Cannabidiol (CBD) oil can contain the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
There is a wealth of information available in the scientific literature regarding the classes of cannabinoid compounds and the receptors involved in the endocannabinoid system. For several years now, beta-caryophyllene has been known to be a cannabinoid. But don’t just take my word for it. Back in 2008, a study by J. Gertsch et al. rolled off the press with the unambiguous headline, “Beta-caryophyllene is a dietary cannabinoid.” 1 The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, a prestigious scientific journal. Since then, at least a dozen more papers have been published on the subject, reemphasizing the fact that beta-caryophyllene is a cannabinoid. 2-13
There are three distinct classes of cannabinoids: endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids. Synthetic cannabinoids are found in certain pharmaceutical products designed to help with glaucoma, appetite stimulation, antiemetics, and other disease-linked targets. Endocannabinoids, on the other hand, are produced naturally by the body. These molecules are mainly composed of amines and amides. Endocannabinoids are pharmacologically similar to some phytocannabinoids, but vary greatly in their chemical structure. This gives different endocannabinoids the ability to produce different neurological responses, even when administered in similar doses. The primary function of endocannabinoids is to modulate normal physiological functions.
I’ve prepared this article in hopes that I can set the facts straight. Having worked as a medicinal chemist for 15 years, I’ve learned a great deal about the chemical properties of all kinds of essential oils. I’ve even conducted my own chemical analyses of hemp, CBD, and cannabis oil in my lab at doTERRA. In this article, I will discuss the chemical properties of cannabinoid compounds found in the various cannabis oils and compare them with beta-caryophyllene. Beta-caryophyllene is the main compound found in Copaiba, doTERRA’s alternative to cannabis.
Types of Cannabinoids
By definition, a cannabinoid is any ligand, molecule, or class of molecules that acts on either or both of the currently identified cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. Interestingly, these two receptors produce significantly different physiological responses when activated. CB1 activation, caused by THC and other similar cannabinoids, results in a psychoactive drug high. On the other hand, CB2 activation by beta-caryophyllene (BCP) has produced results showing some promising benefits. These include supporting a healthy inflammatory response, soothing discomfort, and positively affecting mood without the psychoactive side effects associated with other cannabinoids. 2-4,10 It is true that the positive benefits associated with BCP have also been observed using other cannabinoids, such as THC, cannabidiol, and cannabinol, but using these compounds can also come with unwanted psychological effects, especially in the case of THC.
To be legally marketable, CBD oil is not supposed to contain any discernable amount of THC. 14 However, our own internal investigation involving analytical testing and evaluation has found that various CBD oils on the market do contain significant levels of THC and therefore could very likely trigger a psychoactive response and/or positive drug test. Our evaluation has also shown that commonly purchased brands of CBD oil can vary greatly in their claimed CBD content. In fact, in some samples we were not able to identify the presence of any CBD at all. In contrast, my analyses have shown that doTERRA oils are 100% free of THC, and oil compositions are consistent between batches.
To summarize, there are many ways to modulate the body's cannabinoid system. Products containing CBD, THC, and BCP all affect the endocannabinoid system. We acknowledge that health care professionals may recommend different products containing different kinds of cannabinoid compounds for different health issues. However, at doTERRA we believe that BCP-containing products are the most effective for healthy individuals seeking a product that they can use for self-care.
In this article, we review the endocannabinoid system and the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol (CBD), and Beta-caryophyllene (BCP).
There is ample evidence pointing to the benefits of oral supplementation of beta-caryophyllene, but like CBD and hemp oil, further research in the form of human clinical trials is required. More promising are the low doses at which some of these studies have been conducted. These dosages suggest that as little as 1-2 drops of Copaiba oil or 3-4 drops of Black Pepper oil may provide noticeable results in humans. At this time, the systemic soothing properties of beta-caryophyllene have potential benefit as treatment for a wide range of health issues.* Still unexplored are the effects of CB2 receptor activation on human diseases for which there are few experimental models—such as learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders—that many claim can benefit from using cannabis.
Research shows that CBD acts on the enzyme FAAH, which breaks down anandamide. CBD actually slows down the enzyme’s activity, which leads to increased levels of anandamide in the body. 1 The reason why this is significant is because anandamide interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors. Higher levels of anandamide would result in increased feelings of euphoria due to increased activation of CB1 receptors, as well as soothing of the tissues due to activation of CB2.
Cannabinoid receptors (CRs) not only detect the presence of ECs, but they are also affected by molecules from outside sources that chemically resemble endocannabinoids. The term cannabinoid refers to any compound, produced by the body or from an outside source, that triggers the EC system by activating CRs. Anandamide is an EC compound produced in the body. Anandamide activates two types of CRs, cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2).
Soothing the tissues without triggering any sort of psychoactive response can be accomplished by using a compound with selective interaction with the CB2 receptor. Beta-caryophyllene (BCP) is a sesquiterpene compound found in hundreds of different plant species, and it has recently been recognized for its unique ability to interact with CB2 but not CB1 receptors. 3 Thus the alleged benefits of CBD or THC can be obtained without the psychoactive effects by using a product containing BCP. doTERRA’s new Copaiba essential oil has the highest BCP content of any oil, around 55% as confirmed by GC/MS analysis of doTERRA’s own Copaiba oil.
“[Marijuana] is listed in Schedule I of the CSA due to its high potential for abuse, which is attributable in large part to the psychoactive effects of THC, and the absence of a currently accepted medical use of the plant in the United States.” 11 (Exceptions 12 )
Cannabidiol (CBD) is another compound found in cannabis. CBD does not have the same psychoactive properties as THC. CBD directly interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors, but the interaction is so weak it is inconsequential 6 . CBD does still affect your endocannabinoid system, but it actually affects it indirectly and by a different mechanism than most cannabinoids.
There is substantial evidence supporting the powerful benefits of oral supplementation of beta-caryophyllene. Further human clinical trials are needed, but current studies are already quite promising—as little as 1–2 drops of Copaiba oil produce noticeable results in humans.
The 2018 Act did not remove the FDA’s “authority to regulate products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds under the FD&C Act and . . . the Public Health Service Act (PHS Act).” 15 This means that any product containing cannabis or cannabis compounds, such as CBD, is still subject to the same laws as any other drug or dietary supplement. This includes CBD oil. Any product containing CBD, regardless of its THC content, cannot currently be sold as a dietary supplement. 16 This is because the FDA has approved neither THC nor CBD under the FD&C Act. 17
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for reviewing and approving applications to ensure that new drugs meet the standards of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).
Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of “more than eighty biologically active chemical compounds” found in cannabis 5 . THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid and causes psychoactive effects or a “high.” THC activates both CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Due to issues of legality, as well as limited research and other concerns, doTERRA is not making any CBD products or oils at this time. We are committed to our standard of CPTG Certified Pure Tested Grade™ oils and nothing less. Right now, it is not possible to deliver a CBD oil that meets our CPTG ® standards.