The Clever Root

Spring / Summer 2016

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s p r i n g / s u m m e r 2 0 1 6 | 8 3 From Plant to Extract As many as 80 phytocannabinoids are known to exist at different levels in differ- ent varieties of cannabis. Of these compounds, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can- nabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) are found in the highest concentrations and have been subjects of the most research. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive, and it has a far greater effect on the body. Medically, it appears to relieve convulsions, inflammation, anxiety, nausea and mediate the euphoric effect of THC. Most of the other cannabinoids don't ex- ist in large enough concentrations to have any noticeable effect, but CBD concen- tration can be as high as 40% in certain cultivars of industrial hemp and medical cannabis strains like Avidekel, aka ACDC, and Charlotte's Web. Traditionally, cannabinoids are separated from the plant by extraction with or- ganic solvents including hydrocarbons and alcohols, many of which are flammable and toxic. An alternative method known as supercritical CO 2 solvent extraction uses carbon dioxide and high pressure to produce extracts of exceptional purity. Once extracted, the cannabinoid blend (THC, CBD) is separated into individual components using gentle, low-temperature distillation techniques. The result is a whole plant extract in the form of an oil that is 60 to 70 percent pure. Through multiple distillations, manufacturers can achieve as high as a 98 percent pure CBD oil. Bioavailability Because of the variable rate at which we absorb oils, 95 percent of all pharmaceu- tical medicines are water-soluble rather than fat-soluble. According to Dr. Greg Smith, author of Medical Cannabis: Basic Science and Clinical Applications - What Clinicians Need to Know and Why, a seminal textbook for training medical students and primary care doctors on the use of medical cannabis, the problem with fat-based medicines such as cannabis oil is that we don't know how much will be absorbed. "Water solubility makes accurate dosing possible," he attests. So in order to increase the bioavailability of cannabis-derived medicine, scientists can now employ nanotechnology to make CBD oil water-soluble. By creating hybrid molecules that contain a nanoparticle of CBD oil encapsulated in a hydrophilic carrier or surfactant, CBD can be quickly absorbed. "A good hybrid molecule is 100 percent bioavailable," says Smith. Because there are many ways to create hybrid molecules and those processes can be patented, this is the least transparent aspect of the CBD industry. At EAD Labs in Encinitas, CA, water-soluble CBDs have been formulated using high-CBD raw hemp oil combined with a full spectrum of other cannabinoids and terpenes in conjunction with curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, and a surfactant that makes the molecule water-soluble. A Reese's Peanut Butter Cup makes a handy analogy: The CBD oil and the curcumin form the filling, and the surfactant, the chocolate shell. "We want to keep the CBD as close to nature as possible," said CEO and co-founder James Sol Radina. "During this unregulated, early-adoption phase of the industry, consumers need to look closely at manufac- turers' claims. Many companies are adding isolated CBD to boost the concentra- tion of CBDs in their whole-plant products." According to Smith, the best process for making water-soluble CBD has yet to be determined. "At this stage, our concern is for a consistent, pure product and consistent dosing during clinical trials. Determining which hybrid molecule is superior is a next step." So as the cannabis industry and consumer continue to develop, so too does the CBD industry and consumer in search of whole plant medicine. The ABCs of CBDs Looking for the right strain for your specific medicinal needs? Ask your budtender for a high-CBD strain. CBD has been shown to treat the following: • Helps manage pain • Slows bacterial growth • Reduces blood sugar levels • Reduces seizures • Reduces risk of artery blockage • Inhibits cell growth in tumor and cancer cells • Treats psoriasis • Relieves anxiety To learn more about cannabinoids and other cannabis-related content, visit

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