By Harriet Clark
For most people cannabis begins and ends with bud. Perhaps too, the iconic green palm leaves with their serrated edge. Cannabis flower (also known as bud, CBD bud and hemp flower) grows from the female cannabis plant. When the flower reaches full bloom they secret resin and cannabinoids to attract pollen from the male plant. Other worldly looking, they give off a famously unctuous smell which is a result of the terpenes. There is a certain mystique surrounding the flower, but what is the hype all about?
Structurally each part of the cannabis plant is of equal importance, but if we are talking therapeutic value, then the flower’s surface is where the goodness can be found. On the surface of the buds or flowers are white crystal-like structures, (trichomes). These crystal structures are the naturally occurring compounds called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids form in other parts of the plant but the highest ratios are found in the bud or flower and this accounts for the interest in the flower.
Not all hemp CBD flower will produce the same amount of CBD. It will depend on the strain. Cannabinoids that you may be familiar with are CBD, THC, CBN, CBG but there are hundreds more. Terpenes and fatty acids including omega fatty acids and lipids are also contained in high quantities in the flower’s trichomes. CBD flower is typically found in higher quantities in hemp than in traditional cannabis. In hemp strains there are less than 0.3% THC. Legally CBD can have up to 0.3% of THC.
Let’s take a look at the different parts of the cannabis plant
There are two types of leaves. Fan leaves, which are the long fan shaped leaves and sugar leaves which are the smaller leaves around the flower. When you talk about “trim” these are the smaller sugar leaves that are removed when harvesting the flower. The Trim can be used in cooking or for tinctures. Cannabis leaves are known to contain canniprene, which is an anti-inflammatory.
Cannabis or Hemp seeds
In terms of superfoods, hemp seeds are extremely nutritious. Hemp seeds have been a rich nutritional resource in China for 3,000 years. They contain 35% protein and essential amino-acids. This is a higher protein level than flax seeds or chia seeds. They are also rich in essential fatty acids.
Although used in traditional plant based medicine as an anti-inflammatory and to treat pain and fever, it is possibly the least well studied of the cannabis plant. It is now known to have cannabinoids in the roots.
Cannabis Stalks and Stems
The stalks and stems are usually discarded by cannabis farmers, but in the war on waste nothing should be discarded. The stalks are highly versatile and for a long time have been used as a building resource. The stalks are a fiber that is stronger and more durable than wood. It is biodegradable and rot resistant. Cannabis stalk can be used for garden mulch, animal bedding, for housing, clothes, and to make paper. It is an incredibly versatile part of the plant.
So returning to the whole flower, we know that high levels of cannabinoids are found in the flower, but in their raw state they aren’t of great therapeutic use. If you were to eat raw weed without heating it for example, you will get some vitamins and minerals but you won’t be releasing the full therapeutic potential of the plant. So how do you release the goodness? The process is called decarboxylation.
What Is The Decarboxylation Process?
Decarboxylation is the process of heating cannabinoids so that they are now actively therapeutic. If you leave raw cannabis over time, it will naturally decarboxylate but it would take years for this process to happen.
Compounds, isolate, full-spectrum, or broad-spectrum: What to buy?
It’s often hard to know which CBD product to buy, and it will all depend on what you are looking to use CBD for. Whether you choose to buy CBD isolate, full-spectrum, or broad-spectrum is a matter of personal choice, but knowing the difference just means you are aware of what you are getting in your product alongside CBD.
- CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD. This means CBD isolate should not have any trace of THC because CBD is isolated from all the other compounds of the hemp plant.
- Full-spectrum CBD, by contrast, will contain all of the naturally occurring compounds of the cannabis plant, including THC. THC will be no more than 0.3 percent in hemp-derived full-spectrum CBD, although THC levels can increase when the flowers are extracted into oil.
- Broad-spectrum CBD will contain all of the naturally occurring compounds, other than THC, however there could be a trace amount of THC.
What Is The CBD extraction Process?
You may be curious about CBD, but not sure which method to choose out of the many delivery methods that are on offer? If you prefer not to smoke CBD flower or vape CBD oil, there are plenty of other ways to get CBD into your system.
CBD extraction can be broken down into 3 main ways, lipid extraction is the most up to date method
- Carbon dioxide extraction uses Co2 to isolate CBD from the cannabis plant.
- Steam distillation uses steam to separate the oil from plant matter. This is used when extracting essential oils.
- Solvent extraction is liquid to liquid extraction or separation. The downside to this is the flavor can be altered and occasionally some solvent residue can be left behind.
- Lipid extraction is becoming popular as some companies are moving away from CO2 or solvent extraction.
Understanding CBD labels
Once you’ve decided what form of CBD to buy, it’s best to choose a brand that is reputable and has been around awhile. CBD is often marketed as a supplement, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have so far not regulated it saying it does not qualify as a food supplement. Right now, research and regulation of CBD is so behind because of years of prohibition meaning the whole industry is in its infancy.
The problem with labeling is that the FDA is not completely clear on what should be on CBD labels. These are key things to look out for:
- The amount of CBD per serving
- CBD is full spectrum, broad spectrum or isolate
- Net weight
- Manufacturer or distributor name
- Batch and Lot number, including date code
- Suggested product use
Another very important thing to make sure the company does is third party including a Certificate of Analysis (COA). That is testing from an outside lab verifying the CBD %, THC % as well as any trace materials to ensure the product is what it says it is.
For top quality you will want to look for cannabis cultivators that meet organic standards. This includes being agriculturally responsible and sustainable in their practices. When you look for Non-GMO and organic this ensures you are buying a strain that is free from pesticides, solvents, chemical fertilizers and insecticides. This will push the price up, but it will be worth the investment and CBD hemp flower is one of the more affordable options out there to get your CBD.
