The Chemical Makeup of CBD & Hemp

Today, it seems as though the chemical makeup of CBD is taking the world by storm.

During 2018, American consumers spent over $500 million on CBD products. Various countries have embraced the plant-based compound, noting its potential health benefits and pushing for legalization. By 2020, experts estimate that the industry will reach about $1.5 billion in total sales.

With the CBD industry abuzz, it’s hard to believe that one little flowering plant could generate so much hype – and yet, it has. So, just what is CBD made of, and where does hemp fit into the picture? Let’s take a look.

Hemp: The Origin of CBD’s Chemical Makeup

CBD is derived from hemp, a largely non-psychoactive variety of the cannabis sativa plant. As one of the earliest cultivated plants in existence, records of hemp’s use date as far back as the Neolithic Age of China, where hemp fibers were used by the Yangshao people to create ropes and cords.

Today, we still produce fibers, ropes, and cords from hemp as the Yangshao people once did. However, the plant now has a much broader range of applications. Thanks to the woody, fibrous chemical structure of hemp, the plant can also be used effectively in the creation of a wide assortment of commercial goods, such as textiles, clothing, mulch, and many others.

An old rope pulled tight

Still, hemp’s versatility extends even farther than its role in industrial manufacturing. In fact, many other components of the plant also see extensive use. For instance, hemp oil can be created from the plant’s seeds and used to produce paints, cooking oils, and topical creams among other products. Hemp creams can even be infused with active cannabidiol, thanks to the chemical makeup of CBD.

In addition, hemp seeds themselves are very nutritionally dense and can be sold for consumption or used to produce hemp milk as well as other foods and beverages. A generous portion of hemp seeds contains a significant amount of protein, polyunsaturated fats, as well as many vitamins and minerals.

Despite its many industrial uses, the cannabis plant is best-known as the source of the cannabinoids CBD and THC. Although both CBD and THC are present in every cannabis plant, the chemical ratio of CBD to THC within each plant is largely predetermined by genetic factors.

This phenomenon has effectively allowed farmers to choose between growing THC-rich cannabis or CBD-rich hemp. Ultimately, this contrast has also lead to the creation and delineation of two separate industries: one for medical-grade CBD, and another for medicinal and recreational THC products.

The CBD Molecule & The Chemical Structure of Hemp

Although CBD and THC receive the bulk of our attention, both compounds are merely two of at least 113 naturally-occurring cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. However, despite their common origin, CBD and THC are considerably dissimilar.

Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t cause euphoria when ingested and is widely considered to be the “non-psychoactive” component of cannabis. That’s because unlike THC, CBD’s chemical makeup doesn’t stimulate the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Instead, CBD seems to act as an antagonist of these receptors, meaning that they’re blocked rather than being “activated.”

However, CBD does interact with many other receptors in the human body, including:

  • CB1R (Cannabinoid Type 1 Receptor)
  • 5-HT1A (Serotonin Receptor)
  • TRPV1 (Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid Type 1)
  • GPR55 (Protein-coupled Receptor)

CBD consumption also seems to affect the body’s levels of adenosine, a naturally-occurring chemical with matching receptors in the human brain. You might be familiar with how caffeine, for instance, relieves sleepiness by binding to adenosine receptors in the body and causing a temporary “blockage.”

Like caffeine, the chemical makeup of CBD also affects the flow of adenosine in the body. However, unlike caffeine, the consumption of CBD appears to actually increase adenosine levels.

Aside from supposedly offering anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective benefits, CBD’s interaction with adenosine might also explain CBD’s purported anti-anxiety effects, since increased adenosine levels can make one feel slightly sleepier and therefore, less anxious.

Extracting & Isolating CBD from the Chemical Structure of Hemp

Although CBD offers a plethora of benefits, the cannabinoid must be isolated before it can be ingested exclusively. Otherwise, the presence of other cannabinoids may interfere with the chemical makeup of CBD and its effects.

Various flowers inside test tubes full of colored liquid

Although there are many ways to extract or “isolate” CBD, the task of effectively separating CBD from the hundreds of other cannabinoids found in the hemp plant has proved to be challenging.

CBD extraction can be performed using various organic solvents, but many of the solvents used in this process can be toxic to consumers. Other solvents, while effective, degrade the quality of the resulting CBD oil. For instance, extracting CBD from cannabis with the solvents hexane and pentane can alter the chemical makeup of CBD and other phytocannabinoids, resulting in an imbalanced, nonoptimal ratio of THC to CBD.

As a result, most modern CBD manufacturing companies use CO2 extraction to produce pure, uncontaminated, and safe CBD. The process utilizes supercritical gaseous CO2 to dissolve cannabis and extract CBD while retaining more terpenes and cannabinoids than other extraction methods.

CBD can be extracted using many methods, and the chemical makeup of CBD allows it to be added to various products. As a result, CBD-infused food and drinks have experienced a surge of popularity in recent years.

Core CBD: Your Online Source for Guaranteed THC-Free CBD

At Core CBD, we supply customers from across the United States with a wide variety of professional-grade CBD products. All of our CBD is made from American-grown hemp and is manufactured in a medical grade facility using state-of-the-art machinery.

In addition, we take great care to ensure all of our CBD products are:

  • Free of pesticides and/or insecticides
  • Routinely and rigorously tested by a third-party
  • Fully stocked

We’re ready to ship when you are, so shop at Core CBD today and experience the benefits of our medical-grade CBD products for yourself!