Since 1940, well over 100 cannabinoids have been discovered. CBD, also known as Cannabidiol, was one of the first such discoveries but it was not until 1963 that its chemical structure was established. The amount of these cannabinoids differ dramatically between marijuana and hemp. Many people ask me, “Does CBD contain THC?”
The Facts About CBD
Approximately 40% of the extract from a cannabis plant contains a cannabinoid. Marijuana’s most common cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Depending on the variety, THC levels in marijuana can reach up to 30%. THC levels in hemp, on the other hand, are less than 0.3%. Unlike THC, Cannabidiol is a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid. Hemp contains significant amounts of CBD. These concentrates offer a variety of medicinal benefits. So, does CBD have THC? As I have explained they are both cannabinoids. Neither can actually contain the other. They are both undergo biosynthesis the same way, that is until the catalysis stage. Products, like oils, creme, or oral administrations, made from either cannabinoid however, can have slight variations. You can read more about cannabis here.
CBD can be ingested in many ways:
- Smoking cannabis
- Aerosol spray
- Topicals (creme & ointments)
- Buccal (in the cheek)
- Oral Administration (by mouth ie: P.O.)
- CBD oil (no THC)
Amazon, an online retailer that many are familiar with, has a wide variety of products to choose from. I have featured a few of my favorites below. Simply click on a picture if you would like additional information on one of these products or if you would like to explore other products available at Amazon.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a CBD drug, Epidiolex, to treat epilepsy disorders in children.
Sativex, a patented drug in Canada contains equal proportions of THC and CBD. It is used to treat multiple sclerosis, neuropathy and cancer related pain.
Other clinical research studies involving CBD have been performed with individuals suffering with pain, cognition, movement disorders and anxiety.
CBD can be therapeutic for certain neurological disorders according to preliminary research but until clinical trials are able to establish its use in clinical practice, the findings are yet to be confirmed.
Possible side effects from long term use include:
- General Discomfort
- Sleep Disorders
- Loss of Appetite
The time that is required for a drug’s concentration level to reach half of its original amount in the body is known as elimination half-life. For CBD, the elimination half-life is 18-32 hours. In comparison, that value for Morphine is 2-3 hours and for Diazepam is 20-100 hours. CBD is metabolized (broken down) in the liver and in the intestines.
An extract is made by separating a portion of unprocessed material with the help of a solvent (a substance that dissolves a solid, liquid or gas to create a solution). Grain alcohol and water are solvents. There are several techniques to the extraction process.
- One is called absorption. The process by which vanilla beans are steeped in alcohol is known as absorption. Didn’t you always wonder where that yummy addition to your grandma’s cookies came from.
- Expression is another technique. Expression is the favored technique when the oil, or juice is easily obtained and plentiful. This might be the case, for example if you wanted to make some fresh squeezed orange juice or lemonade. When you are watching that $100 juicer you just bought do all the work, remember that it is expressing your fruits and vegetables.
- Maceration is a technique that takes something whole and turns it into small bits. For example, crushing graham crackers to make a pie crust or making peppermint extract.
- Maceration is used with the final technique, Distillation. Distillation is perhaps the most difficult of the techniques mentioned here. This process requires expert knowledge in chemistry as well as an expensive apparatus known as a still.
At room temperature, CBD is a crystalline solid with no color. It is soluble in some organic solvents however, insoluble in water.
Cannabis produces carboxylic acid, or CBD, through the same series of linked chemical reactions as it does THC. That is until the next to the last step, where the catalysis performed is CBDA synthase instead of THCA synthase.
Food & Drinks
As an alternative way of ingesting CBD, consumers can choose a food or beverage that has been infused with it in much the same way that protein bars or energy drinks contain herbal supplements and vitamins. These types of products were introduced in the US in 2017 but many of them are boasting unsubstantiated health claims. You better get them while you can though, if you are so inclined. Just last month, an announcement came from the NYC Department of Health that restaurants selling CBD infused food or drinks will face stiff penalties in the near future.
Unlike the effects caused by THC in marijuana, CBD does not seem to provide a psychotropic “high”. It may, however have anti-anxiety and anti psychotic effects.
In other words, CBD may relieve anxiety but it can block feelings of pain or pleasure and could cause withdrawal symptoms. Less common, and rare side effects could include hallucinations, mania, impulsive or aggressive behavior, rage and hostility.
The list of antipsychotic effects is even longer. They include diabetes risks, blurred vision, stiffness, weight gain, constipation, shakiness, sleepiness, hormonal changes, dry mouth, slowness, restlessness and movements of the lips, tongue and jaw.
30 states to date have passed comprehensive laws with regard to medical cannabis that allow the use of cannabis related products with no restrictions.
16 states have passed laws related to the use of CBD products for certain conditions.
Federal illegality, on the other hand, makes it difficult to conduct CBD research. In the US, CBD products that are not FDA approved are classified as Schedule 1 drugs. This means that it is illegal under federal law to possess, distribute or produce these products.
CBD is openly sold in health food stores and head shops in some states where sales of CBD products have not explicitly been legalized. Some manufacturers ship CBD products nationally. Although CBD remains the subject of an investigational new drug evaluation by the FDA, this practice is still illegal at moment, despite the FDA’s lack of enforcement.