Cannabidiol (CBD) has taken the wellness industry by storm. CBD is a natural compound found in the Cannabis sativa L. plant (cannabis) that has gained popularity in recent years due to its potential therapeutic benefits, versatility, and non-intoxicating effects.
Part of the attraction to CBD is that it is seen as a natural alternative to many traditional or established therapies due to spiked consumer interest in plant-based solutions. However, with the rise of CBD’s popularity, synthetic CBD has also entered the market and the question of natural vs. synthetic CBD arises.
Defining the Difference
Naturally derived or botanically sourced CBD comes from the cannabis plant (either hemp or marijuana). Overall, this natural CBD is well-tolerated, and as a result, it can be isolated and made into CBD-based oils, tinctures, topical creams, and edibles. It is extracted using various methods such as ethanol, hydrocarbon, or supercritical CO2 extraction. After the CBD has been successfully extracted, additional tailored processing can be done based on the desired CBD product.
On the other hand, synthetic CBD is not naturally derived but instead is produced through chemical synthesis using ingredients like limonene or biological synthesis using modified yeast or bacteria. Because of this, some say that synthetically produced CBD is more potent but also associated with more safety concerns or adverse events (AEs), also known as side effects.
Comparing Purity and Potency
Synthetic CBD is produced to contain pure CBD, while natural CBD extracts can include other naturally occurring compounds such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
The purity and potency of natural vs. synthetic CBD are often compared, with claims of one being better than the other. If we compare both natural and synthetic CBD isolate, there is no difference between the two sources as it is comparing the purest form of the molecule (the expectation is that CBD isolate is greater than 99.5% pure CBD).
However, there may be slight differences in the impurity profile. Hemp-derived CBD may contain natural impurities such as terpenes or other cannabinoids (CBDv, CBG, etc.), while synthetic CBD may have process impurities. Depending on the concentration and identification of the impurities, toxicity studies may have to be conducted to determine if the impurities are safe.
Less purified hemp-derived extracts such as crude extract, full spectrum oil, or distillate, can provide additional beneficial compounds that contribute what is referred to as ‘the entourage effect’, wherein naturally occurring compounds work synergistically to amplify positive effects. This is not possible with synthetic CBD.
Adverse Events Profile
The adverse events profile of natural vs. synthetic CBD is also regularly compared. It is generally expected to be similar between CBD isolate from both sources. However, the impurities in naturally sourced CBD are also natural compounds and thus, would have a familiar safety profile.
This may not be the case for synthetic CBD, where incomplete reactions, side reactions, or remaining fermentation compounds may be present. The toxicity of these compounds found in synthetic CBD may not be known and may result in unexpected side effects or tolerability issues.
Managing the Industry’s Momentum
Both naturally sourced and synthetic CBD can provide a scalable process for producing CBD. However, they have different limitations to overcome. For naturally sourced CBD, sourcing high-quality hemp can be challenging, and the extraction and purification process requires careful planning and safety measures, which can be costly. The production of synthetic CBD may face similar limitations, such as sourcing raw materials and expensive facility requirements.
Choosing an Established, Transparent Manufacturer
Choosing high-quality CBD products from a reputable manufacturing company is essential. It is important to understand the differences between natural and synthetic CBD and to make an informed decision based on individual needs and preferences. Natural CBD can provide a full spectrum profile of beneficial compounds, while synthetic CBD may have unknown impurities.
Vantage Hemp Co. has invested in its processes, people, R&D, and facilities to ensure seamless scalability of manufacture for market readiness. Our dedication to reliably delivering high-quality CBD products is unrivaled in the industry, ensuring the safety of your brand, business, and most importantly, your consumers.
It is probable that synthetic CBD with very high purity will find its place in the market although the preferences of consumers for natural products may mean that natural, hemp-derived CBD will remain dominant.
Regardless of the source, it is crucial to do your research and look for products that have been third-party tested. Ensure that you choose a reputable brand that is transparent about its sourcing and manufacturing processes.