What is a Cannabinoid?
- Jul 27, 2018 -
By Boulder Botanical and Bioscience Laboratory Staff
If you’ve been reading much about cannabis, you may have heard the term cannabinoid and wondered what it entails.
Plants of the species Cannabis sativa L.—whether they are classified as hemp or marijuana—are made up of hundreds of compounds, including phytocannabinoids (“phyto” means “plant”). Two of the most famous cannabinoids are delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), but there are numerous others.
Regarding the difference between marijuana and hemp, it comes down to THC; the federal government set a limit of 0.3 percent THC or less to qualify as hemp.
Cannabinoids are found in the sticky trichomes produced by glands of the cannabis plant. Cannabis strains have differing amounts of various cannabinoids. Production is influenced by the sex and maturity of the plant, exposure to daylight and temperature.
Cannabinoids interact with and are processed by the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), an interconnected set of receptors and neurotransmitters located throughout the body. Cannabinoids either activate or inhibit these receptors. Two of the most studied receptors are called cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB-1) and 2 (CB-2). CB-1 receptors are found in brain neurons, plus the heart, lungs and reproductive organs; CB-2 receptors are found in immune cells.
The body produces some cannabinoids on its own, called endogenous cannabinoids (a.k.a. endocannabinoids), but it also processes externally introduced phytocannabinoids, whether ingested by smoking, vaporizing or consuming edibles / liquids infused with cannabis. Endocannabinoids have been detected in breast milk; mothers also pass phytocannabinoids to their baby via breast milk, and researchers are still determining how exposure to phytocannabinoids affects infants’ long-term development.
When cannabinoids work with the endocannabinoid system, amazing things can happen. Researchers so far have found health benefits for multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and many more medical conditions and symptoms. The National Cancer Institute reports that cannabinoids can treat the symptoms and effects of cancer therapy, and that cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells in laboratory tests.
Cannabis and hemp are the only plants that have been confirmed to contain cannabinoids, but other plants including kale, echinacea and liverwort contain compounds that interact with the CB-2 receptor, or stimulate endocannabinoid production within the human body. Scientists are also working to produce CBD from hops and yeast.
CBD and THC were first identified in the 1960s, and research over the past 50 years has shown that non-psychoactive CBD has anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties. THC has psychoactive effects, of course, and also has health benefits.
More clinical studies are underway to help us understand the benefits of each cannabinoid, and how they interact together and with other compounds. Since 2015, the National Institute of Health alone has spent over $600 million on research into cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system.
There’s so much more to discover, and we look forward to helping expand the knowledge base through our own research at Boulder Botanical & Bioscience Labs.
What is CBD? Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Cannabidiol
- Jul 30, 2018 -
The cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD) has been receiving plenty of attention in the media and the medical community these days—and for good reason.
So what is CBD, and what exactly does it do? Let’s start with the basics.
What Is CBD?
CBD is one of hundreds of cannabinoid compounds found in the cannabis plant. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another well-known cannabinoid, CBD is non-psychoactive— meaning it doesn’t produce intoxicating, euphoric effects. It does, however, have a number of potential therapeutic uses.
While CBD is present to a degree in all cannabis varieties, certain so-called CBD strains such as Charlotte’s Web, Canna-Tsu and Harlequin have been bred to have very high levels of the cannabinoid. CBD is often extracted from the whole plant to produce a concentrated oil, which can be orally ingested or vaporized. CBD can also be utilized via tinctures, topical products or by simply smoking or vaporizing high-CBD cannabis flower. When consumed, CBD produces various effects by acting on the body’s cannabinoid receptors that make up the endocannabinoid system that is in part responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body.
CBD is found in both hemp and marijuana, although industrial hemp-derived CBD is regulated differently than marijuana-extracted CBD. The non-partisan analysis group ProCon.org reports that as of May 2018, at least 17 states have passed laws specifically allowing for the medical use of CBD extract, typically in oil form. However, hemp-derived CBD is widely available in most American states, even those without any medical cannabis laws on the books.
Naturally occurring CBD is considered safe, generally well tolerated and doesn’t cause physical dependence (i.e. isn’t addictive), according to findings in a 2017 World Health Organization report.
What Conditions Does CBD Treat?
Anecdotal evidence and preliminary research suggests CBD is effective for reducing pain, inflammation, nausea and anxiety in many individuals. And early evidence indicates promising potential for the cannabinoid to be used in the treatment of numerous other medical conditions, including mood disorders, substance abuse and cancer, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
But CBD is perhaps best known for its demonstrated ability to reduce seizures in certain patients with intractable and drug-resistant forms of epilepsy.
Following a series of successful clinical CBD trials in patients with severe pediatric seizure disorders, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the plant-derived CBD medication Epidiolex for the treatment of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome in June 2018. This historic decision marked the first time a top-level federal agency officially recognized CBD’s medical value, and opened the doors to CBD being approved for treating additional medical conditions.
This is all the tip of the iceberg, however. Scientists have only just begun tapping into the potential applications for CBD. As the compound’s therapeutic properties gain wider recognition and barriers to research are eased, many more exciting advancements in CBD medicine lay ahead.
