There’s a lot of debate nowadays about the natural vs synthetic origins of minor cannabiniods. Naturally, various strains of cannabis plant produce ample amounts of THC, CBD and CBG. Whereas minor cannabinoids are trickier – there can be anywhere from 1% to untraceable amounts of them. This might not sound very problematic, however, if you were to extract a 1 kilogram of some compound that constitutes as little as 0,05% of biomass, this means that you’d be facing a 2 ton of biomass problem. And that’s with an idealised 100% extraction efficiency!
To overcome the mindboggling situation where your factory needs to run 24/7 with labour intensive processes, tons of biomass and tens of tons of flammable solvents, there is a solution. And that is (semi) synthetically obtained products. Usually, the question of natural vs synthetic is portrayed similarly to something like CBD vs CBG, as two uniquely different things. However, in the purest form – the molecule that was obtained naturally is completely identical to the one produced during any synthetic reaction. Those are two indistinguishable substances, whereas in the case of CBD vs CBG or CBN vs CBG – these two are entirely unique compounds.
As far as cannabinoids are concerned – you may have met the term semi-synthetic compound. In research and development of new cannabinoid products we often think of the natural ways the plant uses in biosynthesis. Cannabis plant is able to turn CBG into CBD or CBD to THC. Exactly the same thing can be done much more efficiently during synthesis by following the biosynthetic logic and using natural starting materials, thus, in essence using a single step transformation of natural starting material into a more valuable or more potent product. Hence this pathway is entitled as semi-synthetic.
The molecules are the same, but here the second question might arise. What can be the distinctive factor between natural extracted and synthetically produced cannabinoids? The main contrasting feature between the two could be purity and impurities. This is not always the case, however one must always be aware. Products that are extracted from the cannabis plant may have leftover of plant waxes, oils or extraction solvents, they are also susceptible to contamination by various pesticides and herbicides from the field as not only the active material is concentrated – the contaminants are concentrated as well. Furthermore, natural cannabinoid extracts contain THC and, as most non-psychoactive products must be THC-free, special laborious chromatography THC removal must be employed. Synthetic products, however, are unaffected by pesticides or any other agricultural chemicals. Due to strict control of the process – they can be made devoid of any impurities as modern analytical methods and impurity profiling techniques in combination with alternative methods of synthesis allow to achieve virtually pure products in certain cases. And if purity criteria cannot be achieved by modifying the synthetic procedure – a plethora of purification methods could be applied. We will be discussing this topic in more detail in upcoming articles, so if you’re interested – stay tuned!
At Sanobiotec we thrive for excellence in each step – extraction, manufacturing, synthesis, purification and quality control. Our in depth expertise allows us to perfect our products by using the most appropriate methods of purification for all products we offer – be it natural or (semi) synthetic. We employ state of the art equipment for distillation, extraction, chromatography and much more, everything fuelled by our inquisitive minds! We strictly follow each step of production with gas and liquid chromatography systems and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) machines and as our final products are formulated – we always make the extra step and verify our results in a third party laboratory – for full transparency and, simply, because we care that our customers get the purest, highest quality and potency products on the market. If you want to join our satisfied clients – be sure to drop us a line or book a call!
This post was brought to you by our inhouse scientist Simonas Balkaitis