What is Hemp Extract? The Beginner’s Guide to Cannabidiol

Mothers are using Hemp Extract to treat their children’s seizures. Veterans are hoping it will help them wean off opioids. Doctors are even recommending it for all manner of ailments. But what exactly is Hemp Extract? And should you join the estimated 64 million Americans who’ve already tried it?

Our comprehensive Hemp Extract guide will answer these questions and more!

What is CBD?

What is Hemp Extract?

Hemp Extract is cannabidiol. It is a naturally-occurring compound, known as a cannabinoid, found in the Cannabis sativa plant. It’s important to recognize that the plant has two primary species, marijuana and hemp. Hemp-derived Extract contains trace amounts of THC (under 0.3%), whereas extract derived from the marijuana species can contain larger amounts of THC, depending on how the plant is grown. More on this below.

Hemp Extract is just one of over 100 unique cannabinoids which are responsible for the plant’s therapeutic properties. The other main cannabinoid from the cannabis plant is THC.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the major psychoactive cannabinoid that causes the characteristic “high” associated with marijuana. Both Hemp Extract and THC have promising therapeutic potential. However, Hemp Extract does not contain any psychoactive properties, and attenuates the psychoactive effects of THC.

It’s due to this quality which makes Hemp Extract an appealing option for individuals who seek the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the mind-altering effects of THC. 

Is Hemp Extract legal?

With constant changes to the laws surrounding medical marijuana, the legal landscape of Hemp Extract can be, understandably, confusing. However, by learning about a few critical aspects of Hemp Extract, you’ll soon gain a clear picture of the compounds legal status in the United States.

Firstly, extract derived from the hemp plant was legalized nationally in December 2018 when the Agricultural Improvement Act was signed into law. Also known as the Farm Act, this law removed hemp from the Schedule 1 Controlled Substances list, meaning hemp-derived extract can now be purchased and consumed in all 50 states as long as it is grown and sold as per the Act.

But, what is cannabidiol extract? The extract can be extracted from either marijuana or hemp plants, both of which belong to the Cannabis Sativa family. As such, hemp extract and marijuana extract share many similarities. But, due to the distinct biological structure of each species, they have critical differences.

When comparing marijuana derived cannabidiol extract vs hemp derived extract, there is one key difference to be aware of; hemp contains very low concentrations of THC (less than 0.3%), while marijuana is rich in THC with levels ranging from 15% to 40%. For this reason, hemp is grown primarily for industrial purposes, whereas marijuana is grown for recreational and medicinal purposes.

Under the Act, extract derived from the hemp plant must have negligible concentrations of the psychoactive phytocannabinoid THC (less than 0.3%), and companies cannot make unproven health claims about hemp extract.

Why use hemp extract?

hemp extract has been used as a natural therapy for centuries. Today, the cannabinoids many healing properties have been investigated and confirmed by thousands of studies taking place across the globe. Researchers have indicated that hemp extract is a safe, non-addictive alternative to some pharmaceutical medications, with applications as a natural analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, and anticonvulsant.

Hemp Extract Benefits

Anti-inflammatory and Immunomodulatory Effects

Hemp extract can be used to alleviate chronic and acute inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and type 2 diabetes. [1] In one clinical study, hemp extract significantly reduced intestinal inflammation and permeability in humans with inflammatory bowel disease. [2] The anti-inflammatory properties of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid have also been examined in acne patients with results indicating that the cannabinoid can inhibit sebum production and reduce inflammation associated with acne. [3]

Natural Analgesic

The analgesic effects of hemp extract are associated with its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is one of the most common sources of pain. hemp extract has been shown to reduce joint pain in rats with arthritis. [4] Several clinical studies also show that hemp extract in conjunction with THC can alleviate symptoms of neuropathic pain that arises from nerve damage. These results suggest hemp extract as a promising adjuvant therapy for conditions, like multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and even chemotherapy.

Anxiety Disorders

Laboratory studies in animals and humans have demonstrated the anxiolytic effects of hemp extract, in particular, patients with social phobia. [5] In one study, patients with social anxiety disorder were treated with either hemp extract or a placebo before participating in a simulated public speaking test. Patients pre-treated with hemp extract demonstrated significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort compared to controls. [6]


Promising preliminary data has highlighted hemp extract as a potential treatment to stop the progression of Alzheimer's Disease, a debilitating neurodegenerative disorder that is becoming increasingly common to today’s society. [7]


High-quality human trials over the last three decades have repeatedly shown that hemp extract can reduce the frequency and severity of seizures. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took a bold step in June 2018, when the governing body approved the first drug (Epidiolex) containing cannabis-derived extract for the treatment of severe forms of epilepsy. Two medications containing artificial hemp extract have also been approved by the FDA for use in America.

How Does Hemp Extract Work?

Cannabinoids interact with our body primarily through the endocannabinoid system, an immensely important regulatory system involved in the maintenance of nervous, digestive, and immune health.

