Most of what’s gone on in the field of medicinal cannabis has been related to simply isolating and/or replicating a specific cannabinoid to get its benefits. In today’s world of cannabis medicine, the new thing is for a customer to order a premium blend of their favorite compounds, because today, you can actually customize your cannabinoids.
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There’s plenty in the worlds of medicinal cannabis and recreational marijuana that have nothing to do with isolating anything. If a person wants to smoke hemp flowers, or buy a few grams of high-THC weed, they’re getting the whole plant, no isolation needed. However, the fields of medical and recreational cannabis have been more and more reliant on the idea of isolated cannabinoids. CBD is the most popular right now, with CBD oil and vape cartridges flying off store shelves all over the world.
Much like with other forms of pharmaceutical medicine, where we often pop a pill without really thinking what that circular, chalky, perfectly-shaped tablet contains, where it came from, and how it got to be in the form we take it in, we don’t often question how our CBD oil came to be.
Cannabinoids don’t start out as cannabinoids, but rather as acids that must be heated – or decarboxylated – in order to form into the cannabinoids we are familiar with like THC, CBD, and even the rarer CGBV, and THCV. Solvents are then used to separate certain parts. These can include, ethanol, hydrocarbon (butane, propane…), chloroform, light petroleum, and CO2 – which doesn’t leave a residue.
After extraction with one of these solvents, the solution is filtered at least a couple times, generally through something like charcoal. Then it should be made more concentrated, down to about half the volume, using a 2% aqueous sodium sulfate solution. When the solvent is stripped out, and the solution is concentrated, its left as a crude oil. At this point it can even be purified further with redistillation or column chromatography.
After extraction, the oil is put in alcohol, mixed, cooled (to remove unwanted terpenes, chlorophyll and flavonoids), and then heated to burn away the alcohol. Something called short path distillation is used to isolate different compounds using their individual boiling points. A pure powder of a specific cannabinoid is left at the end which can then be used in different ways for different kinds of products. It might not be important to know all the steps of isolating a cannabinoid, but understanding it as a process is important, because this process takes time and money.
We’re all familiar with THC at this point, as it is the most prevalent cannabinoid of the cannabis plant (for high-THC marijuana). Most of us now know a good bit about CBD too, which also can be found in plentiful amounts, particularly in low-THC hemp. We also know there are more than 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, even if some of them appear in only trace amounts. The ability to isolate some of these rarer cannabinoids through the process above, gives users that much more choice in terms of products, and the ability to now formulate different mixtures of cannabinoids. Some rarer cannabinoids, and cannabinoid acids, that are now becoming more popular due to the ability to isolate them, are the following:
- CBG – Cannabigerol – Comes from acidic precursor CBGA and makes up less than 1% of a cannabis plant.
- CBN – Cannabinol – A phytocannabinoid with THC as a precursor.
- CBC – Cannabichromene – The second most prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis.
- CBCA – Cannabichromenic Acid – The acidic precursor to CBC.
- CBGA – Cannabigerolic Acid – The precursor acid that transforms into acids THCA, CBDA, and CBCA, which in turn produce other cannabinoids.
- CGBV – cannabigerivarin – A cannabinoid acid with CBG as a precursor.
- CBNA – Cannabinolic acid – The parent compound that transforms to CBN through decarboxylation.
- CBCV – Cannabichromevarin – Closely related to CBC, with the difference of a propyl chain.
- CBDV – Cannabidivarin – Closely related to CBD, and mainly found in cannabis indica landrace strains, generally from Asia and Africa.
- THCV – Tetrahydrocannabivarin – Similar to THC, and does produce a psychoactive effect.
- CBDA – Cannabidiolic acid – The precursor to CBD that exists in acid form.
- THCA – Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. The precursor to THC that exists in acid form.
And many more, most of which have gotten so little attention as of yet, that there isn’t much written about them, or studies yet performed on them. Whereas major cannabinoids like THC and CBD can take up about 2-20% of a plant’s biomass, these lesser cannabinoids generally make up less than 1%.
