This article takes an in depth look at cannabis oil and its uses.
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Cannabis oil is a product that is made from the hemp flower and marijuana plants and is a supplement that is added to several products. A plant is identified as hemp or marijuana depending on the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) it contains; plants that have less than 0.3 percent THC are classified as hemp.
Hemp is used for the extraction of cannabidiol (CBD), a legal and approved product found in all fifty states. The key to CBD purity is how it is processed; the methods that vary according to their safety and efficiency.
Cannabis oil extraction is a rapidly growing and complicated topic that is made more confusing by the many types of extraction methods. The two main methods for removing and concentrating cannabinoids from cannabis are solvent based and mechanical.
Solvent based extraction involves volatile chemicals that dissolve the trichomes from the plant material. When the solvent is removed, an extracted material is left that is like shatter, wax, or vapor oil.
Mechanical extraction does not use chemicals but is a process where the trichomes are beaten, rubbed, and pressed from the plant, resulting in concentrates called kief, hash, or rosin.
Regardless of its usage, cannabis is a plant that is harvested like any other farm product. When it comes to the extraction process, the first step is removing the flowers and leaves of the plant from the stalk.
The cannabis plant can be grown indoors and outdoors. Though both methods produce a viable product, it takes several weeks for the flowers to mature, with indoor plants taking eight weeks and outdoor plants taking even longer.
Every garden is different in regards to harvesting the cannabis plant. How the plant is harvested has a significant impact on the quality, effect, and durability of the finished product. Regardless of the differences in the types of gardens, there are certain basic procedures that are always followed during the harvesting process; these include removal of the leaves, trimming, and removal of the flowers, which are also referred to as buds.
In this case, the leaves to be removed are the large fan leaves in the typical pattern of marijuana leaves. They can be plucked, cut, or removed with a trimmer. The large leaves do not contain a significant amount of cannabinoids and are usually disposed of. Once the larger leaves are removed, the remaining leaves can be removed immediately using wet trimming or you can allow the plants to dry before trimming.
Drying can happen after the wet trim method or right after the leaves are removed. As can be seen in the image below, the plants are hung upside down in trimmed small bunches or the whole plant is hung upside down. The plants dry at 65° to 75° F with a humidity factor of 45 to 55%. The drying process is completed in total darkness since the sun, UV rays, and light damage the cannabinoids or terpenes in the flowers. It takes seven to ten days to complete the cycle.
The de-stemming process is removing the flowers from the central stalk. A cutting tool is used to sever the connection of the flower to the stalk by snipping it at the base of the flower. Though the process can be completed by hand, there are automated methods available.
The sorting process is a simple matter of separating the different sizes of flowers and is completed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the final trimming process.
The purpose of trimming the flowers is to remove the pieces of leaves that are stuck against the flowers. This exposes the flowers, which contain the greatest concentration of the cannabis chemical. Completing this process by hand is time consuming and requires extra labor. Using a trimming machine simplifies trimming and speeds it up.
Curing is the final step in harvesting and is completed after the flowers have been satisfactorily trimmed. Curing is drying the flowers very, very slowly; this enriches the flavor of the flowers. Like drying, curing is completed in a dark, cool storage area where the flowers can be regularly inspected and assessed.
In the beginning, the curing containers should be opened once or twice a day to let out the humidity and let in fresh air. After this initial period, the containers can be opened less frequently. At the end of curing, the flowers have an excellent odor and are at the peak of their flavor.
The purpose of the extraction process is to separate cannabinoids, terpenes, and the other chemicals found in the cannabis plant. Though there are a variety of chemicals that can be garnered from the cannabis plant, the main goals of the many methods of extraction are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD).
Carbon dioxide extraction uses a combination of high pressure and temperature to keep the CO₂ in the form of a gas and liquid at the same time; this phase is referred to as supercritical.
The CO₂ works as a solvent and pulls the oil and other materials from the plant. The oil dissolves into the CO₂ but is collected when the CO₂ is brought back to natural pressure. The quality of the extraction is determined by the temperature and pressure.
In the alcohol extraction process, the plant matter is combined with alcohol. The soaking of the flowers in alcohol dilutes the trichomes. Once dilution is completed, the solution is filtered, and the alcohol is purged. The two types of alcohol used are ethanol and isopropyl. Filters can be 40 micron laboratory filters or 25 micron resin drying screens.
