START HERE: CBD…Everything you need to know
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a particular compound in the famous Cannabis plant. Once the Cannabis plant gets brought up things tend to get a bit…hazy. When anyone mentions Cannabis the first thought that pops in your head is “marijuana,” “weed” or “pot” which is just a cannabis plant that has been bred to contain large amounts (15-40%) of THC, a psychoactive compound which is known for the “high”. Cannabis is a plant that has many different strains; and it has been bred for many different applications, from medical applications, to recreational, home remedies and even industrial uses such as clothing or paper made from the fiber. When someone says “Cannabis,” you can really think of this like someone said “dog,” while you know the animal they are talking about, there’s more breeds than most can keep track of, and this is the same with cannabis.
Legally the distinction is made when the plant material is laboratory tested for the Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC; the psychoactive compound). If the result is 0.3% or less THC it is defined as “Hemp”; this can include hemp flowers that look very similar to the regular cannabis flowers but simply have very low THC, or it can include “Industrial Hemp,” the tall leafy hemp plants grown for fiber.
If the Cannabis plant contains more that 0.3% THC it is then referred to as “Marijuana” a controlled substance and is only legal when purchased from a state dispensary in a state that has legalized either medicinal or recreational marijuana. The three major types of Cannabis containing THC is Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Sativa, then hybrid stains that are crosses of the other two. Within these categories there are hundreds of different strains which are all slightly different and one could compare to different types of lite beer, all in the same class but distinct none the less.
At Whole Plant Medicine LLC our emphasis is on Hemp Flower strains that have been bred for high amounts of CBD (10-20%). We only source Certified Organic Hemp flowers that have been tested at below the legal limit of 0.3% THC. Our Hemp is bought from a small local organic hemp farm that has very high growing standards and produces hemp flowers that are high in CBD. I have a few reasons that an Organic product is so important, my first is that I don’t buy anything that is not organic because of the glyphosate content of GMO/ non organic produce, which holds true for non organic hemp as well. The second reason is that hemp is a weed (its how it got its nickname!) and acting as such it is a bio accumulator, so both soil quality and minimal use of pesticides is essential. Hemp grown in sub optimal soil and sprayed with many pesticides will accumulate heavy metals from the soil and glyphosate or other cancer causing chemicals from the pesticides.
Speaking of bio accumulation, we take that a step further. If one were to test every part of the hemp plant (roots, stalks, stems, leaves, flowers, seeds), they would find that these heavy metals and chemicals will accumulate in the roots and stalks. Because of this, Whole Plant Medicine LLC ONLY uses aerial parts, which means above the soil, and does not include any stalks as every batch of oil is only made with hand trimmed hemp including only leaves, flowers and small stems.
When making Hemp oil there are many different extraction techniques all with their own pros and cons. To name a few, Supercritical CO2, Hydrocarbon, Mechanical Press, and Ethanol. The two big reasons Ethanol is the superior extraction technique is that it is the most full spectrum oil one can create, and all the solvents used are food grade, so there is no risk of hazardous residual chemicals being in your oil. I will get back to what full spectrum means in a moment but for now lets talk residual solvents.
- Hydrocarbon extracts are often known as gold standard in the cannabis community as it creates a beautiful looking, extremely pure (high percentage of CBD or THC depending on starting material) oil. The issue I take with this is that the solvents they use to capture the cannabinoids (either CBD, THC or many other lesser known) from the plant material are hazardous chemicals such as butane, isobutane, propane, and others which then are removed leaving just the active ingredient in a plant oil. This seems simple, but it is not quite as simple as it sounds, as though many of these companies take a great deal of due diligence to get below the FDA approved parts per million (PPM) (https://www.fda.gov/media/71737/download) this is still 5,000 ppm. As far as hazardous chemicals go 5,000 ppm is too much for me and no one will ever convince me just a bit of butane wont hurt me when there is no long term data or studies to even substantiate the FDAs guidelines, which essentially means its arbitrary. They even admit this stating “However, there are no long-term toxicity or carcinogenicity studies for many of the solvents in Class 3.” They even go on to say that higher amounts that the limit can be approved as long as they are “realistic.” What does that even mean? This is the wild west people, don’t get caught up in fancy marketing. At Whole Plant Medicine our guideline is 0ppm for hazardous chemicals, because we don’t add them in the first place.
