05 Jul Synthetic CBD vs Natural CBD: What’s the difference?
- Cannabidiol can be extracted from hemp (natural CBD) or created in a laboratory (synthetic CBD).
- Synthetic CBD is considered purer and cheaper to produce than natural CBD.
- Synthetic CBD’s chemical structure can be identical to that of natural CBD.
- It is not yet clear if natural and synthetic CBD have the same effects on the human body.
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Did you know that already today, scientists can create synthetic CBD in a lab without ever touching any hemp plants?
It comes as no surprise that the more we learn about the potential therapeutic properties of CBD, the more interested pharmaceutical companies become in profitable cannabinoid drug development.
Creating CBD products without hemp might be cheaper and more efficient.
But does cheaper and more efficient always mean better?
What is CBD?
CBD, or Cannabidiol, is one of many compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant. It appears in abundance in hemp (a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant), and is known for its potentially beneficial effects on sleep, anxiety, stress and other symptoms of various health problems.
CBD is non-intoxicating, which means that it does not cause a high and is considered a safe addition to a healthy diet.
What is synthetic CBD?
Synthetic CBD is not extracted from natural sources. Instead, it is created in a lab.
In theory, synthetic and natural cannabinoids have similar effects.
Some pharmaceutical companies can even create synthetic CBD with a chemical structure identical to that of natural CBD.
However, the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of synthetic cannabinoids (including synthetic CBD) is scarce. We know much more about natural CBD and its impact on the human body than we do about synthetic CBD.
Clinical trials on synthetic CBD have only recently started taking place, and it is too early to tell if the human body reacts in the same way to both natural and synthetic CBD.
According to some early studies, synthetic cannabinoids used in large quantities may also be associated with more dangerous adverse effects than natural cannabinoids used in similar amounts.
How is synthetic CBD made?
Like any other pharmaceutical drug, synthetic CBD is produced by highly qualified people in a strictly regulated lab environment.
Synthetic CBD is not made from hemp. Instead, alternative ingredients (such as orange peel) are used.
Synthetic CBD is created by performing various chemical or biological syntheses of ingredients like orange peel, yeast, bacteria or other elements. Synthetic CBD produced in this way is pure and free of other cannabinoids found in naturally-grown hemp.
What is natural or plant-based CBD?
Natural or plant-based CBD is CBD that occurs naturally in Cannabis sativa plants.
When you buy natural or plant-based CBD, you receive a product with Cannabidiol that has been extracted straight from a plant. Therefore, the CBD found in hemp and in your natural CBD products is exactly the same.
How is natural CBD extracted?
There are a few different ways of extracting CBD from hemp.
The CO2 extraction method is considered the most efficient, effective and safest. This is the technique we use at Naturecan.
Because of how the extraction method works, the quality of the plants used for extraction matters greatly. Extracted Cannabidiol cannot be modified, so the better the quality of the plants used for the extraction, the better the end product will be.
This is why at Naturecan, we extract our CBD from organic hemp of the highest quality.
Synthetic CBD vs Natural CBD
More research is needed to fully understand the effects of synthetic CBD on the human body.
Yet, many people believe that synthetic CBD is the future. This is because synthetic CBD tends to show greater consistency between batches, allows for cheaper production of pure CBD, and makes it possible to sell CBD products in countries with strict anti-cannabis laws.
Additionally, since synthetic CBD is created in a lab (and not extracted from plants grown on a farm), it’s also free from pesticides and impurities.
Fortunately, products with natural CBD can also be free of such substances. As long as the CBD is extracted from certified organic hemp, purified during production, and undergoes regular third-party testing, you can be sure of its quality and safety.
Interestingly enough, many cannabis specialists believe that the superior purity of synthetic CBD might also be its weakness.
Some research suggests that the best therapeutic effects do not come from a single cannabinoid but rather a variety of natural ingredients found in the Cannabis sativa plant. This phenomenon, referred to as the Entourage Effect, is yet to be confirmed, but early studies show that patients prefer natural cannabinoids over synthetic ones.
What are the potential benefits of CBD?
There is a lot of interest in CBD within the scientific community and pharmaceutical industry. This is because more and more research suggests CBD may have excellent therapeutic properties.
Several published CBD studies show that Cannabidiol seems to play an essential role in a multitude of vital functions and processes in the body. These include sleep, mood, pain, inflammation and regulation of the immune system.
Cannabinoid-based supplements are growing in popularity, and it is just a matter of time until the market is full of various synthetic alternatives.
But are they as good as natural CBD? Hard to say. Current studies are very limited, and some even indicate that synthetic cannabinoids might have more adverse effects than natural cannabinoids.
Nevertheless, the production of synthetic CBD is both easier and cheaper, which makes it an attractive solution for many manufacturers.
At Naturecan, we have decided not to use any synthetic CBD. Instead, all our products include CBD extracted from certified organic hemp and are regularly tested for impurities or contaminants. This enables us to ensure that all our products are pure, consistent and – most importantly – natural.
Written by Alex Coughlan and reviewed by our qualified expert, Paul Holmes, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs Manager at Naturecan, BSc Medicinal and Biological Chemistry, Member of UKAS/FSA CBD Food Product Approval Expert Group
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