One of the more troubling aspects of this regulated market is the lack of science based education taking place. Recently I have noticed new businesses selling hemp based products but referring to the as CBD. Even I’ve had difficulty surmising the contents having hemp based oil. This is problematic so so many reasons, most importantly, misinformation. This has the potential to derail the cannabis movement, dilute anecdotal evidence and confuse consumers. This has the appearance of intentional sabotage.
You see hemp is completely different from cannabis in its function, cultivation and application. Even so there seems to be some confusion in distinguishing the two plants. Although legislation is being made, progress has been slow and hampered by the uninformed.
In its application, hemp and cannabis serve completely different purposes. Cannabis is used for medicinal or recreational purposes. Hemp is used in variety of other applications that cannabis couldn’t possibly be used in. That is not to say that synthetic, hemp-based, and CBD-only medicines aren’t effective options for many patients, especially as laws limit access to alternatives. These types of products have served a pivotal role both as both medicine and as a legislative stepping stone.
Because Hemp and cannabis both derive from the Cannabis Sativa botanical family, they do share certain similarities; however, due to each plant’s biological structure, they have several very distinct and crucial differences.
Industrial hemp typically contains significantly less cannabidiol than CBD-rich cannabis strains so a huge amount of industrial hemp is required to extract a small amount of CBD creating an unsustainable supply chain. For example the same amount of oil derived from an acre of hemp would take a 1/4 acre of cannabis.
Additionally using hemp raises the risk of dangerous pesticides and contaminants as hemp is a “bio-accumulator”—meaning the plant naturally drawns toxins from the soil. Which is hugely beneficial to the earth, but not great for our bodies.
Hemp-derived CBD and refined CBD powder lack critical medicinal terpenes and secondary cannabinoids found in cannabis oil. Typically referred to as the entourage effect. These compounds interact with CBD and THC to enhance their medicinal benefits. The diverse chemical availability in whole plant medicines is remarkable in its own right, but research looking into how cannabinoids and terpenoids work together adds another level of intriguing medical research.
Instrumental in this area of science is Ethan Russo, M.D., a neurologist who has long studied cannabis compounds and their role in the body. In his study “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects,” he details how cannabis compounds influence each other’s mechanisms. We aren’t just talking about the well-known THC-CBD tag team here – even small amounts of terpenes (fragrant oils that give cannabis its smell) can make a difference.
The terpene myrcene, for example, can reduce resistance in the blood-brain barrier, enabling easier passage of other beneficial chemicals. Pinene helps counteract compromised cognition and memory caused by THC. A combination of terpenes pinene, myrcene, and caryophyllene help unravel anxiety. Mixing terpenes linalool and limonene with the cannabinoid CBG shows promise in the treatment of MRSA. THC plus CBN yields enhanced sedating effects. Linalool and limonene combined with CBD is being examined as an anti-acne treatment.
These examples only scratch the surface of all possible synergies made available to us by way of whole plant therapies. Think of all the medical possibilities waiting for us as the combinational potential of these compounds are unlocked. The thought of how many lives could be changed for the better by such discoveries is almost overwhelming.
It’s against federal law to use hemp leaves and flowers to make drug products. Hemp oil entrepreneurs attempt to sidestep this legal hurdle by dubiously claiming they extract CBD only from hemp stalk before importing it to the United States, a grey area activity at best.
When choosing cannabis medicine for you and your family look for:
CBD Products: For maximum therapeutic benefit, choose products that include both CBD, a non-intoxicating compound, and THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis. CBD and THC work best together, enhancing each other’s therapeutic benefits.
Clear Labels: Look for labels showing the quantity and ratio of CBD and THC per dose.
Lab Testing: Look for products that are tested for consistency, and verified as free of mold, bacteria, pesticides, solvent residues, and other contaminants.
Quality Ingredients: Select products with quality ingredients. No corn syrup, GMOs, transfats, and artificial additives.
Safe Extraction: Avoid products extracted with toxic solvents like BHO, propane, hexane or other hydrocarbons. Solvent residues are especially dangerous for immune-compromised patients. Look for products that entail a safer method of extraction like supercritical CO2.
Compared to whole plant cannabis, hemp is too low in cannabinoid content. A huge amount of hemp is required to extract a small amount of CBD, raising the risk of contaminants because hemp, a bioaccumulator, draws toxins from the soil. The robust terpene profile of whole plant cannabis enhances the therapeutic benefits of CBD and THC.
And now you know, and knowing is half the battle. Take the time to educate the people around you. Now more than ever we cannot be complacent with staying informed.