Table of Contents
- The History of Hemp
- What is CBD Oil
- Best Carrier Oils for CBD
- CBD Dosing
CBD oil is the most common cannabidiol (CBD) product found on the market and is very popular among consumers. It may be the healthiest means of taking the hemp derived molecule as well. Vaping CBD concentrates are healthier than smoking hemp since it eliminates combustion. Still, many people would rather not use their lungs as a delivery system for cannabidiol at all. Edibles often contain unhealthy ingredients like processed sugars and saturated fats, although Sugar and Kush CBD edibles are keto friendly.
There are tinctures in dropper bottles for measuring out CBD mg dosages. I can either drop it under my tongue for the best absorption, or add it into food. There are also oils that I can use as a topical and rub it right into my skin. In this article I will review the historical use of cannabidiol so that you can have a frame of reference on how it has been traditionally used. I will also go into the process of how CBD is extracted and why MCT oil is one of the best mediums to use with cannabidiol for absorption. Finally, I will review cooking with cannabis oil and provide some more insights into dosing cannabidiol.
The History of Hemp
Hemp was first cultivated in China around 2800 BCE. At least, that is the first time people started taking a record of using hemp. Archaeological finds date people using hemp as far back as 10,000 BCE. It’s a very useful plant as its fibrous materials are strong and good for making ropes, sails and clothing. In ancient Egypt they would hammer long dry hemp fibers into the cracks of large rocks and then pour water on them. The hemp would expand and be strong enough to fragment the rocks. Hemp has played a major part in the history of humankind.
In order to cross the Atlantic, Europeans wove canvas (the word canvas comes from the Latin root, cannabis, by the way) sails made from hemp for many of the boats they traveled on to reach the Americas. US officials lifted the prohibition on growing industrial hemp during World War II and it became an essential commodity to sustain our troops during the war. Many US soldiers even wore hemp uniforms. Henry Ford used hemp for biomass fuel and planned on powering cars with it. But, what about hemp oil? When did people first start using medicinal oils rich with cannabidiol?
Ancient Medicinal Hemp
I’ll preface this section by explaining that back in the day, many presumed medicinal uses of hemp may not have been truly medicinal. Like everything else, people have gone through a trial and error process in discovering the medicinal properties of plants like hemp. In order to benefit from cannabidiol it must be decarboxylated first, which typically involves heating the flower. I will be touching upon that more later. People did learn to heat hemp a long time ago, but many of the ancient medicinal uses of hemp may not have involved cannabidiol at all. History books explain that people would often heat hemp seeds or press them to get hemp seed oil. But, hemp seeds have no cannabidiol in them. It has real nutritional value and may contain other medicinal qualities, but not CBD.
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Around 2700 BCE, the Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung compiled one of the first books on the medicinal properties of plants, the Pen Ts’ao. There are hundreds of plant derived drugs listed in the book and hemp derivatives are referred to as “ma.” At that time hemp was used to treat anyone that was out of balance with the yin and the yang. It was also used to treat gout, rheumatoid arthritis, constipation, convulsions, sleeplessness, cramps and other discomforts people still contend with today. Many hundreds of years later Chinese doctors were still using hemp medicinally, even mixing it with wine to create an anesthetic during surgery. Ouch! For the most part though, records suggest that Chinese doctors traditionally used non-psychoactive hemp cultivars.
In 1070 a book written in China called Illustrated Classic of Materia Medica provides a recipe where hemp is used to treat pain. The recipe describes soaking hemp seeds in water and collecting the sediments that settle at the bottom. They would then grind up the sediment, fry it and mix it with alcohol. While today’s CBD oils are made from the flower where cannabidiol is found, homemade tinctures are still typically made in an alcohol solution. It is theorized that the seeds used in this particular remedy may still have had the bracts attached. A bract is a small leaf that forms just below the seed on the stem. If they were still attached then the cannabinoids may have been extracted from the leaf.
It is not hard to find more information about the historical medicinal use of cannabinoids like cannabidiol. While there are likely kernels of knowledge and insights buried deep within manuscripts, current research is the most in-depth out there. We have access to much more research than they did in ancient China. We also have the advantages technology provides us organizationally. Let’s review what exactly CBD oil is next.
What is CBD Oil?