It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that researchers made this ground-breaking discovery with the identification of two cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) and their “endocannabinoids.” Due to this discovery, cannabinoids were further distinguished as either phytocannabinoids or endocannabinoids.

Phytocannabinoids are those that occur naturally within the cannabis plant (examples include cannabidiol and THC), while endocannabinoids are produced internally by the body. Both types directly interact with cannabinoid receptors throughout the brain and body to generate similar effects.

CB1 receptors are dispersed predominantly throughout the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), whereas CB2 receptors are located predominantly on immune cells. Although both types can be found throughout the entire body, even in peripheral organs.

Mechanisms of Action:

Hemp Extract affects the body through multiple molecular pathways. Scientific research has identified four key mechanisms:

Blocks CB1 and CB2 Receptors

Surprisingly, Hemp Extract has little affinity for both known cannabinoid receptors. New research shows that Hemp Extract acts as a high-potency antagonist to CB1 and CB2 receptor agonist, meaning Hemp Extract blocks other chemicals that stimulate these receptors. By reducing the stimulating of CB1 receptors, Hemp Extract inhibits the release of noradrenaline. [8]

Noradrenaline is often referred to as our “stress hormone” as it increases our heart rate, raises our blood pressure, widens the pupils, and dilates the airways. As a result, Hemp Extract has a calming effect on the nervous system providing benefits for people who suffer from anxiety and insomnia.

Enhances Adenosine Signalling

Adenosine is a naturally occurring compound found within all cells of the body. Among other functions, adenosine regulates immune and inflammatory responses. Studies show that Hemp Extract decreases the uptake of adenosine, which has been shown to suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation during various inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and asthma. Several studies, including both human and animal trials, show that a single treatment of low-dose Hemp Extract decreases the production of proinflammatory cytokines, like TNF-a [9].

Regulates Serotonin Levels

The neuroprotective properties of Hemp Extract may be related to its effect on serotonin release, similar to anti-depressant medications, which stimulate serotonin release through 5-HT1A signalling. Hemp Extract stimulates 5-HT1A receptors found within the brain, which are known to regulate serotonin release [10].

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of mood, cognition, and memory. It is often referred to as the “happy chemical” as it promotes feelings of happiness. In fact, fewer 5-HT1A receptors have been found in suicide patients in post mortem studies.[11] Similarly, a study using neurotransmitter testing showed that panic disorder patients have impaired 5-HT1A receptor function. [12]

Potent Antioxidant

Hemp Extract is a potent antioxidant, meaning it reduces oxidative stress by fighting free radicals within the body. Free radicals are unpaired molecules that can cause damage to healthy cells and contribute to the development of diseases, including heart disease, and some cancers.

Types of Hemp Extract products

Hemp Extract is available in a variety of products, allowing you to tailor your consumption method to suit your specific therapeutic needs. Most products are also available as combined cannabidiol and THC, with different ratios on each. The most common types of Hemp Extract are:


Vaporizing is the rational choice for those who prefer the sensation of inhaling, but want to avoid the harmful chemicals associated with smoking. A vaporizer, or vape, gradually heats up a concentrated version of Hemp Extract so that it can be inhaled and absorbed immediately through the lungs. Vaporizing is the fastest acting method, although the effects are not as long-lasting.


Tinctures are liquid extracts containing a concentrated form of Hemp Extract, usually placed under the tongue using a dropper. The oral mucosa has an abundance of capillaries resulting in quick absorption and rapid effects that are typically felt with 5-15 minutes. Tinctures are preferred not only by consumers looking for fast-acting effects but also by those who seek dosage control.


Ingestibles include oils, capsules, dissolvable strips, and sprays that can either be directly consumed or added to foods and beverages. For example, capsules and sprays can be directly swallowed, while oils can be added to smoothies or baked goods. Either way, ingestibles offer a discreet, convenient, and portable solution. As ingestibles are slowly absorbed through the digestive tract into the bloodstream, they are preferred by individuals looking for long-lasting effects, such as pain relief. Effects are usually felt after 30 minutes and can continue for two hours.


Hemp Extract-infused lotions, creams, and patches can be applied directly to the skin and are used to target specific sites of inflammation and pain, such as muscular aches or arthritic joints. It may take at least an hour for topical Hemp Extract to take effect. However, results can last up to five hours.


Alternatively, you can purchase foods and beverages already infused with Hemp Extract, such as Hemp Extract coconut butter, Hemp Extract dark chocolate, or Hemp Extract hemp honey. Just like ingestible oils, pre-made edibles deliver a sustained effect and are often preferred for their discreetness.

How Much Hemp Extract Should I Take?

When first starting out on Hemp Extract, a low daily dose of between 50-150 milligrams is often recommended. You can then gradually increase your daily dose according to your desired effects. However, we highly recommend seeking the advice of a qualified physician who will take into account your individual circumstances and consider any potential drug interactions to determine the best approach for your specific condition.

