The Ideal Hemp CBD Product: An Exploration
A short explorative stroll through some basic complexities around choosing an ideal hemp CBD product.
The #1 thought on everyone’s mind concerning hemp cannabis-derived CBD is…
“What can it do for me?”
You’re an individual with a quasi-unique body dealing with particular physiological circumstances, no matter how common or easily categorical some aspects may be. Now suddenly, CBD’s everywhere - in lotions and sports drinks, chocolate bars and pharmaceuticals - being touted for almost anything that ails you. For the most recent hempster crop who’ve been involved since 2010-2014 (tracing back 25-30 years of endocannabinoid science) a much deeper awareness exists, but for folks who barely understand what our 2018 Farm Bill accomplished (contained Hemp Improvement Act of 2018 provisions), let alone what the end of domestic American hemp farming prohibition means...confusing!
Personally, I don’t understand why clothing or superior seed-based foodstuffs weren’t catalysts to end hemp farming prohibition. How did hemp fiber and seed lose the proverbial battle for the hearts and minds of American capitalists to just one of the plant’s over 100 phytocannabinoids?
Whatever, the good news is hemp’s back in a big way.
The reasons why are a complex interwoven tapestry of interests encircling the Endocannabinoid System, which itself is transforming human understanding of how to naturally help the mind and body maintain a healthy state. On one side 'western medicine' sits in bed with government, along with financing and banking corporations, and on the other, cannabis, which is all but impossible for their system to replicate... the now widely-hailed entourage effects.
Yet I digress.
Our Initial Marketing Mix
By the time you’re reading this the landscape of American hemp will have considerably evolved, but you should know two core semi-opposing and interconnected forces fueled our 21st century cannabis-infused revolution from my perspective:
Multi-Level, or Network Marketing companies funded by the same oligarchical system of banks, financial corporations, politicians, and ultra-wealthy private enterprise currently dominating most aspects of modern life (including pharmaceutical and agricultural worlds). 'The system' was aware of what approached, hence the infamous U.S. patent on CBD/Cannabinoids applications going back to 1998. It begins by stating,
"Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and HIV dementia."
Yet it would be over 20 years before 'the system' put the 2018 Farm Bill in front of President Trump to end hemp farming prohibition, let alone everything STILL going on revolving around psychoactive cannabis.
Individual Referral Marketing - meaning between 2012-2018, a moderate percentage of Americans trying hemp CBD for the first time, or using psychoactive cannabis expressly for CBD rather than THC, was because their dad, sister, co-worker, health practitioner, their favorite Podcaster, etc., suggested it, after they or their brother’s best friend experienced astounding results with X condition...you get the idea. Some of this was connected to MLM mentioned above, but not all.
There were genuine grassroots movements going back to the 60s and beyond thanks to the fringe cannabis culture and other more organic elements, especially out of states like Washington, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, California, and Colorado to name a few. That said, most of the big bucks were funneled through a small assortment of network marketing-style initiatives. I’m not complaining here, because their international infrastructure brought about supply while also helping spread the word...but, it was People-to-People (P2P) referrals, reviews and testimonials (not directly inside affiliate networks) that created most demand in my opinion.
Ultimately 'CBD' got this far because of its relationship with the ECS. If it were a fad, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
I’d bet the farm on that assertion based on personal experience, but ultimately the data to prove it is likely non-retrievable. There was just too much legal grey area (interesting how there was never any federal enforcement on any hemp CBD companies) and completely unregulated ecommerce sales between these years. We’ll never know, but things are likely to get better moving forward. Starting 2020, hemp industry data will begin flowing across primary hempen metrics: fiber, seed, hurd, general biomass, and phytocannabinoids.
The Big 3
After boiling numbers down, arguably the most common reasons folks are using hundreds of millions of dollars - soon to be over a billion - worth of cannabis-CBD in America are:
To Reduce Physiological Pain & Inflammation
To Reduce Psychological Stress (Depression & Anxiety)
Get off of, or away from conventional ‘meds’ taken primarily for #1 & #2.
Not to say hemp CBD is more effective with these conditions and their symptoms than others, they’re just the most common outside our still somewhat limited preclinical (animal) and clinical (human) studies data (especially with extracts vs. isolates). In comparison, while we knew about testosterone since antiquity, it was first isolated over 80 years ago. Go to PubMed and conduct a search on testosterone and you'll get back close to 100,000 results...
Taking CBD is essentially a type of hormone replacement therapy, but the fuss only picked up a few years ago! In time there will be as much data on cannabinoids as testosterone or serotonin in official streams and then some. This is why if you dig into the big players online and browse their thousands of customer reviews, you find a HUGE list of reasons people put CBD into their body from hemp, psychoactive cannabis, and pharmaceutical-grade isolates.
Because of such wide success in the P2P realm beyond mere marketing hype or fad, consumers are driving demand for public knowledge around Endocannabinoid System (ECS) science. People want to know about this incredible system already in our body creating such miraculous impacts WITHOUT negative side effects or threat of addiction. In fact, there’s a voracious battle going on behind the scenes concerning how hemp CBD should be defined on multiple levels.
Is it a medicine?
