CBD vs Hemp Products
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CBD and hemp products are big news in nutrition at the moment. People drop them into conversation as if they were interchangeable. But are the benefits of CBD oil comparable to hemp oil and what about hemp and CBD capsules? Are they actually the same thing?
What is Hemp?
Hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant, an annual herbaceous flowering plant native to Asia. The word ‘hemp’ itself comes from the old English word hænep, and hemp is thought to be one of the earliest domesticated crops, first cultivated approximately 10,000 years ago.
Historically, hemp varieties grown across northern Europe have been much taller than their Indian cousin. That’s because hemp’s fibrous stalks were valued in colder climes, being turned into everything from rope, clothing, parchment, paper, and sails. Did you know that hemp was such a valuable crop under Henry VIII, farmers were forced into its cultivation in order to kit out the King’s naval war ships? And that towns like Hemel Hempstead were named after hemp crops were cultivated there?
Historically, hemp seeds were also an essential part of people’s diets. Without knowing it at the time (the concept of superfoods and plant-based diets are very much a millennial thing), even the poorest agricultural workers had a diet rich in the essential fatty acids, vitamin E and potassium.
Despite hemp having fewer buds and flowers, Anglo-Saxon records name hemp as part of its folk medicine, calling it a ‘rite for salve.’ Over in India, where hemp varieties were bushier with a greater covering of sticky, resinous flowers, 19th century hemp use was studied in the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report which found: “It has been clearly established that the occasional use or hemp in moderate doses may be beneficial; but this use may be regarded as medicinal in character.”
These days, thanks to scientific research, we understand this ‘medicinal character’ that confers many of hemp’s health benefits, comes from the special compounds called cannabinoids found in cannabis/hemp flowers. In hemp, the most abundant cannabinoid is CBD (cannabidiol), which is free from any intoxicating effect. In fact, one way to differentiate hemp from cannabis is that hemp contains less than 0.2% THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the stoned feeling associated with recreational cannabis.
So in basic terms, we can break hemp down into the following:
- Hemp varieties with long stalks grown for fibre.
- Hemp grown for seeds either for nutrition or biofuel purposes.
- Shorter hemp varieties with more flowers and buds to make medicinal products (also known as cannabis).
What is CBD?
CBD (Cannabidiol) is classed as a type of cannabinoid, a naturally occurring molecule found in cannabis sativa. Discovered in the 1940s, CBD was originally thought to be inactive due to the lack of any intoxicating effect. Most of the attention in the scientific community went towards its cannabinoid cousin THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which, as well as producing the high associated with cannabis, also showed some interesting medicinal effects such as reducing nausea, lessening pain, and slowing down the progression of glaucoma.
In the last twenty or so years, scientists have come to realise that CBD is in fact an incredibly complex compound, acting on several physiological targets at once. They have seen how CBD binds with receptors associated with pain reduction, mood regulation, and is also a powerful antioxidant.
Researchers suggest that CBD indirectly activates the body’s endocannabinoid system, a complex network of receptors and cannabis-like chemicals found throughout the body. The endocannabinoid system is called a homeostatic regulator – meaning its main purpose is to bring balance throughout all the systems in our body. Everything from sleep, appetite, mood, pain, inflammation, cell growth, and reproduction is regulated by the endocannabinoid system.
Despite being a cannabinoid, CBD doesn’t directly bind with endocannabinoid receptors. Instead, by blocking the enzyme responsible for breaking down the cannabis-like chemicals in our bodies (endocannabinoids), it allows them to be present for longer, increasing what’s known as endocannabinoid tone. It’s therefore thought that conditions that may result from endocannabinoid deficiency like migraines, IBS and fibromyalgia, could benefit from taking CBD.
Currently, there’s a research race on to get a CBD-based drug to market, which means passing all three stages of clinical trials. Right now, the only CBD drug is Epidiolex, which was recently passed by the FDA for the rare epileptic conditions Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut.
In the UK, CBD products are sold as nutritional supplements, mostly in the form of CBD oil. This is tightly regulated by the Medical Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) so that no company selling CBD oil product as a dietary or nutritional supplement, makes any medical claims in its marketing materials. This explains why at Hemp2wellness, we can’t say that our CBD oil products reduce inflammation and pain, ease anxiety, or anything else that suggests a medicinal effect. What we can say, though, is that CBD is thought to boost optimum health by supporting the essential work of the endocannabinoid system.
So, let’s take a look at some of the CBD products available:
Did you know that if you examined some freshly picked hemp flowers, you would find very little CBD? That’s because CBD only comes into being when its acidic precursor CBDA has been exposed to heat.
So, all CBD oil has been through some kind of gentle heat process called decarboxylation, as well as filtration to remove plant waxes, thought to impede absorption by the body. What’s left is then mixed with a carrier oil such as hemp seed oil or olive oil, giving the liquid consistency found in CBD oil drops.
CBD oil used sublingually is thought to be one of the most effective ways to take CBD due to its higher bioavailability (effective use by the body). CBD is notoriously difficult for the body to absorb, partly due to its oily nature (our bodies are mostly water), and the fact that as soon as CBD passes through the digestive system, most of it is broken down by liver enzymes, before reaching the bloodstream.
That’s why finding routes that allow for CBD to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream before digestion, or ways that makes CBD water soluble, are key.
