A common question that healthcare professionals ask is what are the differences between Charlotte’s Web™ Original Formula, which contains 50mg CBD per mL, and our 60mg per mL extracts? With only a 10mg per milliliter difference, you may be wondering when and why to choose between them. Both are full spectrum hemp extracts featuring a range of cannabinoids, plus terpenes, flavonoids, phytosterols, essential fatty acids and many other beneficial plant compounds. The practical relevance of their differences, however, comes from how they are extracted, as this results in two dynamically different products. Charlotte’s Web is unique within the CBD industry for many reasons, including that we offer full spectrum hemp extracts created by two different extraction methods: supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) and isopropyl alcohol (IPA).
Hemp Extraction Methods: Supercritical Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA)
All Charlotte’s Web products, with the exception of Original Formula , are created using a supercritical Carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction process. Supercritical CO2 technology allows for a more targeted extraction of cannabinoids without much extraneous material (for example, fats) that need to be subsequently removed. The CO2 method is ecologically friendly, highly efficient, and suitable for large quantity extractions. The resultant extract has the highest concentration of CBD. Charlotte’s Web 60mg per mL CBD oil has the most milligrams of CBD per serving, but there are also tinctures, capsules, and gummies available at a variety of concentrations. All Charlotte’s Web oils created using CO2 extraction are currently certified organic .
Even though CO2 extraction is the most commonly used method in the industry, our Original Formula has historically been created using isopropyl alcohol (IPA) extraction, and it continues to be extracted by that same method today. IPA extraction has been likened by Charlotte’s Web scientists to the process of making herbal tea. It’s a very simple, artisanal approach that uses whole-plant material. The result is a dark, rich combination of synergistic compounds that are relatively high in terpenes. The alcohol is removed from the final Original Formula product by means of a gentle heating process, and then re-used many times to prevent waste. Coconut or olive oil is then added as the lipid carrier. The final product is tested at third party independent laboratories for residual solvents.
The IPA extraction process is more labor intensive than CO2 extraction, and so Original Formula is produced in small, select batches. This small-batch, slow production process is a nod to how the company began. Original Formula is the Charlotte’s Web flagship product that played a pivotal role in launching the CBD industry in the United States.
All Charlotte’s Web products are the result of 100% organic farming practices, using our proprietary genetics to create a consistent phytochemical profile. Our extremely high standards for quality and trust as well as our dedication to transparency have earned Charlotte’s Web the official stamp of approval from the U.S. Hemp Authority® Certification Program, which provides comprehensive standards for hemp growers and processors. Companies are only granted the U.S. Hemp Authority’s Certified Seal when they meet these stringent self-regulatory standards verified by independent audit.
The plants grown for Original Formula and 60mg CBD oil differ slightly in their proprietary hemp genetics, in part to adapt the plants to each specific geography and growing conditions. In fact, Original Formula is still derived from the original hemp genetics and is manufactured in the exact same process that were developed for Charlotte Figi, the company’s namesake.
What Does This Mean for the Healthcare Professional?
From a healthcare professional perspective, what does this information matter to you? Both extraction methods result in a potent mix of synergistic compounds, but there are practical differences between them.
Visually, 60mg CBD oil has a golden color because CO2 extraction is a selective extraction process which does not draw chlorophyll out of the plant. By comparison, Original Formula is much darker because it is a non-selective process which draws out more of the natural plant material, including chlorophyll.
The 60mg CBD oil is currently available in smooth-tasting Mint Chocolate, Lemon Twist, and Orange Blossom flavors in a coconut oil base. Original Formula is flavored with mint chocolate chip or natural in carrier oils coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil, but it has a much more earthy taste. The 60mg oil contains a higher concentration of CBD per mL (at least 60 mg of CBD per 1 mL serving). Original Formula contains at least 50mg of CBD per 1 mL serving, which is less but still a substantial concentration of CBD.
The formulas differ by CBD concentration, appearance, and taste, but a significant reason you may choose between them is based on their respective terpene levels. In general, the IPA extraction method draws much of the natural plant compounds, ultimately resulting in a higher quantity of terpenes as compared to a CO2 extraction. The Original Formula offers a unique pairing of terpenes and cannabinoids to create specific benefits for the user.
