Beyond CBD: The lesson of the rare-earth elements

by Duncan Fisher

October 10, 2022 - 3 min read

In the 1980’s, everyone had heard of Cobalt and Lithium. Both were in wide use in applications as diverse as ceramics and batteries. Not everyone had heard of Erbium or Samarium, or many of the other ‘rare-earth’ elements. These were not necessarily rare planet-wide, but they were in scant use because they were difficult to refine for development in large quantities.

Erbium, it now turns out, is basic to efficient amplifiers in fiber-optic data transmission, and Samarium, to precision-guided weapons and stealth technology. Other rare-earths, like Lanthanum, make night-vision goggles possible. Neodymium makes laser range-finders and missile guidance systems work. And Europium furnishes fluorescents and phosphors for lamps and computer monitors.

It was only as they were refined through better techniques, and more easily available to test as a result, that the unique properties and possible applications of rare earth elements came to be understood.

So it is with lesser-known cannabinoids. They’re not difficult to find, necessarily, but they can be tricky to extract or manufacture synthetically in a way that is economical for large-scale study and development. If CBD has an analogue in Cobalt, to push this metaphor, and THC stands in for Lithium, we can think of other cannabinoid molecules as developmental parallels to elements like Erbium and the rest – agents whose utility in science and industry will be revealed only once they can be produced for testing abundantly. 

CBD, being easily produced, and because of that, well understood, is approved and licensed for the first of its demonstrated pharmaceutical benefits, and is under clinical trial for several dozen more, in areas as distinct as psychiatry, oncology, neurology, and ophthalmology. The combined market for CBD, having been available for research for some time now, is worth several billion dollars a year, and is climbing exponentially.

Behind it, as refinement techniques improve, are compounds like cannabinol (CBN), already in registered trials in psychiatric disorders, pain, epilepsy, addiction control, and dermatology, and cannabigerol (CBG), currently under investigation in psychiatry, pain, and addiction control. Another is THCv, or tetrahydrocannabiverin, the propyl side chain homologue of THC, under clinical investigation in cannabis use disorder, dermatology, and diabetes. CBD has a cousin of its own in cannabidiolic acid (CBDa). This is in trials for osteoarthritis and other bone disorders, and there is reason to think it holds promise for inflammatory disorders, anxiety, seizures, and certain forms of cancer. 

Extracting plant cannabinoids for study is a difficult proposition. Mutations are numerous and unpredictable, and standardizing available molecular content is daunting. To make these compounds right for research, in pure and consistent form, PureForm has optimized processes for cannabichromene (CBC), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabigerol (CBG), available for commercial scale-up, at greater than 99% purity, and produced a number of nature-identical and novel cannabinoid compounds, including CBGa, CBDa, CBGa, CBCa, THCv, CBCva, CBDva, and abnCBD. 

Each process undergoes continued optimization to increase efficiency and lower cost as it is scaled, and this optimization continues after entry into commercial production. This agile and responsive approach to development shortens the road to new discovery and application. 

As it was when rare-earth elements became widely available for study, access to the many lesser-known cannabinoids at research grade can be expected to accelerate in this way, and in like manner this will itself change what is available in science and industry. 

DiolPure products contain PureForm CBD™ transformed from aromatic terpenes for pharmaceutical-grade purity. PureForm CBD™ is bioidentical to CBD extracted from hemp and cannabis, but free of any residual cannabinoids like THC or impurities or chemicals that can associate with traditional plant-derived production processes. 

The foregoing is a report on trends and developments in cannabinoid industry research. No product description herein is intended as a recommendation for diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease or syndrome. 


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