What Are Hemp Extracts and Why Are They Important?

What Are Hemp Extracts and Why Are They Important?

Hemp extracts include a range of terpenes and cannabinoids as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.

Is hemp extract oil the same thing as hemp seed oil? Or are hemp extracts more closely related to CBD oil? Are there any hemp extract oil benefits unique to hemp extracts? Are hemp-derived extracts different from hemp-derived CBD? How and where do terpenes come into play?

With so many different terms out there, it can be hard to know what you’re buying. Or even what you should be buying. The terminology can be confusing, especially when it seems like a new term or phrase is coined every other day. Take cannabidiol, cannabinol, and cannabigerol for example. They might all sound like the same thing, but they’re not.

It’s important to know what you’re buying and why – otherwise you might find that what you bought isn’t going to do what you thought it would.

What Are Hemp Extracts?

First and foremost, hemp extracts are usually sourced from extremely low THC varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant. This means hemp extracts typically have significantly less THC than CBD. In fact, products like the CBD oils you find for sale online are usually made with hemp extracts, and contain only a trace amount of THC – 0.3 percent or less.

Full spectrum hemp extracts, sometimes referred to as hemp oil extracts, generally contain a wide range of cannabinoids and terpenes, while featuring CBD as the main cannabinoid. Hemp extracts are usually derived from the leaves, stalks, and flowers of the cannabis plant. However, extracts produced from hemp seeds do not contain any cannabinoids.

By definition, CBD is just one isolated cannabinoid from the wide range of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other plant substances that make up hemp extracts. This means that a product labeled “hemp extract” won’t necessarily contain any CBD if it’s made with only hemp seed oil. Make sure you double-check the ingredients so that you know what you’re buying. And as always, check the third-party, ISO-certified lab results.

A young hemp sapling sits up in the sunlight

What Makes Up Hemp Extracts?

“Hemp extracts” is often used as a catch-all term for substances derived from various parts of the cannabis plant. The hemp grown for use in wellness products generally contains high amounts of CBD. As a result, the products made with these hemp extracts tend to feature more CBD compared to other cannabinoids.

While “isolates” specifically refer to a single cannabinoid and can be taken from hemp extracts, hemp extracts are not to be confused with CBD isolates or any other kind of isolate. Correctly describing a product as an isolate means the product would feature a “pure” cannabinoid, without containing any other cannabinoids or terpenes.

In contrast, most cbdMD products contain our Superior Broad Spectrum formula, which means our hemp extracts contain high-quality CBD, cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), and plant terpenes. Our formula is tested by third-party, ISO-certified labs to ensure that the amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes we include are consistent across all product batches.

Do Hemp Extracts Contain THC?

Hemp extracts can contain small amounts of THC; however, the hemp products sold in the US contain less than the federally legal amount of THC (0.3 percent). By extension, the CBD oil products available to consumers contain hemp extracts, and may contain extremely low levels of THC. However, cbdMD’s Superior Broad Spectrum hemp products are always THC-free.*

A number of golden bottles of hemp extract oil sit behind scientific looking graphics

What’s in Hemp Extract Oil?

Hemp extract oil is created by combining hemp extracts with a carrier oil so that they can better interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Since CBD is fat-soluble, it dissolves in fats (oils) rather than water. This is also why hemp extracts may be better absorbed by your body when added to foods with higher fat contents.

Carrier oils serve a number of functions and are often necessary to dilute CBD oil to obtain different concentrations. The specific oil used also affects the rate of absorption into the body. The unique combination of hemp extracts, carrier oils, and plant terpenes is what produces the vast array of CBD formulas. This is also how we formulated our broad spectrum hemp extract formula.

What Does a Carrier Oil Do, and Why Is It Necessary?

Carrier oils make it possible to dilute CBD oil into easily deliverable amounts. Take cbdMD’s 30 mL oil tinctures, for example. We provide them in various concentrations, from 300 mg to 7500 mg. Do you know how small of an amount 300 mg really is? A large amount of CBD isn’t required in order to reap the desired benefits.

In layman’s terms, 300 mg is equal to 6 percent of a teaspoon, or a few grains of salt, with 7500 mg equaling roughly one and a half teaspoons. Our 300 mg bottle has just 10 mg CBD serving in 1 mL of hemp extract oil. You would have a hard time taking that small of an amount without it being suspended in something like a carrier oil. Adding a carrier oil also allows hemp extracts to be diluted to preferred strengths.

