CBD for Beginners
Have you heard all the incredible things about CBD and ready to try it for yourself? You have come to the right place. Before you start your journey, we believe you should know a bit about CBD to help you decide the best solution for you and your lifestyle.
First up, it is important to note that not all CBD oil is made equally. The quality of the CBD depends heavily on the extraction method, carrier oil, and type of CBD.
Here is our handy little guide to help you on your way to becoming a bona fide CBD master, and decide what solution suits you best.
What is CBD?
CBD, short for Cannabidiol, is just one of over 100 chemical compounds found in the Cannabis or Marijuana plant.
This naturally occurring substance has taken the health and fitness world by storm because of its positive and therapeutic capabilities. It has been linked to alleviating pain, anxiety, and even acne. (See benefits of CBD).
It works by interacting directly with your body’s natural endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is responsible for a variety of functions, including sleep, appetite, pain, and the immune system. By binding with your CB1 receptors, CBD helps to regulate and maintain homeostasis and balance within the body.
Did you know, CBD is even found in some prescription medications? Sativex, which is used to treat pain associated with multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis contains CBD; and a study found that patients taking the drug for just one month experienced improvements in pain, walking, and muscle spasms.
How is CBD extracted?
It is important to note that not all CBD is manufactured the same, and the extraction process plays a very big part in the overall product you receive.
There are several ways to extract CBD from the harvested hemp plant, and the method used directly impacts the purity, taste, and overall effectiveness of the product.
This is regarded as the safest and most efficient way to extract CBD and is the method we use for our CBD oil.
This method uses Carbon Dioxide in its ‘supercritical’ state to extract the CBD compound from the hemp plant.
Now, don’t be put off by the word “supercritical”, whilst it sounds super fancy and a little scary, it is actually a term used very commonly in Chemistry.
Put simply, a substance in its “supercritical” state possesses the characteristics of both a liquid and a gas. It is generally regarded as safe by the FDA.
In CBD extraction, the gas properties of CO2 allow it to effuse through the cannabis plant, whilst its liquid properties extract the desired compounds efficiently.
First, the CO2 is added into a controlled chamber along with the raw plant material. The materials are then introduced to the exact amount of pressure and temperatures needed for the CO2 to reach its supercritical state. At this point, with the help of some additional heat, the CO2 begins to act as a solvent, causing the plant material to separate, carrying with it all the essential compounds. Now, the CO2 is extracted from the organic compound, leaving behind pure CBD oil.
Whilst the CO2 method is regarded as the most expensive extraction because it requires qualified personnel, it is also considered the safest and most effective method. It is also environmentally friendly due to the limited number of emissions and solvents used.
This is probably one of the cheapest and easiest methods out there, but it is also considered to be the method most likely to cause issues with the end product.
Solvent extraction involves running either ethanol or butane through the hemp plant matter. The cannabinoids are stripped into the liquid, which is then evaporated, leaving behind a concentrated oily residue containing the hemp compounds.
The main issue with solvent extraction is that it inadvertently removes the chlorophyll along with some of the beneficial cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. This can lead to some unwanted side effects and causes the end product to taste more bitter.
Olive Oil Extraction
Most commonly used by home-brew enthusiasts, the olive oil extraction method is known for masking the natural taste of CBD, and also makes it more versatile.
First, the hemp is either ground down very finely or heated to a certain temperature which converts several of the cannabinoids' compound make-up, making some more potent and therefore easier to extract.
The remaining cannabinoids are then combined with olive oil and heated further to extract the CBD and other cannabinoid compounds to the olive oil.
This method is impractical for mass production as it is ineffective when compared to other methods, and results in a low yield and highly perishable product.
Steam Distillation Extraction
This method is commonly used in the extraction process for essential oils, but it can also be used in CBD extraction.
Steam is infused through the plant matter to free the volatile compounds. The resulting vapour, full of cannabinoids is then cooled and condensed, ready for the oil and water residue to be separated.
Whilst inexpensive and very straightforward, this method is deemed inefficient as it requires more plant material for less oil and produces inconsistent amounts of CBD. This method also has the potential to damage the chemical properties of some of the more heat-sensitive cannabinoids.
What other compounds can be found in the hemp plant?
As you know, the hemp plant contains over a hundred different cannabinoids; however, the four most notable and prevalent ones are CBD, THC, THCV, and Terpenes.
If you have made it this far, you probably already know what CBD is, so we won’t bore you. All we will say is that CBD certainly packs a punch when it comes to health and wellbeing.
Again, if you have made it this far, you probably already know what THC is. THC is an intoxicating compound that makes users feel ‘high’. However. THC in trace amounts (less than 0.03%) is completely safe and found in most CBD products.
Both CBD and THC work by binding with your body's natural CB1 receptors, the trace amount of THC activates the receptors, whilst the CBD inhibits them, allowing you to feel all the positive benefits from CBD.
THVC is similar to THC in molecular structure and psychoactive capabilities, but it provides a variety of different effects.
