Over the past few years, Cannabidiol (CBD) has been making its way into the medicine cabinets of consumers looking for a more natural way to deal with pain and lower stress than prescription drugs. Now estimated to reach sales of $22 billion by 2022, which represents a compound annual growth rate of 150 percent, CBD products from hemp increasingly are gaining shelf space in drug and convenience stores, supermarkets and other mass merchandisers. 
Even with its explosive growth, many consumers still are unclear about what is CBD and what it can do to enhance wellness. CBD is one of the over 60 cannabinoids or naturally-occurring chemicals found in industrial hemp and marijuana that interact with natural receptors in the brain and body to affect pain response, among other effects. Cannabinoids work with the body’s own endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is made up of endocannabinoids or neurotransmitters that send chemical messages between neurons, which are the cells that transmit nerve impulses.
All CBD products contain CBD oil, which is what is added to the range of CBD offerings, from topicals, such as CBD cream for pain, to tinctures, capsules and gummies. Before any products are made, CBD oil needs to be extracted from the hemp plant. CBD from hemp, one of the oldest known agricultural products, is preferable to CBD from marijuana. That’s because hemp possesses more CBD and it also contains less tetrahydrocannabinol or THC than marijuana, the mind-altering ingredient that produces a high.
There are a number of ways to extract CBD oil from hemp. The three most common use carbon dioxide, steam distillation or natural solvents. The extraction process requires significant setup, expensive equipment and workers with specialized skills, which has an impact on the ultimate cost of the product.
CO2 extraction: This CBD extraction method uses pressurized carbon dioxide to break down the hemp and pull out the oil from the plant material, leaving a pure oil extract. By controlling temperature and pressure, CO2 is effective in creating a range of end products with different concentrations of CBD. Many manufacturers consider this the best CBD oil extraction method because it safe and efficient and produces oils with high concentrations of CBD.
Steam distillation: In this method, plant material is put into a distillation tank. Heated water produces steam, which carries the oil to the top of the tank where it then passes through a condenser. The resulting mix of oil and water then goes through further distillation to separate the CBD oil from water. 
Natural Solvents: Using natural solvents to extract CBD is similar to the steam distillation method. The plant material is placed in a container and the solvent – ethanol, butane, and isopropyl alcohol are some of the liquid solvents used – is run through it. The solvent takes the CBD from the plant. It then evaporates, leaving the oil. 
Also, with so much opportunity for CBD, there is the risk of poor-quality or mislabeled products entering the market. “Over the past several years, FDA has issued several warning letters to firms that market unapproved new drugs that allegedly contain cannabidiol (CBD). As part of these actions, FDA has tested the chemical content of cannabinoid compounds in some of the products, and many were found to not contain the levels of CBD they claimed to contain.”
This is why consumers need to check the product label to see how much CBD it contains. The amount of CBD will be stated in milligrams and it means the amount of CBD in the entire container of the product. The size of the bottle – 10ml, 30-ml and so forth – also needs to be considered. For example, 500mg of CBD in a 30ml bottle is a lot stronger than 500mg in a 60ml bottle. In fact, it would be double the strength. Another red flag is products that list only the amount of total “cannabinoids” they contain, not specifically how much CBD is in them. Such products could include not just CBD but other related compounds.
If you’re not yet on the CBD bandwagon, explore the benefits of this natural health and wellness aid. Lab+Blends has a range of offerings to help with pain relief, sleep and an overall feeling of well-being and balance.
 DeVries, Jack, “Special report: CBD keeps on growing,” Drug Stores News, July 31, 2019. https://drugstorenews.com/otc/special-report-cbd-keeps-on-growing
 “How Are CBD Products Made, CBD Extraction Methods” CBD Awareness Project, March 20, 2019. https://www.cbdoil.org/cbd-extraction-methods/
 DeVries, Jack, “Special report: CBD keeps on growing”
 Papamichail, Spyros, “How to Extract CBD: CBD Extraction with CO2 & More,” Vaping360, April 8, 2020. https://vaping360.com/learn/cbd-extraction-methods/#steam-distillation
 Peterson, Brian, “CBD Oil Extraction Methods – How Are They Different,” April 10, 2020. https://cbdoilusers.com/cbd-oil-extraction-methods/
 “Warning Letters and Test Results for Cannabidiol-Related Products, FDA, accessed July 30, 2020. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/warning-letters-and-test-results-cannabidiol-related-products
 Gill, Lisa L., “How to Shop for CBD,” Consumer Reports,” September 27, 2018. https://www.consumerreports.org/cbd/how-to-shop-for-cbd/