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THC Isolate Explained – Everything You Need To Know

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THC isolate
Written by Alexandra Hicks
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When it comes to any product other than raw flowers, the cannabinoid in question needs to be extracted from the plant matter and processed into a substance that’s pure, potent, and easily measured.

If you’re trying to manufacture a product with a very specific amount of any cannabinoid in it – medication for example that would require accuracy down to the milligram, cosmetics, supplements, and the like – you will need something called Isolate, in this case – THC Isolate.

THC Isolate is the purest form of cannabigerol available on the market. As the name suggests, it’s THC isolated from every other compound. The final product is a white, powdery substance that’s over 99% pure. It can be added to everything including food, medications, cosmetics and more.

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What is Isolate?

As the name implies, this THC Isolate is made by completely isolating the cannabidiol from all the other plant matter and compounds. That means all other cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and inactive compounds like plant waxes are stripped from the extract, leaving only THC. The final product is a fine white powder that has over 91% – 99% THC.

Because it’s odorless, tasteless, and highly concentrated, it’s the preferred extract for use in the manufacture of many medical, wellness, and retail products. Its purity means that 1 milligram of isolate equals exactly 1 milligram of THC, whereas 1 milligram of less potent extract might have 0.5 milligrams of THC, 0.3 milligrams of CBD, and 0.2 combination of other terpenes and compounds. This makes isolate very easy to use for specific dosing.

What is THC and what are the medical benefits of this cannabinoid?

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that we all know and love. It’s also the most abundant cannabinoid in most strains, not including hemp which will be higher in CBD or CBG. Although THC is known for the high it causes, it also has numerous health and wellness benefits.

Since 1996 when California first legalized medical cannabis, one of its most common uses has always been to treat pain. Whether that pain stems from inflammation, headaches, injury, chemotherapy, cramps, or neuropathic pain, cannabis seems to be able to offer relief in every scenario. Due to the increase in opioid-related deaths, people are turning to cannabis as a way to safely treat their symptoms. And rightfully so, take a look at this study that examined the role of cannabinoids in pain management and discovered that a 1:1 ratio of THC:CBD can be extremely effective.

Some Amazing Benefits of Using THC

Anecdotal evidence will also tell you that THC is actually one of the best remedies on earth for treating nausea, however, that’s unfortunately not enough evidence for most people. But  there are some legitimate studies that have echoed that sentiment which is promising for anyone interested in using it. For example, this study looked at the effects of using THC to treat children suffering from chemotherapy-induced nausea. According to the research, “vomiting was completely prevented and the side effects observed were negligible”.

Although the age of “reefer madness” led people to believe that THC kills brain cells, it’s starting to appear like that couldn’t be further from the truth. This study indicates that THC is actually a neuroprotectant antioxidant. Something else extremely interesting was discovered in a 2014 study conducted at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California. Apparently, research found that the death rate following traumatic brain injury was significantly lower in patients who tested positive for THC, although this could also be due to a number of other factors.

Many will attest to the fact that THC can make them quite tired, especially when using an indica strain with high concentrations. It’s also been scientifically proven to be a useful sleep aid. Research shows that THC can “significantly decrease the time it takes to fall asleep in physically healthy insomniacs.” A small 2008 study did mention that THC can reduce the amount of REM sleep a patient gets which leads to less dreams, but that’s not the case for everyone and a lack of dreaming doesn’t necessarily equate to poor sleep.

How is THC Isolate made?

To make isolate, the THC must be extracted from the plant – and there are numerous ways to do this. The industry gold standard and consumer favorite is CO2 extraction. The equipment is industrial and very pricey, but this method results in a very pure final product. A closed-loop system is used to cool CO2 to -56C, as the pressure inside the chamber is hiked up to 75psi.

The CO2 becomes “supercritical” at this stage as it sits somewhere between a liquid and gaseous state. The CO2 is then passed through the closed chamber and, almost like a solvent, the cannabinoids and terpenes are extracted and remain intact. This process is called Supercritical CO2 Extraction. There’s also Subcritical CO2 Extraction which used cheaper equipment, lower pressure, and results in smaller yields.

Study Shows That THC Benefits Are Greater Than CBD’s

A more cost-efficient but equally effective method is with an ethanol extraction system. Ethanol extraction involves applying the solvent ethanol directly to the hemp plant in order to extract the cannabinoids. Ethanol extraction has gotten a bad reputation as being unsafe, but that’s simply incorrect. Ethanol extraction is actually an FDA-approved method of extraction compounds from various plants in order to make food and medicines.

There is one issue with ethanol extraction, however. Certain compounds easily co-extract with ethanol, and the one of concern here is chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a molecule that absorbs sunlight and converts it into plant energy. It also gives plants their green color. When using ethanol extraction, the chlorophyll may need to be stripped away in a separate process.

What is THC Isolate Used For?

Isolate can be used to make anything that has THC in it – edibles, topicals, tinctures, softgels, nasal sprays, various pharmaceuticals, and the list goes on. Anything that requires accurate dosing and very specific measurments will benefit from isolate.

It’s even better if the isolate is manufactured in a GMP-certified facility GMP stands for Good Manufacturing Practice and it’s already a requirement in Europe, India, and many other countries/continents that all medications, supplements, and cosmetics must be GMP-certified.

And while the North American market is currently an unregulated free-for-all, this is expected to change over the next few years. GMP is the way of the future when it comes to the medical cannabis and hemp industries.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many valuable uses for high-quality distillate. If you would like to purchase some, we have partnered with some leading companies who manufacture EU GMP-certified THC Isolate.

For more articles like this one, make sure to subscribe to the CBD Business Weekly Newsletter, your source for all things cannabis and hemp related.

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About the author

Alexandra Hicks

Alexandra is the managing editor at CBD Testers. She has always been interested in alternative and natural remedies, and the versatility of cannabis as a healing plant is something that greatly appeals to her. It's for this reason that she decided to work as a cannabis industry journalist and editor, to help spread accurate information about the benefits of this plant.

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