Is CBD Really Just CBD? A Few Considerations about Hemp and Isolate

In the largest survey to date on cannabidiol (CBD) usira, nearly half of 2,400 medical cannabis patients who switched from traditional medicines to CBD-dominant products never looked back.

That’s a solid proportion of patients and not too surprising. Many cannabis users are, of course, attracted to the sense of euphoria produced by THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. But in recent years, CBD – usually considered the second-most prominent compound in cannabis – has stepped out from THC’s shadow as a non-psychoactive contender. The effects of CBD are relaxing, rather than intoxicating, and can soothe a whole host of conditions from anxiety to chronic pain.

If the medicinal benefits of CBD oil are on your radar, you’ll first need to understand the subtle differences between CBD’s two distinct sources: industrial hemp and cannabis.

What Is Hemp-Derived CBD?

CBD oil is found most commonly in hemp (also known as industrial hemp), a non-psychoactive variety of the cannabis sativa plant. Typically low in THC, hemp has a relatively low concentration of CBD, too: around 3.5 percent. To yield even small amounts of CBD oil, you’d need fairly large amounts of hemp.

There’s been much debate over the benefits of hemp-derived CBD compared to cannabis, but here’s what we know for sure: Hemp CBD is FDA-regulated, legal in all 50 states, and readily available online, making it more accessible for some patients. On the other hand, CBD is known to work better in conjunction with THC, enhancing its painkilling properties. Hemp lacks THC, and, accordingly, its CBD may not be all that medically effective. That said, hemp CBD still does make for a great dietary supplement that offers a range of health and wellness benefits, including boosted immune system, healthier skin and hair, and more balanced hormones.

What about CBD Isolate?

CBD Isolate is where hemp oil gets a little more versatile. Rather than extracting CBD from the whole hemp plant, cannabidiol can also be extracted from the stalk of the hemp plant to form “isolated hemp” or “CBD isolate.” This process strips out all other naturally occurring parts of the plant – terpenes, fatty acids, and other cannabinoids – and cuts straight to the cannabidiol in its purest form.

CBD isolate, the most potent CBD product available, is a crystalline, white powder with no taste or smell and zero trace of THC. You can either take the powder orally (by holding it under your tongue for about a minute, then swallowing), add the isolate to vape concentrates and other products for a boost in potency, or create your own CBD-infused oils and edibles. These options offer all the goodness of hemp supplements but, similar to cannabis, patients have more control over their dosira.

CBD Isolate can also be produced from cannabis buds, shake, and trim, using a high-proof, food-safe alcohol (or grain alcohol), a strainer, and a double boiler.

Key Takeaways

  • If living in an area where cannabis is illegal, patients can find alternative treatment in hemp CBD products.
  • Cannabis is often considered the stronger source of CBD in terms of medicinal properties because cannabis contains THC, but hemp does provide medical relief.
  • Ultimately, CBD molecules are the same whether derived from cannabis or hemp; the source need only be considered from a legal standpoint. The process by which CBD is extracted, concentrated, and formulated, and how CBD works alongside other compounds, are better indicators of product quality.
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