Along with its better-known counterpart, THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that produces the marijuana high), CBD is one of more than 400 compounds found in the oils of cannabis plant species, which include marijuana and hemp. Unlike THC, CBD will not make you high. That said, this doesn’t mean CBD is not at all psychoactive, as many assert, says Jahan Marcu, Ph.D., director of experimental pharmacology and behavior at the International Research Center on Cannabis and Mental Health in New York City: “CBD does change cognition. It affects mood, which is why people take it for anxiety. And some find that it makes them more alert.”

Since it is non-toxic and non-flammable, supercritical CO2 is preferable over chemical solvents like butane, hexane, and acetone, which can linger in the extracted oil if not purged correctly, rendering the oil toxic. It has also been noted that botanical essential oils extracted using supercritical CO2 are truer to the scent of the original plants than in other forms of extraction, meaning more of the plant’s chemical structure is retained in the oil with the use of CO2.


These studies conclude that “the higher efficiency of plant extract can be explained by additive or synergistic interactions between CBD, terpenes, and the minor phytocannabinoids or non-cannabinoids presented in the extracts. …because other phytocannabinoids, including Tetrahydrocannabivarin, Cannabigerol and Cannabichromene, as well as mono- and sesquiterpenes, exert additional effects of therapeutic interest and the therapeutic synergy observed with plant extracts results in the requirement for a lower amount of active components, with consequent reduced adverse effects.”

In terms of how CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant, there a few different techniques that can be used. The most popular used to be by running harsh chemicals like butane (lighter fluid) or hexane over the raw plant material, but people quickly found out that this resulted in trace amounts of carcinogenic compounds (like formaldehyde) being left over in the end product. Not good.


Everything you need to know about marijuana (cannabis) Marijuana, or cannabis, is the most commonly used illicit drug in the world. It alters the mood and affects nearly every organ in the body. With at least 120 active compounds, marijuana may have health benefits as well as risks. We describe these, addiction, and withdrawal. Learn more about cannabis here. Read now
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