By: Jared Jacob, R&D Formulation Chemist
For ages, the hemp plant--its stalk, leaves, and even seeds--have been important components of trade, commerce, and even construction. The fibers of its stalk offer superior tensile strength for textiles and building materials. The oil of the seed - it's long been known that consuming/smoking cannabis has considerable effects on the human body; some of which are purely therapeutic and some, psychotropic.
Within the realm of cannabis cultivation, there are two main cultivars of interest: marijuana and industrial hemp. While marijuana is grown to produce a high THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol--the psychoactive cannabinoid) content, industrial hemp is grown in such a way that favors a much higher concentration of CBD (cannabidiol) and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids. Industrial hemp plants are grown more closely together and do not have a stringent light requirement.
There are a total of ~500 chemicals within the cannabis plant: cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavanoids. These include: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (cannabidiol), CBDA (cannabidiolic acid), CBG (cannabigerol), CBGA (cannabigerolic acid), CBN (cannabinol), (THC-A) carboxylated tetrahydrocannabinol.
As is the case with other plant-derived wellness products, these chemicals are produced by the plant in response to environmental stressors like harsh conditions and microbial growth. The plant's outer surface is laden with chemical factories known as trichomes. This spectrum of phytochemicals is one of the reasons why the industrial hemp plant can thrive and offer a cornucopia of benefits.