As a Cannabis platform, we receive lots of questions regarding the potential benefits of CBD oil and other CBD derived products, the difference between CBD and hemp products, possible side effects and forms of administration. We decided to interview an expert in the field to answer some of them: Dr. Helena Yardley.
Dr. Yardley was a clinical researcher in medicinal cannabis who saw the profoundly positive impact that hemp-derived compounds were having on people of all ages. She has dedicated the last decade of her life to researching the benefits of cannabinoids. Dr. Yardley also founded 6° Wellness, a company with a philanthropic model: donating hemp extract to someone in need for everyone of their products sold.
Hi, please tell us your name and your background.
Hi!, I’m Dr. Helena Yardley. I hold a double Ph.D. in Neuroscience & Physiology, and have been involved in cannabis research since 2012. I’ve been involved in over 30 clinical, pre-clinical and safety studies on CBD and cannabis.
Cannabidiol, also known more commonly as CBD, is one of more than 100 identified phytocannabinoids produced by the hemp plant (Cannabis Sativa L.), and certainly one of the more well known compounds produced by hemp.
Can you tell us what’s CBD?
CBD, unlike the other well known cannabinoid THC, is non-intoxicating, and is non-habit forming. The human body has a vast network of receptors that are part of what is called the Endocannabinoid System, which is where CBD exerts many of its effects through.
Are CBD and Hemp the same thing?
No. CBD is only one of over 100 unique compounds present in the hemp plant.
What is the difference between CBD and THC?
CBD and THC, although similar in structure as compounds, have very different effects in the body. THC is the compound that elicits the “high” feeling we get when smoking marijuana, whereas CBD does not elicit an intoxicating effect. The physiological actions of the two within the body are very different, and when using them for an intended effect, care should be taken to understand which cannabinoid would be best.
Which are the potential benefits of CBD being studied?
There are over 2800 scientific studies published on the effects of CBD, and over 200 randomized controlled clinical trials have been done. Because the endocannabinoid system is so widespread throughout the body, CBD has many different effects. The research studies done to date have shown promise for pain relief to anxiety reduction, reducing the frequency of seizures to helping people sleep, and much much more. CBD certainly isn’t the cure-all that the media has made it out to be, and typically doesn’t help 100% of the time, but there does seem to be some very promising data for a lot of different conditions.
What type of CBD based extract oils are commonly available?
Currently, hemp-derived CBD extracts are available in a variety of forms, but there are 3 general categories:
- Full Spectrum: this is the whole plant extract including all the terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids, including THC (< 0.3%).
- Broad Spectrum: this is the whole plant extract including all the terpenes, flavonoids and cannabinoids, excluding THC.
- Isolate: Isolate is the purest form of CBD, and it should only contain CBD, and none of the extra components.
- Hempseed oil: hempseed oil is made from the seeds of the cannabis plant, and does not contain any CBD or THC.
Within these 3 categories, you may find them offered as tinctures, pills, gummies, edibles, drinks, vape pens… the list goes on.
What’s the difference between cannabis extract oil, hemp full-spectrum extract oil, and CBD extract oil?
Cannabis typically refers to an extract of marijuana, however, hemp is also “cannabis” technically speaking, so this term can be misleading. “Hemp full-spectrum extract oil” and “CBD extract oil” are generic terms that should likely be the same thing, but there is no standardization in processing, manufacturing or labeling, so they could really mean anything. Unfortunately, the majority of “hemp oil” and “hemp extract” that you find online likely has no CBD in it, which is the active therapeutic component most people are seeking. The only way to know is to look for 3rd party testing that lists the CBD content and be sure you know how to interpret those test results.
What is the entourage effect?
While many phytocannabinoids have been observed to have similar physiological effects, there are differences in both the extent and magnitude of the observed effects across various phytocannabinoids. Very new research (Maayah 2020) suggests that full-spectrum extracts may hold more beneficial effects associated with pain and inflammation compared to isolated extracts. This emphasizes the importance of what is commonly known as the “entourage effect” which states that the active components in cannabis, including cannabinoids and terpenes, work better when taken together. This may suggest that CBD products created with full-spectrum extract could have more pronounced effects than broad-spectrum or isolate products. It should be noted that the majority of the clinical data available was done with CBD isolate, so there certainly is still a positive therapeutic effect of CBD isolate.
Where does CBD come from?
CBD can be derived from both “hemp” and “marijuana”. The majority of the active components in cannabis products are produced in structures called trichomes in the plant (Russo 2011). In these trichomes, the first step in producing CBD is the creation of cannabigerolic-acid (CBGA) (Thomas 2016). The cannabinoid CBGA is a precursor to the formation of multiple cannabinoids, including CBD, THC, cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabigerol (CBG) (Thomas 2016). The formation of CBGA begins with building blocks of Coenzyme A and a fatty acid. The use of fatty acids in the production of cannabinoids is a primary reason why cannabinoids like CBD are fat-soluble. Following multiple intermediate steps, CBGA is eventually derived from olivetolic acid and geranyl pyrophosphate (Thomas 2016). Side note: the “ger” in cannabigerolic-acid comes from the “ger” in geranyl pyrophosphate.