The Importance of Terpenes
Terpenes make up the largest (as much as 60%) and most diverse class of known natural plant substances. The terms terpenoid and terpene are often used interchangeably, but technically a terpenoid contains oxygen and a terpene is a hydrocarbon. It is thought that plants developed terpenes to ward off predators and attract pollinators. In addition, terpenes form part of a plant’s immune and repair systems.1 Terpenes are responsible for the hemp plant’s characteristic aroma and flavor, not the cannabinoids, which are odorless. At least 400 terpenes have been identified so far in cannabis.2 Terpenes are important because of their likely involvement in the entourage effect. The entourage effect describes the phenomenon whereby all compounds in the hemp plant, such as cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, phytosterols, and essential fatty acids, work best when combined in products because together they optimize each other’s effects on the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
A radioligand binding study that looked at possible mechanisms of action for terpenes concluded that their contribution to the entourage effect was independent of either orthosteric interactions with the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors (that is, direct binding to the active site) or allosteric interactions (modulating activity by changing protein conformation at the binding site). The exception was the terpene β-caryophyllene, which acts as a CB2 agonist. The study concluded that terpenes may participate in the entourage effect by influencing endocannabinoid synthesis or metabolism. It is also possible that terpenes have biological effects in their own right through different receptor targets.3
A study that investigated mechanism of action for the potential anti-inflammatory activities of terpenes observed that they partly inhibited macrophage production of reactive oxygen intermediates and nitric oxide. In contrast, CBD showed a more potent anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα), which led researchers to the interesting conclusion that terpenes be used to inhibit acute inflammatory effects, and cannabinoids to inhibit chronic inflammation.4
The body of evidence suggesting that terpenes may have beneficial properties of their own continues to grow. So far, very few terpenes have been studied at a functional level, however, and for those that have, the evidence comes from experimental or animal models. Let’s review some of the published research about the potential importance of some key terpenes.
Summary of Key Terpene Research
α‐bisabolol was first isolated in the twentieth century from Matricaria chamomilla. It is routinely used for its anti‐inflammatory properties, and has also been shown to have possible analgesic and antibiotic activity. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has designated α‐bisabolol as Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS).5
The cytotoxic activity of α‐bisabolol was tested against cells in an experimental study. α‐bisabolol was found to act as a pro-apoptotic, antiproliferative and cytotoxic agent through several mechanisms. 6,7,8,9,10
β-caryophyllene, which is found in the essential oils of many spices and plants such as cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.), black pepper (Piper nigrum), and oregano (Origanum vulgare) is one of the most well-researched terpenes.Depending on its source, β-caryophyllene is sometimes described as a phytocannabinoid because it can act as a CB2 receptor agonist. CB2 receptors have long been identified as potential targets to address pain and inflammation.11
β-caryophyllene is approved by the FDA in the United States and by several European agencies as a food additive, taste enhancer, and flavoring agent. In addition to activating CB2 receptors, β-caryophyllene has been shown in experimental and animal studies to activate peroxisome proliferated activator receptors (PPARs). The PPAR family of nuclear receptors plays a major role in regulating energy homeostasis and metabolic function.12
β-caryophyllene has been shown in multiple animal studies to have ant-inflammatory effects.13,14 It has also been shown to reduce neuropathic pain.15
Studies have reported that β-caryophyllene may have its effects by modulating several molecular targets either through direct interaction or by altering gene expression and signaling pathways. It has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and immune-modulating activities. It has potential to be cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, gastroprotective, neuroprotective, and nephroprotective. β-caryophyllene is also being considered as a novel therapeutic candidate for neurodegenerative and metabolic disorders given its positive effects, along with its favorable bioavailability profile.16
In a study of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, the animal model for multiple sclerosis, β-caryophyllene was found to reduce inflammation and to attenuate neurological damage.17,18 It was also found to be neuroprotective in an experimental model of Parkinson’s disease.19
β-caryophyllene significantly decreased observable signs of inflammation, corroborated by histopathology and radiology findings, in an animal model of arthritis.20
β-caryophyllene is a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger. It was shown to protect against doxorubicin-induced acute cardiotoxicity in rats, with possible therapeutic application in chemotherapy-associated cardiotoxicity.21
