As part of our commitment to education, Natural Health Services hosts a weekly Tuesday education session at our Calgary, which is also broadcast on our Facebook page. While we do our best to answer all questions from our live audience and online viewers, occasionally we are unable to provide a thorough answer.

For example, one viewer recently asked for clarification between CBD oil from a hemp source in the health food store and CBD oil from a licenced producer.

The simple answer is that anything sold in a health food store is derived from the hemp plant and is legal to sell widely because contains less than 0.3% THC.

By contrast, Canada’s licensed cannabis producers offer CBD strains and oils that are derived from the cannabis plant, which can legally contain THC levels up to 30% under Health Canada guidelines.

Let’s delve a little deeper…

Cannabidiol (or CBD) has been steadily gaining notoriety for its effect on seizures, anxiety, migraine pain, anti-inflammation and even body temperature. Because of all of these studied benefits, many CBD products are cropping up. They are not all created equal.

As this is a young industry, misinformation can be rampant and widely distributed, sometimes knowingly, sometimes not. I was surprised as I flipped through internet links that the producers of industrial hemp and its extracted CBD were standing by claims that it was as effective and healthful as CBD from regulated cannabis plants. A couple of things worry me about this.

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As with anything, you want to keep growing conditions in mind. Industrial hemp is often sown to clean up up toxic spills as it is incredible at drawing toxins from the soil (it’s a known bio-accumulator). Unless you are sure of what soil your industrial hemp derived CBD was grown in you could be ingesting the toxins that it has leached from the earth. Also, a significant amount of industrial hemp is required to extract a small amount of CBD, raising the risk of contaminants.

If you look at the hemp plants large CBD producers grow (referred to as medicinal hemp), they still fit the legal definition of “Industrial Hemp” (<0.3% THC), but they have been bred with various strains to optimize their medicinal value.

Still, growing conditions are not federally regulated. With your health at stake, you’ll want to know not only the growing conditions but also how it was extracted and formulated. While some extraction processes use solvents such as butane and hexane regulated licensed producers typically use CO2 extraction.

THC and CBD are incredibly synergistic (known as the entourage effect) and more than 0.3% THC would ideally be present in your CBD strain to gain this effect.

The THC content within one of the most popular of the regulated LP CBD oils is under 2 mg/ml THC to 25 mg/ml CBD. This is enough THC to bring out the entourage effect of the oil (but, at over 0.3%, too much THC to be sold without doctors’ approval).

Terpenes and other flavonoids found in cannabis (as opposed to hemp) also aid in this entourage effect.

Hemp can produce a CBD concentration of around 3.5%. One would have to ingest a lot of it compared to certain LP cannabis strains where the CBD content in the plant is as high as 18-20%.

As a nutritional food though, keep in mind that well-grown hemp hearts and seeds can be an excellent source of plant-based protein (offering all essential amino acids), fiber and Omega 3 and 6. They are a nutritious addition to your diet. More than likely, though, when cannabis is legal federally, the need for CBD derived hemp will end.

— Written by Kait Shane, Natural Health Services. Follow Kait on Twitter @Medikait.

For further insight into all things cannabis, don’t forget to check out The Cannabis Show (new episodes every Wednesday) and connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. The Cannabis Show is also available as an audio podcast, subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Overcast.

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