It has been suggested that THCV may be good for those who want to lose weight, as it may suppress appetite. It has also been linked to regulating blood sugar levels and improving symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
However, research is still being carried out into the full effects of THCV, so as ever, please ensure you seek professional advice before seeking out THCV.
Terpenes are pungent oils that give cannabis its taste and smell. In the plant, they serve the purpose of repelling predators and attracting pollinators, but in the human body, three of them are well known for their health benefits.
- Limonene – can elevate mood.
- Caryophyllene – can help protect the gastrointestinal tract.
- Myrcene – can aid sleep.
You will find that most CBD oils (broad-spectrum and full spectrum) contain trace amounts of both THC and Terpenes. In trace quantities, these compounds are not harmful to the human body; in fact, they amplify the effects of CBD, helping you feel better, faster.
Can you get 'high’ off CBD, and is it legal?
CBD is completely legal as it is the non-psychoactive portion of the plant, which has no negative effects on the body whatsoever.
The hemp compound considered illegal is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) however, THC is only deemed illegal in a large percentage, not in the trace amounts you find in CBD products. The small trace content of THC found in CBD products is so small that it is virtually undetectable, even on a drug test.
The Different Types of CBD Oil
As you know, there are over a hundred cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds. As nature intended, all compounds play a vital role within the plant to give the final product its effectiveness and potency.
The three different types of CBD are named because of the compounds found within them. Some CBD products (isolate) contain no traces of any other cannabinoid compound. Others contain trace amounts of other compounds that add to the overall effectiveness of the product.
Isolate CBD contains absolutely no traces of any other compound found in the hemp plant and is pure CBD. While some may prefer this option, studies have shown that CBD alone has little to no impact on the human body.
Naturally, CBD works in synergy along with all the other compounds found within the hemp plant. By stripping away the other cannabinoids, you will not feel the full potential benefits associated with CBD; this is known as the ‘entourage effect.’
Broad-spectrum CBD products contain a range of naturally occurring compounds from the cannabis plant, but typically no THC. This option may be ideal for those who are iffy on THC because of its psychoactive nature.
Studies have shown that broad-spectrum CBD oils are more effective than isolate, again because of the additional compounds that work in tandem with each other.
This what our CBD oil is classed as. Full-spectrum CBD contains all the beneficial compounds of the cannabis plant, including a trace amount of THC (less than 0.01%) and terpenes.
Full-spectrum CBD has been proven to be the most effective form of CBD oil because of that ‘entourage effect’ in which all compounds work together in tandem to amplify the beneficial effects of CBD.
If you have come this far in your CBD journey, you have probably heard the term ‘carrier oil’ being casually thrown around, but what is it exactly, and what role does it play in CBD?
Carrier oils are used within CBD oil to improve its bioavailability. Naturally, CBD oil is a fat-soluble substance, meaning it absorbs better in fat rather than water. By adding CBD to a carrier oil, it helps your body absorb and digest the CBD oil, so you can enjoy the endless benefits.
There are four main types of carrier oil used in CBD production, and whilst they are all very different and vary in properties, they do share two main similarities. First, they are all light in scent and flavour. Second, they do not interfere with the body's natural ability to absorb a substance.
Coconut Oil (MCT)
Here at Botanical Factory, this is our carrier oil of choice. Coconut oil contains long and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), making it one of the most desirable carrier options.
To extract the MCT from the coconut, it must go through a fractionating process, which skims the large fat molecules from the oil, leaving behind the MCT’s which the body can easily break down.
MCT oil also boasts several health benefits on its own. It has been linked to aiding weight loss as it helps to control appetite, and it is a natural antioxidant that helps with inflammation.
Hemp seed Oil
Hemp seed oil is another popular carrier oil because it comes from the same plant as CBD. The natural synergy of the two counterparts leads people to believe that the power of CBD is amplified when combined with hemp seed oil; however, this is just a myth.
Hemp seed oil is one of nature's richest sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids. It is an excellent natural emollient for adding moisture retention in both skin and hair; and is proven to help alleviate dry skin, mild abrasions, and eczema.
Best known as the perfect addition to a healthy salad, olive oil is definitely one of the best tasting oils around; however, this doesn’t make it the best carrier oil. Olive oil is very high in monounsaturated fats, which the human body takes a while to digest, meaning it isn’t the most efficient carrier oil.
Avocado oil has become more popular among consumers in recent years. Naturally, it is high in several vitamins, including vitamins A, B, D, and E, and is very rich in antioxidants.
Some find its nutty flavour more pleasant than the alternatives; however, it also carries a higher allergy risk than the alternatives. It is also worth noting that Avocado oil is significantly thicker than other oils, making it a little harder to swallow.
Palm oil is very similar in characteristics to MCT oil. However, from an environmental perspective, it should be avoided where possible. Palm olive contributes massively to global warming and deforestation.
Every year, acres of rainforest disappear to harvest palm oil, meaning animals lose their natural habitat, which leads to them becoming endangered.