The butane method replaces alcohol in the extraction process with butane. To extract the cannabis oil, the butane and cannabis are pressurized and heated. A vacuum is used to change the butane from a liquid to a vapor; this makes it easier to remove the butane and retrieve the cannabis oil. Prior to the development of the closed loop method when using butane as an extraction solvent, the butane process was potentially flammable and dangerous.
An alternative to using butane is propane that has a lower boiling point. The change in the boiling point allows access to different chemicals during extraction.
There are numerous mechanical methods used to extract cannabis that do not involve the use of solvents or chemicals. Mechanical methods use centrifugal action, gravity separation, and filtration to separate the trichome glands from the plants. Mechanical methods include sieving, ice water soaking, and a cold and warm press method.
Mechanical methods are inexpensive, though the use of a rosin press can be expensive and costly. The various mechanical methods lack the efficiency and effectiveness of automated commercial methods and do not produce a sufficient amount of material for commercial or pharmaceutical use.
Ultrasound extraction works with alcohol extraction to produce higher yields and improved productivity. The use of ultrasound as part of an extraction method is similar to ultrasound use in other production processes. The ultrasound mechanism creates bubbles in the alcohol solvent. The bubbles become superheated and extremely small and strike the cell walls of the plant material; this makes pulling the oil into the solvent easier.
Hydrodynamic extraction is one of the newest methods for the extraction of cannabinoids and involves the use of heat, pressure, and hydrocavitation. The process of hydrodynamic extraction involves several steps; it begins with the plant materials being frozen and converted to nanoemulsions using hydrodynamic force and ultrasonication. The combination of the two processes forces the plant’s cell walls to be broken into an aqueous phase.
Centrifugal separation is used to separate the molecules; after that, a cold extraction process is used to isolate the cannabinoid molecules where the active particles enter a solvent phase. The solvent is distilled and put through low temperature drying to keep the molecules together.
The uniqueness of the hydrodynamic method is the use of whole, freshly harvested cannabis plants; this preserves all of the cannabinoids. The ability to process whole plants enhances the viability of the extracts due to their increased bioavailability.
As simple as it may seem, the term cannabis oil is unbelievably broad and can be used to describe any number of oils made partly or completely from the cannabis plant. It can include hemp oil and CBD based oils as well as loosely refer to THC oils. Each type of cannabis oil has a different absorption rate that users must be aware of.
The type of process used to produce cannabis oils determines purity and can result in hemp oil blended with other types of oils such as sunflower seed oil and olive oil.
THC is a psychotropic that can be used as an anti-epileptic, analgesic, and antiemetic. It is one of over 140 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant and can have a 35% concentration in the flowers. THC is made from rich cannabis flowers. The main medical application of THC is assistance in seizure disorder reduction.
CBD oil is the most popular of the cannabis oils and can be made from the flowers of hemp plants or CBD rich strains. Some of the uses for CBD oil include pain relief, reduction of anxiety and depression, alleviation of cancer symptoms, acne control , assistance with mental disorders, and treatment for substance abuse.
BHO is a resinous oil that is extracted from the cannabis plant using butane as the solvent. It can come in a variety of consistencies, which are determined by the heat and humidity used during extraction. Of the different types of oil, BHO is the least popular due to the dangers involved in extracting it.
RSO is a resinous oil that is extracted using alcohol, and it produces the most concentrated cannabis oil. The oil is produced by stripping the cannabis plant of terpenes and cannabinoids. The process produces CBD and THC exclusively. It has been found to cure skin cancer and is exceptionally strong.
Hemp seeds have been used for thousands of years as a nutritional supplement and health product. The seeds contain the beneficial substances of α-linolenic acid, omega-3 fatty acid, and omega-6 fatty acid that have the potential of preventing coronary heart disease. There have been several studies and a great deal of research regarding the benefits of omega-3, but they have not conclusively proven its benefits. Hemp seed oil is a source of protein, vitamin E, and other minerals that are also found in seafood.
The process for producing hemp seed oil is completed by cold pressing the seeds. The oil can be used for cooking and is found in beauty products. Hemp seed oil is less expensive to purchase and more plentiful than CBD oil.
Hemp is an extremely rich source of CBD; its THC content is federally regulated. The oil can be full or broad spectrum, with the full spectrum version having all of the compounds from the hemp plant. Full spectrum hemp oil is the most potent form of hemp oil and contains the greatest concentration of health benefits. There is a belief that the total medical benefits of CBD can be found when all of the different elements are taken together as one instead of separately.
Though cannabis has gained greater attention in recent years, it has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal aid, health supplement, and curative agent. The three genus of cannabis, indica, sativa, and ruderalis, have been cultivated and harvested for profit and medical benefits due to cannabis’ exceptional and considerable therapeutic benefits.
