Cannabidiol, one of the active chemicals in marijuana, is having a moment. While the science remains inconclusive, there’s growing traction for its use as a therapeutic agent for cancer and schizophrenia, and for its inclusion within more cosmetic items, like CBD-infused bath bombs and acne creams. What makes CBD novel is that it, unlike THC, is a cannabinoid chemical that comes without the high — although as a fixture of a Schedule I drug, in some places, it still comes with the stigma.
The future of CBD, however, may have more to do with an ingredient more associated with beer than with the marijuana industry: hops. In October, Isodiol International Inc., a company that claims it is “the largest global industrial source of CBD hemp oil worldwide,” announced its plan to release the market’s first CBD products derived from hops — the cone-shaped flowers responsible for flavoring and stabilizing beer.
Isolating CBD from a non-cannabis product is a step that Isodiol CEO Marcos Agramont calls “an incredible achievement,” and one that will establish his company as a leader in the market.
And it’s a profitable market to be a part of. Demand is increasing worldwide for CBD oils and creams that are sold as therapeutic aides, with grocery giants like Whole Foods getting in on the action. Up to now, only derived from industrial hemp and marijuana plants, CBD products are anticipated to grow into a $2.1 billion market by 2020.
Isodiol-employed scientists created the proprietary technology to extract cannabinoids from hops, a process they say they can apply to other non-cannabis sources as well.
The first product will be a time-released tablet that dissolves in the lower intestine and is designed to, as Isodiol spokesperson Christopher Hussey says, “maintain bio-activity.” In the company’s announcement for its CBD-extracting technology, it emphasizes that hops-derived cannabinoid products can have promising results as treatments for “various disease” and that they plan on developing further “targeted healthcare remedies,” but Hussey says that “Isodiol cannot make any sort of disease-related claim at this time.”
Hussey tells Inverse that there are plenty of alternatives to marijuana when it comes to getting cannabidiol. In addition to hops, flaxseed, liverwort, and black pepper “will prove well worth the discovery,” he says. These plants create cannabinoids and cannabinoid-similar molecules, which interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
He also makes the case that hops are not only a promising path for CBD products but a smart one.
“Given the unstable political landscape surrounding cannabis, we believe that the pursuit of alternative sources of cannabis is not only a prudent direction but also the direction the entire industry will take in the future,” says Hussey.
While 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana in some form, all cannabis extracts including CBD are still ruled federally as Schedule I substances. With the Attorney General post belonging to Jeff Sessions, that ruling won’t likely change anytime soon. Hops, meanwhile, are legal everywhere.
As of at least 2012, no one had isolated cannabinoids from another plant or animals species. Cannabis and hops, meanwhile, are closely related: Cannabiceae is a family of flowering plants that contain the genera Humuls lupulus (hops) and Cannabis sativa. That’s why both these plants have similar tastes and smells.
As cannabidiol continues to be explored for its therapeutic potential as a treatment for disorders that include, but aren’t limited to, anxiety, schizophrenia, and cancer, it will be interesting to see whether other companies and universities follow Isodiol in the study of CBD derived from hops. The illegality of cannabis has made it difficult for scientists to research its benefits — hops could be a promising route when it comes to exploring how CBD can help people heal.
If you liked this article, check out this video on how smoking weed can affect your brain.