CBD products really help. But how to navigate in them and what to watch out for?

The market is flooded with products containing hemp extracts, often referred to as CBD. They appear in different designs and it is really difficult for the lay public to navigate between them and choose the really effective and legal ones. What exactly are CBD products?

Hemp, CBD, THC and Cannabinoids

Hemp has historically been valued for its antibacterial, analgesic and antibiotic effects. From the point of view of the law, so-called certified varieties of technical cannabis are defined, containing a limited amount of the psychoactive substance d9-THC and cannabis for medical use.

Cannabinoids form a broad group of substances, currently over 140 substances from this group are known. The most widely described major cannabinoids found in cannabis include:

Delta-9-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): usually listed as tetrahydrocannabinol, it is the main psychoactive component of cannabis. THC is found in practically all varieties and cultivars, but in different amounts, from trace amounts to 95% of all cannabinoids contained. In the plant, it occurs primarily in the form of d9-THCA (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid). THC is produced from THCA by the action of heat (the so-called decarboxylation process) and exhibits analgesic effects, increases appetite and helps reduce feelings of nausea. This substance, as well as the cannabis plant, are on the list of prohibited narcotic and psychotropic substances and their handling is subject to a license allowing only research and limited medical use. The legislation currently in force in the Czech Republic allows the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal use on the basis of a license granted by the State Institute for Drug Control, which also ensures its distribution to patients. The indications for which cannabis can be prescribed are in particular chronic intractable pain, spasticity in multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury, nausea, vomiting or appetite stimulation in connection with the treatment of oncological diseases, neurological tremors caused by Parkinson's disease, superficial treatment of dermatoses and mucosal lesions and treatment of Gilles de la Tourette syndrome.

The next most common cannabinoid is cannabidiol ( CBD ), which has also been recorded in almost all varieties of cannabis, from trace amounts to 95% of all cannabinoids. CBD does not have psychoactive effects, but it has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects and is approved for use in cosmetic products .

Certified varieties of technical hemp are mostly bred to produce hemp fiber, or hemp seeds and seed oil, and usually contain only small amounts of CBD, CBG and THC and their acid forms.

However, a typical plant, whether medicinal or technical cannabis, may contain hundreds (or more than a thousand are given in the literature) of different biologically active substances, so-called secondary metabolites, while only substances from the group of so-called cannabinoids can be more than 140 (known are further e.g. CBC – cannabichromene, CBL – cannabicyclol, CBN – cannabinol or CBG – cannabigerol). Growers supply the market with an abundance of cannabis hybrids, in which d9-THC, CBD and other cannabidiols and their acids are found in different proportions, which fundamentally affects the effects on the organism. Other changes in the composition of this "cocktail" of bioactive substances are due to the specific conditions during the cultivation of the plant, and especially the conditions during the storage and processing of flowers, rich in cannabinoids, which can make up to 35-40% of the weight of the flowers. The result of extensive processing procedures are various broad-spectrum extracts and oils, containing mixtures of cannabinoids, often with other substances from hemp, and highly purified isolates of individual cannabinoids.

These different chemical substances interact in their effects in the mixtures, a well-known, albeit slowly clarified by science, is the synergistic effect (so-called Entourage effect) between cannabinoids and terpenes, another group of substances naturally occurring in cannabis (and responsible for the well-known cannabis aroma) .

It is therefore clear that this is a very complex issue. The preparation of a preparation with a defined composition and properties requires expert knowledge and access to modern methods of chemical analysis, capable of describing in detail the composition and biological activity of cannabis products.

Are you planning to make homemade salve?

Even if you use only a certified variety of technical hemp for the production of homemade ointment, the law requires a license for the handling of narcotic and psychotropic substances for its extraction, without which you are breaking the law and face criminal penalties. Without a well-equipped laboratory, it is then impossible to prepare a standardized product, guaranteeing a stable composition of the product and its safety. The chapter itself deals with the possible content of contaminants in the home-made product - be it residues of pesticides and herbicides, residues of dangerous extraction solvents (often carcinogenic) or polyaromatic hydrocarbons (also suspected of being at risk of cancer formation), which can be created during improper processing of cannabis.

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