Part 2: The importance of transparency
(and why Allay rocks☺)
On Monday I introduced Sanjay Gupta’s ‘Weed 5: The CBD Craze,’ which investigated the benefits and drawbacks of the new and booming CBD industry.
The problem, Gupta argues, is a lack of proper regulation leading to mislabeled, and occasionally harmful CBD products. There is, in other words, a blatant lack of transparency and honesty in the CBD market.
So, what can the consumer do to combat this?
How it’s made: Extraction, explained
First, it’s important to understand a little about how CBD oil is made. This is because the extraction process has everything to do with producing a clean and toxin-free final product. Not all CBD is created equal! When buying CBD it is crucial that the consumer pay attention to the specific method of extraction used to ensure that their product is clean, safe, and potent.
It all starts with the plant. The first thing to pay attention to is whether your CBD product is derived from certified organic hemp. Hemp is a bioaccumulator- this means that is absorbs all of the chemicals, pesticides, and toxins in the soil at a faster rate than it is able to use or release them. If a CBD product is extracted from non-organic hemp, it's going to carry all of those toxins, heavy metals, and pesticides with it. Yuck.
“As far as we’re concerned, there is only one way to grow anything: organically and sustainably. Because our soil is some of the richest, most fertile in the west, and because our climate is ideal for growing compelling cannabis, we let nature do her job. Every cultivation choice is based on bringing forth the perfection that is already inherent in the plants and on our farm” -Siskiyou Sungrown, Allay’s source of high quality CBD oil
There are two main extraction methods that consumers should look out for; CO2 extraction and Solvent extraction.
Simply put, supercritical CO2 extraction uses cooled and pressurized CO2 to draw out CBD and other phytochemicals.
At certain temperatures, CO2 becomes what is known as a 'supercritical liquid.' This means that it has the properties of both a gas and a liquid. In this state, CO2 acts as a solvent passing through porous solids and dissolving materials. Producers are able to fine tune which phytochemicals and compounds are extracted by controlling the pressure and temperature of the CO2.
This method is generally safe and clean, although it does have a few drawbacks. Namely, if the cannabis plant isn't dried adequately before hand, the final product may contain carcinogens and rancid fats. This method is also costly, and requires a lot of energy.
CO2 extracted products also lack a number of helpful phytochemicals (or active compounds). Because this method can only extract oil soluble compounds, the range of phytochemicals it is able to extract is limited. But more on this later...
Ethanol extraction typically involves decarbonating the plant (i.e. heating the plant to remove carbon atoms), and then soaking the plant in solvent- usually ethanol or butane- to extract its active compounds.
This method has its disadvantages. For one, using a solvent such as butane can leave behind toxic and harmful residue if the solvent isn't completely evaporated. Ethanol, on the other hand, is a natural solvent which works just as effectively as butane without the risk of toxins.
Because this process extracts both water soluble and oil soluble phytochemicals, the final product carries a wider range of helpful compounds. This includes compounds such as polyphenols, which can prevent degenerative disease, boost brain function and digestion, and more! The final product is truly full-spectrum, containing in it more helpful compounds than its CO2 derived counterpart.
Extracting with a solvent also creates ‘esters.’ These are water-soluble organic compounds, which replace hydrogen with a hydrocarbon group (Clark 2004). Because these compounds are water soluble, they have much higher bioavailability (that is- they are easier for our bodies to break down and digest!). Oil-soluble compounds, on the other hand, need to be broken down by our bodies acids and enzymes, making them difficult to digest. Reduced bioavailability means reduced potency!
Allay believes that ethanol extraction is the best method to ensure a clean, potent, and pure product. Siskiyou Sungrown uses only USP grade organic cane oil as a solvent, creating a product that is truly full-spectrum!
“ [...] Ethanol extracts both water soluble and oil soluble plant constituents very effectively. Consequently, hemp oil extracted with ethanol is truly full spectrum, exhibiting the synergy of all available beneficial phytochemicals. The ethanol that Siskiyou Sungrown uses for extraction is strictly USP grade, certified organic cane alcohol”
Remember Jay Jenkins from the last blog? The young man who almost died after consuming entirely synthetic, mislabeled CBD?
Companies aren’t always required to include all of the ingredients they put into their CBD. Manufacturers can add a number of different things to increase profit, including preservatives, non-cannabis derived terpenes, various food colorings, thinning agents, and more. A lot of this stuff can be harmful to your health. If a company isn’t transparent about what goes in to their final product, don’t buy it! A great way to make sure you’re being safe is to ask for the lab results of the final CBD product.
Radical. Transparency. That’s what we’re after here at Allay medicinals.
In my next post, I’ll give you all a quick recap of what this all means, and provide a succinct and easy-to-follow guide on how to buy CBD!
“CBD Oil Extraction Technique - Ethanol vs. Supercritical CO2.” CBD Oil Review, 2018, https://cbdoilreview.org/cbd-cannabidiol/ethanol-vs-supercritical-co2-extraction/#What-Is-Supercritical-CO2-Extraction?
Clark, Jim. “An Introduction to Esters.” Chem Guide, Sept. 2004, https://www.chemguide.co.uk/organicprops/esters/background.html.
Siskiyou Sungrown. “Ethanol extraction vs. CO2." Instagram, 27 Sept. 2019, https://www.instagram.com/p/B27OHaaFP3j/