Currently, dietary supplements that contain cannabidiol (CBD) in different concentrations are manufactured through two basic methods. The first method, called extraction of complete extracts, involves extracting the CBD together with other components of the plant, such as terpenoids, flavonoids, chlorophyll, waxes, etc. The second method, extraction of purified extracts, involves isolating the CBD molecule in its crystal form to subsequently dilute it in vegetable oil, until the desired concentration is achieved.
The main characteristics of each method are detailed below:
The presence of the known “entourage effect” is a key feature in complete extraction. It can be summarized as a boosting effect of the biological activity of the cannabinoids produced by the rest of the modules accompanying them in its original plant form, i.e., other cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids, etc.
However, the presence of these other substances (particularly chlorophyll) significantly worsens the flavor of the final product, which can be a major drawback that interferes with the patient’s commitment to the therapy. This drawback is even greater in children, in the case of drug-resistant epilepsy patients.
The use of purified and diluted CBDs in vegetable oils (purified extraction) turns out to have a much more tolerable flavor for the patient. However, the drawback is that we lose the presence of the previously mentioned “entourage effect” with a consequent decrease in the product’s effect, compared to the other extraction method.
The future use of CBDs will include, without a doubt, the possibility to choose among the different kinds of prepared CBDs, from those more “refined” for patients who are not able to tolerate very intense flavors, to those more “pure entourage” for cases in which the typical flavor of the cannabis is not a problem for the patient.
It would be ideal to obtain different levels of purification by progressively eliminating the more bitter components and those that have not been proven to have a clear role in the entourage effect. An example of this would be to first eliminate the chlorophylls and waxes, but always starting with a complete extract, and to avoid using oils that come from the use of purified CBD in crystal form. This way, there would be “complete” extracts for patients who can tolerate the flavor and “refined” extracts for more demanding palates.
Dr. Javier Pedraza,
Specialist in Family and Community Medicine
Consultant in treatments with cannabis and derivatives