Does CBD Only Come From Cannabis and Hemp?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is exploding in popularity, but its uncertain legality has created barriers between consumers and providers. But what if cannabis and hemp were not the only sources of CBD?
Chemists have been able to synthesize CBD in the lab for years, but it’s wildly expensive (from one research supply source, it’s $159/10mg, and many require hundreds of milligrams to achieve therapeutic benefits) and you’re required to have a Schedule I DEA license to make the purchase. On top of that, it’s not intended for human consumption.

So instead of turning to the beaker, others are considering ways of manipulating the machinery of organisms to create CBD.

CBD From Hops

One recent notable example of alternative CBD sourcing comes from the hops plant. Isodiol International Inc. claims to have created the only source of CBD from a non-cannabis plant (including hemp).

Hops are well known for their distinctive flavor they impart in the brewing of beer. But can the hops plant, Humulus lupulus, be made to produce cannabinoids like THC or CBD? Isodiol International Inc. has not shared any data supporting their ability to create CBD from hops, nor did they respond to my request for comment. So, does their hops-derived CBD product, ImmuneAG, actually contain CBD? Maybe, and in theory, it can be done.

 

CBD From Yeast

Others are turning to yeast to do the hard labor of creating cannabinoids. Yeast do not naturally produce cannabinoids, but give them the right tools and it’s possible.

Librede, a California-based company has done just that. They hold a patent and have received federal funding to mass produce cannabinoids from yeast. By manipulating their DNA, yeast can produce CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids or terpenes that would naturally be found in the cannabis plant. And they do it for far cheaper than traditional cultivation methods.

It’s a one-step process: add sugar and let the bioengineered yeast do the rest. Liberte estimates that they’ll be able to create a gram of CBD for 20 cents, far less than cultivation and extraction of CBD from cannabis or hemp plants.

Plus, there’s the added benefit of a lower environmental impact. Cannabis and hemp plants require a substantial amount of water and energy (especially for indoor grow operations). Many growers also commonly use pesticides and fertilizers that can contaminate local water supplies, which has a significant environmental impact.

 

The Recipe for Producing Cannabinoids

To create cannabinoids, you need two basic features: 1) the precursor molecules from which cannabinoids are made, and 2) the enzymes which convert the precursor molecules into particular cannabinoids.

In order for hops or yeast to create cannabinoids, they must first be able to produce hexanoic acid and geranyl diphosphate (GPP). Hexanoic acid is common in many plants and is eventually turned into olivetolic acid (often simply referred to as OA), where together with GPP, it is synthesized into cannabigerolic acid.

Creating cannabigerolic acid is a key milestone in the pathway to create cannabinoids. Once you’ve reached it, all you need is the right enzymes to convert it into THC, CBD, or other cannabinoids (note: technically, the enzymes convert cannabigerolic acid into the acid form of THC or CBD—heat then converts them into the familiar THC and CBD we know and love).

But this is a major holdup, as plants other than cannabis don’t possess the DNA that allows them to naturally produce these enzymes.

 

Adding the Ingredients

Bioengineers have developed the tools that enable yeast to produce the key ingredients in cannabinoid production. Yeast have been engineered to produce hexanoic acid (which you’ll recall is the precursor to OA) as well as the enzyme that converts cannabigerolic acid to THC acid (THCA). Librete claims that the entire process, from sugar to cannabinoid, takes less than a week. Once THCA is produced, now all you need is a flame to get high.

Is it possible to turn the hemp plant into a cannabinoid producer? Yes. The new gene-manipulating technique known as CRISPR can do just that. CRISPR is a method that allows scientists to cut out a certain region of DNA and replace it with DNA of their choosing. Using CRSIPR, scientists could insert the DNA for the enzymes that convert cannabigerolic acid into THC or CBD, thus converting the hemp plant into a cannabinoid producer. Is this what Isodiol has done? They won’t say.

The issue of the medicinal effectiveness remains. For instance, whole-plant extracts of CBD-rich cannabis are known to have stronger anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing qualities than CBD on its own. Yet, by bioengineering plants or yeast to create a spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes, with time and research, the optimal combination of “ingredients” can be created for each condition.

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What Exactly Is CBD Oil & How Can It Fight Anxiety?

You’re seeing it in supplements, beauty products, and even chocolate bars, but what the heck is CBD oil, and what is all the fuss about? You know it has something to do with marijuana, so is the wellness world just a bunch of potheads? Well, not exactly.