Raw Oil vs Rosin
As explained above, raw hemp oil exists right in the hemp plant. The flowers are the parts of the plant where you’ll find cannabidiol. In order to extract the CBD though, other methods besides pressing are typically used these days. Rosin presses can be used to literally squeeze cannabinoids, terpenes and other material out. But, typically solvents are used to extract CBD from the flowers and infuse it into oils. Before I elaborate on extraction techniques for oil, let’s better understand where cannabidiol comes from.
Where Does CBD Come From?
For growers the real trick is that they need to grow only female hemp plants. Females are the ones that produce the flowers, and again the flower is where you find the cannabidiol. It is a tricky and painstaking task for farmers to pick through their crops and pull the male plants they find. If they do not pick the male plants, then when they get older they will pollinate the female plants.
It has been a matter of contention for many hemp farmers that are growing for cannabinoids, mainly cannabidiol, when neighboring farms miss a male in their crop. It just takes a single male hemp plant to pollinate an entire crop of female plants. Just like many other flowers, hemp releases millions of pollen microsperms. The pollen does not typically travel much further than 100 yards or so when carried by the wind, but bees and other bugs can carry it many miles. Technically the wind could carry the pollen much further, but typically it's not much more than the length of a football field. One way or another, it can devastate a crop and cost the farmer’s a lot of money.
In order for the hemp flowers to produce the concentrated amount of cannabidiol the growers are looking for, the plants’ energy has to be spent on producing flowers or inflorescence, not seeds. When the male plant pollinates the female it changes the entire plant ruining its cannabidiol production potential. An all female crop that reaches maturity will produce a great deal of CBDA, the precursor to CBD, that can be extracted from the flower through a variety of ways. In order to get CBD though we need to understand decarboxylation.
CBDA, or cannabidiolic acid, is technically what is found in the hemp flowers. By itself, it has none of the medicinal value of CBD. It cannot affect our endocannabinoid system until the acidic part of the molecule is removed. You can bake hemp flowers in the oven at 240°F for about 40 minutes or so and accomplish decarboxylation. You can fry it in a pan at a very low temperature too. Burning the flowers will ruin the CBD content. Needless to say, smoking it also results in removing the acidic part but a lot of it is lost that way as well. Many extraction techniques using CO2 or butane also accomplish the process as well. Once decarboxylated, it is ready to be infused into an oil or alcohol.
CBD isolate looks like a fine white powder. It is pure CBD that has already been decarboxylated and is ready for use. It has no terpenes or any other cannabinoids. You can just take some of the powder and put it right under your tongue if you would like. CBD is not water soluble so if you want to mix it into a solution it needs to be fat based. This is why oil is used so often with CBD, it dissolves right into the oil. However, by itself CBD isolate does not have a very good bioavailability, which is something I will touch on later in the piece but means that a lot of the CBD will run through our bodies without ever affecting us. For the most optimal use of an isolate, it should be added to an oil solution that can carry it better through the body. Let’s review the typical consumer products that you can find that are universally referred to as CBD oil.
It is common to refer to CBD oil as a CBD tincture. There is a difference though. A traditional tincture actually does not have any oil in it. Instead alcohol is used. The hemp flowers are heated to decarboxylate the CBD and then placed in a jar of alcohol for around six weeks. In the end active CBD is floating around the alcohol and you can use it in many different ways. However, as an alternative to alcohol, people can use vegetable glycerin for the exact same process. It is typically a soy based fatty acid that would be more accurately described as a CBD oil than alcohol based CBD tincture.
CBD Infused Oil
Again, there are many ways to make CBD oil. It is important not to confuse it with the rosin made from pressing flowers. It is CBD that has been infused into an oil and there are many methods to accomplish that process. You can simply saute hemp flowers in extra virgin olive oil over low heat for a long time making sure not to burn it. Then strain the oil since eating the flowers that are now devoid of cannabidiol isn’t desirable. The oil you have left over is CBD oil that you can use in all sorts of food just like you would regular oil.
Similar to the tinctures, you can decarboxylate the flowers and then immerse them in other types of oils for six weeks or so. Strain this concoction and mix the oil into all sorts of topicals and salves. People often use beeswax to make lotions and other ointments that can be rubbed into the skin to take advantage of the benefits of CBD.