Since the middle of the 19th Century, cannabis has been used as a medication in the United States. Its health properties include various forms of medical relief: anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, anticonvulsant, sedative, and analgesic.
Cannabis oil can stimulate the digestive system and induce hunger, which is useful for people who need to gain weight or are recovering from a serious illness. Consumption of cannabis oil stimulates the hormone ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and can be used to treat obesity and anorexia.
CBD relaxes the mind and reduces stress; it brings peace and calm to the mind. It was tested on patients who recently had a traumatic experience and was found to reduce stress and assist in regulating emotional responses in patients. Cannabinoids reduce the effect of the stress receptors in the hippocampus and basolateral amygdala parts of the brain that produce stressful feelings.
One of the main reasons that cannabis oil has been used for thousands of years is its ability to relieve pain, inflammation, and chronic pain. Patients suffering from fibromyalgia and cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy use it as a pain reliever. In a variety of medical studies, cannabis has proven to be a successful method for improving the moods of patients as well as relieving their pain.
Cannabis and cannabis oil have been linked to the prevention of macular degeneration and the treatment of glaucoma, a form of loss of vision due to an increase in intraocular pressure. Unfortunately, the relief of these disorders only lasts for a few hours and is a temporary treatment.
The use of cannabis for the treatment and prevention of cancer has been ongoing for many years. It is believed that cannabis oil can reduce the size of tumors and alleviate pain, weakness, nausea, and lack of appetite. There are several studies that paint cannabis as a treatment for pituitary, colon, lung, thyroid, prostate, breast, and brain cancers. A study completed in 2006 found that THC and CBD had a significant and lasting effect on breast cancer cells.
It is theorized that cannabis induces cancer cell death and cuts off the blood supply to cancerous tumors. Cannabis oil has also been found to be an alternative to chemotherapy, and it increases the vitality of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Every day, millions of skin cells die and need to be shed. Cannabis oil enhances this natural process and promotes the appearance of healthy skin. It produces lipids that treat dry skin, dandruff, and acne and is believed to fight free radical damage as well as reduce the stress linked to eczema, rosacea, and acne.
There are tentative studies that suggest that cannabis oil can be used to treat heart problems. According to the research, cannabis oil improves circulation and reduces blood pressure. At the present time, the data has not conclusively proven that cannabis oil can prevent heart attacks since only one study has been done on humans.
Unfortunately, Sjogren’s syndrome has no cure. Medical cannabis has been found to be a treatment that can alleviate the effects of some of the symptoms, such as pain, swelling, and inflammation. Cannabis oil is applied in a variety of ways, such as under the tongue or as a cream. It has been proven that cannabis oil significantly reduces inflammation and joint damage from the disease.
The normal interpretation of PTSD is that it is the result of an experience in military combat. In reality, PTSD can be suffered by anyone who has experienced a traumatic event such as an automobile accident, a near death experience, or sexual abuse. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5) defines PTSD as a mental condition that is the result of a life threatening experience.
The CBD in cannabis regulates and controls neurotransmitter release and increases the flow of the pleasure hormone, dopamine. Its use has helped sufferers improve their coping skills and has reduced insomnia and anxiety.
The normal treatment for asthma is the use of an inhaler that opens the air passages and offers short term relief. CBD, as a method for controlling asthma symptoms, serves as an anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic; this allows patients to control and manage their symptoms. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, retrograde neurotransmitters, to reduce mucus production and works as an immune modulator.
The calming effects of cannabis oil reduce restlessness and anxiety when trying to go to sleep, reduce sleep interruptions, and improve nighttime breathing. A major factor in sleep is the endocannabinoid system, which monitors sleep patterns as well as regulates and stabilizes sleep, and it is stimulated by CBD.
CBD has been found to be effective in addressing symptoms of sleep apnea (a disorder where patients stop breathing in their sleep) and insomnia by inducing states of physical and emotional calm. It stabilizes sleep patterns and alleviates sleep disorders.
The first consideration when selecting the cannabis product to fit your situation is your goal. Cannabis oil can be used to improve sleep, as a health and wellness supplement, for stress relief, for muscle and joint pain, or general pain relief. As with all types of medications, it is important to know in advance your reason for taking CBD.
The next consideration is the strength that will be required to achieve your goals. CBD is measured in milligrams; this determines its potency and strength.
There are three types of CBD oil. Knowing the differences between the types is essential to an understanding of CBD oil.