The carrier oils themselves can also add additional benefits, such as olive oil being good for your heart. When comparing oils for maximum hemp extract absorption, medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oils are better than short or long-chain triglycerides.

A bottle of hemp extract oil sits besides two halves of a coconut


Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT) Oil

MCT oil is typically derived from palm kernel or coconut oil, and is the most common carrier oil used for CBD. This is because your body can absorb medium-chain triglycerides quickly without needing to break them down through digestion first. In contrast, long-chain triglycerides take longer to digest, and short-chain triglycerides are typically broken down and consumed by the bacteria in your gut before they have a chance to be absorbed into your system.

Medium-chain triglycerides are also made up of 90 percent saturated fat and are almost flavorless.

Does Flavor Matter?

Of course it does!

The plant terpenes involved in the hemp extract oil production affect both the smell and taste of the finished oil. If you don’t like the taste of certain hemp extract products, it’s likely due to a specific terpene or combination of terpenes. On their own, hemp extracts have a very “earthy” taste, which some people tend to find unpleasant.

cbdMD includes a variety of terpenes in our tinctures which contribute to the berry, orange, and mint-flavored hemp extracts we offer.

Two yellow balls of hemp extract sit on a scientific instrument


Terpenes vs Cannabinoids

Both are included in hemp extracts, but what are they really, and where do they come from?

Terpenes and cannabinoids are found in nature, but while cannabinoids are chemical compounds, plant terpenes are aromatic compounds. This means the two compounds are used differently and are not interchangeable – both serve a specific function.

The concentration of different cannabinoids varies throughout the cannabis plant’s life. Which means the plant can be broken down at different stages of its life to produce different concentrations of cannabinoid compounds. Achieving a high level of multiple cannabinoids allows you to combine them to form more full spectrum hemp extracts. This in turn provides a larger number of benefits for your endocannabinoid system.

What Are Terpenes and Why Are They Important?

Terpenes have been mentioned a lot above, but what are they?

Terpenes aren’t exclusive to the cannabis plant – they’re actually found in a number of plants, herbs, and fruits.

Did you know terpenes are actually what give plants their characteristic scents? In nature, these terpenes protect plants from animal grazing and attract pollinators, but to humans, the specific combination of aromatic terpenes gives plants such as lavender and pine their unique scents. Plant terpenes are also widely used by perfume manufacturers, are included in many everyday body products, and form the basis of many essential oils.

Although both terpenes and cannabinoids can be derived from the cannabis plant, terpenes are considered aromatic compounds. Many plant terpenes are bioactive, and while research is just beginning, this bioactivity is leading to talk that terpenes may also interact with the endocannabinoid system.

A dictionary sits open to the definition of cannabinoids

Cannabinoids, Cannabidiol, Cannabinol, and Cannabigerol: What’s the Difference?

Cannabinoids interact with and support the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in your body as they’re processed. Hemp extracts, and the cannabinoids found within them, interact with the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors in your body, which in turn affect your endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system is responsible for helping your body maintain a state of homeostasis. Your ECS affects everything from your nervous system to your immune system, and all the organs in between. The ECS stabilizes your equilibrium and makes sure your body is functioning efficiently.

While cannabidiol (CBD) is often thought to be the primary compound in cannabis, there are actually over 100 cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant. Various cannabinoids are produced as chemical compounds in the cannabis plant at different stages of the plant’s life.

Cannabidiol, cannabinol, and cannabigerol are just three types of cannabinoids commonly found in hemp extract oils. Cannabidiol is the most common and well-known cannabinoid aside from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Cannabinol (CBN) is classified as a “rare cannabinoid,” while cannabigerol (CBG) is often referred to as “the mother of all cannabinoids.”

Cannabinol is produced by degrading THC as the plant dries in the air or under heat and light. Despite the fact that CBN is produced as a result of THC degradation, it is not considered a psychoactive drug.

CBD and THC can actually be obtained from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), an acidic form of CBG. CBG is typically derived from younger cannabis plants because cannabigerol levels decrease as the plant ages. Cannabidiol and THC levels are higher in mature cannabis plants because cannabigerol is converted to CBD and THC as the plant develops.

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