Why is there such an interest in the PGRs for cannabis?
For those of us who have held dense buds of cannabis, many have likely thought that aesthetically: “This is a high-grade flower”. The dense compact appearance is especially apparent when compared to buds that are lighter and fluffier in appearance. Perhaps also you have noticed a potent fuel/gas aroma when presented with imported or visually impressive “high grade”. These are usually telltale signs that the cannabis may have been grown using plant growth regulators (PGRs).
Increased profit margins
However, there is also another factor which plays a major role in the growing demand for PGRs: increased profit margins. With cannabis rapidly becoming a big business, increased yields per harvest and shorter growth cycles, have sparked an interest in PGRs from commercial perspectives. With lucrative returns for growers, it is interesting to note that the global PGR market is to surge from $3.5 Billion observed in 2014, to $6.4 Billion by 2020.
What are Plant Growth Regulators?
Discovered in the late 1920s and 1930s, PGRs have been used in agriculture for decades to increase the commercial viability of crops. In more recent years, fears about the safety of some synthetic PGRs came to light. Due to their apparent toxic nature, many have subsequently been banned for use on consumable food crops since the 1970s and are regarded as pesticides in many countries. Some may be familiar with the “Alar scare” which cost the US apple industry over a $100 million, after the controversial PGR daminozide was deemed to be a “probable human carcinogen” by the US government. This particular type of synthetic PGR, that interferes with hormonal pathways is often regarded as a “Plant Growth Retardant”.
To begin defining exactly what plant growth regulators are we need to understand plant hormones, also known as phytohormones. It is these hormones that PGRs influence and act upon. Plant hormones are natural to the plant kingdom and similarly to animal hormones, play major roles in a plants growth and development. It is traditionally accepted that there are 5 major classes of natural plant hormones (endogenous) that play key roles in a plants life cycle.
- Abscisic acid
They all have regulatory functions and can either inhibit or increase cellular growth and activity. They most often work in tandem with one another in varying ratios throughout a plants life cycle. The table below shows the timing and overlap of the 5 major classes and their significance throughout the developmental stages of a Cannabis plants life.
How do PGRs affect plants
So how do PGRs actually manipulate a plants growth cycle and increase it’s yields? To understand this we need to take a look at signal transduction pathways, hang in there!
Manipulating Growth Cycles
Plants make extensive use of signal transduction pathways throughout their life. They are feedback mechanisms that allow plants to respond to environmental and chemical changes. Signal transduction pathways work in sequences of biochemical reactions. From this a cell generates a response to a stimulus. Cell signaling in plant development usually involves a receptor (i.e. for a hormone or light molecule) and a signal transduction pathway, which concludes with a cellular response that is relevant to the plants development.
A common mechanism for plant hormone action is the breakdown or activation of DNA transcription proteins. These proteins work as activators or repressors of growth-stimulating genes. Essentially, activators and repressors act like the stop and start pedals on a car. When a repressor is present, it stops the formation of growth-stimulating genes, in parallel activators start the transcription of growth-stimulating genes. In response to the signal transduction pathway (initiated by the presence of plant hormones or PGRs), repressor proteins for example are then broken down and the “stop breaks” are removed. This allows the “car” to drive ahead and create growth-stimulating genes.
PGRs increase yields by cellular expansion through signal transduction pathways. When growth stimulating genes are activated, cells begin to grow and increase in size. Cell expansion is primarily driven by water uptake into the cells cytoplasm, which accumulates in the cells central vacuole. Here the central vacuoles volume expands as water enters the plant cell. As a result of this the cell wall also expands through turgid pressure. This expanding outward pressure from the extra water inside the plants cell is one cause for the added weight observed in crops grown with PGRs. This results in the plant cells having increased water retention. Auxins also play roles in the enlargement of plant cell walls for growth, this is known as the “Acid growth hypothesis”.
