Ultra-pure-synthetic-cannabidiol CBD can be either natural or synthetic. Here's the difference between the two types and why it matters. Synthesising CBD It’s perhaps unsurprising that we’ve reached a point where the many different cannabinoids found in the hemp plant can be synthesised in a lab. Horticultural advances over the past few decades have also seen an increasing prevalence of GMOs and the use of artificial lighting in greenhouses. But how doe
Ultra-pure synthetic cannabidiol (CBD)
Over the last 40 years, the application of cannabis-derived medicines in the pharmaceutical sector has come a long way. Around the world, there has been a huge increase in patient interest for using cannabinoids to treat a variety of conditions, including depression, cancer, pain and neurological disorders. At the same time, within the pharmaceutical sector, there has been a wider acceptance of the product as a treatment and as a result, an increased rate of research into the application of the cannabinoid family.
Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant. There are over 200 known cannabinoids, however, the most recognised are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC was the first cannabinoid to be studied extensively for its therapeutic potential. And as such, the first cannabinoid-based product to be approved by the FDA was the synthetic THC analogue, Marinol, in 1985. More recently, at a scientific level, attention has tended to shift away from use of THC, due to its psychoactive intoxicant effects, towards CBD and its potential therapeutic applications.
In addition to the increasing interest, research into medicinal cannabis is also becoming easier. Countries around the world are beginning to relax regulations for cannabis use in medical situations, leading to fewer restrictions for researchers looking to investigate its potential applications. Conversely, for pharmaceutical developers the lack of standardised protocols makes cannabinoid-based drug development challenging to manage as many countries have their own specific rules on the import and export of certain cannabinoids. While there have been improvements to the standardisation of regulations, country-to-country harmonisation is still far from a reality. This is particularly seen in the United States, where a disconnect between federal and state regulations is causing operational challenges for many operating in the sector and made it ever-more challenging to achieve regulatory approval.
For a potential cannabinoid active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) to navigate the complex and often confusing regulatory minefield, manufacturers must understand and meet strict quality controls on purity and consistency. For instance, drugs using CBD as the API must ensure they meet extremely low THC thresholds and avoid the psychoactive side-effects. This becomes vital in applications such as paediatrics, where healthcare professionals must be assured that these side effects will not occur.
To ensure regulations are kept to, and to safeguard the health of potential cannabis product consumers, the industry is increasingly looking to apply optimised, synthetic routes to manufacture cannabinoids. Compared to cannabinoid extraction from plant products, these methods provide a greater level of control over every available parameter, helping to improve the yields of products while avoiding any impurities and contamination.
With the growing requirement for Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) grade material within the pharmaceutical sector, drug developers are increasingly seeking out experienced partners in the development and manufacture of cannabinoids. Although Johnson Matthey (JM) has over 200 years’ experience in the controlled substance sector, our involvement with pharmaceutical cannabinoids started 15 years ago when helping a customer develop a generic substitute for Marinol. Working with cannabinoids is very complex as the APIs produced can be challenging to work with. For example, in Marinol, the API oxidizes quickly and is prone to impurities. To support the launch of the generic, JM invested tens of millions of dollars in large-scale supercritical fluid chromatography and other equipment at its West Deptford, N.J., plant, to achieve the high purity needed to prevent THC from oxidising readily.
Through the cannabinoid expertise generated through this generic substitute, we were able to develop a novel synthetic method for producing ultra-pure free-flowing CBD powder. To gain FDA approval, you need to produce a very pure product, which requires the right equipment and a significant amount of technical know-how. As well as developing a validated process for cannabidiol synthesis (filed with a US DMF), we have also created reference standards for our cannabinoids, which help our customers understand what they are getting, and gives them the confidence to use our APIs in their formulations.
Beyond THC and CBD, there are well over one hundred different cannabinoids within the cannabis plant, and pharma companies are interested in assessing the therapeutic potential of a number of these. In response, we are planning to expand our portfolio to include other synthetic cannabinoids.