Full spectrum CBD is a whole plant extract, and it contains all of the plant's elements. It is considered to be the most effective and beneficial form of CBD due to all the compounds working together.
Broad spectrum is the same as full spectrum with the elimination of the THC element. It is the perfect solution for people who want to avoid the effects of THC.
CBD isolates contain only CBD and are not as effective as broad and full spectrum.
Low strength CBD is for people who are new to the drug, have a fast metabolism, or have a low body mass index. The strength level of low strength CBD is 5 to 10 mg per dose.
Medium strength is for normal body types or for people who have had experience with CBD. Allowable dosages are between 15 to 30 mg.
People who are accustomed to the use of CBD, have a high body mass index, or have a high tolerance to CBD can use high strength CBD in dosages of 30 mg each.
Much like any form of medication, there are five ways to take CBD; it can be sublingual, ingestible, water soluble, topical, or inhalable. Knowing how you wish to take CBD goes a long way in choosing the correct product and helping you find the most comfortable way to use it.
Sublingual use is when CBD in any form is placed under the tongue to begin absorption in the mouth. It is a quicker absorption method than ingesting.
Ingestion of CBD is swallowing or eating of it without letting it be absorbed in the mouth. The types of products for ingesting include capsules, pills, drinks, gummies, or foods. It is an easy and comfortable way to take the product, but it takes longer for the effects to be felt.
Water soluble CBD is taken through ingestion but is absorbed into the body faster. The oil is broken up in the water into tiny particles for quicker and faster absorption. The effects can be felt within 15 minutes. Water soluble CBD can be mixed with any form of beverage.
CBD topicals are skin care products, lotions, bath bombs, bath salts, and various kinds of soap, and they are designed to be used on the outside of the body. When applied topically, CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. These types are for targeted problems such as joint, muscle, or skin discomfort.
Inhaling CBD allows it to enter the body within minutes, but it may be dangerous and harmful. It is the perfect solution for people who already inhale vapors or smoke but may be difficult for those who are not accustomed to that process.
CBD can be taken regularly, such as in the morning and evening, or occasionally when symptoms or discomfort arises. There are various products that can conform to the different timing methods.
Another factor to consider when choosing a CBD oil is any dietary concerns such as allergies, having a vegan diet, and avoidance of gluten products. It is uncommon for gluten to be a factor in CBD processing, but certain contaminants can enter the product depending on the processing method.
Though uncommon, a small group of people are allergic to CBD; reactions can be caused by derivatives in the product or the CBD substances.
The legalization of CBD is an ongoing and complicated process with states and certain jurisdictions having their own laws and restrictions. A standard rule that seems to have gained approval is that CBD may not have a THC content of more than 0.3%, a condition that has been added as an addendum to most laws.
Federal legislation has authorized the sale of industrial hemp and CBD. Though this has been approved on the federal level, individual states have their own regulations that supersede federal law. Every state works regularly to change and adjust their legislation to meet the attitude and opinions of the public regarding CBD.
When the push to legalize CBD began, CBD was classified as a Schedule 1 restricted substance due to its relationship to THC. The Farm Bill of 2014 laid out the distinction between cannabis and hemp, with marijuana having a higher amount of THC than hemp, which has a higher concentration of CBD.
The 2014 law allowed for the growth, transport, and research of hemp with a maximum THC level of 0.3%. THC remains a schedule 1 restricted substance and drug. This particular distinction has assisted in the research into the positive effects of CBD.
For greater clarification, the Farm Bill of 2018 specified that industrial hemp extracts are legal, permitting CBD oil to be used throughout the United States as long as it is extracted from industrial hemp. CBD extracted from marijuana can be used for medical purposes in compliance with individual state laws.
Forty six of the fifty states allow the use of CBD oil at differing levels. Some states allow it for therapeutic purposes, while others permit it for recreational and therapeutic purposes.
Included in the legal requirements are specifications and requirements for labeling, which must clearly identify the contents, such as THC or CBD or both and the percentages of each. Many of the restrictions are for the protection of children and require that packaging be child proof.
CBD product supplements require a supplement facts label on the back that includes an outline of secondary ingredients, warnings, and other instructions. Though it is not legislated, packaging of CBD should be in airtight green, blue, amber, or violet glass bottles since glass does not absorb oils and colored glass prevents deterioration from UV rays or artificial light.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) section 21 CFR 111.455 stipulates the packaging for food and dietary supplements but doesn’t recognize CBD under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) of 1938. It does inspect CBD products being shipped across state lines for proper labeling.