What’s in Your CBD? Three Questions to Ask as You Choose Your Cannabidiol Product
- Sep 06, 2018 -
By Boulder Botanical & Bioscience Laboratory Staff
They’re everywhere: Hemp-derived CBD products are on shelves in supermarkets, drug stores, smoke shops, gas stations, dispensaries and the online marketplace. But how can consumers know whether these products are the real deal?
In other words, is the CBD oil you’re buying on Amazon going to have the positive effects you’d expect them to have?
So far there is no regulation of CBD products made from hemp, so it’s important to do your homework. Here are three questions to ask before buying a CBD product:
How was this hemp grown, and how can I be sure this CBD oil doesn’t contain pesticide residues?
Hemp is known for absorbing whatever nutrients and toxins are in the soil it’s grown in. In fact, hemp has been used to clean up toxic soil, a process known as phytoremediation. So if you are going to consume a plant extract product such as CBD oil, where the plant’s compounds are concentrated, you want to make sure that the plant wasn’t grown in soil that contained toxins, chemicals or metals. And you want to make sure that the cultivator didn’t use active-ingredient chemical pesticides, because those can end up in a plant extract product at concentrated levels.
So it’s important to check whether the producer of the CBD oil follows organic growing practices. This means they grow without using synthetic chemical insecticides, herbicides or fertilizers. If the product is made from hemp, the growers can be certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Ideally, companies that are producing CBD oil are growing their own crops, so they can verify the growing practices used in the plant material they are starting with. Some companies import their hemp material from outside the United States, including sources from China and Europe. These countries do not have the same growing standards as those certified USDA organic.
If there is little information to be found about the company’s hemp source, that should be a red flag.
What were the extraction processes involved in manufacturing the CBD oil, and can you be sure it doesn’t contain residual chemicals or contaminants?
Believe it or not, one of the most common ways to extract CBD oil from hemp and higher-THC cannabis is to use butane, propane or other hydrocarbon solvents. Such solvents are known to be toxic, and even after they’ve been separated at the end of the extraction process, traces can remain in the final product.
A more natural approach for extraction is to soak plant material in ethanol, itself a fermented plant product. When heated, the ethanol evaporates, so the resulting extract doesn’t contain any solvents.
Does the product go through verifiable testing to document its purity and potency? Can you be sure what’s in the bottle matches what the label claims?
It’s vital to know if product labeling is accurate. A recent study of CBD products in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that of 84 products sold online, less than one-third (31 percent) were accurately labeled for CBD content. Between 2015-17, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent several warning letters to businesses whose CBD products contained as low as 1 percent of the potency listed on the label.
Other products don’t even explain what dosage of which cannabinoid consumers are getting.
Even worse, in late 2017 and early 2018, 52 people in Utah ended up at the hospital due to adverse reactions from taking products that turned out to contain synthetic cannabinoids 4-cyano CUMYL-BUTINACA (4-CCB), but no CBD.
Any reputable company uses a third-party independent lab to test its products consistently, to ensure that the potency and formulation are accurate—not just when creating a product, but whenever new ingredients are added, and periodically going forward.
The product test results should include the concentration of CBD (and THC if applicable), and testing for pesticides, mold or other contaminants.
If this information about test results can’t be found easily, ask yourself why that might be.
Does the product manufacturer follow FDA and GMP standards?
While only one pharmaceutical drug containing plant-derived CBD has been approved by the FDA to date, manufacturers can still ensure that they are following the strict regulations laid out by the FDA. These rules include following written procedures and training, using sterile equipment and surfaces, following general laboratory hygiene and sanitation, proper handling and storage techniques, anti-contamination techniques, quality control and testing. It also means using proper equipment, instruments and quarantined spaces, as well as clearly labeling products with ingredients and identifying numbers for batch and lot production.
Companies that follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) ensure their production process results in consistent products that adhere to specific standards of quality. Like FDA standards, GMP includes quality of materials and equipment, quality of staff training and hygiene of the facility. When a company follows GMP, it creates written operating policies and procedures, along with checklists to make sure these procedures are carried out by all employees.
In the unregulated CBD market, the onus is on companies to self-regulate by holding themselves to a strict standard, and for consumers to perform due diligence.
If you haven’t already guessed, products made by Boulder Botanical & Bioscience Laboratory meet all of these standards. Our mission is to create CBD products that are nutraceutical quality, and our team has more than 25 years of experience in the manufacturing of nutraceuticals; our source material is hemp grown domestically, on a Colorado farm we control and own, using organic practices; our manufacturing facility is medical grade; and products are made under GMP standards and thoroughly tested.
Rest assured that CBD products made in our labs are held to strict quality and testing regimens to ensure consistency, safety and efficacy.
The FDA and CBD: The Food and Drug Administration is Coming Around to Cannabidiol
- Sep 06, 2018 -
By Boulder Botanical & Bioscience Laboratory Staff
The Food and Drug Administration’s recent approval of Epidiolex, an epilepsy drug containing plant-derived cannabidiol (CBD), marks the first official federal recognition that cannabis compound CBD is, in fact, a legitimate therapeutic compound.