Here auxins essentially acidify the cell wall, with the help of Expansion proteins to loosen and expand it. A plant’s cell wall is mostly made of cellulose which is a material that increases as auxins work to activate cell wall growth. From this, we can assume that cellulose material also contributes to the added weight gained with the use of PGRs. Relating this back to your fruits and flowers, this means that when total harvest weight increases, the over-all quality decreases.
Evidence for PGRs’ being dangerous
The verdict on whether PGRs are dangerous to human health continues to remain open for discussion. With differences in testing, regulations and laws across the world, PGRs are deemed as both safe in some countries and toxic in others. In the USA and Europe they are largely regarded as pesticides, though still widely used in agriculture. The PGRs that interfere with hormonal pathways (in particular Gibberellin) and their biosynthesis are seen to be the most dangerous.
Potential threat to human health
When considering the use of Cannabis from a medical perspective it would be best to avoid Cannabis grown with synthetic PGRs where possible. Although there are many PGRs out there, here is an outline of some popular synthetic PGR Gibberellin inhibitors:
As well as posing a potential threat to human health PGRs being pesticides have been found to be environmental pollutants. Residual PGRs in the soil and water are shown to have toxic effects on the digestive organs of fish and their embryos. Microorganism diversity also changes with PGR applied soils. This environmental impact is likely to be causing more damage than realized, due to soil run off and infiltration of aquatic systems.
What PGR natural alternatives are there?
So far we have largely discussed synthetic PGRs because at present the vast majority of the market are using these. But are there any natural alternatives out there? When it comes to growing Cannabis and most crops for that matter we have to start with the basics: How can one best mimic mother nature ?. The use of PGRs should be to enhance the genetic potential of a Cannabis plant, so a good start, rather than using synthetic man-made plant hormones (which appear to have the more dangerous effects) is to look at where we may find similar organic compounds naturally.
Derived from chitin this organic molecule is found in the exoskeletons of crustaceans, from Mantis shrimps to Beatles. Chitosan provides structural support in the hard shells of these animals. It is a vastly abundant biodegradable material with a low molecular weight. When chitosan is applied as a foliar or soil drench to plants it has been found to exhibit PGR qualities. Targeting a plant cells plasma membrane and nucleus, chitosan regulates gene expression and other cellular processes. NASA have also taken interest, experimenting with chitosan to aid plant growth in space!
This plant growth stimulant can be found in a variety of natural sources such as alfalfa meal, sugarcane and bees wax. Triacontanol is a “fatty alcohol” and is sometimes referred to as Melissyl or Myrcicyl alcohol. It is non-toxic, environmentally friendly and safe to consume. Research has shown Triacontanol to be a powerful growth stimulant, effecting basic metabolic processes such as photosynthesis, enzyme activity, nutrient uptake CO2 assimilation and much more. In the correct doses Triacontanol significantly increases the amount of chlorophyll in leaves, improving the rate of photosynthesis.
With the use of PGRs continuing to grow, it will be interesting to see how they pursue to play a role in the future of agriculture and Cannabis. There is plenty of room for research in this area, but there are evident benefits and costs to using PGRs. Plant growth regulators are essentially a human attempt at “bio-hacking” a plants biological system. With that in mind we have a “you get back what you put in” scenario. It appears that if sourced naturally, PGRs can have positive up-regulating effects on the growth and development of plants, with fewer negative consequences and health concerns. However when created synthetically PGRs that manipulate growth cycles and yields come at the cost of poorer quality and potential health hazards.
For more information: https://www.humboldtseeds.net/en/blog/plant-growth-regulators-weed/
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1. What is CBD? What is CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring constituent of industrial hemp/cannabis. Its formula is C21H30O2 and it has a molecular mass of 314.4636. It is the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, and is being scientifically investigated for various reasons.
CBD oil is a cannabis oil (whether derived from marijuana or industrial hemp, as the word cannabis is the latin genus name for both) that has significant amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) contained within it. Our CBD products and extracts are derived from industrial hemp, so they could be considered CBD-rich hemp oil, hemp derived CBD oil, CBD-rich cannabis oil, or plainly “hemp extracts” since they typically contain much more than just CBD. Again, cannabis doesn’t mean marijuana, but is the genus name, and general umbrella term which all forms of marijuana and hemp fall under. The form of cannabis we use for our CBD and hemp extracts is industrial hemp; we do not sell marijuana.
