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CBD Oil Extraction: How is CBD Oil Extracted?

Whether you’re new to the world of CBD or you’re a daily cannabinoid user, you’re probably wondering just how that nice little bottle of relaxation came to be, right?

CBD has been making major waves in the worlds of holistic and cannabis medicine, with users wanting to constantly learn more about this magical herb. So where does it come from? How is it farmed? What processes does it go through to become an oil?

In today’s article, we’ll touch on all things CBD oil extraction, farming, and harvesting processes of cannabis plants, as well as why and where your CBD comes from matters.

Let’s begin the process!

The Brief History Cannabinoids

First, let’s start off by taking a super brief history lesson on, none other than, the cannabis plant. For centuries and centuries beyond years imaginable, cannabis has been used around the world.

From China to Vikings, to Christopher Columbus, to America, the cannabis plant has continued to make its way through multicultural traditions across the globe.

Dating back to as early as 4000 BC, marijuana was first reported to be used as a form of treatment, to help with various ailments and diseases across Asia and Europe.

So what makes the cannabis plant so special after all of these centuries of use?

Well, according to Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, cannabis is a psychoactive plant that contains over 100 cannabinoid components. With two of the most frequent being the subject of research into their therapeutic properties: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Interestingly enough, cannabinol (CBN) was supposedly the first compound to be isolated in pure form in 1899. CBD was the second compound to be discovered in the cannabis plant, but not until early 1963. Just one year later, scientists isolated the main psychoactive compound THC.

The research regarding THC has been more extensively developed and analyzed compared to the research being done currently on CBD. If you really think about it, these compounds were discovered not that long ago, we’ve come a long way in the last 60 years! Thus, the CBD journey continues!

What Goes Into CBD Extraction?

CBD extraction may differ from farmer to farmer, company to company, extractor to extractor.

Numerous factors go into extracting CBD from cannabis, with some processes being more extensive than others. Here are 5 main factors that go into hemp extraction:

1. Farming and Harvesting

Is the hemp farmed from seedlings to full-grown plants? Are they grown from small sprouting plants into adults?

First, to grow and farm hemp plants, you must be in a state where it is legal. If farmers bring in seeds that contain over 0.3% THC, it then becomes considered marijuana and must be destroyed.

Much of the US farming of hemp plants are grown in Colorado. There may be up to 1,000 - 1,500 plants per acre of land that are planted and tended for their growing course.

Hemp plants grow quickly, ready for harvesting just after 60 days.

2. Processing Methods

There are a couple of ways to extract CBD oil from the hemp plants to make the desired Cannabidiol oil. For instance, some companies use the CO2 extraction method to extract the oil out.

This method is the preferred method because it is a clean and pure form of CBD extraction, with no residue left afterward.

The oil is extracted from the hemp plant's stalk, stems, and leaves. It is not derived from hemp seeds*. 

After the oil has been extracted from the hemp, it needs to be distilled.

*Note: please do not buy "hemp oil" on Amazon - it's just seed oil, and contains no CBD; Amazon.com restricts all CBD products!

3. Timing is Key

Once the oil has been extracted, it needs to enter a winterization stage. During this process, undesirable elements are further removed from the plant, such as waxes and lipids.

After the winterization, the oil needs to be mixed with other solvents and kept in a freezer overnight. Some may choose to put the CBD oil through another distillation process to ensure that the Cannabidiol is isolated and clear of other compounds.

4. Measuring and Testing Potency

Here’s where each detail matters! Certificates of analysis and third party testing are crucial!

Once the CBD oil has endured all the above processes and steps, it needs to be tested for quality control, ensuring that there is no THC present (well, less than 0.3% THC present).

The company should be able to provide you with certificates of analysis for each and every product, which clearly labels and shows you all ingredients in the CBD oil as well as how much is included for each ingredient.

Third-party testing can be described as an outside laboratory that tests for the quality control of your CBD oils and products. This helps ensure that there is no internal bias or error in the primary party testing.

Why Extract CBD Oil from Hemp?

As of the 2018 Farm Bill, 47 states have legalized hemp-derived CBD. Thus, if companies are able to extract CBD oil from hemp plants, individuals all over the country can browse, purchase, and benefit (almost everyone) without worrying about the “high” effects of THC.

The hemp plant contains little to no THC, seriously. So if CBD oil can be derived from the hemp plant, users can feel at ease knowing mind-altering effects won’t be taking place anytime soon.

If the CBD oil is marijuana plant-derived, there may be trouble lurking around the corner. Marijuana is only medically and recreationally legal in certain states, such as California, Oregon, and Colorado.

Thus, if you order a CBD oil, knowing that it is derived from the marijuana plant, knowing that it may contain more than 0.3% THC, and you live in a non-legalized marijuana state, there may be consequences.

Final Thoughts

CBD oil extraction hasn’t been around for centuries quite yet, but we’re on the brink of beautiful benefits!

As technology continues to advance alongside cannabis research, it’s entirely possible that CBD oil extraction will become faster, cleaner, and more innovative, in due time.

Until then, continue to do your research on Cannabidiol oils you’re interested in and ask how companies do their farming, harvesting, and processing - it all adds up.

You may just look at your CBD oil bottle differently the next time you taste a dropper's worth of your grown, harvested, and extensively processed, hemp-derive oil.

Catch ya later!

-- Written by Kirsten Thornhill

Human Physiologist | Content Writer | Lifestyle Medicine Advocate
Kirsten Thornhill was born and raised in a small town in Northern California. She graduated with her Bachelors from CSU Stanislaus in Turlock, CA in Kinesiology Exercise Physiology and her Masters from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, CA in Kinesiology Exercise Physiology. Kirsten is very passionate about human physiology and the metabolic and nutritional adaptations that occur in athletes. She has specialized in teaching clinical and practical exercise and rehabilitation applications. She enjoys educating and informing people on the importance of lifetime movement, holistic and lifestyle medicine, and health research and development. Her passion for alternative medicine enables her to strive when promoting health and education.

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