101 on HEMP and how it supplements our Endocannabinoid System

As Advocates For Cannabis Collective, we advocate and educate for the whole plant and shed light on other natural plant based options, however, we only source and distribute the non-psychoactive "whole plant" hemp extract, which has strong potency even in micro doses, but will not get you or your pet high or stoned.

What’s the difference between Hemp and Marijuana?

Genetically, agricultural Hemp and Marijuana can be the same plant, with a genus and species name of Cannabis Sativa. Prior to recent DNA discoveries , the public referred to the whole cannabis sativa plant as marijuana or a drug that can be categorized as Cannabis sativa, Cannabis Indica, or Cannabis Ruderalis. Agricultural Hemp has always been a strain of Cannabis Sativa. Now science DNA show major difference between the two is its breeding, or it's phenotype and genotype. More specifically, the difference lies in the ratios of amounts of numerous cannabinoids that the plant contains. 

Agricultural hemp is very fibrous, with long, strong stalks and barely any flowering buds, while a marijuana strain of Cannabis sativa will be smaller, bushier, and full of flowering buds. The majority of the time, marijuana has a high amount of THC and a very low amount of non-psychoactive cannabinoids. Hemp, on the other hand, naturally contains a very high amount of non-psychoactive cannabinoids. As such, the cannabinoid profile of hemp is ideal for people looking for the benefits of cannabis without the “high”.

WHAT IS CANNABIDIOL (CBD)?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the principal non-psychoactive cannabinoid present largely in the Hemp plant. CBD interacts with our endocannabiniod system without the euphoria or lethargy of high THC varieties. Learning more about the endocannabiniod system is the gateway to understanding how CBD works.

Cannabis Genome

Cannabis is a fascinating plant that produces fiber, edible seed, oil and 85 known cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, CBN and CBG. Only a few plants have capacity to produce cannabinoids; black truffles, black pepper and cacao are a few others. None are as efficient as hemp.  The main difference of the cannabinoids found in marijuana can be attributed to a single enzyme, or a genetically encoded switch, at the last step in the cannabinoid pathway.  This “switch,” which is called the THCA synthase and CBDA synthase enzyme, fold precursor molecules (Cannabigerolic acid) into either THCA or CBDA. Plants that produce high levels of THC express genes that code for hyper active versions of the enzyme THCA synthase, whereas those plants that code for the enzyme CBDA synthase produce more CBD. The sequencing readout below indicates that there are numerous SNPs in the THCA synthase gene, which would be one key driver behind the genetic differences of the cannabis plants.

What are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that activate the cannabinoid receptors found throughout our bodies.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC or THC) and other identified cannabinoids Cannabidiol (CBD), Cannabinol (CBN), Cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabichromene (CBC) and dozens more, are Phytocannabinoids. 

Phytocannabinoids are the natural forms of these chemicals produced in highest concentrations through photosynthesis in hair-like trichomes—more specifically, within the resin glands on the surface of the cannabis flower during flowering phase. There are at least 85 different cannabinoids identified and isolated from various cannabis strains. Each has a unique influence on the body's endocannabinoid system. Check out Steep Hill for more information on various cannabinoids.

HOW ARE CANNABINOIDS BENEFICIAL?

We cannot claim CBD as anything other than a dietary supplement, however a wealth of information and private studies touting its benefits have been published.  What we now know is that CBD is as beneficial and versatile a cannabinoid as THC.  CBD is different however, in that it does not have a strong binding affinity for the CB1 and CB2 receptor, thus it works in the body through different direct and indirect pathways.  For a more thorough explanation of how and why CBD works in the body read the article CBD: How it Works by Martin A. Lee.

 WHAT IS ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM (ECS)

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) and their group of internal cannabinoid receptors located in our brains, organs, connective tissues, glands, immune cells. and throughout our central and peripheral nervous systems – the “locks” in our bodies that fit the THC and CBD “keys”. Check out this link for detailed description of the ECS system and how it works in your body.

What Does The Endocannabinoid System Do?

In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always to maintain homeostasis, or a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment. Homeostasis is a key element in the biology of all living things and is best described as the ability to maintain stable internal conditions that are necessary for survival. Disease is simply a result of some aspect of failure in achieving homeostasis, making the endocannabinoid system a unique target for medical applications.  This system appears to regulate many important physiologic pathways in the human body, including gastrointestinal activity, cardiovascular activity, pain perception, maintenance of bone mass, protection of neurons, hormonal regulation, metabolism control, immune function, inflammatory reactions, and inhibition of tumors cells.

WHAT ARE TERPENES?

Terpenes are long, carbon-chain molecules often found mostly in the essential oils of plants. The smell of pine trees, for example, is caused by the terpene Pinene and is the reason you can breathe easier when walking through a pine forest. While these aromatic compounds have significant therapeutic attributes, they can easily be lost during the CBD extraction process, evaporating easily under low heat.

The best producers of CBD products work to capture the terpenes as they escape during extraction and then use a separate process to reintroduce them back into the finished product. Doing so vastly increases the therapeutic benefits of any CBD product.

While there is so much more to learn about CBD and how and why it works in the body, there is enough compelling evidence that leads researchers to believe that whole-plant cannabis therapeutics offer great promise for society.

What should one look for when choosing a CBD-rich or CBD dominant product?

Look for products with clear labels showing the quantity and ratio of CBD and THC per dose, a manufacturing date, and a batch number (for quality control). Select products with quality ingredients: No corn syrup, trans fats, GMOs, artificial additives, thinning agents or preservatives. CBD-rich products should be lab tested for consistency and verified as being free of mold, bacteria, pesticides, solvent residues, and other contaminants. It’s best to avoid products extracted with toxic solvents like BHO, propane, hexane or other hydrocarbons. Opt for products that utilize safer extraction methods such as supercritical CO2 or food-grade ethanol. As a consumer we encourage you to send your products to a Third-Party.

WHERE CAN I FIND SCIENTIFIC BASED INFORMATION?

Videos:

Poject CBD - Is CBD Really Non-Psychoactive? Check out Project CBD

SC Labs has numerous videos profiling the medical benefits of various cannabinoids. http://www.sclabs.com/education/videos.html

References:

    1. To learn about Project CBD and support their research efforts please visit their website at www.projectcbd.org
    2. Steep Hill Lab, Cannabinoid and Terpenoid Reference Guide; http://steephilllab.com/resources/cannabinoid-and-terpenoid-reference-guide/
    3. Skunk Pharm Research, Cannabinoid and Terpene Info; http://skunkpharmresearch.com/cannabinoid-info/
    4. SC Labs, Meet the Cannabinoids; http://www.scanalytical.com/the-cannabinoids.html
    5. Centers for Disease Control, Documentation for Immediately Dangerous To Life or Health Concentrations, Nicotine; http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/idlh/54115.HTML
    6. Cayman Chemicals, Material Safety Data Sheet, Cannabidiol, Toxicology, Last Revision: 4/20/2010; https://www.caymanchem.com/msdss/90080m.pdf
    7. Is CBD Really Non-Psychoactive? Check out Project CBD
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