2. If a hemp extract is 40% cannabinoids, what’s the other 60%? What’s in your hemp extracts besides the naturally occurring cannabinoids?
Our Kentucky hemp extracts contain over 80 different phyto-cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), CBC, CBG, CBN, etc.. In addition to the cannabinoids naturally present in our agricultural hemp extracts, there are also many other types of natural molecules and phyto-chemical compounds such as amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins (including B1, B2, B6, D), fatty acids (including omega 3 & 6), trace minerals (including iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium), beta-carotene, chlorophyll, flavanoids, ketones, nitrogenous compounds, alkanes, glycosides, pigments, water, and terpenes. The most common terpenes in our hemp extracts are Myrcene, Beta-caryophyllene, Terpinolene, Linalool, alpha-Pinene, beta-Pinene, Nerolidol og Phytol, trans-alpha-Bergamotene, Limonene/ beta-Phellandrene (Co-elution), and alpha-Humulene.
3. What’s the difference between Hemp and Marijuana?
Scientifically, industrial Hemp and Marijuana are the same plant, with a genus and species name of Cannabis Sativa. They have a drastically different genetic profile though. Industrial Hemp is always a strain of Cannabis sativa, while marijuana can be Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or Cannabis ruderalis. The major difference is how industrial hemp has been bred compared to a marijuana form of Cannabis sativa. Typically speaking, industrial hemp is very fibrous, with long strong stalks, and barely has any flowering buds, while a marijuana strain of Cannabis sativa will be smaller, bushier, and full of flowering buds. However, newer industrial hemp varieties in the USA are being bred to have more flowers and higher yields of cannabinoids and terpenes, such as our Kentucky hemp we’re now using!
99% of the time marijuana has a high amount of THC and only a very low amount of CBD. Hemp, on the other hand, naturally has a very high amount of CBD in most instances, and only a trace amount of THC. Fortunately, the cannabinoid profile of hemp is ideal for people looking for benefits from cannabis without the ‘high.’ Hemp is used for making herbal supplements, food, fiber, rope, paper, bricks, oil, natural plastic, and so much more, whereas marijuana is usually used just recreationally, spiritually, and medicinally. The term cannabis oil can refer to either a marijuana or hemp derived oil, since marijuana and hemp are two different forms of cannabis.
In the USA the legal definition of “industrial hemp,” per Section 7606 of the Agricultural Appropriations Act of 2014, is “INDUSTRIAL HEMP — The term ‘‘industrial hemp’’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
4. Are hemp derived cannabinoids such as CBD as good as CBD from marijuana?
The short answer is yes. CBD is CBD, whether from marijuana or hemp. Most marijuana has a very low non-psychoactive cannabinoid profile (like CBD, CBC, CBG), so most of the time hemp would be much more preferable for anything besides THC. Marijuana is usually very high in THC (gives people the high) but usually very low in other non-psychoactive cannabinoids.
Nowadays in the USA, many farmers are growing industrial hemp flowers that are just as beautiful, odor-producing, and terpene rich as the best marijuana strains, such as our partnered farmers in Kentucky.
5. Why don’t you source your Hemp and CBD from within Colorado?
We feel that the hemp program in Kentucky is more well suited for our company in regards to growing hemp, and that because it’s 100% compliant with Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill (and the 2016 Agricultural Appropriations Act), procuring it from there is perfectly legal at the federal level. Kentucky’s ecology is perfect for hemp just as it is for tobacco. The growing season is longer than in Colorado, and the soil is richer, so the quality of the hemp and the yields are better.
6. What’s the percentage of cannabinoids and CBD in your product?
Our raw extracts have varying percentages of cannabinoid and cannabidiol (CBD) content, the range being 10%-99%. Each product has a unique formulation and uses varying ratios of our extract types. Our CBD Isolate is over 99% pure CBD.