CBD oil taken under the tongue is absorbed into the bloodstream through sublingual capillaries. That’s why you’ll always find instructions saying “place drops under the tongue and leave in the mouth for at last 60 seconds.”
It is also important to choose ‘Whole Plant CBD oil,’ sometimes known as full spectrum.
Whole plant or full spectrum refers to oils containing not only CBD, but the full complement of active compounds found in hemp. These include minor cannabinoids, terpenes (the molecules responsible for its distinctive aroma), and flavonoids (compounds that give hemp its colour). This is because of what’s known as the entourage effect, the unique synergy between all hemp’s components discovered by Israeli Raphael Mechoulam. It remains one of nature’s mysteries how this works, but researchers have observed that whole plant oils are more effective in the lab than preparations using isolated cannabinoids.
Another way to make sure your CBD gets absorbed by the capillaries under the tongue are CBD sprays. Designed to look like mouth freshener sprays, just pump a couple of times under the tongue to get precisely targeted CBD administration designed for maximum absorption.
Water Soluble CBD
Right now, there is a lot of excitement surrounding water soluble CBD. Our bodies are about 90% water, so it makes sense that CBD made soluble in water can be absorbed more easily. Due to the higher absorption rates, less CBD is required, which ultimately works out in favour of the customer’s pocket.
Many water soluble products on the market use CBD isolate. However, thanks to our commitment to customer satisfaction, Hemp2wellness offers a whole plant water soluble CBD product which also contains 1% CBDA.
CBD Vape Juice
Possibly the most direct route for getting CBD into the bloodstream is through vaping, which means inhaling CBD as vapour through an e-cigarette or similar device.
CBD vape juice is the booming CBD product of the moment. However, not all CBD vape juices are made equal. In order for CBD oil to be made ‘vapeable’ – manufacturers often mix it with propylene glycol (PG) or vegetable glycerin (VG). While both are recognised as safe by the FDA, some studies suggest that their consumption could lead to health problems such as asthma and allergies.
Hemp2wellness is committed to your health and choose only natural ingredients. That’s why instead of PG or VG we mix our CBD vape juice with fractionated coconut oil.
CBD Capsules vs Oil
Thanks to the domination of the pharmaceutical industry, most of us are used to taking medication and supplements in pill or capsule form. We know how many milligrams of a drug a pill contains; you just swallow it down and forget about it.
Many CBD companies sell CBD capsules. But here’s why we’ve decided not to. Remember when we are talking about absorption rates in the body. This is also known as bioavailability. When buying any nutritional product, most customers want to make sure their body gets to use as much of that product as possible.
When swallowing CBD capsules, only 6% of the CBD gets used by the body. This is because first it has to pass through the digestive process, being broken down by liver enzymes before eventually making it into the bloodstream. This is compared to approximately 12% absorption when CBD drops are taken sublingually.
It is also easier to find a dosing ‘sweet spot’ when taking CBD drops, as dosing can be increased gradually, rather than the limited possibilities offered by pre-prepared CBD capsules.
CBD Capsules vs Hemp Capsules
That’s not to say we’ve turned our back completely on capsules. At Hemp2wellness, we do offer Raw Hemp Capsules, which contain freeze dried hemp juice extracted straight from the plant. There’s been no heat process, so instead of CBD, our H2W raw hemp capsules contain its acidic precursor CBDA, which is also a nutritionally beneficial cannabinoid.
If you examined a hemp plant before it was harvested and dried, you wouldn’t actually find any CBD. Instead, it would be abundant in CBDA, otherwise known as Cannabidiolic acid. With all the buzz currently surrounding CBD, it would be easy to dismiss CBDA as an inactive molecule, whereas in fact CBDA is currently being researched for everything from epilepsy to cancer.
Not surprising then that many people are choosing raw hemp capsules instead of/ as well as CBD capsules.
CBD Oil vs Hemp Oil
Some of you will have noticed when researching CBD oil online, that some well-known CBD companies call their products hemp oils. This is most probably for legal reasons. Despite CBD having no intoxicating effects and being available worldwide as a nutritional supplement, the United States of all places, still classifies CBD as a controlled Schedule 1 substance. As a result, some CBD companies operating in the United States label their CBD products ‘hemp oil.’
If in doubt, a rule of thumb is to check the ingredients list, and if hemp oil contains CBD (cannabidiol), then it’s CBD oil.
Hemp Seed Oil
However, if the hemp oil you’re considering doesn’t mention CBD at all, then we’re probably talking about hemp seed oil.
Hemp seed oil is nothing to be sniffed at, and is in fact a super food in its own right. Extracted from hemp seeds rather than flowers and buds, it doesn’t contain any cannabinoids, but is rich in essential fatty acids Omega 3 and 6, vitamin E, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and plant-based protein.
Hemp seed oil is also incredibly moisturizing to our skin and is the hot ingredient in the beauty industry at the moment. That’s why most of our Hemp2wellness skin and hair range boasts hemp seed oil as its core ingredient.
In fact, our Hemp2wellness CBD oils are mixed with hemp seed oil, so you get the benefits of whole plant CBD, plus the vitamin E and essential fatty acids found in hemp seed oil.
Hopefully, if you’ve reached the end of this blog post, we will have cleared up some of the confusion related to CBD and hemp products. However, if you have any questions about the products we offer at Hemp2wellness, our dedicated customer service team can be contacted by telephone or email and will be delighted to help.