Plant-derived vs. synthetic CBD: Is one better than the other?

by Duncan Fisher

October 11, 2022 - 2 min read

There is a purchasing bias in the consumer market in favor of plant-derived cannabinoids over bio-identical synthetics. This is not lost on advertisers, who know that ‘natural’ feels safer somehow to most people. At least one paper has shown that users of pharmaceutical CBD really do think this (Seizure August 2020;80:92-95). There is no data to support the superiority of cannabis-derived over synthetic. If anything, agricultural cannabis runs the risk of bringing with it pesticide residue and leftover soil contaminants. And the pharmacological effects? A study published recently in Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids (2021;4:86–96) has examined this, in cannabidiol (CBD) in human cell lines. Their findings do not support the bias of the natural camp. 

The study, conducted on 4 natural and 2 synthetic CBD samples, aimed to establish any in-vitro pharmacological differences or superiority between the two sources. CBD was assessed as an anti-cancer agent, in a human ovarian SKOV-3 tumor cell line. The neuroprotective effects of CBD were assessed in human pericytes, in an oxygen glucose deprivation model of stroke. CBD’s anti-inflammatory property was evaluated by restoration of inflammation-induced intestinal permeability in differentiated human Caco-2 cells. 

All CBD samples similarly reduced resazurin metabolism In proliferating and confluent SKOV-3 cells, a marker of cell viability, and did so in a concentration-dependent manner. In pericytes exposed to oxygen glucose deprivation, all CBD samples similarly reduced cellular damage, measured by lactate dehydrogenase, and reduced inflammation, judged by IL-6 secretion. And in differentiated Caco-2 cells exposed to inflammation, each sample increased epithelial permeability similarly. 

Natural CBD contains traces of other phytocannabinoids, in small amounts. In these samples, the most abundant was CBDV (0.6%). CBDV pharmacology is not well characterized, but binding assays suggest that it is unlikely that the small concentrations of CBDV, or any other cannabis constituent, influenced results at the pharmacodynamic level. Were there pharmacokinetic interactions between any of these compounds in vivo? This is not known. For what it is worth, attenuation of IL-6 was inhibited by 5HT1A receptor antagonism for all CBD sources.

Meanwhile, these results show no pharmacological difference in vitro in the antiproliferative, anti-inflammatory, or permeability effects of purified natural versus synthetic CBD. In developing new medications, then, what counts is not source material, but purity and consistency of the CBD produced, and also the particular pharmaceutical preparation chosen. 

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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