The Science of CBD Oil and Cannabidiol Concentration

The cannabidiol (CBD) industry is booming. The global CBD market was valued at $395.2 million (approx €334 million) in 2019, and, before the Coronavirus pandemic, analysts predicted that the CBD market will reach a value of $3.4 billion (approx €2.87 billion) by 2027. But what does science have to say about CBD oil?

Most experts believe that the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t affect the CBD market in a significant way. Even though the production of CBD slowed down during the lockdown when many manufacturers worked with only 50 percent of their employees, and the supply chain came close to a stall, experts believe that the industry will bounce back in the long run because CBD products are in high demand.

Related: The Impact of the Coronavirus on the CBD Industry

One of the most popular CBD products is the original — CBD oil. CBD oil is often advertised as a health supplement that produces hoards of benefits without side effects. Some even advertise it as a therapeutic for many diseases and conditions, but, as a general rule, a lot of people see CBD as the best thing to hit the shelves since sliced bread.

Every CBD manufacturer claims that their products are ‘pure’, ‘effective’ and have a ‘high quality’. But in a market that’s mostly unsupervised and unregulated, chances are that at least a few products are cheap knock-offs that are not worth their price. So, CBD consumers need to do their own research before buying a product.

Related: All You Need To Know About CBD Regulations In Europe

But what makes a CBD oil ‘good’? What does science say about CBD oil concentration? And how can you tell if a CBD oil is worth buying or not? Read on to find out.


CBD oil production methods and why they matter

You probably know by now that CBD is extracted from hemp, not marijuana. And, if you’re a CBD consumer, you are probably familiar with terms like ‘CO2 extraction’ or ‘carrier oil extraction’, but you may not be aware that the extraction process can significantly alter the end product.

Let’s take a look at different cannabis extraction methods.

Alcohol extraction

Ethanol extraction is considered safe by the FDA and the WHO. This type of extraction is quite popular, and it’s used in the manufacturing process of things like paint, perfumes, personal care items and more.

Related: FDA and WHO Statements on Safety of CBD — Featuring Dr. Scott Shannon

This extraction method is not only safe, but it’s also very effective. While ethanol in itself is actually not healthy and can do a lot of damage, it is more or less safe for human consumption, and many people actually enjoy drinking alcohol, usually in a pub near you. Further, the extraction doesn’t create a lot of residues, so the resulting CBD is pure.

Even though it’s effective and safe, alcohol extraction is a time-consuming process. As a result, many manufacturers avoid it. Small manufacturers still use it because it’s a simple extraction process.

Rick Simpson extraction

The Rick Simpson extraction method is named after the person who invented it. This is the cheapest method of extraction, but it’s also the least effective one. This extraction method is not popular because it produces a lot of contaminants and is also dangerous. You won’t find CBD products that were extracted this way unless you buy ‘homemade’ products.

Carrier oil extraction

This type of extraction is pretty common because it’s simple and relatively cheap. Manufacturers use an oil, usually olive or hemp seed oil, and heat it up to extract the cannabinoids out of the plant material.

Carrier oil extraction is affordable, safe and doesn’t produce any contaminants, so many manufacturers use it. However, this type of extraction is considered ineffective because only a fraction of the cannabinoids are extracted and, unless the manufacturer uses preservatives, the oil is perishable.

As a result, CBD oils manufactured using carrier oil extraction usually have low concentrations of cannabinoids and expire quickly.

CO2 Extraction

Even though it’s expensive because it requires special equipment, CO2 extraction is very popular among manufacturers because it’s an efficient way to extract cannabinoids.

There are three types of extractions that use CO2, but the supercritical CO2 extraction is the most popular because it leads to high-quality products.

Carbon dioxide is a gas that transforms into a liquid when it reaches supercritical cold temperatures. When the liquid CO2 passes through the plant, it collects all the cannabinoids and terpenes from it. And the best part of using this extraction method is that the CO2 can be reused and produces very little waste.

Related: Full Spectrum CBD Oil vs CBD Isolate

CBD extracted with supercritical CO2 has a high purity and doesn’t contain contaminants. This is the type of extraction you should look for in your products.


What does science say about CBD oil concentration — how much is enough?

Now that we’ve established which type of CBD extraction is best, let’s take a look at how much CBD you should take to experience any of its benefits.

CBD is a relatively new food supplement, so there haven’t been a lot of human studies conducted on it to this day. CBD products also come in many forms, and the human body absorbs some of them better than others.

Related: The Effects of CBD on the Human Body

In addition, in order to find out the right dosage you should take, you should also take into consideration your body weight, what you’re taking CBD for, your tolerance to cannabinoids and if you’re taking CBD on an empty stomach or not.

It’s safe to say that finding the ideal concentration for your CBD supplement is difficult. But let’s take a look at what science says about the recommended dosages for CBD oil.

A 2020 study showed that approximately 6 percent of the CBD you take on an empty stomach enters your bloodstream. This percentage can go as high as 24 percent if you eat something rich in fats before taking the CBD.

About 70 to 75 percent of the CBD you eat is filtered by the liver. Some of the remaining CBD is not absorbed in your gastrointestinal tract, so you most likely absorb less than 10 percent of the CBD you take orally.

Most human studies used doses of 10 to 20 mg/day, although some used doses as high as 1,500 mg/day. Medical trials studying CBD as a treatment for epilepsy used, on average, 15 mg/kg/day, which is a lot more than what you would find in commercial products.

But the general consensus is that cannabidiol could produce beneficial effects if it’s administered in concentrations varying between <1 to 50 mg/kg/day.

The truth is that there is simply not enough data to say for certain how much CBD you should take on a daily basis. However, most people seem to tolerate CBD well, so you shouldn’t experience any notable side effects if you take it regularly.

Related: Top 25 CBD Online Shops in Europe in 2020

Now, some manufacturers argue that CBD oil has higher absorption rates than other products because the cannabidiol molecules are transported in a fatty substance, but does science back this up? While it’s true that lipid nanoparticles may help increase the bioavailability of CBD in the human body, there are no conclusive studies to support this argument.

So, what concentration should your CBD oil have?

Well, the available data that science provides seems to indicate that CBD oil may produce some effects even when it’s administered in small doses (<1 mg/kg/day).

As a rule of thumb, you should start off your CBD supplementation with a few drops of low concentration CBD oil (10 percent) and increase your dosage as needed. You can also increase your CBD product’s concentration if you believe you may have developed a tolerance to cannabinoids.


How to buy high-quality CBD oil

Even though the CBD market is unregulated, there are plenty of reputable manufacturers that make high-quality products. Here’s what you should look for:

Related: Top 10 CBD Oil Products in Europe in 2020

  1. Third-party lab analysis Reputable manufacturers will provide third-party lab analysis for their products. This analysis certifies that their products contain the amount of CBD, terpenes and other cannabinoids indicated on the label.
  2. Reputation — Renowned manufacturers and sellers sell high-quality products because they rely on positive reviews and peer-to-peer engagement to grow their businesses.
  3. CO2 extraction — You should always look for CBD products manufactured using CO2 extraction because they have the highest quality.

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