Ancient herbal remedy?
Merely a naturally-occurring plant compound.
How about a mixture of all three, but then again it comes down to the specific substance. For example, whether we're talking about a pharmaceutical-grade 99% CBD isolate originally from hemp flower, a synthetic CBD analogue, or part of a lightly processed full spectrum plant extract or essential oil. It also depends on the application - tincture, capsule, lozenge, edible, etc. - extra ingredients, the state of your ECS and the physiological issue(s) at hand.
There are two certainties: first, this monumental market shift wouldn’t be happening and causing a near century of domestic hemp farming prohibition in America to end if CBD wasn’t effective. Secondly, the American hemp CBD industry has been substantially funded by segments of the oligarchical establishment.
It’s NOTHING New (Sort Of)
I absolutely love digging through historical evidence of hemp whether for medicinal, agricultural or industrial use. Thing is, hemp cultivars folks were probably making crude extracts with in the 10th or 15th centuries aren’t the same strains we have today. No different really than psychoactive cannabis which has RAPIDLY evolved at human hands within global recreational cannabis industries over the last half-century, let alone 10,000 years of cultivation. Do you think the THC-dominant cannabis in recreational dispensaries in Washington State today are anything like the kinds shaman were using to ward off or beckon earth spirits thousands of years ago?
Umm...no. Similar? Yes, of course. They just likely possessed different genetic makeups.
Take a look at the hemp in the old photos from Kentucky or out east before and just after the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Here's an example from the Pennsylvania Hemp Council where they proudly proclaim right beside it,
"Lancaster County’s original Hempfield Township was formed in 1729 and was named for the 'vast quantities of hemp raised there'. Between 1720-1870 there were over 100 water-powered mills for processing hemp fiber in Lancaster County alone with dozens more in all of the surrounding counties and hundreds throughout the state. Kentucky did not grow hemp until 1775 and it took many years for the state to take the lead from Pennsylvania."
Since we mentioned Kentucky, here's a powerful photo through the University of Kentucky Libraries of, "an unknown African American male with a hand brake in a field of hemp stalk stacks, Castleton Farm, Lexington, Kentucky" from 1940.
Now, let's look at a more recent photo of an American hemp crop in central Oregon owned by Lazarus Naturals and used to produce full spectrum CBD-dominant hemp extracts for their products. This is an image from their article about their core farm, written by Evan Skandalis, VP of Farm Operations:
Why not revisit Kentucky hemp, say, from 2017. This next photo is from a 2017 Hemp Business Journal article after the state approved 12,800 acres for hemp cultivation that year. See that little sign next to the man? It says, 'Hybrid 6 Hemp',
Notice any differences aside from color? My point here is, the old photos of hemp almost exclusively depict older cultivars of fiber hemp. The demand for CBD-dominant hemp floral material is creating lots of new genetic profiles in American hemp fields. You can conduct image searches online yourself, and be state specific, and you'll see a wide variety of different looking cannabis plants which are now all federally considered 'hemp' if they're cannabis that tests 0.3% THC or less by dry weight.
My bet is by 2025 America has a set of her own powerhouse hemp strains with varying degrees of dominance in fiber metrics, seed, biomass (for fuel and bioplastics), hurd, and high-CBD strains. Big picture though, we’ve been collaborating with cannabis for tens of thousands of years so this isn't anything new in that sense.
Just make sure you understand whether the ‘CBD’ you’re putting into your body is an isolate, a far less processed plant extract or essential oil (often CO2 extracted with bigger suppliers; whereas smaller operations, like Lazarus Naturals for example use other solvents like ethanol), or something else entirely. For example, as I write these words there’s a big corporate network marketing push around ‘Nano-Enhanced’ CBD oil…to increase bioavailability when I myself have never seen any evidence the body needs this chemistry trick (turning a fat-soluble compound into a water-soluble compound) - forgiving an ECS deficiency - or has any trouble utilizing a natural cannabis extract full of the plant’s other components. Is there any evidence people have issues absorbing THC? Nope. Quite the opposite.
Ever heard of micro-dosing and the biphasic nature of phytocannabinoids? It's quite common for even small doses of THC to have profound impacts on people. There's no evidence CBD is any different in terms of it's natural absorbability as long as it's been winterized/decarboxylated.
Furthermore, I have yet to see any real scientific evidence proving this increased bioavailability does any better than the real thing - just an explanation of their science - although this could be due to regulatory restrictions on what can and cannot be said concerning products containing CBD.
The ideal hemp CBD product to me revolves around quality, purity, and the entourage effect - meaning at least a tiny amount of THC, or 0.3% or less (this will likely be raised within the next decade) in anything being legally sold online, along with the plant's other natural array of cannabinoids in typically small concentrations - CBG, CBC, and CBN primarily, with strain-specific terpenes, especially if they're being added post-extraction.
In fact, it’s likely absolute zero THC makes the hemp extract less effective because of how these compounds synergistically behave when combined vs. when administered alone.
Know what you’re putting into your body.
Understand processing basic (purity) and application method (strength - length).
Quality is often more important than quantity; bioavailability being considered.
For me personally, I try to stick as close to the source as possible.