Future of synthetic cannabinoids
The future for cannabis-based therapeutics is very bright. And with new players in the field, it is vital to ensure that partnerships with established forces are forged. At JM, we believe that strong particle engineering and manufacturing solutions will play a crucial role in further developing the industry. With the right scientific expertise and manufacturing capabilities, we can ensure the development of therapeutics that will help forge a better, innovative tomorrow.
Natural vs. Synthetic CBD: What’s the Difference?
The rise in the popularity of CBD brings an increase in various CBD products that individuals can take.
It can be confusing to distinguish the difference between natural and synthetic CBD. Read on to find out more about the difference between the two and the benefits of each type.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound found in cannabis. While cannabis contains around over 100 different cannabinoids, like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and minor cannabinoids, like CBN and CBG, CBD is probably the most well known.
Each cannabinoid has its own features, therapeutic properties, chemical structure, and benefits. CBD is well-known for its versatility and well-tolerated nature, and because of this, it is often isolated and made into CBD-based oils, tinctures, topical creams, and edibles.
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.
What Is Natural CBD?
Before being included in a product, different forms of CBD must go through a specific process of manufacturing and refinement. Natural CBD comes from the cannabis plant (either hemp or marijuana) and is extracted in one of a number of different ways, including ethanol, oil, or CO2 extraction. After the CBD has been successfully extracted, additional processing can be done.
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.
Natural forms of CBD can provide wide-ranging benefits that span our mental and physical health.
Chronic pain is one of the most popular reasons for CBD use. CBD not only changes how the brain perceives pain throughout the body but can also decrease inflammation levels. During high inflammation levels, swelling can push against nerve endings, which send pain signals to the brain. CBD has long been associated with its anti-inflammatory properties .
CBD can also interact with receptors in your brain and nervous system to decrease pain perception . Because of this, CBD has emerged as an effective natural alternative to traditional painkillers without any of the nasty side effects.
CBD has emerged as a possible treatment to decrease symptoms of insomnia and sleeplessness. As mentioned earlier, CBD can interact with the ECS and receptors in the brain to promote calm feelings, slow a racing heartbeat, and even slightly decrease blood pressure. All of this can reduce stress and therefore encourage sleep .
CBD can interact with the ECS receptors in the brain and nervous system to promote relaxation . This also comes without adverse side effects often seen in traditional medication.
Anxiety and depression often walk hand in hand. While CBD itself doesn’t directly increase serotonin levels in the body, it can also interact with serotonin receptors to improve serotonin uptake and expression. This means more of the happy hormone, resulting in elevated mood levels, which can improve focus and concentration.
What Is Synthetic CBD?
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.
High-quality synthetic CBD and natural CBD are considered to be chemically identical to each other, with studies confirming that both types of CBD have identical chemical structures. Synthetic CBD is an appealing alternative for industries requiring strict legal regulations and requirements, like the cosmetic industry. While natural CBD is popular amongst users for its wide-ranging effects, the production of synthetic CBD is a valuable asset for a wide range of consumer applications requiring high yield and consistency.
Natural vs. Synthetic CBD
Natural and synthetic cannabinoids, including CBD, are not very different from each other. However, there are some key differences .
Generally, synthetic CBD is produced to contain more specific yielding pure CBD molecules, while natural CBD extracts often come with other naturally occurring compounds, like cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
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.
Regarding their affinity, synthetic CBD is often designed to have a high affinity for receptors, resulting in lasting effects. In comparison, natural CBD is considered to be more gentle, with a moderate affinity for receptors. This affinity can also be short-lasting and overpowered by other compounds or modulators.
Finally, natural CBD is a popular option as the other naturally occurring compounds can work together to create the entourage effect . This phenomenon amplifies the effects of the individual compounds to create a potent experience for the user.
The Bottom Line
Both natural and synthetic CBD provide therapeutic effects for the user and can be purchased for use in many countries.
Choosing high-quality CBD products from a reputable company is essential, and checking in with your health professional before starting use is recommended.
Synthetic CBD vs Natural CBD
It’s perhaps unsurprising that we’ve reached a point where the many different cannabinoids found in the hemp plant can be synthesised in a lab. Horticultural advances over the past few decades have also seen an increasing prevalence of GMOs and the use of artificial lighting in greenhouses.
