As recently as a couple of years ago, finding good CBD used to be a difficult affair. The few CBD products available were made of something called "crude CBD oil" - a sticky, earthy, green-colored oil that smelled and tasted like cannabis. Not exactly user-friendly.
But crude CBD oil was cheap for manufacturers to produce, so it stuck around. Not only did it taste bad, but crude CBD often contained varying amounts of THC. In 2017 a Penn Medicine study confirmed what industry insiders had known all along: 70% of CBD oils were mislabeled as far as cannabinoid content goes, and shady CBD sources were to blame.
Now that it's 2020, consumers have a better choice. With THC-free CBD one can have their metaphorical cake and eat it too!
So let's take a closer look at this special type of CBD oil - what it is, how it's made, and how it could impact your health.
What is THC?
THC's full name is tetra • hydro • cannabinol, and it's an important molecule (a cannabinoid) made by cannabis plants of all sorts. THC is most concentrated in specifically-grown cannabis plants, where it can reach levels of 20-35% by dry weight.
THC is marked by a special molecular structure that meshes very well - and sometimes very strongly - with the human body. Though it does confer health benefits and creativity, it almost always also provides an intoxicating mental high.
What is CBD?
CBD's full name is canna • bi • diol, and it's an important molecule (also a cannabinoid) made by cannabis plants of all sorts. CBD is most concentrated in specifically-grown hemp plants, where it can reach levels of 20-25% by dry weight.
Like THC, CBD is marked by a special molecular structure that meshes very well with the human body. CBD is able to activate a large number of different receptor systems en route to providing full-body balance. However, unlike THC, CBD doesn't hit neuro-receptors directly enough to cause a mental high. Additionally, CBD might even balance out the intoxicating effects of THC when the two are taken together.
What is THC-Free CBD?
THC-free CBD refers to any CBD product, usually a CBD oil, that's had all of its THC content removed. Making THC-free CBD from hemp requires advanced extraction techniques, but it results in a purified, highly refined product.
Keep in mind that even full-spectrum CBD has a little bit of THC left in it - usually trace amounts of 0.1 - 0.3%. With THC-free CBD, though, this trace amount is fully filtered out.
THC-free CBD may also be called broad-spectrum CBD because it contains nearly everything full-spectrum CBD does. All of hemp's other trace cannabinoids are still present. So are hemp's terpenes, flavonoids, phenols, etc.
In other words, broad-spectrum CBD and full-spectrum CBD would be exactly the same if it weren't for the fact that broad-spectrum products contain no THC.
How is THC-Free CBD Oil Made?
THC-free CBD oil can be made any number of ways. Usually, it goes through the same type of extraction process that all CBD oils do, a chemical extraction involving CO₂, ethanol, or other polar solvents. Don't let the word "chemical" scare you - many chemicals are simply organic compounds.
Most CBD products today are initially derived from supercritical CO₂ extraction, whether they're full-spectrum or broad-spectrum or isolate in nature. The result of this extraction? A crude, truly full-spectrum hemp extract with waxes and fatty acids intact. From there, though, the process that powers THC-free CBD gets interesting. A second extraction to remove THC is required.
Next, our crude extract goes through a fractional distillation machine that separates each cannabinoid by its molecular weight. THC weighs just a little more than CBD, which means it can be isolated and filtered away from the rest of its extract. The result? 100% THC-free CBD.
Another method involves using chromatography to isolate and remove THC from a hemp extract - centrifugal partition chromatography, in case you were wondering. This method also produces a verifiably THC-free CBD product.
Finally, this THC-free extract is diluted with a carrier oil, bottled, and sent off for 3rd-party lab testing.
Does THC-Free CBD Work?
To put it simply - Yes.
THC-free CBD seems to activate our body's balance mechanisms in all the same ways CBD with THC does. In addition, THC-free CBD seems to fully engage the entourage effect. You can thank its terpene content for that.
THC-Free CBD Oil vs. Full-Spectrum
Maybe you've been trying full-spectrum CBD but feel like switching things up a little.
Variety is the spice of life, right? If this describes you, THC-free CBD oil might be a perfect choice. Don't forget that it's rich in the same cannabinoids and terpenes full-spectrum hemp is. For many of our customers, it works just as well, too.
Are you looking for THC-Free CBD?
If so, you've come to the right place. Our team at ProHealth has searched hundreds of THC-free products to find the select few that meet all our standards.
Take the issue of lab testing, for instance. While it's always important, with THC-free CBD, it's critical! The products we've curated are verifiably 100% free from THC. You have our word - and the backing of leading third-party labs. Many of the THC-free CBD oils we carry are organic, too.
Here's a closer look at some of the THC-free products we carry:
- Garden of Life: This doctor-formulated brand provides THC-free liquid drops, CBD and turmeric softgels, and even peanut butter-flavored pet products.
- Medterra: Medterra provides top-shelf CBD at affordable prices. They also offer a variety of THC-free products: gel capsules, products to help with better sleep, and CBD tinctures.
- Quicksilver Scientific: As the name implies, this brand is applying science to CBD. Many of their products are liposomal for superior absorption. One CBD blend, their calming formula, features botanicals alongside THC-free CBD.
When it comes to CBD, we understand you have many choices from which to pick, choices that can sometimes feel overwhelming. With our curated, ProHealth-trusted CBD brands, we help take the guesswork out of the equation so you can find a quality product that's right for you.
Bonn-Miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, Marcu JP, Hyke T, Vandrey R. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA. 2017; 318(17): 1708–1709. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11909
Thomas Wrona is a cannabis consultant, health + wellness advisor, and former professional athlete. He enjoys writing about all things CBD, both here and at Wrona Inc.