As stated previously, CBGA can then be used for the eventual formation of CBD. First, CBGA is converted to the acidic form of CBD, cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). This process is performed by CBDA synthase (Taura 2007, Thomas 2016). However, the cannabinoid CBDA is not yet the CBD that we all know and love. For CBD to be produced the next step that must occur is the chemical decarboxylation of CBDA. For those of you not well versed in the terminology of chemistry, decarboxylation simply refers to the removal of CO2 from CBDA. Once this CO2 is removed, which is typically done through the use of heat, CBD has now been formed (Hartsel 2016). It would make sense then that CBD does not naturally occur in abundantly high quantities of either marijuana or hemp, but rather is found as the precursor CBDA. This is why the cannabis industry has developed effective ways, like supercritical CO2 extraction, to efficiently extract and decarboxylate cannabinoids like CBD in highly concentrated quantities.
How does one consume CBD based extract oils?
There are a variety of options, from vaping to edibles to topical usage. Different routes of consumption are absorbed into the body differently. For instance, inhaling any compound typically means a fast onset (absorption into the body and desired effects) and a faster offset (metabolism and excretion from the body), whereas consuming a compound orally typically has a slower onset (45 minutes to 2 hrs) and a slower offset (hours to days). Each route also comes with a different level of bioavailability. For example, if you had 100mg of CBD and you injected it intravenously (never, ever do that please), you would have 100mg absorbed into your bloodstream. Vape 100mg, and you’ll likely absorb around 75 mg of CBD. Use a 100 mg sublingual tincture, and you’ll likely absorb 35-50 mg of CBD. Take it as a pill, and you’ll absorb about 10-35 mg of CBD, depending on what you’ve eaten that day. Use it topically, and you’ll typically absorb around 5 mg of CBD. So, depending on what you’re using it for, you might want to consider the route of consumption!
How can I know if CBD or full-spectrum extracts oils can help my condition?
The best way to know is to work with your physician to monitor improvements and have them help you reference peer-reviewed studies to understand whether there might be a benefit. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of data for many conditions, so your experience will likely be trial and error. Make sure you keep a log of your progress and journal how much you’re taking and how you’re feeling so you can find the sweet spot for you. Every body is different, so you need to be your own citizen scientist to figure out what’s right for you!
What are the side effects of consuming CBD extracts?
Previous clinical trials have found that the most common side effects are somnolence and sedation, decreased appetite, diarrhea, fever, fatigue, and vomiting. Keep in mind that the doses being used in these trials are relatively high, and previous studies have shown little to no side effects at lower doses. Everyone’s bodies are different and will react to things differently.
Can you get “high” on CBD?
CBD itself is not inherently intoxicating, but due to the lack of regulation for CBD product manufacturers, CBD products may be contaminated with higher than 0.3% THC, which may induce intoxicating effects. If you feel “high” from your extract, it is likely not the CBD.
Can I get an overdose from CBD?
Of course! You can always have too much of a good thing. The most worrisome potential side effect is liver damage. Signs of liver damage have been seen in doses as low as 600mg/day, but previous studies have shown little to no harmful effects from lower doses. Check out our blog post about liver damage and CBD.
Is there any way to know the quality of the extract?
Absolutely. It is imperative that your products have 3rd party testing. 3rd party testing is quality testing that comes from a laboratory independent of the manufacturer and ensures potency and the absence of harmful contaminants. Unfortunately, even if the product has 3rd party testing, the testing could be misleading or invalid. We did an analysis of an online CBD marketplace whose business was based off of selling only products with 3rd party testing. Across 37 brands and 122 products, we found almost 50% of the test results to be invalid, and less than 25% of the products were as potent as the label claimed. In addition, 5 products were well over the US federal limit for THC, which could lead to unexpected intoxication. We also found evidence of heavy metals and pesticides in many of the products. Make sure your products have testing for potency, heavy metals, microbial contamination, and pesticides.
What are some possible problems with extracts from unknown sources?
Without proper testing, you won’t know whether your product:
- Contains the amount of CBD you’re paying for
- Contains harmful pesticides
- Contains microbial contamination
- Contains mycotoxins
- Contains heavy metals
- Is synthetically derived
Testing results can be difficult to interpret, even for a scientist, so we offer free 3rd party testing interpretation to help you identify whether your product is safe, even if it’s not a 6° Wellness product. Your safety is important to us, and is important for the industry as a whole.
What is the benefit of purchasing Six Degrees of Wellness products?
At 6° Wellness, we test every batch of products to ensure that you’re getting the product you’re looking for, and can rest assured that it’s free of harmful contaminants.
Where can people reach out to you and purchase Six Degrees of Wellness tincture or softgels?
Come check us out at www.sixdegreeswellness.com!
Dr. Helena Yardley has a dual Ph.D in Neuroscience and Integrative Physiology. She has spent the last 7 years on the front lines of cannabis research organizing clinical studies to better understand the efficacy, safety, and mechanisms of action of these compounds. Because of her extensive experience in the industry, she had also been nominated to multiple State Boards in Colorado that aim
to refine the way cannabis products are created, tested and sold: The Cannabis Science and Policy Workgroup, as well as the Cannabis Health & Safety Advisory Committee for the Colorado and the Denver Departments of Public Health & Environment. She’s a pro at creating and evaluating high-quality products.