But how does synthetic CBD compare to the real thing? When you buy cannabidiol, you should be sure of what you’re buying, and what the differences are. Thankfully, all of our full CBD product range comes with a promise that they’re all natural.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of over 100 different cannabinoids found in plants from the Cannabis genus. It’s commonly discussed in opposition to THC, the primary psychoactive substance in Cannabis—THC gets you high, whilst CBD doesn’t.
For our purposes it’s significant that cannabinoids like CBD don’t just occur in the Cannabis plant. In fact, our body produces its own internal cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids. The fact that cannabinoids are present in various biological systems and aren’t unique to hemp plants is significant.
Essentially, if we know that cannabinoids can be synthesised in our body and in plants, then it raises the question of whether we can synthesise them ourselves. In fact, the first total synthesis of a cannabinoid (THC) was achieved way back in 1965.
You can read our full introductory guide on CBD before you make your decision to buy CBD.
Recreational synthetic cannabinoids
Synthetic cannabinoids first hit the spotlight in the realm of legal highs. In this instance, the cannabinoids produced were altered versions of existing Cannabis compounds so as to work around banned substance lists. It’s important to note that none of the CBD products we sell will ever get you high.
Since these products (with names like Spice and Black Mamba) were largely untested, the side effects were often far more severe than their natural counterparts. Despite this, because they were only made illegal in the UK in 2016, for a time they were actually much easier to get a hold of than marijuana.
Where synthetic CBD differs is that it’s an emulation of an existing cannabinoid rather than an alteration. Furthermore, where legal highs were being produced with little regulation, most synthetic CBD production is occurring in accordance with health and safety practices.
Avoiding potentially harmful synthetic cannabinoids is why we’re transparent about what our oils contain. You can view our CBD batch reports page here.
Medical synthetic cannabinoids
Not all cannabinoids are synthesised in order to replicate the psychoactive properties of marijuana. For example, one of the most renowned synthetic cannabinoids currently is an equivalent of THC is called Nabilone.
Nabilone has been through rigorous testing, and was approved by the FDA way back in 2006. This goes to show that when the proper process is followed synthetic cannabinoids are being created for positive reasons.
The question remains whether naturally occurring cannabinoids and synthetic cannabinoids interact with the body in a different manner. At Vitality CBD we always advocate the natural choice in our CBD products, but let’s investigate why.
Synthetic CBD vs. natural CBD
You’ll sometimes see CBD isolates referred to as ‘synthetic’, though this is incorrect since isolates can be created from both natural and synthetic sources. In essence, all CBD synthetics are isolates, but not all isolates are synthetic.
Synthetic CBD is an Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) that is chemically identical to the naturally produced hemp-derived CBD. The form it takes, as with most isolates, is a crystalline powder that is then typically mixed with a carrier oil.
What makes synthetic CBD significant is the fact that it acts as a direct analog of the original iteration of cannabidiol. This includes CBD-like compounds that are also found in the hemp plant, including CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) and CBD-C4 (nor-cannabidiol).
The benefits of CBD
Since synthetic cannabidiol is cheaper to produce, we’re no doubt going to see a rapidly expanding portion of the market made up of synthesised CBD products. As a community, we need to make sure we’re asking the right questions about what that means, whether for positive or negative.
At Vitality CBD, our faith in the properties of hemp, and our belief in our fusion of natural practices with scientific process is our guiding mentality. At the same time we’re always open to new pathways to reaching our goal—it’s just about starting a conversation.
Learn more about CBD
Understanding how synthetic CBD is distinct is a matter of understanding how the hemp plant works in and of itself. Check out our pieces on terpenes and flavonoids, as well as our overall breakdown of the different types of CBD.
We also have category pages that cover each of our product ranges, including CBD e-liquids, CBD oils, CBD cosmetics, and CBD edibles.
If you have any unresolved questions about synthetic CBD, or some information you’d like to share with us, our experienced team are always on hand to field any questions. You can reach out to us on our contact page.