cannabinoids. [v]
Industrial hemp plants being bred, cultivated, and processed for CBD rich resin content, where the flowers and leaves are being harvested and processed for more oil with a higher CBD content, are potentially producing safer CBD oil. However, if they are doing so under the protections of the import decision of the Hemp Industries vs. DEA decision or the Farm Bill (as discussed in the first part of this series), they are doing so at increased risk of penalty as the DEA currently defines any cannabinoids derived from the resinous parts of the cannabis plant an illegal Schedule I substance.
That brings us to High CBD oil, or CBD-rich cannabis oil. This oil is made from what is commonly termed marijuana, but marijuana plants that have been bred to possess more of the cannabinoid CBD than THC. Legally, it can only be grown, processed, and distributed within individual states that have legalized the cultivation, processing, distribution, and possession of medical and recreational cannabis. There are a variety of ways to process the high CBD – low THC – resinous cannabis plants into oil [vi] and products. The various CBD products range in purity, potency, residual solvents, and full-spectrum phytochemical (beyond CBD) content.
We suggest sourcing oil that is:
1. Grown using organic/clean cultivation principles
2. Third-party tested
3. Free from pesticides, mold, mildew, and metals
4. Full spectrum – containing as many of the phytochemicals in the plant as possible
5. Derived from a solventless extraction method
6. Or, if derived from a solvent extraction method, tested to prove no residual solvents present
There is ample research that cannabis medicine high in CBD, but completely void of THC, may not treat many conditions as well as having some THC present. It is usually best to start with a low dose of high CBD – low/to no THC medicine and slowly increase the dose amount and, possibly, the THC ratio to CBD. In the case of seizure patients, it is especially important to work with a team of knowledgeable doctors, pharmacists and care providers that have treated seizure patients with CBD oil and are familiar with the research.
So, if you can source legal and safe CBD oil, what are the potential health benefits or healing capabilities of the medicine? Full-spectrum CBD oil enhanced with hemp seed oil can be used as a supplement to our body’s endocannabinoid system and to other needs our body has that we may be missing due to our modern diets, food nutrient content and health issues. It is possible to source oil that is rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, amino acids, Omega 3 and omega 6 oils [vii], as well as beneficial cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
As described in our previous blog series, cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in cannabis that bind to endogenous cannabinoid receptors in the human body. The primary function of the human body’s endocannabinoid system is the promotion of homeostasis within various bodily functions. Using cannabis may result in peaks or valleys from a balanced state. It may also help to achieve a balanced state if a person’s endocannabinoid system is not properly regulating itself because of disease, infection or inflammation. The other phytochemicals in cannabis interact with these receptors separately and synergistically and may also promote healing in the body outside of the endocannabinoid system.
Project CBD is an excellent resource regarding all things CBD. They describe it as such:
Cannabidiol—CBD—is a cannabis compound that has significant medical benefits, but does not make people feel “stoned” and can actually counteract the psychoactivity of THC. The fact that CBD-rich cannabis is non-psychoactive or less psychoactive than THC-dominant strains makes it an appealing option for patients looking for relief from inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, seizures, spasms, and other conditions without disconcerting feelings of lethargy or dysphoria.
Scientific and clinical research—much of it sponsored by the US government—underscores CBD’s potential as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders. CBD has demonstrable neuroprotective and neurogenic effects, and its anti-cancer properties are currently being investigated at several academic research centers in the United States and elsewhere. [viii]
Visit their site for excellent discussions about:
1. CBD and the endocannabinoid system
2. The entourage effect
3. Types of extractions
4. Conditions CBD is used for
Cannabis is an amazing plant. It can provide us nutrition, medicine, and has a variety of industrial applications. In the last part of this blog series on CBD oil and industrial hemp, we will look at the industrial applications of cannabis. As discussed in the first blog of this series, it is up to us to educate our elected officials about the research, uses, and need for access to cannabis. Please share this information with those that can legalize access to medicine and a valuable industrial resource.