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It feels like innovation is the hemp and cannabis industry’s middle name, and with continued growth of the business and research over the years, that’s unlikely to change any time soon. Here’s the latest on what CBD research has uncovered and what companies have come up with to keep innovation at its peak.
Discovery: New cannabinoids
This year hasn’t been the best and brightest so far, but as we rounded the corner into 2020, we did get some good news from cannabis researchers out of Italy. They discovered two new cannabinoid compounds very similar to our beloved CBD and its THC sister, named cannabidiphorol (CBDP) and tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP).
It’s typically quite tricky to isolate minor cannabinoids from cannabis plants, simply because CBD and THC are so prevalent, and so far the tools researchers have had to work with lagged a bit under par for work of that level. However, with the advancement of analytical technology and techniques like mass spectrometry and metabolomics, that work seems to be more within scope these days.
This new tech helped the researchers discover the novel compounds (as well as two others earlier last year, THCB and CBDB). While both compounds were present in relatively low amounts, the researchers were still able to find that the THCP compound seems to bind to CB1 receptors in the body at a rate potentially 30 times higher than that of normal THC compounds, and to CB2 receptors at a rate roughly 5-10 times higher than THC. What this means exactly, we don’t yet know. It could indicate the potential for THCP to be that much more psychoactive—or not at all. It could also indicate the potential for THCP to be that much more therapeutically beneficial by virtue of reacting more actively with the body’s endocannabinoid receptors. The findings regarding CBDP were less conclusive, still finding that, like CBD, CBDP also does not bind strongly to CB1 or CB2 receptors, but considering the benefits and non-binding properties of CBD, it’s worth continuing the research.
Because cannabis breeds and strains vary greatly, it’s possible that these compounds could be more prevalent and, therefore, cause different reactions and bring greater and/or different benefits when in other plant varieties. More work will need to be done to find out, but things in the field keep looking promising, that’s for sure.
Additional delivery methods
As the CBD industry grows, so do the number of ways you can experience it. The most common methods of delivery to date have been through sublingual methods like oils and tinctures, in which CBD is absorbed through mucus membranes in the mouth and into the bloodstream; smoking and inhalation, in which CBD is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the lungs; and oral delivery methods like capsules and softgels, gummies and other edibles, in which the compound is dissolved into a fat and digested through the stomach and liver before entering the bloodstream.
In the last couple of years, topical delivery methods like creams and salves have become extremely popular, especially for pain and inflammation reduction, because the compounds accumulate directly on top of the affected area and—as both CBD and our cells are lipid-based—slowly get absorbed and released into the cells, not the bloodstream.
More recently, CBD patches have emerged as a newer transdermal delivery method. They have specific doses of CBD mixed in a solution with permeation enhancers and carrier molecules, similar to nicotine and contraceptive patches. Though they are topical, they are more effective than CBD creams and salves, because the patches’ additional permeation enhancers help to get the CBD molecules into the bloodstream as well as the cells.
Though not altogether new, crystals are another craze, in part because a crystal is one of the purest forms of CBD you can get. To get a CBD crystal, the hemp plants go through an additional extraction step, after the initial oil is extracted, to remove all other compounds, including other cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes. It’s then filtered one step further to get rid of any leftover plant material. And lastly, it’s “winterized” by mixing it with high-proof alcohol, freezing it overnight, filtering it through paper, and ultimately, warming it to remove the alcohol.
In its crystallized form, the CBD can be used in a number of ways—by ingesting directly, mixing it into your preferred beverage or oil, or creating your own CBD sweeteners, topicals or vape juices.
Yes, we said suppositories. Considering CBD’s effectiveness in pain and inflammation reduction, a few years ago companies and researchers started looking into how it could help menstrual pain, pelvic pain, sciatica, symptoms of IBS and lower back pain in vaginal or rectal suppository form. As it turns out, people have experienced relief! Suppositories allow more localized absorption into the bloodstream for pain in these specific areas, and seem to be growing in popularity and the number of ailments they could potentially alleviate symptoms for.
If patches, crystals and suppositories seem out there to you, just wait for the CBD toothpaste and toothpicks, shampoo and conditioner, and even clothing that companies are making. It’s unclear at this point how you could accurately dose or measure the efficacy of things like toothpaste and conditioner, but time will tell.
Check out this earlier post to learn how each delivery method affects you differently.