Where does CBD come from?

CBD is the 3-letter acronym on everyone’s lips right now, praised for its potential health benefits and upkeep of wellbeing. And while CBD may not claim or boast any medicinal properties, users of this food supplement are certainly vocal on what it can do!

Where does CBD come from?

Although a lot of people are starting to understand what it does, not everyone understands exactly where it comes from. Does CBD come from hemp, marijuana or cannabis? The answer is simple - all three!

Cannabis is the name given to the family of plants as a whole. Simply put, hemp refers to the male species of the plant, while marijuana refers to the female species of the plant. Meanwhile, CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is one of many cannabinoids found in all the different species of the cannabis plant.

Which is used for CBD oil?

When you drill down a little further into the difference between hemp and cannabis you will find that the word “hemp” is used to describe any cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3% THC content. THC is the intoxicating part of the plant; the bit that interacts with receptors in your brain and causes the “high” that we associate with cannabis.

A common misconception is when people say that they use hemp to get high; the low levels of THC would mean you’d have to consume a hell of a lot to do so. It’s actually marijuana that people are referring to when talking about cannabis as an illegal drug. Marijuana is classified as any cannabis plant with more than 0.3% THC content, meaning that it can have a psychotropic effect on the person taking it. The primary psychoactive component of cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

So even though all species of cannabis plant contain CBD (along with a wide variety of other cannabinoids and compounds), high levels of THC are illegal and it is therefore always CBD oil derived from hemp species that you will see online and on the high street.

How is CBD oil made?

Once the plant (which will be of the hemp variety when creating CBD oils, capsules and other products) is harvested, it has to go through various processes, according to the end-product required.

Manufacturers will first decide whether to make a full spectrum product (using the whole plant) or a CBD isolate product (extracting just the CBD) and can then extract by a number of methods, including the alcohol method (which involves soaking the plant in alcohol and then evaporating it, leaving the CBD oil behind) or the CO2 method (which involves forcing CO2 through the plant to extract the oil, which is more complex).

Hemp vs Marijuana

These differences outlined above are a simplification - the main point is to know where your CBD comes from and that it's of the legal variety. Hemp and Marijuana are both highly generalised terms, and there are several cannabis species under those respective umbrellas. Throughout history, both words have arisen to help people understand legality, but there is a whole world of cannabis plants out there, all with their own characteristics and functions!