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The CBD and hemp market has a language all its own. Some terms do not have universal meaning across the industry or are generic terms that have no specific definition. CBD is often offered as “hemp extract” or “phytocannabinoids.” Check out this handy glossary of terms and make sure you know what comprises your products. 

Cannabis

Cannabis, a genus of flowering plants in the family Cannabaceae, originating from Central and South Asia, includes the species, Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis, is also known as “hemp” for varieties not used as a recreational or medicinal drug.

Cannabis is also cultivated for hemp fiber, hemp seeds, oils, etc. “Industrial hemp” implies an abundance of fiber and less than 0.3% delta-9 THC.

Cannabis is a term commonly used to refer to a THC-rich plant Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica. After being harvested and dried, the plant’s flowers are ingested, often by smoking, to experience a “high.” While cannabis has been used throughout history, recent legislative changes allowed more liberal medical and recreational use to help patients suffering from glaucoma, loss of appetite, and pain.    

CB1 / CB2 Receptors

CB1 and CB2 receptors, part of the human endocannabinoid system, are found in the body’s signaling pathways. Cannabinoids produced internally, “endocannabinoids,” and ingested cannabinoids from plants, “phytocannabinoids,” such as CBD and THC, bind to these receptors and influence the human endocannabinoid system. 

The endocannabinoid system regulates mood, sleep, pain, appetite, the immune system, and more. CB1 receptors are found in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are found in the peripheral nervous system, especially immune cells. The type of cannabinoid (combined with the type of receptor) determines the effect on the body. 

Cannabinoids: 

The chemicals found in the Cannabis plant responsible for inducing various effects on the body, such as reducing pain and stress. The plant contains more than 120 cannabinoids, but researchers have only studied the effects of a handful– most notably, CBD and THC. The following are five of the most researched:

Cannabichromene (CBC): Referred to as cannabichrome, cannabichromene, pentylcannabichromene, or cannabinochromene, this cannabinoid has been found to reduce pain and inflammation, combat depression, hinder tumor growth, fight breast cancer, prevent acne, and aid in healthy brain function.

Cannabidiol (CBD): A cannabinoid that may reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, relieve pain and inflammation, and work as an anticonvulsant and antioxidant. 

Cannabigerol (CBG): Said to have antibacterial properties, this cannabinoid may also hinder colorectal cancer cell growth, decrease inflammation associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and reduce intraocular pressure in Glaucoma patients. 

Cannabinol (CBN): This cannabinoid may help regulate the immune system, protect against neurodegenerative disease, and reduce pain and inflammation.

Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): Known to induce the psychoactive effects (“high”) in medical and recreational marijuana, THC acts at the CB1 receptor to produce a range of biological and behavioral effects.

Endocannabinoid

The prefix “endo” means “within,” and thus, endocannabinoids are a group of chemicals produced within the human body from molecules within cell membranes. Endocannabinoids are responsible for maintaining homeostasis, the body’s physiological balance, via the body’s endocannabinoid system. Regardless of whether you ingest cannabinoids from plants (phytocannabinoids) or you receive cannabinoids produced by the body’s own endocannabinoid system (e.g., through exercise), both affect human receptors in the same way. When your body doesn’t have the means to produce endocannabinoids, ingesting CBD products, which contain cannabinoids, will stimulate the human endocannabinoid system. 

Entourage effect

This term is used to describe the benefit received through the synergy of all of the cannabis plant’s components, i.e., cannabinoids, terpenes, nutrients, flavonoids, amino acids, and omega fatty acids. It is believed that using products containing all or most of the hemp plant’s compounds found in the stems, stalks, and flowers (vs. an isolate product that is remediated to include only one cannabinoid) creates a comprehensive therapy that increases the effectiveness of the product. 

Extraction

Extraction is the process of separating the desired compounds from the plant. In hemp extraction, lipids, chlorophyll, and bulk plant material are removed. What remains after extraction are cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, etc. Because different extraction methods affect the product’s quality, GPG uses a proprietary cold CO2 extraction process that is safe, efficient, clean, and preserves the plants’ natural properties yielding the highest quality Sweet Carolina crude.

Hemp

Hemp, or “industrial hemp” is the fibrous plant that belongs to the same plant species and genus known as Cannabis Sativa, commonly called cannabis (from which marijuana is also derived). Cannabis plants contain nutrients, terpenes, and more than 120 different cannabinoids, such as CBD and THC. Aside from a few physical differences, the biggest difference between hemp and marijuana is the percentage of THC found in the plant. That is, a cannabis plant with a THC level greater than 0.3% is a marijuana plant (commonly 5-35%), and a cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC (dry weight measurement) is a hemp plant, sometimes referred to as Cannabis sativa L. The recreational and medical marijuana plant generally has 45 times more THC than industrial hemp.

