Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of dozens of non-psychoactive cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. Cannabidiol, and all the other cannabinoids, were patented by the United States Government in 2003 as neuroprotectants and antioxidants (Patent No. 6,630,507). Cannabinoids are characterized by their ability to act on the cannabinoid receptors that are found throughout the body. CBD and other cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds that display potent anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. They can promote the body’s healthy regulation of the central nervous, immune, and endocannabinoid systems.
Finally, in general, we almost always recommend full spectrum tinctures over supplements made from isolates (extracts of CBD alone). Full-spectrum or whole plant tinctures take advantage of the ‘entourage effect’ that comes from combining all the naturally occurring chemicals found in the hemp plant. Isolates are great for cooking with CBD or consumers that are especially sensitive to the taste of hemp extract, but some research suggests they may be less effective for certain uses than full spectrum extracts. All but two of the brands below are made from full spectrum hemp, and the exceptions are clearly noted.
Tinctures start with a raw or decarboxylated oil, but they are a more palatable (tastier if you will) option. In order to make a tincture, emulsifiers and a carrier oil and flavoring are added to the base oil. They will be packaged with a dropper or spray top for ease of use. They may even contain sweeteners. These are a great starter product or an ideal daily food supplement for anyone who does not enjoy a hempy flavor. Some flavors, like spearmint and orange, will mask the hemp flavor while other lighter options, like vanilla, will complement it.
Unregulated markets come with some obvious risks; lack of oversight, false claims, the potential for dangerous pesticides and contaminants. Cannabis, in states where it’s legal, is regulated. Sold in state-licensed stores (akin to states controlling liquor stores, except with higher taxes and much stricter regulations) aka dispensaries, you can be confident that the CBD-dominant cannabis tinctures, topicals, vapes, and edibles on shelves are accountable to purity and accuracy tests.
In order to account for the low CBD content of these hemp plants, manufacturers have to process large volumes of raw material at a time, with the idea of extracting just enough CBD so that they can label their product as a “CBD oil.” While this method is fine in theory, what ultimately ends up happening (unless the manufacturer’s extraction methods are state of the art), is that traces of chemicals cane end up being left over in the final product. These chemicals can potentially contain harsh solvents such as butane, hexane, and propylene glycol, which has been known to break down into carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds like formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.
To get almonds from an almond tree, you can just shake the tree. To get juice from an orange, you can simply squeeze the fruit. But getting CBD oil from hemp is a much more complicated process. The cheapest and easiest ways to extract CBD oil from hemp commonly involve harsh solvents that can leave chemical residue in the CBD oil. The best, and most reliable extraction method, uses carbon dioxide (CO2) under high pressure and extremely low temperatures to pull out as much CBD as possible without introducing contaminants. Once the CO2 is no longer under intense pressure, it simply evaporates, leaving virtually no trace of extraction on the CBD oil.