Needless to say, it’s a sea change for how the regulatory agency views CBD, and it’s opened the door for further change on the federal level.
Although it is widely known that pure CBD extracted from cannabis is non-psychoactive, non-toxic and demonstrates numerous potential therapeutic properties—as the World Health Organization officially concluded in 2017—the Drug Enforcement Administration has thus far considered all marijuana derivatives to be Schedule I substances, the most restrictive drug category reserved for drugs that have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
CBD is found both in marijuana and in hemp, two different varieties of the genus Cannabis sativa L. Unlike marijuana, hemp doesn’t produce significant levels of THC—the psychoactive compound found in marijuana—and therefore, CBD made from hemp that’s produced domestically under the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill) is not a federally controlled substance.
Fortunately for people seeking to benefit from CBD, but who don’t live in states with medical cannabis laws, or who don’t qualify as medical cannabis patients within their state, hemp-derived CBD is not federally regulated like marijuana-derived CBD is. This has created opportunity for makers of hemp extracts.
There is much to be discovered about CBD. Due to the DEA’s decades-long prohibition on marijuana, it has been exceedingly difficult for U.S. researchers to conduct the type of studies needed to prove CBD’s legitimate medical applications and garner FDA approval for CBD-based drugs. But scientists pushing to study the compound’s medical applications had a breakthrough with the FDA’s approval of Epidiolex.
Regarding its decision to approve Epidiolex, the FDA cited evidence of the drug’s effectiveness at reducing seizures in three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials—considered the gold standard for clinical drug trials—involving 516 patients with severe, drug-resistant forms of epilepsy.
“This approval serves as a reminder that advancing sound development programs that properly evaluate active ingredients contained in marijuana can lead to important medical therapies. And, the FDA is committed to this kind of careful scientific research and drug development,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a written statement.
While the FDA’s review process demands controlled clinical trials, the agency’s first vote of confidence for a plant-derived CBD drug is a big win for the larger hemp-based CBD products market. Indeed, we at Boulder Botanical & Bioscience Laboratory have long known the valuable therapeutic applications for CBD products, and it’s heartening to see U.S. regulators coming around to this reality.
Preclinical research indicates CBD may have a wide range of useful therapeutic applications, due to its demonstrated properties that include anti-seizure, antioxidant, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-tumor, anti-psychotic and anti-anxiety, according to a 2015 report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
With the FDA’s approval of Epidiolex, we are likely to see a surge of interest and research into additional applications for CBD beyond epilepsy. And we look forward to seeing the full potential of this powerful compound realized in coming years.
Celebrities and CBD: Why These Stars of Screen and Sport are Using Cannabidiol
- Sep 24, 2018 -
By Boulder Botanical & Bioscience Laboratory Staff
Following a celebrity’s example isn’t always the best practice. Ronald Reagan notoriously served as a spokesman for Chesterfield cigarettes, and O.J. Simpson demonstrated how to make a quick getaway in a Hertz rental car.
So what to make of the roster of stars—big screen, small screen and sporting—who swear by cannabidiol (CBD)? Well, for one thing, they’re endorsing a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, so this isn’t about getting high. And CBD has been credibly tied to all kinds of health improvements, from relieving pain to helping alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to calming anxiety. So it isn’t just another wacky celebrity bandwagon, like jade eggs.
It’s particularly believable when a professional athlete makes a case for a renowned natural painkiller. If you’re frequently being pounded into the turf by 300-pound linemen, like former Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer, it’s hard to argue against his first-person testimony on the healing qualities of CBD. Plummer’s fellow Bronco Nate Jackson, another CBD advocate, has estimated that 50 percent of NFL players are using some form of cannabis, to help them deal with a violent game. It beats the opioid troubles that have felled many of their fellow footballers.
For similar reasons, UFC / MMA fighter Nate Diaz showed up bruised and battered at a post-fight press conference, and pulled out a CBD vape pen to ease the pain.
The list of CBDevotees outside of sports is wide-ranging as well.
Whoopi Goldberg has been an outspoken advocate of medical cannabis, and has introduced a line of CBD-infused products, including one that addresses menstrual pain. (But don’t believe the rumors that Queen Victoria used cannabis to deal with cramps; that’s been debunked.)
TV host Montel Williams has used various forms of cannabis and CBD to help him deal with the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, and like Goldberg has launched a medical cannabis company.
Actress Olivia Wilde says that a six-month stint on Broadway completely “wrecked” her body. Her answer: a CBD lotion, which she credits with helping her to avoid overusing over-the-counter painkillers.
Singer and actress Olivia Newton-John is coping with back pain after a recurrence of breast cancer. Her husband grows medical cannabis to address her aches.
Of course, where the celebrity stampede goes, there go the hucksters and snake-oil artists as well. This study in the Journal of the American Medical Association noted that many CBD products sold online contain barely a hint of the active ingredient. Know your CBD sources, and check their math on active ingredients, to see if a CBD balm is worthy of those initials.