Hemp-derived phytocannabinoid

The term “hemp-derived phytocannabinoid” clarifies that a phytocannabinoid is derived from industrial hemp plants, which the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill legalized in all 50 states. The hemp plant is differentiated from marijuana by having no greater than 0.3% THC in its composition. (Conversely, there is less CBD than THC in “marijuana” plants.) The 0.3 percentage threshold of THC must not be exceeded or else the plant is no longer legally considered a hemp plant, but a marijuana plant. 

NOTE: Because CBD is generally derived from legalized industrial hemp, all the “hemp” terms imply that they contain CBD and other phytocannabinoids. This is not always the case. The following term definitions should be carefully examined.

Hemp extract

Hemp extract is a compound created by extracting terpenes, cannabinoids (including CBD), flavonoids, and fatty acids from the stalk, leaves, and buds of the industrial hemp plant (containing less than 0.3% THC). 

Hemp / Marijuana / Cannabis

Each of these terms refers to the genus Cannabis, so “hemp” and “marijuana” are just different connotative names for the same plant. However, industrial hemp is something specific. To be categorized as industrial hemp, Cannabis plants must contain no more than 0.3% THC (dry weight), a percentage so low that they have no psychoactive properties.

Hemp oil

Technically, the term “hemp oil” could generally be used to refer to “hemp seed oil” or “hemp extract oil,” which are very different products. Hemp seed oil is extracted from hemp seeds which contain no cannabinoids like CBD and THC. Hemp extract oil or CBD oil derives from the stalks, leaves, and flowers of the hemp plant that do contain the coveted cannabinoids. 

Hemp oil extract

This term refers to products made from the stalks, stems, and flowers of the hemp plant that contain terpenes, phytonutrients, flavonoids, omega fatty acids, all 9 essential amino acids, and the full array of cannabinoids, including CBD. Synonymous with the term CBD oil or hemp extract oil, hemp oil extract provides all the g benefits included in all CBD products. For more information, read The Difference Between Hemp and CBD.

Hemp seed

Sometimes called a superfood, hemp seeds are the small brown seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. The seeds provide protein, offer a complete essential amino acid profile, and are rich in nutritional value. Hemp seeds do not contain phytocannabinoids found in the leaves, buds, and stalks of the hemp plant.

Hemp seed oil 

Not to be confused with hemp oil extract, hemp seed oil refers to the oil produced from the seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. The seeds of the plant do not contain phytocannabinoids like CBD or THC. However, hemp seeds have dietary benefits, and the oil is similar to avocado oil or olive oil and contains omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamin E, and other nutrients.

Marijuana

A relative of hemp, marijuana is another name for cannabis and comes from the Cannabis sativa species originating from the Cannabaceae plant family. Marijuana is another name for cannabis, which contains the psychoactive compound (delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol) that delivers the “high” feeling.

Phytocannabinoids

The prefix “phyto” refers to plants. Therefore, the term phytocannabinoids specifically refers to a group of compounds that are derived from the Cannabis sativa plant. The term phytocannabinoid is useful when differentiating between cannabinoids found in plants and those produced by the body (endocannabinoids). When ingested, phytocannabinoids may stimulate conditions of well being, including lessening anxiety, facilitating movement, aiding sleep, and relieving pain. 

Remediation

This procedure removes pesticides, any solvents that may be present, and THC (delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol) from CBD distillate, reducing the raw crude to THC non-detect, the term used to clarify legally compliant THC levels of .3% or less. GPG uses a liquid-liquid technique (centrifugal partition chromatography) for its superior efficiency and its environmental and economical sustainability.

Terpenes

Terpenes are found in many plants and consist of a large group of varied organic compounds that are responsible for providing a plant’s aroma. There are over 100 different terpenes in the Cannabis sativa plant, which may have therapeutic benefits, such as reducing stress, inducing relaxation, and providing focus. 

THC-Free label

THC-Free does not have a standard industry definition. Many manufacturers would consider a T-free distillate or broad-spectrum product to be THC-free. In that case, after extraction, THC is removed in a remediation process and all other compounds remain in the extract. However, small trace amounts of THC may still be in the final product. From a laboratory perspective, the scientific verbiage for a product without THC would be “THC Non-detect,” as labs can only test to the limits of the equipment. Some manufacturers consider hemp extract to be THC-Free when it falls within the legal THC limit for industrial hemp, 0.3%.

THC-ND label

THC-ND is the abbreviation for THC Non-detect which means that to the limits of the testing ability of the lab equipment, no THC is found in the sample. While labs have different and stated limits in their reports, “ND” is the reliable way to ascertain whether your product contains THC.

Zero-THC label

See THC-Free

What is the difference between phytocannabinoids and CBD (cannabidiol)?

CBD is one of over one hundred cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are compounds produced by the human body and found in the cannabis plant that interact with the human endocannabinoid system through CB1 and CB2 receptors. Cannabinoids can be categorized into two classes: endocannabinoids which are produced by the human body and phytocannabinoids which are produced by plants. 

