The hemp plant, domesticated 6000 years ago in China, produces more than 400 organic compounds. The two main groups of molecules with bioactive properties present in hemp are terpenes and cannabinoids. CBD is a molecule of the cannabinoid group.
Cannabinoids are compounds that can influence the functioning of the human nervous system. The hemp plant biosynthesizes more than 60. The major cannabinoids are THC, CBD and CBG. They differ in their chemical structure and action.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the most abundant cannabinoids of hemp. CBD seems to have many therapeutic applications and helps to relax. While being beneficial for well-being, CBD does not have the psychoactive properties of its more famous THC cousin. It should not be confused with THC.
What are the differences between CBD and THC?
CBD stands for Cannabidiol and THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabidiol. This is two key ingredients in cannabis plants. Cannabinoids are a class of unique compounds, and CBD like THC is one of them. THC-rich varieties are common in cannabis varieties, but varieties rich in CBD are rare. Here are some basic differences between CBD and THC.
Differences between CBD and THC
- Non-psychoactive: does not give a hovering effect.
- No known side effects.
- Helps avoid the psychoactive effects of THC.
- Legal in most countries.
- Psychoactive: gives a hovering effect.
- Has side effects such as paranoia or anxiety.
- Concurrent effects with a psychosis.
- Illegal in most countries.
How does CBD work?
The human nervous system contains a large number of receptors. The receivers are like mobile telephones, which transmit signals. But while the telephony terminals accept electromagnetic waves as signals, the receivers use specific molecules to transmit the messages.
One of the receptor systems is called the endocannabinoid system (SEC). SEC receptors are located in the human brain and in the peripheral nervous system – the spinal cord and the nerves. In the brain, the receptors are located in the areas responsible for perception, concentration, memory and movement. This is why the SEC is involved in the regulation of many physiological processes including pain, mood and appetite. Interestingly, the SEC is also a part of the neural system’s response to physical exercise. “The drunkenness of the runner” is caused by the action of the SEC.
The SEC receptors are CB1 and CB2, 5-HT1A, μ and δ. These receptors capture molecules similar to cannabinoids produced by the nervous system, endorphins. One of the signal-transmitting endorphins is 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). It binds to CBD1 and CB2 receptors. Cannabidiol, CBD, also binds to these receptors and replicates the effects of 2-AG.
In research, CBD has been shown to have antispasmodic, antipsychotic, anti-convulsive, and neuroprotective properties. So, CBD-containing oil is a good way to relax the muscles and the overall condition. CBD also relieves stress on a daily basis and makes the nervous system more resistant.
Biology and chemistry of CBD
In nature, Cannabis sativa plants produce an assortment of organic compounds, including THC and CBD. Just as other domesticated plants have been selected to produce specific molecules in large quantities, Cannabis sativa has been selectively propagated for different purposes. Result of this breeding, the original plant was separated into different cultivars with different qualities (such as Brussels sprouts and cauliflower derived from wild cabbage). Current varieties of “cannabis” focus on producing the highest possible quantities of THC, to the detriment of other useful compounds. On the other hand, “hemp” varieties focus on industrial applications and have been bred to produce large amounts of CBD at the expense of THC.
The THC and CBD cannabinoids are closely related to plant terpenoid compounds such as menthol, camphor and curcuminoids in turmeric and mustard seeds. Terpenoids are a large class of organic molecules widely used in traditional cooking for their aromatic qualities. They also play an important role in traditional plant remedies.
THC and CBD are produced by the same biosynthetic pathway. In other words, they have the same precursor molecule, cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA. When this precursor is available, an enzyme, THCS synthase, produces an additional ether link and transforms
How is CBD oil produced?
After selecting the perfect variety, the manufacturing method is selected. In the manufacturing industry, there are many methods of extraction. Among the most popular is oil-based extraction, a fast and safe process. It also makes it possible to bring a dose of Omega acids into the final product when hemp oil is used as a carrier. In general, olive oil is used as a support to give a good taste to the product. In this process, no chemicals are used and the product has a long shelf life. For this reason, it is not necessary to take a large amount at a time.
Another extraction technique is to use super or subcritical CO2. This is the cleanest, but also the safest method. It is a scientific process that guarantees a very clean result. It consists of creating a protective environment from a high or very low temperature. Thus, cannabinoids are isolated and preserved. The purity of the oil is also at the rendezvous especially as chlorophyll is completely suppressed.
While the super-or subcritical CO2 extraction technique guarantees efficiency and reliability, it is not profitable for producers because the necessary equipment is expensive, not to mention the techniques that are complex. For novices, trial-and-error is also common until full mastery of the technique.
The Preferred Method of Small Producers
Small producers of CBD oil typically use the solvent-based extraction method. It is an easy method to implement that requires only cheap hardware. However, the technique is very dangerous since the most used solvents are ethanol, hexane, isopropyl acetate, butane or even grain alcohol. The risk of explosion is high and a trace of the solvent will be present in the finished product. The latter will not be reliable then and can even aggravate the ills instead of treating them. Note that in France, home production of CBD is prohibited.