What are Cannabis and hemp?
Cannabis has been used in medicine for thousands of years and its history dates back to as early as 2700 BC, believed to be documented in Chinese herbal books. Unfortunately, the bad reputation of cannabis began to be spread during the first half of the 20th century, which preceded the medicinal plant itself, consequently leading to prohibition in many countries.
Today, however, the cultivation of hemp is becoming acceptable again and many patients are now consciously opting for cannabis treatment instead of synthetic medication.
The extract from hemp is said to help against many diseases and especially for patients undergoing chronic pain and inflammation experience benefit from the application. This article explains exactly what hemp extract is, how it is produced and what effects can be expected from the intake?
What is hemp extract?
Hemp extract is the extract from the hemp flower.
The extract is usually processed involving, dilution with high-quality oil and can either be taken dropwise or applied externally.
Hemp extract oil, also known as CBD oil, has numerous positive properties. For example, it can be used for relaxation in case of anxiety or stress, or as a pain reliever with minimal side effects in chronic pain. Since the oil is almost completely free of THC, it does not fall under the Narcotics Act.
This is not to be mistaken with hempseed oil, which is colledted form the seeds of the hemp plant and used for cooking, or on the skin and hair as a nourising treatment.
Learn about how hemp oil can be used on the hair.
How is the extract made?
The extract is basically made by crushing the hemp flowers and adding solvents such as ether, butanethiol, 99% isopropyl alcohol or naphthalene. However, it is also possible to produce the extract without solvents which involves more complex steps.
Preparation of the extract using solvents
In the first step, the dry hemp flowers and leaves are placed in a container. Then the selected solvent is added and then crushed with an untreated piece of wood or a similar object. Since the hemp material is soaked, the shredding is effortless. Subsequently, more solvents are added until the hemp leaves and flowers are completely soaked and covered. At last, the mixture is blended vigorously for about three minutes so that the THC passes into the solvent. Besides, in order to remove the THC, 500 ml of solvent is added to every 30 g of flowers.
This mixture is then transferred to another vessel. At this stage of the extraction process, approximately 80% of THC gets leached from the mixture. In the next step, more solvent is added and vigorously mixed again for three minutes, until the last residue of THC gets extracted. Finally, the mixture is poured through a coffee filter or a fine sieve into a clean container for the next boiling process.
In order to reduce the time, and speed up the process, a rice cooker is used. About ¾ of the crushed mixture is then cooked in it until the mixture has completely evaporated. The remaining mixture is gradually added to the rice cooker until it gets completely evaporated. It is important that this step is undertaken only taken in a well-ventilated room so that the rising vapors are also extracted by a fan.
Once the surface of the mixture is reduced to a minimum after the last addition, a few drops of solvent must be added. 10 drops are sufficient for about 0.5 kg. This removes the last residues of the THC and also protects the oil from overheating.
If there is only about 2-3 cm of the mixture in the rice cooker, it is important to stir it until the entire solvent is completely boiled. When the solvent has completely evaporated, the hotplate must be set to a lower temperature. Under no circumstances should the temperature be hotter than 140 ° C.
Last but not least, the oil can be poured from the rice cooker into a stainless steel container and then placed in a dehydrator. If you don’t have one, you can also heat the oil at a low temperature, for example on a coffee heater. A few hours later, the water will evaporate completely. The oil is suitable when there is no visible activity on the oil surface. The oil can then be stored either in a suitable container or in a syringe, the dosage being facilitated by storage in the syringe.
Manufacturing using a CO2 extraction
In this process, CO2 gases (carbon dioxide) are used for the extraction. This method is also known as “high-pressure extraction” or “SFE” (Supercritical Fluid Extraction). What is special about this is that the materials are separated very gently. Such a process was used for the first time in decaffeinating coffee because it enabled the caffeine to be filtered out without affecting other components. If the gas is heated above the critical point with this method, it changes into the so-called “supercritical” state, in which it is no longer possible to distinguish whether it is liquid or gaseous.
This method often uses carbon dioxide because the critical point is 31 degrees and a pressure of around 74 bar is reached. The ideal warmth is therefore only slightly above room temperature. This method has proven particularly useful for high heat-sensitive fabrics.
Extract production with alcohol
An extract can also be made using alcohol. For this, dried hemp flowers are placed in pure alcohol. It is important to change the flowers several times until the required concentration of CBD is present in the alcohol. However, this process is very complex and intensive. In addition, it is only possible because the cannabinoids are alcohol-soluble.
Production of hemp extract with oil
In this method, the dried hemp flowers are soaked in hemp seed oil. Again, the flowers have to be changed up to 50 times until the necessary concentration is contained in the oil. Similar to the alcohol extraction process, this method also is very complex, hence possible because cannabinoid is not only alcohol-soluble but also oil-soluble.
Effect and use of the hemp extract
What is interesting for daily over-the-counter use is not the intoxicating THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) but the cannabidiol (CBD). The special thing about CBD is that it has absolutely no psychoactive properties and is therefore freely available for sale. Encouragingly, there is an increase in research conducted to study the diverse positive effects of CBD. Therefore, it is already clear that pure natural product is becoming increasingly popular.
The extract from hemp can treat many conditions. In addition, there are almost no side effects to be expected when taking it, very different from what it is with an aspirin tablet, where some people lose their lives after taking it. The extract is harmless and supports both health and well-being.
Cannabis is generally known as an effective pain reliever and sedative, but it can also be used to relieve cramps if, for example, multiple sclerosis is present. It can also serve as a mood enhancer and be effective against depression.
A special feature is that there is no habituation effect when taking the oil, as is the case with other pain relievers. A study published in the “Journal of Experimental Medicine” was able to prove that there is no habit effect even with long-term use, which is particularly important for chronic painful diseases such as rheumatism.
The recommended daily dosage of the product should always be followed. To facilitate the active ingredients to get absorbed into the body as quickly as possible, it is always advisable to put the drops under the tongue.
In the beginning, it is advisable to start with fewer drops and slowly approach the recommended dose until an effect occurs. The extract can be taken orally, and can also be applied directly on joints to relieve pain. However, it is not recommended for children under the age of 15 and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
The oil made from the extract is particularly rich in flavonoids, CBD, phenols, minerals, vitamins and omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids. The taste is rather mild to nutty. Even if the taste is not for everyone, one should consciously consider the many health benefits of enjoying hemp.
- Xiong W, Cui T, Cheng K, et al. Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. J Exp Med. 2012;209(6):1121–1134.
- Burstein SH, Zurier RB. Cannabinoids, endocannabinoids, and related analogs in inflammation. AAPS J. 2009;11(1):109–119.
- A Guide To Supercritical CO2 Extraction Of Cannabis Oil – Hemp Gazette (2020).