You can take a CBD isolate and mix it right into an oil since it has already been decarboxylated. You will then have a pure CBD oil without any of the terpenes or any of the other cannabinoids present in hemp. Sugar and Kush CBD oil is made in this fashion to ensure that there is no THC and that consumers know exactly what is in their CBD products. There is no chance of any psychoactive effects when you work with a pure CBD isolate.
The oils found in CBD vape cartridges are typically made through complex extraction techniques with butane or CO2. It is dangerous as both agents are highly flammable and can explode. This process should only be done by a trained expert in a very controlled environment. Once completed these concentrated oils are ideal for vaping CBD if you are comfortable using your lungs as a delivery system.
So, there you have it. I hope that clarifies what CBD oil is and clears up any confusion with other products. Let’s now explore absorption of CBD to best understand fundamentally how to use CBD oil.
There are two parts to absorption of cannabidiol. The first part has to do with what solutions CBD dissolves the best into in order to optimize its advantages. The second part is the best way for the human body to absorb CBD to optimize its effectiveness. Now, I am not a medical doctor or a scientist. More research needs to go into this portion of understanding CBD oil and its most optimal applications. I will try to concisely relay what I have learned.
There is this word; bioavailability. It is all about our body’s ability to absorb a substance and what portion of that substance can reach our internal systems and affect them. The more that a substance can reach our internal systems and affect them, the more bioavailable it is. With cannabidiol, it is complicated. It is an endocannabinoid, therefore it is mostly associated with our Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is comprised of CB1 and CB2 receptors that are found in cell membranes throughout our nervous, endocrine and immune system. Our cell membranes are made of fatty acids or lipids by the way, which is why people infuse CBD into oils. Cannabinoids bind to fatty acids. But, CBD does not actually bind to CB receptors.
Cannabidiol interacts with fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), an enzyme that occurs naturally in our bodies and breaks down the bodies natural endocannabinoids. Too much FAAH can translate into a deprived ECS. Cannabidiol stops FAAH from breaking down our endocannabinoids. Studies are suggesting that some people suffer from deficient endocannabinoid systems which may be due to an overabundance of FAAH. If CBD inhibits FAAH then that may help revitalize the ECS.
Apparently, if we put enough cannabidiol into our bodies, it will bind to the receptors of other systems in our body, like TRPV1 receptors. In order for cannabidiol to inhibit FAAH or bind to TRPV1 receptors, the bioavailability of CBD oil is critical.
Most dropper bottles contain 30 ml of solution. If you take a CBD 1000mg dropper bottle and fill the dropper, you will have 1 ml of solution which will contain about 33.3 mgs of CBD. If you fill half the dropper you will have about 16.7 mgs of CBD. You get it. I’ll review more of this in the CBD Dosing section. It is often recommended that you drip the CBD oil right under the tongue, or what is an administration of CBD referred to as sublingual. I have heard people say that dosing CBD oil sublingually is a shortcut to digestion.
By putting CBD oil right under the tongue, it absorbs the cannabidiol right into the bloodstream. It is best to hold it under the tongue anywhere from a few seconds up to a minute before swallowing it. Swallowing CBD means that it has to go through the breakdown process in the stomach, get absorbed by the small intestine and then the liver has to metabolize it. Digestion means the CBD will take longer to kick in and also that a lot of the bioavailability is lost. Whether or not taking cannabidiol sublingually is the best way to administer it, I am not sure, but it certainly seems like a lot researchers lean that way.
A topical is a cream, lotion, salve or any sort of ointment that is rubbed right into the skin. Adding CBD oil to topicals is not the most bioavailable administration of cannabidiol as it must be absorbed through our thick skin organ system. When we take cannabidiol sublingually or through vaping, it is able to quickly enter our bloodstream where it is then carried throughout the body. Applying a CBD topical is however a more direct application of cannabidiol to affected areas.
