With most extraction methods other cannabinoids are present in the initial extract – these may be retained (full spectrum), selectively removed (broad spectrum) or totally removed (isolate) to produce different forms of CBD suitable for different uses.
All cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to produce therapeutic effects. CBD is no different. The ECS is a complex cell signalling system found within all mammals that consist of endocannabinoids and receptors. These receptors are on the brain, on body tissues, and within the nervous system. The ECS is responsible for regulating many body processes, so when CBD interacts with these receptors, effects are experienced.
While natural CBD is produced from hemp or cannabis plants, synthetic varieties of CBD are produced either by chemical synthesis using ingredients like limonene, or by biological synthesis using modified yeast or other bacteria.
What Is Natural CBD?
Because of their composition, which includes other compounds, cannabinoids and terpenes can also bind to one or more cannabinoid receptors. This can therefore alter the therapeutic effect of natural CBD.
Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the two major active principles present in Cannabis sativa, is gaining great interest among the scientific community for its pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and cosmetic applications. CBD can be prepared either by chemical synthesis or extraction from Cannabis sativa (hemp). The latter is more convenient from several points of view, including environmental and economic, but mainly for the absence of harmful organic solvents generally employed in the chemical synthesis. Although CBD produced by hemp extraction is the most widely employed, it carries two major impurities. The first one is the already known cannabidivarin (CBDV), whereas the second one is supposed to be the butyl analog of CBD with a four-term alkyl side chain. In this work, we report the isolation by semi-preparative liquid chromatography and the unambiguous identification of this second impurity. A comprehensive spectroscopic characterization, including NMR, UV, IR, circular dichroism and high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS), was carried out on this natural cannabinoid. In order to confirm its absolute configuration and chemical structure, the stereoisomer (1R,6R) of the supposed cannabinoid was synthesized and the physicochemical and spectroscopic properties, along with the stereochemistry, matched those of the natural isolated molecule. According to the International Nonproprietary Name, we suggested the name of cannabidibutol (CBDB) for this cannabinoid. Lastly, an HPLC-UV method was developed and validated for the qualitative and quantitative determination of CBDV and CBDB in samples of CBD extracted from hemp and produced according to Good Manufacturing Practices regulations for pharmaceutical and cosmetic use.
Keywords: CBD-C(4); Cannabidibutol; Cannabidiol; Cannabidivarin; LC-HRMS; LC-UV.
The image of CBD as a holistic and natural therapeutic may mean that natural CBD products are the only ones which will eventually make for a profitable and sustainable industry.
The European Commission is currently considering rescheduling CBD as a narcotic under a new interpretation of the UN Single Convention which would severely limit the scope for a European market. While it is yet to be seen if the narcotic status of CBD will be confirmed, synthetic CBD will not be controlled in the same way, due to its omission in the Single Convention.
In general, synthetic CBD benefits from being under less strict control than natural CBD. Natural CBD is controlled under the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Substances under schedule 1. This is a major reason why CBD remains a controlled substance in regions like the US and EU.
This means that a medicine with pure natural or pure synthetically produced CBD should yield the exact same health and mood benefits, with the exact same safety profile. Supporting this, researchers at the University of Freiburg have determined synthetic CBD to have similar safety and efficacy in treating epilepsy as natural CBD.
If the compounds are indeed the same, then another difference could arise from the purity of the various products. Synthetic products may tend to be purer as there are many compounds in hemp plants which need to be removed before a pure product is obtained.
Patient preferences are another factor which may ultimately determine the course of development of the CBD industry. Even if synthetic CBD is proven to be as effective and cheaper, many consumers and patients still may opt for the natural counterpart.
The EU also controls CBD as a Novel Food ingredient, meaning that any ingestible product containing CBD must pass a rigorous and costly approvals procedure. Note that an upcoming UN vote in December could see CBD products with THC of less than 0.2% removed from international control.
A widespread discussion of the pros and cons of synthetic and natural CBD is now occurring within the cannabis industry. The main issues reside in the differences of the two in terms of: efficacy and safety, consumer preference, cost-effectiveness and legality.