 

The basics of CBD oil: hemp vs. marijuana.

CBD is short for cannabidiol, a cannabinoid compound that is found in hemp and marijuana. Both hemp and marijuana are part of the plant family known as Cannabis. The main difference between marijuana and hemp is the level of THC in each. THC, like CBD, is a cannabinoid compound. There are 60 different known cannabinoids, but THC is the most well-known—the Beyoncé of cannabinoids, if you will. The reason THC is so famous is because it’s associated with the psychoactive high that people experience after smoking or ingesting weed.

The definitions of hemp and marijuana can get pretty confusing, but for basic purposes, marijuana contains high levels of THC, and hemp contains low levels of THC. The ratios of CBD to THC in hemp oil can vary, depending on the product and the specific plant the oil was extracted from. CBD oil, a concentrated version of the cannabidiol compound, is typically derived from hemp but can be extracted from marijuana as well. CBD oil products on the market have varying levels of CBD and THC. Many have little to no THC, while some contain small amounts.

The health benefits of CBD oil.

OK, so CBD oil won’t get you high, turn you into a drug addict, or give you the munchies, so why is everyone talking about it? If THC is the Beyoncé of cannabinoids, then CBD is the Adele: Both you and your grandma will love it. CBD is just as talented as THC but safe for the whole family. CBD oil can provide amazing health benefits naturally, and there is a growing body of research to support it.

While there are many different pathways driving the positive health benefits of CBD, the center of its awesome abilities seems to be that CBD is a very effective natural anti-inflammatory. Chronic inflammation is really the commonality between most (and by most, I mean basically all) chronic health problems that we face today as a modern society. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, digestive issues, and hormonal problems are all inflammatory in nature. What the heck, right?

Despite this, it’s important to know that inflammation is not inherently bad; in fact, it’s a brilliant aspect of our immune system. When balanced, inflammation heals wounds and fights off infections. The problem with inflammation arises when it increases and never calms down. Like a forest fire burning on in perpetuity, people get hurt. Same goes with the fiery squall of insidious, chronic inflammation. As a natural anti-inflammatory, CBD can help quell the flame and fight chronic inflammation.

CBD oil, inflammation, and anxiety.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States. An estimated 30 percent of adults in the United States (that’s 66 million people) and an estimated 25 percent of teenagers and preteens are affected by anxiety. As a functional medicine practitioner, I see many people who struggle with anxiety and panic attacks, and from these statistics, it should be no surprise. But just because something is common doesn’t make it normal. Fortunately, new insights into the cause of anxiety may help with the development of more effective treatment options.

Most people do not associate cognitive health issues like anxiety, depression, brain fog, ADD, ADHD, and autism with inflammation, but it turns out that is exactly what the research is finding. There is actually a whole field of research known as the cytokine model of cognitive function studying how inflammation messes with our brains and may cause anxiety disorders. One finding is that elevated levels of NF kappa B (NFkB), an inflammatory bad guy, is associated with anxiety while people with lower levels of NFkB often have lower rates of anxiety.

Enter CBD oil: an anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety compound. I have seen in my own life, and many of my patients’ lives, the positive impact CBD oil can have on anxiety. Studies have found that CBD oil is a natural anxiolytic (anxiety calmer) and is effective in treating social anxiety. CBD calms anxiety naturally without the potential side effects of pharmaceutical anti-anxiety medications.

In addition to fighting inflammation in the body, CBD oil may reduce anxiety by directly affecting the brain. Studies have found that CBD actually lowers activity in the amygdala and increases prefrontal cortex activation, two parts of the brain involved in anxiety. There is also evidence that CBD is able to activate hippocampus neurogenesis, aka regenerate new neurons! This activates CB1 receptors, which has a positive balancing impact on GABA and glutamate levels, associated with reducing anxiety.

CBD Oil: How much should you take?

The studies done on CBD oil have a pretty wide dose range (anywhere from a few milligrams to hundreds of milligrams). I suggest starting at the lower end (around 10 milligrams) and slowly increasing over a few weeks or months to see what works for you. Some people also do well with splitting the dosage throughout the day instead of taking the dose all at once. As with everything, it is always a good idea to talk with your prescribing doctor if you are on any medications. CBD is generally very safe, but there are some pharmaceutical medications CBD oil could potentially interact with and increase or decrease the pharmaceutical drugs’ effectiveness.

There are a growing number of quality CBD oils on the market. Just make sure the product you buy is getting third-party tested for quality and potency—and that the hemp was organically grown.