Hemp Extract has a favorable safety profile, especially when compared to many pharmaceutical medications. A 2011 review of over 130 studies concluded that Hemp Extract is non-toxic and non-addictive. Even with long-term use and high daily doses of up to 1500 milligrams, studies repeatedly demonstrated that Hemp Extract was well tolerated by humans. [13]

However, Hemp Extract can result in some unwanted side effects. According to a more recent literature review, the most common adverse side effects appear to be tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite/weight. Although compared to many other medications, these side effects are very minimal. [14]

Patients report the best results when taking about 1.5 to 2.5 mg of Hemp Extract per kilogram of body weight divided into two daily doses, one in the morning and one in the early evening

Hemp Extract Dosage


Recommended Hemp Extract Dosage by Weight

















* Recommended to be divided into two daily doses, morning and night

What are Terpenes?

One thing you’ll notice when you start using Hemp Extract is the diverse array of fragrances, with scents ranging from citrus fruits to fresh pine needles. What you’re smelling are terpenes. These organic compounds, also known as terpenoids, are found in the oils of all plants and are responsible for their unique flavor and aroma.

The cannabis plant has at least 100 terpenes, which vary in concentration from one strain to the next. Different factors during the growth stage influence the terpenoid profile, such as temperature, humidity, and light.

Terpenes are not only responsible for the plant’s aroma but are also impart their own therapeutic benefits. You may already be familiar with some terpenes and their effects. For example:

  • Linalool gives lavender its floral fragrance, which is known for its calming effects.
  • Limonene gives lemons their citrus flavor but also acts as a powerful anti-bacterial.
  • Pinene, gives pine trees a fresh, invigorating fragrance, while also improving airflow to the lungs, reducing inflammation and increasing alertness.

Several studies have also shown that cannabinoids and terpenes work together to provide complementary or synergistic results, known as the “entourage effect”. In fact, there are several promising therapies based on combinations of Hemp Extract and terpenes. For example, a combination of Hemp Extract with Limonene, Linalool, and Pinene is currently under investigation as a potential acne therapy. A blend of Hemp Extract with Myrcene (a natural sedative) and Caryophyllene (a natural pain reliever) is also being investigated as a sleep therapy. [15]

When choosing a Hemp Extract product, we recommend opting for a full-spectrum Hemp Extract that contains all active compounds (including terpenoids) present within the hemp or marijuana plant. Choosing a full-spectrum Hemp Extract product will increase the entourage effect. Some products may also include a terpenoid profile to provide a better understanding of the product’s therapeutic potential.

How to Choose High-Quality Hemp Extract?

With science elucidating the therapeutic potential of cannabis and laws surrounding marijuana becoming more relaxed each year, we are seeing an increasingly wide variety of Hemp Extract products on the market. However, consumers should understand that not all Hemp Extract products are created equal.

Firstly, there are different ways to extract Hemp Extract from cannabis, with the golden standard being supercritical CO₂ extraction. This process uses carbon dioxide under optimum temperatures and pressures to isolate, maintain, and preserve the purity of Hemp Extract. Admittedly, supercritical CO₂ extraction is more expensive for manufacturers, especially compared to alcohol extraction. However, it’s one of the best ways to ensure Hemp Extract products don’t contain THC or other toxic chemicals, which for many people is especially important for medical and legal reasons. Choosing hemp-derived Hemp Extract is another way to reduce your risk of accidentally consuming THC, as hemp plants naturally contain far less THC thus reducing the potential for contamination.

The best Hemp Extract oil products are also extracted from food-grade hemp grown under organic conditions. This ensures the hemp plant is free from contaminants, such as metals or harsh chemicals. Reputable growers will be completely transparent about their product. As a consumer, you should be able to easily view a Certificate of Quality Assurance and access the laboratory test results of each batch online.

Purchasing Hemp Extract Oil

Before purchasing a Hemp Extract oil, we strongly advise doing your research to scope out different Hemp Extract brands. We also recommend, looking beyond the price! Fortunately, high-quality Hemp Extract products are available for health-conscious consumers.


  1. https://academic.oup.com/ibdjournal/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/ibd/izz017/5341970
  2. https://academic.oup.com/ibdjournal/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/ibd/izz017/5341970
  3. https://www.jci.org/articles/view/64628
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5690292/
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128007563000971
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21307846
  7. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2017.00020/full
  8. https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/41359764/Cannabidiol__Recent_Advances20160120-1921-1rxjn6j.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1555287017&Signature=4ewd3HsTFow1jwrgzFQAaVrLFVg%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DCannabidiol_Recent_Advances.pdf
  9. https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/41359764/Cannabidiol__Recent_Advances20160120-1921-1rxjn6j.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1555287017&Signature=4ewd3HsTFow1jwrgzFQAaVrLFVg%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DCannabidiol_Recent_Advances.pdf
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16258853
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19428959
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1346719
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22129319
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569602/
  15. https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/51938614/Evolution_of_the_Cannabinoid_and_Terpene_Content_JNP_2016.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1555308564&Signature=wUMgDwdJZSZEOO2ocvLCcWpcyEc%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DEvolution_of_the_Cannabinoid_and_Terpene.pdf

Enter your text here...

Recommended Posts