The use of cannabidiol (CBD) has exploded over the past couple of years. CBD can now be found infused in a variety of consumer products like oils, capsules, gummies, topicals, and even beverages.
But before you go and experiment with the different formulations of CBD, it is important to understand how it works and know how CBD is made in the first place.
Research into CBD’s therapeutic effects is still in its infancy but there is evidence that CBD is effective in providing chronic pain relief and reducing other symptoms like loss of appetite, nausea, and anxiety.
CBD appears to have a good safety profile and its effects are well-tolerated by most people.
It is theorized that CBD works by affecting the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a signaling network that regulates vital biological processes like CBD for pain management, inflammation responses, mood, sleep, relaxation, metabolism, and appetite.
Where does CBD Come From?
CBD is a cannabinoid or compound that naturally occurs in cannabis plants. It is just one of the hundreds of known cannabinoids but it has the distinct characteristic of producing therapeutic effects without intoxicating the user.
CBD is most abundant in hemp plants, a strain of cannabis that is closely related to marijuana.
The main difference between hemp and marijuana is that the latter contains a significantly higher concentration of THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid that produces the high so often associated with cannabis.
To maximize CBD yields, CBD oil products are produced from the flowers, stems, and leaves of CBD rich hemp varieties rather than marijuana.
How is CBD Oil Made?
The first step in a long line of processes to produce CBD is cannabis cultivation. High CBD hemp is often cultivated outdoors to produce high CBD biomass, the raw material preferred to produce full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD.
Alternatively, industrial hemp biomass typically yields lower levels of CBD for energy and is best used for the production of CBD isolates.
There are different CBD extraction methods and each has its own pros and cons. They differ in total CBD yields and potencies but the general idea is the same.
Cannabis plant material must be processed to extract purer concentrations of the cannabinoid in preparation for infusion into commercially available products.
Solvent extraction uses ethanol, butane, propane, or isopropyl alcohol to extract CBD from cannabis. The process is cost-effective, fast, and simple to do. As such, it is one of the most common methods used by CBD companies.
However, it is also the most dangerous because of the use of highly flammable liquids.
This process dissolves plant waxes and also extracts chlorophyll in addition to the CBD. This tends to make solvent extracted CBD darker in color as well as have a bitter taste.
There are optional post-extraction processes that companies can perform to guarantee both the purity and potency of the CBD.
To extract CBD using solvents, the hemp flowers and plant trimmings are put into a container and soaked in solvent to strip it of cannabinoids. It is then allowed to evaporate to yield high-quality CBD in a carrier oil.
Solvent extraction is a dangerous process and it is possible for the toxic solvent residue to remain in CBD if they are not completely eliminated during the evaporation step. You should be aware that traces of naphtha hydrocarbons or petroleum residue have been found in CBD extracted this way.
Olive oil extraction
Extracting CBD with olive oil is the preferred method of homebrew cannabidiol enthusiasts. The process is cheap, simple, and very safe to perform. The fact that the CBD for insomnia becomes infused in olive oil makes it versatile to use as both a food and topical product.
The olive oil also masks the earthy flavor of CBD well.
To start, cannabis plant materials must be decarboxylated or heated first. This heating process transforms the cannabinoids into a form that has higher bioavailability. In other words, decarboxylation is a process that “activates” the cannabinoids so that they can easily interact with the ECS.
After this, the plant material is combined with the olive oil and heated again to finally extract the CBD. There is no evaporation during an olive oil extraction so the final extract is not as concentrated compared to other methods.
This means that you would need more oil to get the same amount of CBD.for anxiety.
The main downside of olive oil extraction is that it degrades easily. Since it must be stored in a cool, dark place to prevent degradation, the method does not suit the requirements of industrial-scale CBD manufacturers.
Supercritical CO2 extraction
Arguably, the best process to extract pure CBD uses supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2). This process uses a non-toxic, food-grade CO2 fluid as a solvent.
High-pressure CO2 is forced through the ground plant material which then pulls out the CBD, oils, lipids, and other beneficial compounds from the cannabis.
After this process, the CO2 is allowed to evaporate at room temperature, leaving behind high CBD raw crude that has no residual solvents. Supercritical CO2 extraction has up to 90% extraction efficiency.
It requires expensive and specialized equipment, as well as licensed operators.
While this extraction method results in more expensive products, it does guarantee quality that other methods cannot compare with. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers supercritical CO2 as GRAS (generally regarded as safe).
Another key benefit of CO2 is that it acts as a cleaning agent and kills bacteria, molds, and mildew during the extraction process. Also, as the hemp is not exposed to high temperatures, degradation caused by heat damage is avoided in this process.
CBD Quality Control
Once cannabis oil is extracted, it goes through several more processes like distillation and winterization to remove chlorophyll and other waxes.
More thorough companies can even double-check the final CBD concentrations and confirm that the product has not been damaged or degraded during production.
This article is not intended to replace medical advice from a licensed physician. CBD is not intended to cure or treat any kind of medical symptom, condition, or ailment. CBD is not regulated by the FDA and should only be taken as a supplement just like a CBD sleep gummies.