CBD Oil is the biggest new trend in health and wellness. Since it became available for legal sale, CBD infused products, from oils to teas to sweets have proliferated across shop shelves and the internet. Before you try it, it’s only sensible to find out where it comes from and how it’s made, so that’s what we’re looking at today.
CBD products (products made with cannabidiol, from the cannabis plant) become legal following a study by the World Health Organisation that found ”in humans, “CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”. This freed CBD from the legal stigma of being derived from the cannabis plant but only under certain conditions.
CBD has lots of effects on your brain and body – this is why it’s useful to so many people – but it’s not psychoactive, and not an intoxicant. When people take cannabis and get high, the compound in the plant that causes that effect is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). CBD products are legal for sale when they’re free of anything more than trace elements of THC. Current guidelines in the EU and UK state that CBD products must contain no more than 0.2% of THC.
This means the first step in making CBD oil has to be to identify the specific strains of cannabis and hemp that contain this level of THC (or lower) and ensure only these are used in production.
Turning Plants into Oil
Much of the CBD sold in the UK is grown in countries in the Baltic region of Eastern Europe. Before harvesting, a crop of plants is tested to ensure its THC levels are compliant with the law. If it passes, the crop can be harvested and dried to preserve it and make it easier to handle. At this point the flowers and buds are stripped from the plant and taken to a processing centre. Here they are ground down, and the oil is extracted. There are different ways this can be done. Some facilities use CO2, others use methanol to steep the raw material in, drawing out the CBD compounds.
This isn’t the end of the process: the CBD now needs to be filtered and distilled for purity, to remove the terpenes (chemicals that cause it smell), and to remove any other substances drawn from the plant that aren’t necessary or desirable like fatty acids.
After the distillation process is finished, you’re left with raw CBD oil. This is tested again for strength and purity, and can then be used as an ingredient in foods, teas or topical lotions, or combined with a less unpalatable ‘carrier oil’ for taking directly!