Where Does CBD Come From?

Illustration of What plant does CBD Oil come from
Written by Nina Julia | Last updated: July 7, 2022

You may have heard that CBD comes from hemp, while others are claiming it can be sourced from marijuana.

And you know what?

Both parties are right.

CBD is a non-intoxicating compound from Cannabis sativa L. plants, a genus from the Cannabaceae family.

Hemp and marijuana are both members of this family, but they have different features based on their phytochemical profiles.

Both plants also have different levels of CBD.

In this article, we explain where CBD comes from, how to distinguish between hemp-derived and marijuana-derived CBD products, and how it affects the human body.

What is CBD?

CBD stands for cannabidiol, an active ingredient in cannabis plants.

Unlike CBD’s more popular cousin, THC, CBD isn’t intoxicating, so it won’t get you high. Most of the time, people extract CBD from hemp plant’s flowers to produce a wide range of health supplements and topical care products.

CBD oil is a rich source of CBD; it also contains other minor cannabinoids and terpenes that interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS is a relatively new discovery, but it has already gained a reputation as one of the most important networks in our bodies. It promotes and helps maintain homeostasis in every other system and organ with endocannabinoids that bind to cannabinoid receptors.

The ECS controls a plethora of essential processes, such as memory, mood, sleep, pain, immune function, appetite, neurogenesis, fertility, etc.

That’s why CBD oil has so many potential health benefits, from providing pain relief and helping with anxiety to reducing the symptoms of depression, autoimmune diseases, insomnia, and more.

Hemp-derived products are legal in all 50 states as long as they contain 0.3% THC or less.

This is where we need to pause for a second — and answer the title question.

What Plant Does CBD Come From?

As mentioned, CBD comes from cannabis. People have been using cannabis plants for centuries as a medicine and recreational substance. Hemp, the non-intoxicating subvariety of cannabis, has been used for its sturdy fiber that fueled the progress of civilizations across the world.

Which Part of Cannabis Does CBD Come From?

Image of Cannabis plant producing CBD

CBD comes from the flowers of cannabis. These are the most resinous parts of the plant, containing high concentrations of trichomes.

Trichomes are small, crystal-like glands that cannabinoids and terpenes use as a ‘house.’

When cannabis is harvested, the flowers are cut, trimmed, dried, and placed in glass jars to mature and develop their complex aromas and flavors.

When you smoke, or vape cannabis flower, THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids will reach your bloodstream through the lung tissue.

CBD oils use the sublingual route of absorption. The flowers are first treated with a solvent, and the resulting product — a tar-like oily extract — is contained in dark glass bottles.

You can infuse a crude CBD extract not only into oils but also into capsules, vapes, edibles, and topicals.

CBD from Hemp vs. Marijuana

Image of difference between Marijuna and Hemp Plants

Hemp has been the cornerstone of many commercial and industrial products for centuries, including ropes, textiles, shoes, clothing, food, paper, bioplastics, insulation, and biofuel.

Although hemp and marijuana belong to the same genus — Cannabis sativa L., the main difference between hemp and marijuana is that hemp is a subvariety that can occur only as Sativa.

Meanwhile, marijuana can be both Sativa and Indica.

Hemp is known for its sturdy stalks that people use for fiber. It’s also one of the most regenerative plants in the world. Unlike cotton, hemp doesn’t need so much water and fertilizers to thrive. It’s also naturally resistant to pests, so it doesn’t have to be sprayed with pesticides.

But most importantly, hemp is a decent source of CBD.

Marijuana, on the other hand, is more abundant in THC. Some strains are selectively bred to contain higher ratios of CBD, which is how marijuana-derived CBD products are made. These extracts are known for their high therapeutic potential and lower incidence of intoxication.

Nevertheless, the majority of CBD oils on the market come from hemp because hemp plants are legal in most parts of the world.

Which Region of the World Does CBD Come From?

According to the oldest evidence surrounding the evolution of cannabis, the plant evolved 28 million years ago on the Tibetan plateau.

Studies on the cannabis genome concluded that humans domesticated it around 12,000 years ago in China.

But it wasn’t until 1,400 B.C. that cannabis became available to the public. Before then, the plant was reserved for elites.

Researchers believe that the plant is native not only to Asia but also to South America.

How Is CBD Harvested?

Image of CBD being collected

Everything starts with ripe cannabis flowers.

Once the flowers develop enough resin, the whole plant is harvested, trimmed, dried, and cured.

From there, manufacturers take them to an extraction facility; most reputable CBD companies run the plant material with CO2 to pull all the beneficial compounds without using extreme heat or hazardous solvents.

When the solvent dissipates, the end product is a tar-like extract with high levels of CBD, minor cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids.

Most commonly, the crude extract is suspended in a carrier oil and bottled up as full-spectrum CBD oil.

You can also find broad-spectrum and CBD isolate oils.

Broad-spectrum is similar to full-spectrum, except for the lack of THC, which is removed later during extraction.

Isolate is pure CBD that has been separated from other hemp compounds.

How Does CBD Affect the Human Body?

The list of CBD health benefits seems to have no end, with more interesting facts emerging on the surface with new scientific discoveries.

Most of the time, people use CBD oil to ease pain, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

However, the list of its potential health benefits doesn’t stop there.

CBD may help you manage the symptoms of the following conditions:

Final Thoughts on Different Sources of CBD

We hope that his guide has answered the question, “where does CBD come from?” CBD, and cannabis in general, has a complicated history in the world — with a lot of myths and misconceptions about its origin.

The truth is that CBD is a biologically-appropriate compound that comes from a plant as old as 28 million years. People have been using cannabis for centuries — if not millennia — for wellness and to treat a wide range of health concerns.

Not many plants on Earth have a resume of that size.

Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.

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