CBD is one of the most popular, well-researched, and prevalent phytocannabinoids found in the hemp plant, a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant. As the popularity of CBD products has continued to grow, discussions and articles mentioning cannabinoids also often mention CBD. 

What’s the difference between broad-spectrum, full-spectrum, and isolate?

CBD products can be made into any one of three different formulations whose compositions vary. Full-spectrum hemp products contain the hemp plant’s 500 different components, including terpenes, responsible for giving the plant its unique scent, flavonoids, amino acids, omega fatty acids, and over 100 cannabinoids, including the most well-known THC and CBD. Broad-spectrum includes most of that, but removes the small amount THC naturally found in hemp extract. Isolate is a concentration of one particular phytocannabinoid– usually CBD only.. The following explanations break down these different formulations:

Full-spectrum

Full-spectrum CBD is very much like broad-spectrum CBD. The only difference between the two is that full-spectrum contains trace amounts of THC, which is found naturally in the hemp plant. The 2018 U.S. Farm Bill legalized hemp in all 50 states. However, to be considered industrial hemp, the hemp species of the Cannabis sativa plant must consist of 0.3% THC or less (dry weight), which is the legal threshold for manufacture, transport, and sale across all 50 states. Full-spectrum CBD users may experience all the benefits that broad-spectrum delivers, including the “entourage effect.”

Broad-spectrum or T-free distillate

Also known as THC-free distillate, broad-spectrum CBD includes all of the natural phytocannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and the hemp plant’s other beneficial compounds, but the THC is removed from the finished product. Therefore, using a broad spectrum CBD product manufactured from hemp may induce hemp extract benefits including the desired CBD boost without the concern of a THC positive test result. Broad-spectrum also produces the “entourage effect.” This occurs when all of the plant’s compounds work in concert, which results in increasing the product’s overall effectiveness.

Isolate

This product isolates a cannabinoid, usually CBD. An isolate is made when all of the plant’s compounds are removed, except for one specific phytocannabinoid. This produces a product that is 99% pure. You may have heard the term “CBD isolate.” This means that the only ingredient included in the formula is CBD, nothing else: no terpenes, flavonoids, amino acids, omega fatty acids, or other cannabinoids. Isolate can be formulated from any phytocannabinoid and make, for instance, CBC isolate, CBG isolate, or CBN isolate. Because the other compounds are remediated, an isolate will not produce the “entourage effect.”

What’s the difference between tinctures, edibles, vapes, and topicals?

There are many ways to consume CBD, from topical ointments to smoking to mixing it with food or absorbing through the palate. The different options affect bioavailability and absorption time. The following lists the different CBD products, how to use them, and how quickly you’re likely to feel the effects.      

Edibles

This form of CBD is any food-like CBD product that is taken by mouth and digested. Gummies, hard candy, cookies, brownies, and even capsules are a few CBD edible choices. Edibles have the lowest bioavailability of any of the CBD products because eating CBD means that it first has to be digested and processed by the liver before entering the bloodstream where it is sent throughout the body, eventually reaching the brain. This transport is much slower than the sublingual method whereby CBD is absorbed by the soft tissues of the mouth or vaping, which allows quick absorption into the bloodstream via the lungs.

Tinctures

While sometimes confused with CBD oil, CBD tinctures are not the same thing. Tinctures are extracted from the hemp plant and mixed with alcohol, glycerin, or a flavoring, like cinnamon or peppermint oil. Tinctures can be ingested in several ways. Squeezing a dropper full under the tongue provides the best efficacy, but you can also add it to food or a beverage; however, because they have oil in them, and oil and water don’t mix, tinctures are likely to float on top of your drink and be left in your cup when you’re finished drinking. Bioavailability is best when you take CBD sublingually, allowing the tincture to rest under your tongue for 30 seconds before swallowing so it can be absorbed by the mouth’s soft tissues. 

Topicals

CBD topicals are not ingestible but come in products such as creams, lotions, balms, and roll-ons that are massaged into the skin and absorbed directly into the skin. There are many different topical products available: lotions and creams work great for large areas, like massaging into your legs or back; while balms have a lighter, more delicate feel; and a roll-on is used for smaller, more specific areas. Whatever your preference or need, all CBD topicals penetrate deep into the muscles and quickly encourage relaxation and promote comfort from soreness, inflammation, and pain.

Vape / Vaporizer / Vape Pen / Vape Cartridge

Like tinctures, vaping offers good bioavailability, but it also requires a few necessary tools. A battery powers an atomizer that vaporizes the vape juice in the chamber and the user inhales the vapor through a mouthpiece. While “CBD vape oil” is one reference for vape liquid, there actually isn’t any oil in it. This juice or distillate is not the same as oil-based tinctures and should not be confused with them. Tinctures often contain MCT oil (from coconuts), which if inhaled, can cause serious health risks. Often referred to as vape juice, e-liquid, or e-juice, the vaping product should first be checked so ensure it does not contain any oil and is made from completely edible ingredients.