By Suzanne Stewart for the Pocahontas Times
When the general public hears about a cannabis plant, the first thought that comes to mind is hemp and marijuana, which is used recreationally and in most states – illegally.
Despite the negative connotations, cannabis has many positive uses including relief from pain and anxiety and much more.
As more states legalize the use of cannabis – recreationally or medicinally – several by-products also enter the market.
One that seems to be popping up everywhere now is CBD oil – or cannabidiol – which is derived from the hemp plant. Unlike the marijuana plant – which contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the high-inducing ingredient – hemp has faint-to-no-trace of THC.
At Appalachian Extracts in White Sulphur Springs, owners Josh Ludgate and Duane Zobrist cultivate hemp plants and create their own line of CBD products. The partners and their employees at the facility study the plants they grow and are well-versed in all things cannabis.
“We’re working with these things that really are not that much different than how they are found in the field naturally,” Ludgate said. “We’re trying to figure out which ones are the most hearty plants to grow and how they’re going to produce the most flower we can get per square foot. There’s a lot of science that we’re trying to do in here – watering techniques, water temperature and soil content.”
Ludgate said that it is common for individuals to confuse hemp and marijuana or even think they are one and the same.
“So, you have the hemp plant, and you have the marijuana plant, both are species of cannabis,” he said. “One produces THC, the other one doesn’t. That’s it. It’s like having a glass of water and a glass of wine. They can both wet your taste, but one is going to have an effect on you, and one’s not.
“They look identical,” he added.
“One of the major things we’ve seen is that the last 50 years has been devoted to how dense a THC [marijuana] plant can be made. Everybody went into this ‘how high can we make ourselves’ run on these plants, and hemp was kind of left in the field. They never really put any forethought into the value of it, so once they figured out the hemp plant has a lot of therapeutic value to it, they’re now trying to catch up.”
To create CBD products, the hemp plant has to go through an extraction process. They use a CO2 process at Appalachian Extracts. After the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant are ground into biomass, the powder is mixed with a liquid carbon dioxide solvent.
“We draw it in as a vapor and through compression and heat – you can turn CO2 from a gas to a liquid,” Ludgate explained. “That liquid floods into a canister filled with the biomass that we grind and it reverses that and sucks out all of that liquid. It converts back into a gas and all the cannabinoids fall out at that point because they’re heavier than the CO2 gasses.”
Through the process, the material goes from a powder to a paste which looks like peanut butter to the final oil. The process takes a few hours to complete and then it’s time to create the products.
At Appalachian Extracts, the CBD oil is made into tinctures and balms. The tinctures have flavors mixed in to lessen the hemp taste and the balms are mixed with camphor, menthol and eucalyptus. There is also a tinture for pets.
So, what do CBD products do?
“That’s really all up to the individual,” Ludgate said. “We can’t make any claims on what it can do and what it can’t do. I think what we’ve found is that people come in here each day marveled by how it helps them. We have seen restless leg syndrome issues that have been solved. My mother takes it – she’s got hip issues, and it’s just been fantastic for her hip. Better sleep, anti-anxiety; we get people that fight MMA, and they use it for recovery; all the way up to grandmas and grandpas who get way better sleep on it, or it’s brought their blood pressure within normal rates.”
Like many health aids, CBD products may work for some and not for others. Ludgate said the best way to find out is to try it and see.
For those who do use it, Ludgate added that, again, like other health aids, it can be used improperly.
“With anything good, you can overdo it,” he said. “Once your receptors are filled with CBD, your body rejects the rest of it, so it’s got this fill level and some people think, ‘if I feel good now, I can take more and feel even better.’ But it doesn’t work that way. We’re still reading some studies about it, but it seems like the body kind of resets itself.
“I take two droppers full in the mornings, and that takes me all the way through the day, and I sleep really, really good,” he continued. “I’ve noticed that each day I take it – and I’ve been taking CBD oil for many years – I’ve never really built a tolerance. I’ve never had to go to four doses in the morning. Two works, and all day I’m good.”
While CBD production is becoming a lucrative business, Ludgate said he and his partner are not in the business for the money. Instead, they want to help others and do research on a plant that has many uses.
“We’re a business making the oil, but we’re also researching a lot of it and doing a lot of data keeping and data collection on what we’re doing, then we can further the industry that way,” Ludgate said. “Hopefully, we’ll help others. We’re not in this to be these overnight sensation millionaires or whatever. It’s more like we see the value in it, and we want to see if we can help people with it.”
Appalachian Extracts’ pro-ducts may be bought at its location in White Sulphur Springs, online at www.app extracts.com and at other retail locations.