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hemp seed oil as a cannabis solvent

Below, you will find a breakdown of some of the most common extraction techniques used, including their main pros and cons.

To produce CBD oils, cosmetics or supplements, you must first extract the cannabinoid from raw plant material. Fortunately, the most abundant source of CBD is hemp, a selectively bred crop used extensively in dozens of commercial industries.

Solventless CBD extraction (by hand)

However, highly sophisticated extraction is only the beginning. Cibdol goes above and beyond for its customers, publishing a detailed analysis of every CBD product batch. Performed by an independent third-party, these analyses indicate levels of all common cannabinoids, allowing you to make the most informed decision possible.

How does one make CBD extracts without using a solvent? Simply enough, you just have to apply heat, pressure, or a bit of friction to hemp flowers and leaves. How do you do that, you wonder? Well, if you freeze hemp flowers, you can shake the small trichomes loose and gather them together. These trichomes, as you might know, contain the full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant.

Solvent extraction is a rudimentary and risky practice, but it has fans. Essentially, it involves running a liquid solvent through decarboxylated hemp to remove cannabinoids and terpenes. The usual solvents include butane, ethanol, and hexane, so you need to safely evaporate any residual solvent post-extraction to ensure usable CBD extract.

Appearance of hemp derived oils on grocery shelves have caused some confusion with consumers. Although hemp seed oil use is legal for food products, CBD oil is not. CBD oil is an essential oil obtained from the leaves and flowers of hemp plant and has very different chemical composition than hemp seed oil.

Historically, hemp seed and oil were used in a variety of products. Hemp seed oil was the most consumed lighting oil until 1870s. Then, hydrocarbon fuels and later electricity replaced hemp oil for lighting. Soap, linoleum, paints and varnishes were commonly formulated with hemp seed oil. There are reports about the use of seed oil in medicine for treatment of glaucoma and cancer, reducing cholesterol level in human blood and controlling high blood pressure. Hemp seeds were popular as birdseed and residual cake after oil extraction, also referred to as meal, marketed as cattle feed. Soup, porridge and gruels made with hemp seed flour were some of the dishes widely consumed in times of famine. Hemp seeds also were used to treat stomach or ear pain, coughing and incontinence.

The Cannabis plant contains several psychoactive compounds including ∆-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is important to note that concentration of THC in Cannabis depends on both environmental and genetic factors. Most cultivated industrial hemp crops contain less than 1% THC. Marijuana is the term commonly used for Cannabis produced for drug and recreational purposes and contains about 3-30% THC. Due to the presence of THC in the plant, the Marijuana Tax Act prohibited the cultivation of hemp in the United States in 1937. The ban on hemp production was removed during World War II because of the interrupted imports and the high national demand for fiber. After the war, controls were restored.

Seed Processing

Hemp seed oil contains high concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) (70-90%) and is a good dietary source of essential fatty acids, linoleic and linolenic acids (see fact sheet FAPC-196 Lipid Glossary). Linoleic acid (50-70%) is the major fatty acid in the seed oil. Hemp seed oil is considered healthy because of its desirable omega-6: omega-3 fatty acid ratio, 3:1 (see fact sheet FAPC-135: Foods, Health and Omega-3 Oils). Although the omega-6: omega-3 ratio between 3:1 and 5:1 is considered optimal for good health, the topic is still controversial. Unlike many other commodity seed oils, hemp seed oil contains significant amount of γ -linolenic (GLA), 0.5-6%, and stearadonic acid (SDA), 0.3-2.5%. GLA is an omega-6 PUFA found in human milk and several botanical seed oils such as borage, blackcurrant and evening primrose and typically consumed as a dietary supplement. There are scientific reports indicating GLA supplemented diets decrease various inflammatory reactions. SDA is an omega-3 fatty acid that serves as a precursor for production of other omega-3 fatty acids. In humans, dietary SDA is easily converted to health beneficial long chain omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) (see fact sheet FAPC-135: Foods, Health and Omega-3 Oils). Hemp seeds grown in extreme northern and tropical regions are reported to have higher GLA and SDA concentrations than the seeds grown in moderate climates. Saturated fatty acid content, palmitic and stearic acids of hemp seed oil range from 5-9% and 2-3%, respectively.

Commercially refined hemp seed oil contains significantly higher unsaponifiable (see fact sheet FAPC-196 Lipid Glossary) content than that of many commodity oils. This is partly due to the high phytosterol (plant sterols) content of the oil. Numerous studies have demonstrated ingestion of phytosterols lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels in human blood. Tocopherols are the most important natural antioxidants. Tocopherol content of hemp seed oil varies between 76.4 and 92.1 mg/100 g oil, which is similar to many other seed oils such as soybean and sunflower seed oil.

Hemp, Cannabis sativa L., is an ancient crop. Although there is no recorded corroboration, it is believed hemp might have been grown in China 20,000 years ago. By the 16th century, hemp was a cash crop widely utilized for both its fiber and seed in Europe. Hemp was introduced to America in the New England region in 1645. Hemp-derived products were replaced with cotton products during the late 1800s due to the technical advancements in cotton ginning and reduced labor cost. Cordage and sailcloth were mainly made of hemp fiber, but demand for hemp further declined with the introduction of steam and petroleum powered ships.

High PUFA content and favorable omega-6: omega-3 fatty acid ratio of hemp seed oil provides opportunities for development of specialty nutritional formulations. Currently, hemp seed and oil markets are quite small due to the limited production and processing capacity available. Most of the products can be categorized as specialty rather than commodity products. Protein powders, specialty oils, energy bars and drinks, hemp milk and butter are some of the popular edible products. Mechanically pressed hemp seed oil is utilized as salad dressing, but oil is not suitable for high temperature applications because of its high unsaturated fatty acid content. Hemp seed oil is the main ingredient in a wide range of cosmetic products including liquid and bar soaps, creams, lotions and lip balm. Adulteration of hemp seed oil can be an issue due to its relatively higher value than commodity oils.