What You Need to Know Before Playing into The CBD Hype

Cannabidiol (CBD) is everywhere these days. It’s popping up at your local farmer’s market, grocery store, fitness center, mail kiosk, in your favorite beer and now yes, even at Carl’s Jr. Everyone is talking about the miracle product and what it can do for your health and wellness. But buyers beware, not all cannabis products are created equally! One of the biggest issues as a buyer, is understanding all the different terminology. What is the difference between CBD, Hemp Extract, and Hempseed Oil? Are these all the same thing? To the contrary, they are vastly different and here is what you need to know as a consumer in this crazy marketplace.

You’ve probably heard the terms cannabis, marijuana, and hemp all tossed around in relation to CBD. First thing to understand is, there are 2 cannabis sativa plants, the hemp plant and the marijuana plant. Both plants contain CBD and THC. However, hemp plants contain a much higher percentage of CBD and only trace amounts of THC, whereas the marijuana plant contains much higher percentages of THC and smaller amounts of CBD. THC is responsible for the “high” or psychoactive effect, whereas CBD isn’t going to get you high, in terms of the euphoria and sedation, however it could produce psychoactive effects in terms of reducing inflammation, stress and anxiety. When buying a CBD product check the label first. Dispensary’s sell products that have both CBD and THC in their products and primarily the product is derived from the marijuana plant. Hemp extracts (products with below .03% THC) will be found in your traditional storefronts and online.

Many hemp extract products use only one active ingredient, CBD, which is called an “isolate” because in that scenario the CBD molecules are chemically isolated from the other active and inactive components of hemp and then used in that chemically isolated form. One reason to use an isolate is in an attempt to avoid undesirable contaminants sometimes found in hemp extract, such as heavy metals, pesticides, fungus, mold, or residual solvents.

The terms Full and Broad Spectrum tend to be used interchangeably. Spectrum is the important term here, which refers to the number of active ingredients in the hemp plant, and in the human body. Full/Broad Spectrum products use an extraction process to capture, preserve, and provide as many as those active ingredients in order to provide the most effective oil profile. In contract, CBD isolate is just that. It is an extraction process that contains only one active ingredient. All traces of THC, terpenes, flavonoids, and more are removed so that all that remains is a pure isolated CBD extract. The use of isolated CBD sacrifices the great benefits of the other cannabinoids and terpenes.

Think of it this way, if you get the first-round pick in your fantasy football draft and your select the best quarterback you could possibly have a great season, in this respect your quarterback is analogous to CBD isolate products. In contrast, broad spectrum products would be your first-round pick is the selection of your entire team in one pick. A quarterback alone is great, (Isolate) but an entire team is a force to be wrecking with (Full/Broad Spectrum).

Because of its association with THC, some people are still undecided on CBD. However, the World Health Organization issued a report which maintained that CBD didn’t appear to “have abuse potential or cause harm.” Studies are still ongoing to test for side-effects and determine CBD’s full benefits, and current research is looking at the possibility of CBD use in a vast array of medical conditions. Of course, with any supplements or medication, you should always do your research. Ensure you are buying legally sanctioned products in order to enjoy the full benefits. That said, the FDA has issued warnings against illegally marketed CBD products that promise unrealistic results, including claims that it can cure cancer.

Products/medications that contain hemp-derived CBD or are approved by the FDA are legal as long as it is produced within the regulations defined by the law under the Agriculture Improvement Act 2018

CBD is extracted from the hemp stalks, stems, and flowers but not the seeds. If you are buying a hempseed oil, this product, is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant and is generally considered a food and is “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the FDA. According to the FDA, hempseeds contain “only trace amounts of THC and CBD,” (i.e., cannabinoids) which may actually be contaminants from the harvesting process rather than actual components of the seeds. Hempseed oil does have it own benefits such as, it is packed with healthy fats and often appears in beauty products for its moisturizing benefits. It’s rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin E, and certain minerals, and its principal benefits derive from those. The human body does not produce these fats internally, but they are essential components of cell membranes, especially nerve sheathing (myelin) and these fatty acids are especially prevalent in the brain. They help increase “good” blood cholesterol levels, and are believed to be components of other, larger molecules involved in regulating blood pressure and inflammation.

In contrast, oil extracted from the stalks, stems and flowers of the hemp plant would be considered a medicine similar to a product such as aspirin, which is extracted from the bark of Willow trees, rather than a food. The principal benefits of hemp extract are derived from its cannabinoid and terpene content. The active ingredients of hemp include many dozens of cannabinoids and terpenes. They help regulate all twelve major body systems, including the nervous, circulatory, digestive, and endocrine systems, for instance. A healthy human body makes two different cannabinoids. In contrast, hemp plants make between 60 and 180. The most prevalent one in hemp is cannabidiol, or CBD for short. Hemp also makes many dozens of terpenes, messenger molecules similar to cannabinoids but smaller, more volatile, and more difficult to preserve. So what this tells us is, CBD comes from hemp but only the stalks, stems and flower. Hempseeds do not produce cannabinoids such as CBD but do offer their own medicinal benefits.

Things to look for when buying a full/broad spectrum product are test results! A credible company will provide what is called a certificate of authenticity (COA). This will validate and dismiss any concerns you may have about your product. Trusted brands that are using safe extraction processes don’t allow hydrocarbon solvents or other harsh chemicals. Look at where the test results came from. Unbiased testing will come from a 3rd party lab. These labs should highlight the following results at a minimum:

Potency Profile: Does the label match the potency – For example if the label says the product has 1000 mg then the test will show this as well. Make sure you are getting what you pay for. Baseline for variability is ~10%.

Cannabinoid & Terpene Analysis: You want to see a more than one in each category. The more the better. This also will help identify why there are different price points in products. A beautiful profile doesn’t come at an inexpensive price tag. The better the profile, means better farming and manufacturing processes to grow and preserve the end cannabinoid profile.

Residual Solvent: You want this to be non-detectible, this shows no harsh chemicals were used in the extraction process

Microbiological Testing: You want this to be non-detectible, this shows absence of any possible bacteria

Heavy Metal Screening: You want this to be non-detectible, this ensures  the hemp was grown according to organic practices and the land was contaminant free.

In December 2018, the Farm Bill made it federally legal to produce, purchase and use cannabidiol, or CBD, under certain requirements and regulations, namely if it is derived from hemp.

It should not, as long as you’re buying third-party tested CBD with no added THC. However, athletes who often are required to take drug tests that are more sensitive, “could potentially test positive” for trace amounts of THC if they’ve been using CBD products.

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