What is CBD?
Origins of CBD
Cannabidiol (CBD) is naturally found in cannabis plants. These form a small plant family known as Cannabaceae, which for simplicity can be split into two categories: hemp/industrial hemp and the category commonly known as marijuana or medical cannabis, and a multitude of other names.
The key difference between the two categories is the chemical composition of the plants, namely the THC content. While hemp has regulated maximum THC levels of ~0.2% and comparatively high CBD levels when farmed, other cannabis plants have been bred with a focus on THC concentration for medical and recreational purposes, often leading to a decreased concentration of CBD.
The naturally low THC content of hemp allows for legal cultivation in most countries while providing an ideal chemical composition for the extraction of CBD.
How is CBD made?
Products containing CBD are made using a wide variety of techniques. Generally, a few basic steps are included:
Harvesting: CBD production itself generally starts with the harvest of hemp plant material at the period of maximum CBD concentration.
Heating: After a harvest, the raw plant material is usually heated to change the chemical composition of the ingredient from its acidic form CBDa into CBD, a process called decarboxylation.
Extraction: CBD is then extracted from the raw plant material normally using either, cold pressing, supercritical CO2 extraction (example on the left) or ethanol extraction. The result is a highly concentrated CBD oil or paste, known as a full plant extract.
Further Processing: The full plant extract can then be added to other ingredients to create CBD products such as oils or topicals with controlled dosages, extracted a second time to refine the raw material, or treated further to become a pure CBD isolate. Isolates are 99% concentrated CBD crystalline which can be used as an ingredient for CBD products.