A smidgen of THC (when applicable) makes hemp extracts more effective when looking at current scientific data. 0.3% or less isn't enough to get high by any stretch of the imagination, impair judgement, or impede your ability to work or use machinery. But, if 'Urine Drug Tests' are a part of your life, I wouldn't recommend using full spectrum hemp extracts. Isolates and more refined concentrates without THC would be the next best option as they literally don't contain any.
We’ve always known hemp naturally creates a minuscule amount of THC compared to psychoactive cannabis. I remember being told as a little kid, “You’d have to smoke a field of hemp to feel anything.” Meaning a tiny amount of THC, but not enough to create psychoactivity. A hemp plant-based extract claiming to have absolute zero THC - often some kind of isolate - is far different than one that says it can have up to the legal limit of 0.3% - full spectrum. After that, legally, you’re into psychoactive cannabis strain territory.
A Miracle Substance?
No. The real mind-blower here is our ECS. Hemp CBD is simply a way to supplement or empower it with cannabinoids through a more recently-designed non-intoxicating form of cannabis.
Our Body Produces Endocannabinoids.
Cannabis Produces Phytocannabinoids.
So, if I hurt my right knee rock-climbing and find myself unable to put any weight on it, the ECS/cannabinoids AEA and 2-AG (ECBs) are already at work on the site of the injury. By putting hemp CBD and synergistic cannabis terpenes into my body, either directly on my knee through some form of topical or extract for ingestion, the ECS has more cannabinoids (PCBs + ECBs) at its disposal - like turning up a the intensity of a light bulb with more wattage.
Those are the nuts and bolts, and we're seeing such wide-ranging results because the ECS is designed to maintain a homeostatic state across the entire human body in whatever functions it’s asked to perform using cannabinoids.
The science on how this is accomplished in each specific respect is being researched like crazy. But please, try not to forget this very important central point - whether you’re seeking to address a hormonal imbalance, tackle the ravages of opioids, just for good ECS nutrition, or take on an aggressive cancer, cannabis use is all about ECS supplementation - helping this system do its job and maintain a healthy balanced state.
While we're discovering other secondary ECBs, your primary duo are:
2-AG, or 2-Arachidonoylglycerol
AEA, or Anandamide
The two primary mimetic PCBs in cannabis are:
Cannabidiol - not exactly alike, much less binding affinity to CB receptors, but similar to 2-AG.
THC, or delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol - closely mimics AEA but it can be considerably stronger and last longer.
In coming years consumers will see more products with other synergistic and non-intoxicating cannabinoids as well - mentioned earlier; CBG, CBN, CBC, etc.
In essence while your body is likely aware CBD isn’t its own 2-AG, and THC isn’t AEA, obviously the ECS utilizes these plant compounds to do its work or humans wouldn’t get 'stoned' or experience the impacts of full spectrum hemp supplementation in such widely variant ways.
Thus, as you can see there’s no big deep mystery here. There’s no vapid corporate fads or herbal voodoo. And no, CBD and the ECS aren’t going to become yesterday's news. Rather, we’re on the cusp of a medical and socioeconomic paradigm shift because of them. The fact hemp's also an ecological saving grace capable of lifting humanity out of the toxic sewage society we’ve created is just icing on the cake.
“So, what can CBD do for me?”
No one, and I mean no one, can ultimately predict how your body/ECS will utilize a large extra supply of CBD in a full spectrum extract (let alone an isolate). Not in any kind of systematic sense. We don’t even have adequate ECS Deficiency testing I'm aware of to see if it would do any good, for example if for some reason your cannabinoid receptors weren’t functioning correctly or were too few in number.
In terms of your ECS, the more you understand this system the more you understand what supplementing it could do for you. The more you study the plant, the more you understand what it could do for our future.
While certain surveys and other market research claims vaping is the most common way people use cannabis thanks to the quick high-bioavailability dosage through our lungs, from my perspective tinctures dominate. My suspicions were confirmed when recently I heard yet again about the Brightfield Group’s findings in Hemp CBD Product sales:
“According to the Brightfield Group, tinctures represented the largest proportion of the CBD pie, accounting for 39 percent of hemp-derived CBD goods...Tinctures involve the method of absorbing CBD through the tongue by way of the sublingual gland, which helps funnel it directly in the bloodstream. It is more effective than other forms of consumption such as oral in the form of capsules or edibles…”
I myself prefer tinctures and currently have three in my home as I put this article together:
One is a very minimal and much lighter-colored hemp extract in a small 15 ml tincture with 975mg CBD.
One is a 30 ml tincture that has more extra ingredients like added terpenes (limonene) and herbal essential oils with 1000mg CBD.
The third is golden-colored and a little misty (possibly means it's degraded a bit over time) with added CBG, terpenes, other essential oils and 500mg CBD.
After gently testing each I understand their strengths and impacts and it’s all slightly different. Yep...complex. Start small, do your homework, and remember that the more you understand the ECS, the more you’ll understand what your body could do with an increased supply of cannabinoids.
In terms of an ideal product one must first consider quality, overall ingredients, delivery method, and extraction/process, testing for purity, then balance this with the costs involved.
Thanks for your time.