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Kristen Bell Says CBD Lotion Helps Her Sore Muscles

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Kristen Bell’s post-workout go-to? The Lord Jones High CBD Pain & Wellness Formula Body Lotion ($50; lordjonesbrand.com). CBD oil, a substance made by extracting a specific compound from cannabis called cannabidiol, has been making headlines lately for its benefits in beauty, wellness, and more.

“I love my @thelordjones body lotion for my sore muscles after working out,” Bell shared with her Instagram followers after hitting the gym on Tuesday.

Fear not: CBD is non-psychoactive, so you won’t get high from using products like this. They’re also widely available in the U.S. But what do experts say about them?

“It may have pain-relieving capabilities, but we’re still waiting for good clinical studies to prove this,” Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, previously wrote of CBD oil. “It’s possible that a few drops of CBD oil can be therapeutic, but we need more info on what it’s really useful for. Some research has shown that CBD may be effective for relieving chronic pain, as well as pain associated with cancer treatment and arthritis. It’s not entirely clear how CBD may work to alleviate pain; it may be related to the compound’s anti-inflammatory properties.”

Research suggests that marijuana products are effective at treating chronic pain, calming muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, and easing nausea from chemotherapy. However, you may not find relief in your muscles.

As Ricardo Colberg, MD, a physician at Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center in Birmingham, Alabama, told Shape, topical creams won’t reach the muscle where your actual soreness is located.

“Any cream with a heating or cooling sensation desensitizes the nerves to pain by distracting them with stimuli on top,” he said, and the Lord Jones CBD lotion falls into that camp. But it’s not all bad news: “Scientific literature says there’s a 33% chance of the placebo effect helping people, so for some, just using a cream they believe can help will provide some relief,” Dr. Colberg added.

If cannabis cream helps Bell in her post-workout recovery, it could help you, too. We’re still waiting on more scientific evidence, but if you have $50 to spend and you’re curious, there’s virtually no medical risk in rubbing some on your sore muscles.

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How to Take CBD Oil For Maximum Effects, According to an Expert

You may have heard about the purported health benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), including relieving anxiety and pain, reducing seizures, and getting better sleep. CBD is derived from the marijuana plant, but it doesn’t contain THC, the compound that makes you feel “high.”

If you’re interested in trying CBD for yourself, one of the most common ways is with CBD, or hemp, oils. Unfortunately, many of these products don’t come with instructions on the best way to take it, so we asked neuroscientist and cannabis expert Josh Kaplan, PhD, about the best way to consume your CBD oil. Dr. Kaplan said there are two ways to take CBD oil: under your tongue (“sublingually”) or swallowing it immediately (whether by itself or mixed with food). The method in which you take CBD oil depends on the results you are looking for.

 

The Best Way For Fast Relief

In the sublingual method, you put a drop or dropper of oil (depending on the suggested serving size) under your tongue and wait a minute or so before swallowing. Dr. Kaplan says this way is best for quick relief.

“Once the CBD passes through the skin under your tongue to the blood, it rapidly makes its way to the brain and the rest of the body, where it can start having effects,” he told POPSUGAR. “These effects are therefore felt within minutes and can last for a few hours.” So if you’re looking for a fast relief from pain, migraine, or acute stress, that may be the way to go.

“Plus, it allows you to easily titrate the dose,” he said. “That is, you get relatively rapid feedback and can take another dose if necessary.”

 

If You Want It to Last Longer

You can also drop CBD oil directly in your mouth and swallow it as is or mix with your favorite food or beverage. Dr. Kaplan suggests this way works best if you are seeking long-lasting relief because the effects last longer when taken orally.

“The downside is that they take longer to kick in because it gets absorbed through your digestive tract, which is slower,” he explained. “While it may take an hour or two before the effects are noticed, they may last longer than the sublingual method of consumption.”

He noted that if your oil also has THC (found in some cannabis oils), taking it orally may maximize the effects of the THC, since the byproduct of it being processed by the liver is a stronger compound than THC. But CBD oils, including hemp-derived varieties, don’t typically contain any THC. And if they do, it’s in very small amounts that aren’t enough to have any effects.

 

The Final Verdict

It all depends on your desired results; both ways have their advantages. If you want your CBD to work quickly, then taking a dosage under your tongue, waiting a minute to 90 seconds, and then swallowing will be the way to go. If you’re looking for the effects to last longer, then you may want to take it orally.

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