What are the benefits of vaping vs. smoking whole flower?
It is a matter of personal choice, but vaping whole flowers offers real benefits. Combustion is a culprit leading to the release of tar and a whole host of cancerous chemicals. Choosing to vape can minimize the health risks associated with smoking because vaping allows you to be in control of the temperature, heating the flower but not burning it to the combustion temperatures.
Vaping flower is cleaner on your lungs, but it is also more efficient. A study undertaken by California NORML and MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic studies) showed that vaporizers converted 46% THC into a vapor as compared to a joint that converts 26% of THC. This is a win-win situation, you use less flower and get greater concentration in the vapor with fewer chemicals released when burning.
What Is CBD oil?
CBD oil, not to be confused with tinctures, is a blend of CBD extract mixed with a carrier oil. CBD oil orally or sublingually is a portable and effective way to get your daily CBD dose. CBD oil is often higher in concentrate than dried flower. The difference is that the flower contains other cannabinoids alongside CBD, increasing the health properties.
You can also take CBD sublingually, but be prepared for what is for many an off putting taste. You can find CBD as a spray, an oil, or a tincture. To use a tincture, hold it under your tongue to generate saliva for 60 to 120 seconds, and it will directly absorb into your bloodstream within 15 to 45 minutes.
For consumers not wanting to vape or smoke, CBD oil is a more discreet method to go with. Even if you are very familiar with the ‘earthy’ aromas of hemp, and you enjoy the distinctive taste. To reduce the strong flavor of the natural terpenes in CBD, some manufactures add other terpene flavors to alter the taste and terpenes are beneficial in themselves. Alternatively there are many ways to detract from the earthy, nutty flavor. You can add the oil to a drink or to food.
Carrier oil helps with dosing, and the dropper ensures you are getting the right dose. Carrier oils are added as they help CBD be absorbed into the skin and CBD would be too potent in isolation. A popular carrier oil is MCT, which is made from coconut oil or palm kernel oil. If you have any skin allergies you will want to pay attention to the ingredients as different carriers may work better for you. Some carrier oils are unscented, others have a scent. It’s always recommended that you check the label of your CBD product to know what is in it.
4 Benefits of smoking or vaping CBD flower
There are surprisingly few brands that sell smokable or vapable CBD flower. Most companies are extracting CBD from hemp to create oils, topicals, tinctures and edibles because this is currently the most popular method to consume CBD.
Here are some of the main benefits of smoking whole CBD flower:
- Smoking or vaping cannabis flowers allows you to get the full entourage effect. Nothing has been extracted in the process, therefore you are gaining all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids thereby increasing all of the therapeutic benefits from the flower.
- Smoking or vaping CBD flowers is a high grade, fast method to get CBD into your system. This is because the lungs absorb CBD via the capillaries directly into the bloodstream.
- Smoking or vaping CBD flower for many people is a highly enjoyable experience, without the intoxication. As the CBD content is high, you can expect to feel very relaxed but not buzzed and so your head will feel clear. You can kick back and enjoy the taste, terpenes and all of the health benefits of flowers without the “heavy body” feeling.
- Smoking or vaping flower is a method with high bioavailability. Bioavailability has to do with how well any substance is assimilated into the body.
CBD, like THC, can be taken orally in gummies, capsules, softgels and other candies. It’s hard not to notice the extensive range of food and drinks that now contain CBD. If you are going for an oral or edible CBD, note that the absorption rate will be slower than if you smoke or vape CBD.
Which CBD flower is best for relaxation?
Each CBD flower strain has its own unique feel but the prevailing character across all strains is relaxation. Whilst CBD is typically a calming compound, some strains of CBD flower can give a bit of a boost of energy. They are not all the same, so there is a bit of trial and error until you hit on the right strain for you.
What CBD strains are recommended for relaxation?
Sour Tsunami is a great choice for those looking to unwind, without the “heavy body” sensation. The ratio of CBD to THC is 13:1 or less in some cases.
Elektra is popular with a higher ratio of CBD, 16% to 1% THC. Again, like Sour Tsunami it is great for relaxation without too much of a physical effect.
Sour Diesel is an old favorite for many flower aficionados. It has a classic aroma and is full spectrum CBD, so it is rich in terpenes and full of flavor.
Sour Space Candy has on average 15% CBD content. This stain is known to give an uplifting feel but you may also feel physically relaxed.
Hawaiian Haze has on average around 14% CBD. What is good about this strain is that it can kickstart productivity but it is also calming at the sametime. It seems to have far ranging effects both calming and energizing
Below are a list of things to look for in a dry vaporizer
- Portability and battery life
- Size, weight
- Temperature control
- Vapor quality and how well it draws
- Taste and flavor
- How quickly does the vaporizer heat up
- How easy is it to keep clean
The strengths/benefits of using Omura over other vapes for whole flower
The Omura vaporiser is intended for those wanting to vape dry flower with no solvents involved. There is a heat curve inside the vaporiser that heats up the CBD flower. There is no trim or chemical additives, just 100% organic whole flower inside the pre-rolled sticks giving you sessions that are clean, yet with a satisfying draw. Omura pre-rolled flowersticks are all sourced from growers that are agriculturally responsible in their practices and sustainable. Heat not burn technology gives you a discreet experience because there is minimum vapor. There are many benefits of going with 100% whole flower. You will get the full spectrum benefits and no mess involved as the flowersticks are pre packed and dosed so you don’t have to pack and grind just slot one in and enjoy!