I have a pretty in-depth section later in this piece about cooking with CBD. It is one of the most popular ways for people to take CBD, but it can take a while for it to take effect. I also noted above that CBD oil will lose bioavailability when ingested rather than administering it sublingually or by vaping. The digestion process involves the food containing the best CBD edibles to first be broken down in the stomach, absorbed in the small intestine and then metabolized by our liver before it can reach affected areas. Our body’s digestion system is a serious filter which will reduce the portion of CBD that actually makes it to affected areas. However, once a person enters into a rhythm when taking CBD by food, they can readily benefit from CBD through ingestion and it is probably healthier than smoking depending on the food you are eating. Remember, CBD is a health and wellness product which is most optimally used along with a healthy lifestyle.
The concentrates you find in vape cartridges are a CBD oil. Vaping should have pretty immediate effects as the CBD can be absorbed quickly into the bloodstream through our lungs. However, many people look to avoid using their lungs as a delivery system for anything since the tissue is very sensitive and susceptible to many debilitating conditions and diseases.
Best Carrier Oils for CBD
The solutions we choose to infuse CBD into are an important consideration as well. Some solutions just don’t mix well with cannabidiol such as plain old water. It will not carry it well through our bodies and therefore our bodies will struggle with absorbing it. Cannabinoids like cannabidiol are fat soluble. Not all fats are bad. Extra virgin olive oil or the oil found in avocados is not bad for you. But not all oils are created equal when it comes to absorbing cannabidiol either.
Medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs, are generally considered the best oil for CBD absorption and for our overall health. They can be extracted from palms or coconuts. Coconut oil does not have much flavor, but of the two it tastes the best in my opinion. Also, more than 50% of the triglycerides found in coconut are MCTs. Coconut based MCT oil is what Sugar and Kush CBD oil is made with for those very reasons. Cannabidiol not only absorbs well into MCT oil, but MCTs carry it well through the body for the best bioavailability. In a nutshell, they are smaller fatty acids, hence why they are “medium-chain,” which makes them more easily digestible. There are other health related benefits associated with MCT oils for athletes, people trying to lose weight and more.
Cannabidiol binds well to olive oil monounsaturated fats, but as a carrier of CBD for optimal bioavailability, it may fall short of MCT oils. It is a thick oil which can make measuring out CBD dosages a little more challenging. It also takes longer to digest due to its thick nature which may reduce its capacity to carry cannabidiol through the body. However, it certainly does work as a carrier, and extra virgin olive oil is obviously great for cooking with. Sugar and Kush CBD oils can be mixed into dishes you are making at home and will blend well with olive oil.
Like olive oil, avocado oil is full of monounsaturated fats like oleic acid. In fact, it tends to be even thicker than olive oil, so the same issue of bioavailability may be even more true with avocado oil relative to MCT oils. Our bodies simply digest it more slowly than MCTs. It tastes good in foods though with its nutty flavor and certainly works as a carrier for cannabidiol. It may burn a hole in your pocket though as it is one of the most expensive oils out there. Avocado oil is ideal for CBD topicals though since it is full of vitamins and takes a while to dry.
Hemp Seed Oil
It may seem logical that hemp seed oil should be a great carrier of cannabidiol but in all reality relative to the oils I just discussed, it is one of the worst carriers. In fact, it is such a poor carrier of CBD that you really need to mix it with other oils that are better carriers to make it effective at all. Also, to say that hemp flavors are an acquired taste would be giving it too much credit in my opinion.
Many of the medicinal benefits of CBD on that long list have not been verified by doctors, scientists and their peers. So, please bear in mind that I am not a medical professional. I’ve done my research, but still. I think that one of the most important things for consumers to understand about the medicinal value of cannabidiol, is just understanding the function of the ECS. Understanding its purpose in our bodies should leave you nodding and thinking, “Well, that makes sense.”
Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
Researchers and doctors have had plenty of time to research the ECS. Do they understand it entirely? No. The human body is complex. There are more cells in one person’s body than there are stars in our galaxy. A lot more actually. All of our internal systems work together to bring balance between us and the world around us. Of all our internal systems, the endocannabinoid system plays the most crucial role in balancing us out. I mentioned earlier in this article, ancient Chinese medicine focused on the ying and the yang. Those doctrines believed that hemp played a pivotal role in reestablishing a person’s ying and yang. Scientists today still believe the ECS is the core system that brings us into harmony with the world around us.
Looking to find the best resource to get the proper dosage of your hemp oil? Use our Sugar and Kush CBD Dosage Calculator to find the best amount for your unique body.