Understanding CBD Terminology & Education
CBD hasn't always been this complicated. Just a few short years ago, shopping for CBD was still pretty simple. Partly because there were not that many CBD brands to chose from, but also because education was extremely limited. Today, that has all changed. New companies and information are emerging daily, leaving customers swimming in an endless sea of options as well as questions. Consumers are left to educate themselves, leaving some well informed while others are extremely overwhelmed. Phrases like “Full Spectrum”, “Broad Spectrum”, or “THC-Free” are being used to define products without breaking down what exactly this means in regards to the final product and its medicinal properties. We are here to bridge that gap.
A quality and effective CBD product has so much more to offer than just the CBD, which is why it is so important to fully understand the entirety of the hemp plant and its journey in becoming medicine. Knowing how the product is made is a very rudimentary but crucial part of making a conscious buying decision. Whether the plant was grown on a small or large scale effects the overall quality as well as the nutritional diversity the plant will be able to provide. For example, plants grown in bio-rich soil will have a diverse range of phytonutrients and minerals present in its tissues that wouldn't be present in plants grown in depleted and bland soil. This includes things like polyphenols (help restore damaged cells) healthy fatty acids like omega 3 & 6, chlorophyll and even terpenes. If these words mean nothing to you do not worry, that's what we're here for. Learning terminology is the first step to understanding CBD, so let's start at square one.
This is the process that separates chemical compounds from the plant material. Large amounts of hemp material is flushed or bathed in a solvent (like ethanol, alcohol, butane, propane, etc.) in conjunction with either extremely high or extremely low temperatures. This process strips the beneficial chemical compounds from the flower material and turns it into an extremely potent substance that is often very thick and almost paste-like. The extracted substance will contain a different variety of compounds depending on the solvent + temperature used.
The extract is then used in products to create an infusion, or can even be consumed directly. I like to compare this process to a brewery. When done strategically, the results can have really great flavor, like a craft IPA brew, or it can be extremely strong and potent, like liquor.
Infusion is the process of transferring chemical compounds without using a traditional solvent (alcohol, ethanol, butane, etc). Instead, simple household ingredients like coconut oil, heavy cream, butter, or other fatty substances are used to transfer the plants beneficial chemical compounds. You can get as creative as you would like with what kind of material you would like to infuse, but the fatty-er the better. Cannabinoids dissolve and bind together best with fatty substances which is why edibles made with butter tend to be more effective than those made with oils.
Cannabinoids are one of the many chemical compounds found in the hemp plant. Cannabidiol (CBD), Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and hundreds of other cannabinoids are all present in the hemp plant and they each have a diverse and unique range of therapeutic properties. Their effects when used in isolation are not always the same as their effects when used in conjunction with other chemical compounds such as terpenes, flavonoids, or even other cannabinoids.
Terpenes are chemical compounds found not only in hemp, but also in a majority of other plants in the world (especially conifers). The spices we use, flowers we love, and herbs we smoke all have unique terpene profiles which help keep them safe from predators as well as attract pollinators. Terpenes also provide us humans with a HUGE variety of therapeutic properties and help us fight viruses, inflammation, bacteria, and even anxiety.
Linalool, for example, is one of our favorite terpenes. Linalool is a sweet and floral terpene found mainly in lavender, but can also be found in mint, cinnamon, rosewood, and even hemp! In fact, if you were to boil Lavender Essential Oil and isolate all of its compounds one by one, Linalool would be one of those compounds. Our hemp flower that is rich in Linalool tends to smell sweet and floral and have very relaxing and anxiolytic effects.
This is a highly processed extract in which the CBD has been separated from all other compounds in the plant. The final result is a white, powdery substance that is either consumed on its own or used to create an infusion. People are often misled into believing that because it is pure CBD that it must be better, but this cannot be further from the truth. These products are popular due to the success of fear-based beliefs concerning THC, or because people must pass intrusive drug tests at their jobs. In the big picture, products made with CBD isolate are medicinally inferior to “Full Spectrum” products because CBD works best in conjunction with the other compounds in hemp/cannabis (commonly referred to as the Entourage Effect).
Contains most of the same compounds as a full spectrum product, but select compounds have strategically been removed during the extraction process (THC is typically the compound removed).
A hemp/cannabis product that contains a variety of the cannabinoids and terpenes present in the actual plant. This can include things such as CBD, CBG, CBC, and THC, but also terpenes such as Linalool, Myrcene, Pinene, and Terpinolene. There are countless combinations of these compounds and each one is going to affect a person differently. A full spectrum product is usually produced using an extraction produced by flushing the flower material with either alcohol or carbon dioxide. Proper and thorough labeling is essential for Full Spectrum products, as each and every combination of terpenes and cannabinoids tend to have very different effects on its user.
This is a term we at Seventh Hill CBD use to describe our own processing method. As mentioned earlier, CBD works best when you can get as many compounds found in the flower as possible into the final product. We skip the entire process of extracting the CBD with harsh solvents, and instead elect to infuse the actual hemp flowers directly into our oil/butter with a little bit of heat for extended periods of time and then straining it (kind of like making a cup of tea). This results in a product as close to the actual flower as possible.
If you want to make empowered decisions when shopping for CBD, it is important to pay attention to these different terms. If a company is labeling a product “Full Spectrum” but is not providing a detailed explaination of the cannabinoid and terpene content, do you really know what's in that product? Does the company provide a third party test to support these claims? Knowing the cannabinoid and terpene content is the first step in making an empowered decision when shopping for CBD. For example, someone who takes CBD to help them get to sleep is going to want a product rich in CBD, THC, and CBC plus terpenes like Linalool or Citral that have relaxing/sedative effects. CBD alone will not help you sleep, in fact some studies have proven the opposite to be true. CBD needs to be strategically paired with certain cannabinoids and terpenes to produce those specific effects. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some consumers want a CBD product that will give them a boost of energy or help with depression. These folks are going to want to find a product with high amounts of the terpenes Limonene or A-Pinene for their uplifting and stimulating effects. Products with a specific purpose require specific ingredients, which need to be represented in both the label as well as the test results. If a CBD brand is using phrases like “Full Spectrum” or "relaxing" without actually proving or explaining what that means, then there is no real reason for you to trust their claims or their products.
Everyone's body reacts to cannabinoids and terpenes differently, which is why it is so important to do a little bit of research for yourself. We proudly list primary terpenes on all of our packaging, so that our customers can keep track of which terpenes work best for them. The terpenes in our flower change with each batch, but our infused products (oils and caramels) consistently have the same terpenes in each batch. Our infused products come in three different blends, each of which have drastically different effects and therapeutic benefits. This allows our customers to learn about the power of terpenes and what works best for themselves.
In short- terpene and cannabinoid labeling is crucial for a CBD product to be trustworthy and/or reliable. The information on the label should also be proven by third party testing analysis. These are some of the standards we have set for ourselves and our brand. Seventh Hill is proud to have potency and terpenes listed on all of our labels, which is supported by the lab results we have listed directly on our website.