One of the interesting things about cannabinoids, though, is that they each have their own medicinal profile, as they are all unique compounds unto themselves. Sometimes you might want something pure, like CBD oil. Maybe other times you want the whole plant, and the synergistic effect of all parts working together. And on other occasions, you might want to mix and match the different parts and pieces available, to customize your cannabinoids to create medicines very specific to your particular wants and needs.
Mix n match
This new industry of customizing cannabinoids is only just beginning, but it does seem to be taking off. The companies that offer this service are offering a way to create custom medicines, while also introducing customers to lesser known cannabinoids, and cannabinoid acids. The idea of personalized medication is conceptually new to Western medicine. While different people are given different medications to take, in different quantities, pharmaceutical medications are not formulated with a specific person in mind, or tweaked to meet that specific person’s needs. Natural medicine traditions are much more likely to create specialized medication for patients, and this new movement towards the ability to customize your cannabinoids is a mirror of this concept. Instead of the standard ‘trial and error’ in standard medicine, where a person might be cycled through tons of different medications to find something that works specifically with their genetics, the idea is now to tweak the meds to meet the person’s needs.
Companies getting in on it
Global Cannabinoids is a Las Vegas based CBD oil company that now offers something else. CBD oil, and other private label products, that can be customized by the buyer to have an exact profile of cannabinoids – rare and not rare – to meet their needs. This is twofold in that it exposes people to more rare options than the standard CBD, while also giving a level of personalization.
Global Cannabinoids is already one of the biggest white label and private label suppliers of CBD, as well as a leading ingredient supplier for brands that use hemp-derived cannabinoids for their product lines. The company is one of the biggest suppliers for wholesale and bulk cannabinoids, even rarer ones. Customers can purchase CBN, CBC, CBG, and CBDV in the ratios of their choosing. Obviously, there are plenty more rare cannabinoids, as mentioned above, but this opens the door, and gets the ball rolling for using rare cannabinoids at all.
Another company moving in the same direction, is Socati, a company based out of Houston, Texas with a Montana-based facility for manufacturing cannabinoid ingredients, that is known for producing USDA certified organic hemp products. Now, they’re opening up their offering a bit more, just like Global Cannabinoids. Socati recently launched a line of private label products offering the ability to customize your cannabinoids. Custom ratios of CBD, CBG, CBN, and other rare cannabinoids can be made per personal desire in the following products: gummies, tinctures, crystalized flavor powder, pressed tablets, softgels, and capsules.
Precision Plant Molecules is another company now offering a tailored cannabinoid experience. The company is a specialty cannabinoid-based ingredient supplier. It extracts and processes hemp to create distillates, oils, concentrates, extracts, and isolates. While there isn’t much press about the company’s ability to customize your cannabinoid experience, it is explained on their website. PPM uses several minor cannabinoids along with CBD, like: CBN, CBC, CBG, CBT, CBDV, THCV, CBGA, CBDA, and others. According to its website: “Fully customizable ratios of cannabinoids afford more effective health and wellness products. Enriching to achieve a specified ratio of cannabinoids smooths the variability in even Mother Nature’s most stable chemovars.” I expect we’ll be hearing more about this company in the news soon.
The same can be said for Trait, which also hasn’t quite made big news, but which now with Trait Tailored, is also offering customized cannabinoid combinations. According to its website, “Trait Tailored’sTM patent pending technology enables growers to perfectly customize the cannabinoid profiles of their hemp or cannabis strains with ground-breaking precision.” It goes on to say, “With TailoredTM, growers are able to produce strains with greater volumes of CBD, CBG, CBC and other less common cannabinoids to make more refined and desirable products for consumers.”
Customizable medicine is certainly a new thing for most people. As the field of medicinal cannabis grows bigger and bigger, more options are being made available that were never a part of standard Western medicine before. Now, instead of cycling through tons of meds to find the one that works, you can customize your cannabinoids to create the perfect combination for all your health needs.
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