- Rosin is made through mechanical pressing the plant material and can have some great properties. Rosin doesn’t actually extract the full spectrum of plant oils from the plant as it is simply pressed between two plates (can be done hot or low temperature) and the oil that readily comes out is then harvested. Much of the oils are hidden in the plants glandular secretions which will not be extracted via this technique. This technique is also only realistic at very small scales.
- Next option would be Supercritical CO2 which is known as gold standard in the supplement industry. This method does not leave any residual solvents but the product it creates is very inactive in the body and many would say is just about worthless (not to mention overpriced!). CO2 extractions yield something called a CBD isolate, which means it’s the exact CBD molecule 99.9% pure and nothing else from the plant. This sounds great at first glance, 99.9% pure? Sign me up!…well think again, or at least save your money; let me explain why isolate is a waste and full spectrum is the only medicine worth your time and money.
Full Spectrum hemp oil is the only true CBD oil, isolate is just an imposter. Now that’s a big statement, because if you go into a supplement store many of the products will be isolates, but many of those will not work and if they do, you would need to take hundreds of milligrams for a lesser effect than a small dose (5-50mg CBD) of a full spectrum oil. This is because of “The Entourage Effect” which has been noted in the research, that when the same amount of CBD is given to a patient, much greater symptom relief is had when a full spectrum extract is administered versus an isolate. While we do not know the exact reason for this, we do have a good idea. The cannabis plant has over 120 named cannabinoids, including the main two CBD and THC, but also many lesser cannabinoids such as CBN, CBC, CBG, CBDA, THCA and many others. All of these compounds have medicinal effects that are not well studied, but they all work in synergy to create a much greater total effect when they all enter the body together. Another aspect of the full spectrum entourage effect is terpenes. Terpenes are found in many other plants, and are the aromatic compounds in cannabis that give different strains different smells. For example limonene has a lemon scent. Many of these terpenes also have been thought to have medicinal qualities but have sparse research. The last thing that may be a reason why the full spectrum oils create an entourage effect is the plants essential oils, many people tout the benefits of various essential oils such as lavender or eucalyptus, but cannabis also has oils in it that may be beneficial to us, or may be beneficial in activating the CBD or allowing it to work in our body much more efficiently.
Our extraction method at Whole Plant Medicine is a subzero food grade alcohol extraction. We use 95% pure ethanol, also known as 190 proof grain alcohol, food grade and approved for human consumption…but not suggested in large quantities, ha! The reason we us ethanol is that it washes all of the medicinal plant compounds off of the plant material with a safe and food grade solvent. Some companies use heptane denatured ethanol, which is much cheaper and a great option if you are trying to save a buck, the issue here is that heptane is a Class 3 solvent which both OSHA and the CDC rule as “uniquely toxic” and has “neurotoxic properties” (https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/pel88/142-82.html). This issue becomes even bigger when you look into the FDA GMP requirements, they only demand that this toxic chemical not exceed 0.5% when being purged as a residual solvent (http://www.caslab.com/Class-3-Residual-Solvents/). I like to ensure when I am taking a supplement every day it doesn’t contain ANY toxic chemicals. Not only is grain alcohol safe but it also ensures that there is a full spectrum extraction of the full range of cannabinoids, terpenes and essential oils in the hemp plant. Ethanol is a polar solvent, which in turn has a large affinity for non polar solutes, i.e. cannabinoids and terpenes, so it separates these compounds from the surface of the plant to then be made into a very pure oil. Unfortunately ethanol has an affinity for other non useful plant compounds such as waxes, fats, chlorophyll and other molecules, but to ensure these molecules are never picked up and never make it into the CBD oil, we extract at subzero temperatures. We chill our ethanol down to -40 degrees Celsius with dry ice, which leaves all of the water bound cells frozen, and therefore unable to release any impurities into our extract. The subzero extraction ensures affinity for only the compounds we want and none of the ones we don’t, which leads to a pure end product.
Another area we do not compromise on is what oils we dilute our product in. Many companies use very cheap oils which often they are not even transparent about which type of oil it could be. Whole Plant Medicine CBD only uses organic extra virgin olive oil to dilute our CBD oil in, to then put into capsules. Our process is high quality and organic from start to finish.
At Whole Plant Medicine CBD we go the distance to ensure that the product you receive is the most optimal in every way, at every step of the process, from plant to capsule. The reason I have thought out every step of the process to such a high degree is because this product was initially developed for my family and myself, and our product has not changed since, the best that is possible.