Does Orange Peel Contain CBD?

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A recent report from Japan claims that a company there is extracting and selling CBD from citrus peel. These claims are unusual and should be investigated before they are accepted.

Cannabinoids like CBD and THC are generally believed to be unique to Cannabis sativa. There are many other plant compounds that interact with the body's CB (cannabinoid) receptors, but chemically, they look nothing like CBD and THC.

I am unable to find any research documenting the occurrence of Cannabidiol (CBD) in citrus peel - or in any plant other than Cannabis sativa. That would be a big deal, if it could be confirmed by independent labs. The compounds that are structurally closest to CBD and THC are perrottetinene and perrottetineinic acid, which are found in a liverwort in New Zealand.

The most likely scenario is that Hiro (the Japanese company) is synthesizing CBD from limonene or some other component in the orange peel. Many of the web reports imply or claim that the CBD is naturally present in orange peel, but that seems unlikely. This synthesizing explanation is supported by the website Citrus CBD Online. They describe the "transformation" of terpenes into CBD. This 'transformation' is a type of synthesis. That page does not want to admit that it is synthetic CBD due to possible negative associations with the term synthetic. But the CBD is not present in orange peels picked from the trees - the terpenes need to be 'cooked' with other chemicals to make the CBD - it is synthetic. It might be clean and pure CBD; the CBD could be bio-identical to CBD from Cannabis sativa. But it is synthetic.

Japan's laws against THC make it difficult to sell CBD there. In the United States, CBD can contain up to 0.3% THC, but Japan does not allow this level of the psychoactive component. That creates an incentive for distillates - or for a semi-synthetic form of CBD that has essentially zero THC.

As a cynic (or realist), I think we are headed to a market where a portion of the CBD and THC are lab made. At one point, people took willow bark for headaches. Chemists learned how to make aspirin from coal, and that took off - it cost less, it worked, and it could be produced for the masses. People can still buy willow bark capsules at a specialty shop if they prefer, but most people take 'synthetic' aspirin or some other synthesized molecule (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc). I don't think that the synthetic cannabinoids will win market share as rapidly as aspirin did - many people want their molecules directly from the plant. But there are people who only want results, and there are people who respond to lower prices. The CBD world may be compared to the world of wine: we have wine, and we have wine coolers, and most people prefer wine over wine coolers. But wine coolers are here to stay.


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