Hemp extract is popular in part because it contains large amounts of CBD. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are compounds that occur naturally, both in plants and in our bodies. Synthetic cannabinoids can also be produced in a lab environment.
The cannabinoids produced by our bodies are called endocannabinoids. They are part of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which also includes receptors located throughout the body, prominently in the brain and nervous and immune systems. Endocannabinoids react with the receptors to monitor conditions throughout the body and respond to changes, keeping us in a state of homeostasis, or balance.
CBD, on the other hand, is a phytocannabinoid, a cannabinoid produced by plants. When our bodies become imbalanced and we can’t produce enough of our own endocannabinoids, consuming a phytocannabinoid like CBD can help to supplement the ECS.
CBD is far from the only phytocannabinoid. THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana, is also a cannabinoid. Both CBD and THC are present in cannabis plants, like hemp and marijuana. While marijuana has potent levels of THC and lower levels of CBD, hemp plants are concentrated in CBD with minimal levels of THC. (To be legally considered hemp, a plant can contain a maximum of 0.3% THC).
Other plants contain phytocannabinoids, too. Anandamide is a cannabinoid found in the cocoa bean, shown to enhance feelings of well being. Coneflowers, or Echinacea, contain cannabinoids which aid with sleep and pain.
Cannabis is well-known for its cannabinoids because there are so many of them. Over 85 different phytocannabinoids have been identified in cannabis plants. Each of these compounds interacts with the body differently, meaning different cannabinoids can be consumed for different purposes.
In addition to CBD, full-spectrum hemp extract contains several other beneficial cannabinoids, including:
CBN (Cannabinol): CBN is a potent sedative shown to be an effective sleep aid. It also interacts with nerves throughout the body to help relieve pain caused by several different conditions. Though non-intoxicating for standard treatments, large amounts of CBN can produce a mild intoxicating sensation. Full-spectrum hemp extract contains trace amounts of CBN.
CBC (Cannabichromene): CBC has been shown to activate receptors in the body that help to increase production of natural endocannabinoids. Research also shows that CBC can block pain and inflammation, has antimicrobial and antifungal properties, and has promise as an antidepressant.
CBG (Cannabigerol): This cannabinoid is the initial form of both THC and CBD. During the hemp plant’s flowering process, CBG is converted to THCA, CBDA, and/or CBCA. (After heating and drying, these compounds transform again, into THC, CBD, and CBC). Specific enzymes in each strain of cannabis direct the CBG to different paths, resulting in a high potency CBD plant like hemp or a plant that has a higher concentration of THC. Limited studies show promise that CBG can be used in many ways, including to treat glaucoma, limit tumor growth, stimulate appetite, and as an antibacterial agent.
In some hemp-extract products, like our Green Label Proprietary Hemp Extract, the ingredients listed include CBDa. This compound, cannabidiolic acid, is also a cannabinoid, but is somewhat different than CBD. In fact, CBDa is the precursor to CBD.
Several cannabis plants, including hemp, contain CBDa in their stems, leaves, and flowers. When these plants are dried and heated, the CBDa activates and is transformed into CBD.
Both CBD and CBDa have known therapeutic effects. However, CBD has been studied more extensively and is therefore included in more products. A common process for activating the CBD is decarboxylation, which uses heat and pressure to remove CO2 and hydrogen from CBDa to produce CBD.
Full-spectrum or whole plant extracts contain more than just cannabinoids—also present are phytonutrients, terpenes, and other beneficial compounds. Research suggests that when consuming a whole plant extract, the compounds work together to create an effect greater than the effects of each compound alone. This multiplying effect is known as the Entourage Effect. While research into the Entourage Effect and its impact on health is still in the early stages, there is growing support for the use of whole plant extracts to support overall health and wellness.