It wasn’t too long ago that if you asked somebody what CBD was, they would look at you with a puzzled expression on their face. Today, CBD is on everyone’s lips, dominating the conversation on medical cannabis and its therapeutic effects and being touted as a health supplement at nutrition stores. It can also be purchased online and found in department stores, drug stores, grocery stores, gas stations and, of course, dispensaries.
With CBD’s popularity comes a learning curve for the discerning consumer. In order to find the best product for their needs, consumers need to know the terminology around CBD products.
First, What Is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-euphoric cannabinoid found in both hemp and high-THC cannabis. Cannabinoids are a closely related group of chemical compounds, which work synergistically together and with the other chemical compounds that make up the cannabis plant. CBD can be used for symptom management for things such as anxiety, certain types of seizures, inflammation and pain. It also has been found to have value in cosmetic use.
It’s worth noting that much CBD on the market today is derived from hemp, rather than cannabis, because hemp is federally legal. Hemp and cannabis are the same species, cannabis sativa, but they’re separated by an arbitrary legal definition that defines hemp as having less than 0.3% THC when tested.
Many people like to say CBD is not psychoactive, but that would be incorrect. “Psychoactive” is a term used to describe a substance that changes a mental state by affecting the brain and nervous system. Though CBD will not cause euphoria or intoxication, it may change a person’s level of anxiety or depression, which in turn would affect their perception of the world around them.
With the great interest in CBD and its effects come a large number of products and companies to choose from. The hemp CBD market is currently unregulated, so buyer beware. Be an empowered consumer: Look for lab tests to show that the product was properly made and verifies cannabinoid content. If you don’t see one, ask for it. A good company will always have test results available.
Broad Spectrum vs. Full Spectrum vs. Isolate
When you are exploring different high-CBD products, you’ll notice that their content is described in different ways: broad spectrum, full spectrum and isolate. The difference between these three is the extraction method and the content of the resulting product.
Full spectrum means that the product contains most of the naturally occurring cannabinoids and terpenes of the plant, including THC, and most often it has been minimally refined. This means that the synergistic effects of the chemical compounds in the concentrate remain intact. These products will present themselves in ratios of CBD to THC and will vary in effects.
Broad spectrum is similar in that it contains most of the naturally occurring cannabinoids and terpenes of the plant, but does not contain THC. This may be a good choice for those who are sensitive to THC, but wish to maintain the benefits of the other naturally occurring cannabinoids and terpenes.
Isolate contains only CBD, as the extraction process purposely isolates the desired cannabinoid from other cannabinoids and terpenes. It will have a much higher percentage of CBD than full or broad-spectrum extractions. This product is highly refined.
CBD Hemp Oil vs. Hempseed Oil
Some people may be confused about the difference between CBD oil derived from hemp and hempseed oil — and it’s worth knowing the difference, because only one of those oils contains beneficial cannabinoids.
CBD oil from hemp is extracted from the flowers and leaves of the plant and, though rich with CBD, it contains less than 0.3% THC. It is used as a health supplement and for symptom management.
Hempseed oil is extracted from the seeds themselves, which contain no cannabinoids. Hempseed oil is great for the skin and very nutritious, as it is rich in in antioxidants, amino acids, vitamin E and omega fatty acids. Hemp seeds or hemp hearts from which the oil is extracted are also very nutritious, as they are rich in protein and fiber as well. You won’t have the same therapeutic effects as with CBD oil, but it is another tool for health.
Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.