The Science of CBD Oil

The Science of CBD Oil

Now that Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is becoming more mainstream, people want to understand the science behind it.

This is especially true since the 2018 Farm Bill passed, making hemp-derived CBD oil federally legal.

Despite these recent advances, CBD’s still new enough that it may be intimidating to some.

But once you break down the basics, it’s not as complicated as it seems. And now, more than ever, it’s important to understand the science of CBD oil so you can be an informed customer and help educate others.

Cannabis plant

CBD 101: How Does CBD Work?

CBD is one of many different cannabinoids which come from – you guessed it – the cannabis plant. Another famous cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), you know, the one that gets you high.

Well, the good news is that hemp-derived CBD will not get you high. That’s because, in order to be legal, all USA industrially-grown hemp must have a THC content of less than 0.3%.

CBD offers all the powerful benefits of the cannabis plant that can assist with a wide range of complications; everything from pain and inflammation to anxiety and trouble sleeping, all with and no psychoactive side effects.

How CBD Works

When CBD is introduced into your system, it goes to work activating special receptors found throughout your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS is a complex system that regulates several important bodily functions. For example, things like your immune, digestive, and central nervous system are all supported by the ECS.

When everything is working as it should, you feel great and everything in your body is balanced. But when things get out of whack, your ECS may need a little help to get everything back in working order – and that’s when CBD comes in handy.

Unlike some cannabinoids, CBD doesn’t attach directly to your body’s receptors. Instead, it modifies the receptors, changing the way they function and allowing them to work at their peak, optimal level.

The ECS is crucial for maintaining a healthy, well-functioning body and mind. And CBD has the ability to help optimize several bodily functions and systems, while ensuring that the body remains in this balanced state.


CBD Interacts with Receptors Like:

  • 5-HT1A serotonin

    Studies show that CBD may have huge potential interacting with these receptors and improving mood. Found in the central and peripheral nervous systems, 5-HT1A serotonin receptors also help reduce anxiety, nausea, control appetite, and help with sleep.

  • PPARs

    These receptors are located on the surface of the cell’s nucleus and have been linked with things like reducing the effects of aging, like memory loss. PPARs also regulate genes responsible for controlling insulin levels in the body, making them important to diabetes patients.

  • TRPV1 receptors

    The job of these receptors is pretty straight forward; they’re responsible for regulating body temperature, as well as pain and inflammation.

  • GPR55 protein receptors

    CBD actually works to block these receptors, which can help slow the progression of bone reabsorption and regulate blood pressure. In the future, with more research, this could be especially helpful for patients experiencing bone loss.

CBD Extraction

It’s All About CBD Extraction

In order to get CBD, it has to be extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant (hemp in our case) and there are a few different methods you can use to do this.

Co2 extraction

In this method, CO2 (aka carbon dioxide) is the solvent. Not only does this yield a high-quality result, but it’s also inexpensive, reusable, and green.

It’s safe for consumption since we naturally produce CO2 and it’s also FDA-approved. This method is also non-toxic, produces no carbon emissions, and involves zero petroleum-based solvents in the extraction process.

The first step of this method is to turn the CO2 gas into a liquid form. This is done by increasing pressure and reducing the temperature to way below freezing. Then, the temperature is increased, resulting in CO2 that becomes what is known as “supercritical.”

When it’s in this state, the CO2 can have both the properties of a liquid and a solid at the same time. This is the ideal state for extracting a chemical compound because it won’t damage it.

This extraction process can be used for everything from spices and herbs to perfumes.

Solvent extraction

In this method, ethanol is used to dissolve the active compounds in the hemp plant, but because it’s hydrotropic and gravitates towards water-soluble compounds, many of the valuable wax-based components of hemp can be lost.

The pros for this method are that it works really well for making CBD vape oils and the process is straightforward, as long as you have the necessary equipment.

The negatives are that it can be highly dangerous due to the fact that ethanol is flammable and the end product may also contain elements like chlorophyll. While it’s great for plants, chlorophyll isn’t the best for human consumption, though filtering it out may damage the quality of the CBD oil.

So while this may be a cheaper and easier method than CO2 extraction, it yields an end product that’s less pure than CO2 – and also has the whole “potentially flammable” aspect to keep in mind.

Olive oil extraction

This method starts with decarboxylating the hemp. In other words, the plant material is heated to a specific temperature for a specific amount of time, thus activating the chemical compounds.

Once you’ve activated them, you add the hemp to the olive oil, which is then heated to a specific temperature for a specific amount of time. The end product is cannabinoid-infused oil. Pretty simple, right?

Well, the pros of this method are that it’s very safe (as long as you don’t manage to pour the hot oil on yourself) and also inexpensive. The cons are that the end product will not last as long as the other extraction methods and isn’t really effective for producing large batches of CBD.

Final Words About the Science of CBD

Lastly, while you may be tempted to try making your own CBD oil at home, it’s best to leave this to the experts.

In order to safely make CBD oil, it should be done in a lab with trained specialists who can test for things like heavy metals and CBD/THC content. In other words, please don’t try and get all Breaking Bad when it comes to your CBD.

Though it’s important to remember that not all companies are created equal. Some use lower quality hemp and cheaper extraction methods to increase their profits.

And while it may save you a couple of bucks, is it worth putting your health at risk? The correct answer is no. That’s why understanding the science behind CBD oil is so important.

So, when purchasing CBD, make sure to always look for these qualities:

  • USA organically-grown
  • GMO and THC-free
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Certificate of Analysis (CoA) / Third-party testing

Disclaimer: The cbdMD blog contains general information about health, diet, lifestyle, and nutrition. Any information provided should not be considered or treated as medical advice and always consult a medical professional before making any lifestyle changes. Products and information mentioned on the cbdMD blog are not intended to be used as a substitute for medical diagnosis, advice or treatment. Any links to third-party websites are provided as a convenience only and cbdMD is not responsible for their content.