CBD is one of the many compounds found in the cannabis plant. Science is just beginning to uncover the many medicinal benefits of CBD. Over the last few years, CBD or cannabidiol has become so popular that it is now being extracted, produced and manufactured into a wide range of products. These products include edibles, CBD oils, and even creams.
CBD oil is especially popular. It is used to treat a host of illnesses. CBD oil affects the endocannabinoid system (ECS) without providing users with a ‘high.’
In this article, we will look at the best ways to extract CBD from the cannabis plant but first, let’s find out what the substance is and why it is so coveted.
Explaining What CBD Is
If you are reading this article, you probably know what THC is. It (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) is the most psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, and until recently, it was by far the best-known.
THC is renowned for the mind-altering high it provides to users. In contrast, CBD is not psychoactive, but it does promote positive changes in the body.
The way CBD affects our body is quite different from the modus operandi of THC in the sense that it is not involved in direct stimulation of the CB1 and CB2 receptors. The major impact of CBD is on other receptors such as Serotonin, Adenosine, and Vanilloid.
CBD and Receptors
The stimulation of the TRPV-1 (Vanilloid) receptor by CBD influences a variety of processes including body temperature, inflammation, and pain perception.
Moreover, CBD is known to inhibit the functioning of FAAH enzyme that directly acts on the CB1 receptor and enables THC to produce its psychoactive effect. CBD has established global interest among industry specialists and its discovery has prompted medical experts to take a closer look at the benefits.
What Are CBD’s Benefits?
While studies are still trying to get to the heart of the matter, it does appear as some of the best CBD oils and other CBD products could have a plethora of medical benefits.
As a society, we are developing an over-reliance on pain medication to deal with issues such as inflammation. According to a study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, CBD reduced the levels of chronic inflammation in rats and mice. CBD has also been known to help with chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis.
Mental Health Disorders
A study published in Current Pharmaceutical Design suggested that CBD had a similar effect to certain antipsychotic drugs. Further studies showed that CBD could have a positive impact when used on people with neurological disorders. It also has potential anti-seizure properties and is used by individuals with epilepsy.
The above is just a taste of what CBD can do to help with certain medical ailments. Let’s take a look now at how it is extracted from the cannabis plant.
The purpose of CBD extraction is quite simple; to end up with the cannabinoid (and others) in a highly concentrated form to make it suitable for human consumption.
To achieve this, you must use a plant material rich in CBD such as special cannabis strains or hemp. Special cannabis strains such as AC/DC and Charlotte’s Web have a high CBD concentration (up to 18% in some cases) and a low THC concentration (as little as 5%). You need a favorable CBD/THC ratio because even in cases where plants have a THC concentration of up to 6%, the extra high CBD content should hopefully render the psychoactive effects of THC inert.
Industrial Strains and Extraction
Various strains of industrial hemp can also be used to extract CBD. They are grown around the world legally; including in India, China and several countries in Western Europe. One of the most popular industrial hemp strains is Fedora 17. It has a low THC content which means any CBD extracted from it should have no psychoactive effects.
CBD oil made from hemp is legal in almost every country around the world including in all 50 states in the U.S. because of the negligible THC content.
Without further ado, let’s look at the 4 most common CBD oil extraction methods:
CBD Extraction Methods:
1 – The CO2 Cannabis Extraction Method
This form of CBD extraction is actually divided into supercritical, subcritical and ‘mid-critical’ categories but supercritical is by far the most commonly used. In fact, it is the most regularly used extraction method of all because it is safe and provides a pure end product.
In simple terms, CO2 cannabis extraction uses pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2) to pull CBD (and other phytochemicals) from the plant. CO2 acts like a solvent at certain temperatures and pressures but possesses none of the dangers. While it is safe and effective, it also involves expensive equipment which freezes the CO2 gas and compresses it into a supercritical cold liquid state.
CO2 & Extraction
CO2 typically behaves like a gas at standard pressure and temperature, and is easily changed to a solid while in this state; the solid version of the gas is known as dry ice. Using the aforementioned equipment in a lab, you can turn CO2 gas into a liquid by ensuring the temperature drops below -69 degrees Fahrenheit while increasing the pressure to over 75 pounds per square inch (psi). At this stage, you have your starting point for CO2 Cannabis extraction.
Once you have the liquid CO2, the next step is to increase the temperature and pressure past the point where the liquid becomes ‘supercritical.’ This term means the CO2 is now capable of adopting properties halfway between a gas and liquid simultaneously. Effectively, the supercritical CO2 is capable of filling a container (like gas) while also maintaining density (like a liquid). When CO2 is in its supercritical state, it is ideal for chemical extraction because it won’t cause the denaturing or damage that would make the CBD unfit for human consumption.
Liquid CO2 and the Extraction Process
Regarding extracting the CBD oil using this technique, you simply begin with liquid CO2 and raise its pressure via a compressor. You must also raise its temperature using a heater. The next step involves passing the supercritical carbon dioxide through some high-quality cannabis. Now, the CO2 will pull the essential trichomes (the sugary looking coating of the cannabis plant) and terpene oils (essential oils) out of the plant.
The solution gets passed via a separator and is broken down into its requisite parts. The good stuff (including trichomes and terpenes) is sent to the collection container. Meanwhile, the supercritical CO2 goes through a condenser and is turned back into a liquid. Finally, the liquid goes to a special storage tank and can be used to begin the process all over again.