GW Pharmaceuticals has been creating unusual blends of clinical cannabis for over two decades. Epidiolex is an abnormal, proprietary cannabidiol tincture that was developed for epilepsy. This clinical concoction has been under some well-deserved criticism for several reasons, such as a liver damage warning. Can solvents or Synthetic CBD in Epidiolex be the culprit?
Other big questions surrounding Epidiolex include:
- How much of the blend is CBD?
- What are the carrier oils?
- How much dehydrated ethanol does it contain?
- What else is in it?!
Have you read the side effects? It must be fake!
GW can extract their cannabinoids from real plants, but that is not the only option they have given themselves. Epidiolex’s proprietary concoction likely contains synthetic CBD, as the patent even states,
“Alternatively, the CBD may be a synthetically produced CBD.”
What is Abnormal CBD?
A few artificial cannabinoids exist that almost, slightly relates to the natural substance. Structural comparisons can be made between man-made and botanical versions, but there are abnormalities in the synthetic’s molecular bonds.
Despite their differences, both have shown promise at relieving epilepsy, but replicas like Abnormal CBD may have unique and opposing side effects.
One major difference is how each type of cannabidiol affects a certain lesser-known cannabinoid receptor, known as GRP55. This new found trigger to hypersensitivity is becoming known as ‘cannabinoid receptor 3.’
Cannabinoid receptors are everywhere
Ah, the bliss after a good, long inhale of your favourite strain. Activating a system that responds to cannabis is the major reason for those good feelings.
What if I told you some of CBD’s therapeutic potential is due to blocking cannabinoid receptor 3- with no negative side effects? Your body uses this receptor to maintain the other side of that infamous homeostasis cannabis is known for. Your cannabinoid system has to kill cells to prevent cancer, after all. It also causes inflammation to truly keep you balanced.
Exploring a third receptor
This side operates under different substrates than the two more well-known cannabinoid receptors. GPR55 can cause intense sensitivity and inflammation if activated too intensely. If activated just slightly, only cancer cells will be killed.
CBD still indirectly elevates anandamide, which is biphasic. This means it acts as a partial agonist in low doses but likely inhibits GPR55 in larger amounts. Possessing both capabilities is your cannabinoid system’s secret to never damaging healthy tissues.
A synthetic difference
Natural CBD’s ability to directly block GPR55 on its own is being studied as a novel treatment for migraine. Whereas, the man-made Abnormal isomer acutely activates the sensitivity center. Epilepsy and other symptoms can still be treated by synthetic CBD, but cannabis’ balance is lost in its structural alterations.
General agonists of inflammation and sensitivity are known to be damaging to your very genetic fabric. Mediating those responses is why natural cannabinoids can be so efficient at healing. Ultimately, synthetic variants can go farther than killing cancer cells and can likely facilitate cellular damage alongside many other side effects.
What Solvents Hide in that Pharmaceutical Dropper?
Propylene glycol and dehydrated ethanol will also be present in Epidiolex, at an amount that is nearly equal to the quantity of available CBD. Solvents help stabilize the flavouring that is added, which in itself just helps cover a bad taste from the sesame oil that is used to actually carry the CBD. The solvent does also help emulsify the spray, but efficiency is certainly not worth the risk.
Alcohol has to be dried with chemicals to reach a 99% pure anhydrous state. This purity is necessary in a pharmacist’s eyes in order to remove any water from the packaged medicine. Water is seen as a contaminant that will jeopardize the formula’s preservation.
Unfortunately, pure anhydrous ethanol is dangerous to consume any considerable quantity of. Regular alcohol is harsh enough. Its ability to destroy the human liver has a devastating impact that needs no sources, and this article is not about statistics. It will be stated that CBD’s side effects being misconstrued by solvents and synthetics facilitates dangerous misinformation.
Too much of anything
It is definitely recommended to mix a plant-derived full-spectrum CBD with nothing more than a pure vegetable, coconut, or MCT oil for at-home solutions. Obscure side effects may also be from natural sources, though. Too much CBD can give you diarrhea and is ultimately hard on your gut. Regardless, long term damage should not be so prevalent from normal doses of pure CBD oil.
That being said, it can affect enzyme function which can have a negative impact when combined with some other medicines. Dosage is key, even if you avoid dehydrated ethanol, propylene glycol, and abnormal synthetics.
Stay tuned to explore drug interactions with real CBD and find why the right ratio of THC and CBD can last until the morning.
Photo courtesy of NBC26.