The role of the CB2 receptor system in alcohol dependence and sensitivity was investigated in an animal model. β-caryophyllene acting as a CB2 receptor agonist was shown to decrease alcohol consumption in a dose-dependent manner. These positive effects were overridden when mice were pre-injected with a selective CB2 receptor antagonist.22
β-caryophyllene has also been shown to be insulinotropic and to modulate glucose homeostasis with potential anti-diabetic activity (particularly in combination with L-arginine).23,24
The potential effect of β-caryophyllene on diabetic nephropathy was evaluated in vitro using high glucose-induced glomerular mesangial cells to simulate diabetic nephropathy. β-caryophyllene inhibited high glucose-induced cell proliferation and reactive oxygen species production. It also showed anti-inflammatory activity by decreasing levels of TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 in the high glucose-induced cells. The researchers concluded that these findings, along with other study results, demonstrated that β-caryophyllene had nephro-protective properties.25
α‐humulene was formerly classified as alpha-caryophyllene. It’s been shown in lab studies to have anti-bacterial activity against the enterotoxin Bacteroides fragilis, which causes inflammatory bowel disease, as well as being able to inhibit the formation of biofilm.26 α‐humulene showed anti-inflammatory effects and inhibited eosinophil infiltration in an animal model of allergic inflammation in respiratory airways.27
A study that looked at α‐humulene (as well as trans-caryophyllene) in several animal models of inflammation found that α‐humulene had a positive impact on many pro-inflammatory reactions, including inhibiting production of the inflammatory cytokines TNF-α and IL-1. Researchers concluded that the anti-inflammatory effects of α‐humulene were comparable to those seen in dexamethasone-treated animal controls.28
Linalool, which is also found in lavender, is known for its relaxant effects, and is considered to have anti-inflammatory properties.29,30 Linalool has been shown in several animal models to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antinociceptive effects that are thought to be mediated through cholinergic and glutamatergic pathways.31 In addition, linalool has demonstrated anticonvulsant activity in animals,32 which may be mediated by its effects as an NMDA receptor antagonist.33
Cannabinoid Content in 60mg Oil and Original Formula
Scientists have so far identified about 113 distinct phytocannabinoids in hemp in addition to cannabidiol (CBD). The cannabinoids present in Charlotte’s Web hemp extracts are quantified in the COA for every batch. These other phytocannabinoids are still considered “minor” as compared to CBD and THC, but ongoing research continues to shed light on their potential effects in the body.34
Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA)
Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) is the botanical precursor to CBD. CBDA undergoes decarboxylation when exposed to sunlight or heat and loses its carboxyl group to become CBD. In preclinical studies, CBDA has shown anti-inflammatory properties by acting as a selective COX-2 inhibitor.35
CBDV may help modulate the excitatory (glutamatergic) and inhibitory (GABA-ergic) systems of the brain.36,37
CBN has been studied for its potential to modulate inflammation and pain.38,39
CBG is the precursor for several other phytocannabinoids, including CBD and CBC (cannabichromene). Research indicates that CBG interacts with CB1 receptors in a way that appears to balance the effects of other cannabinoids. It also seems to interact strongly with CB2 receptor sites,40 suggesting that CBG may turn out to play a role in regulating inflammation.41 Furthermore, CBG may be able to interact with a range of the body’s receptor sites in addition to those specific to the ECS.42
Several studies suggest that as well as interacting with the ECS, CBC may interact with TRPV1and TRPA1 receptor sites, which are involved in inflammation and pain sensitivity.43,44 CBC was shown to uplift mood and decrease sluggishness in animal models of depression.45 CBC may also support the regeneration of neural stem progenitor cells,46 and help with skin inflammation.47
60 mg CBD Oil
As our highest concentration of CBD per mL, this extract is ideal when the goal is to go the next step with a CBD routine for those who are already familiar with Charlotte’s Web products. The 60mg oil is a full spectrum hemp extract, robust in phytocannabinoids, but it is not as high in terpenes as Original Formula as a consequence of the CO2 extraction process.
Original Formula is created in a small batch, labor-intensive, alcohol extraction process. The result is a darker extract with a very earthy flavor. Original Formula is a full spectrum hemp extract that provides 50mg of CBD per 1mL serving. The IPA extraction method results in a rich combination of synergistic compounds that are significantly higher in terpenes when compared to the 60mg CBD oil.
These formulas differ by CBD concentration, appearance, and taste, but from a healthcare professional standpoint, the practical reason you may choose between them and opt for Original Formula, is because of their respective terpene levels and the benefits they offer.
Charlotte’s Web continues to craft Original Formula and 60mg CBD oil in different ways to provide you with the options you need to better support the individual biochemistry and wellness goals of your patients and clients.