7. What is the best method of use?
For our dietary supplements we can only recommend them for internal consumption. Our CBD isolate is for research purposes only. If you don’t like the flavor of the oil supplements, you can mix with something sweet like apple sauce or honey to cut through the flavor.
8. What’s the ideal serving size for me, and how often should I take it?
There is no easy answer to this. Our starting recommended serving size is 15 drops but we generally recommend experimenting to see what feels best to you. Some prefer 5 drops, some prefer over 50 drops per day.
9. What is the safety of your hemp extracts? Are there negative side effects?
Hemp is considered by many to be generally safe. We’ve never seen or heard of any significant or negative side effects in our years in the industry. That said, we can’t rule them out. Please consult with your physician before using any dietary supplement including Hemp extract supplements.
10. Which of your CBD and hemp products should I get?
As a company who sells various dietary and food supplements, we can’t suggest any of our products for the prevention, treatment or cure of any disease or ailment.
When considering our different dietary hemp products, know that they all come in two strengths. Our Original Hemp blends (Classic Hemp Blend, Hemp Complete, Brainpower oil, & Signature Blend) all have 250+mg of cannabinoids per fluid ounce, and our concentrated blends have 1,500+mg per fluid ounce, six times the potency of our traditional oils. We’ve found that sometimes less is more, but nevertheless, some people like to take very large serving sizes of our hemp extracts.
The main difference between the four Original Blends is the additional herbal ingredients besides hemp. We suggest you research the separate components of each blend to determine which product may be most appealing to add to your dietary regimen. If you know it’s solely the hemp extract that you are looking for, with no additional ingredients, then Classic Hemp Blend or Classic Hemp 6x is what you’re looking for.
For dabbing and vaporizing or for research you can try our CBD Isolate.
THOSE WHO SUSPECT THEY MAY HAVE A DISEASE OR ARE SEEKING HELP FOR A DISEASE SHOULD CONSULT A QUALIFIED MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.
11. Why do people use Hemp Extracts and CBD? What are the benefits and uses of CBD?
In accordance with federal regulations we cannot make health claims regarding our dietary supplement products. We can only recommend our products for general wellness.
12. Is a standard hemp seed oil the same as a high-CBD hemp extract?
Absolutely not. Standard hemp oil, which can be found very cheaply at a grocery store, is a much different product than our CO2 hemp extracts (not from seed). Standard hemp oil is produced by cold pressing the seeds, whereas our hemp extract is a supercritical CO2 extraction of the hemp plant itself, not the seeds. Hemp seed oil is considered to be a great nutritive food, but it doesn’t have the naturally occurring terpenes, cannabinoids and other components that our extracts do have.
13. Do I need to move to Colorado to get your Hemp Extracts and CBD? Where do you ship?
No. We actually source our hemp from Kentucky, as it’s legal to ship across state lines. Many people are under the impression that the only way to acquire hemp extracts and CBD for themselves or a loved one is to move to Colorado or another cannabis-friendly state. Many major news outlets are misinformed and are unfortunately spreading the idea that you can only get CBD oil in the states where medical marijuana has been legalized. This is simply not the case though. Because our extracts comes from hemp instead of marijuana, we can and do ship to all fifty states, and no medical marijuana card is needed. There are some exceptions, like with Indiana, Missouri and South Dakota we can’t sell our concentrated products due to state legislation.
We also ship to Japan, Australia, the EU, Switzerland, and Brazil. For all EU orders contact our exclusive distributor there, Cannawell.
14. Is your Hemp Extract Oil similar to Rick Simpson Hemp Oil?
Not quite. Ours are from hemp and RSHO is usually using marijuana, a different form of cannabis than industrial hemp. Our industrial hemp extracts are more standardized and will usually have a much higher content of non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD than one produced through the Rick Simpson method. And oils produced through his method will usually have a much higher THC content, as it’s typically marijuana that is used for RSHO.†
Generally speaking, most marijuana producers and sellers (especially on the black market) don’t test for contaminants (metals, pesticides, bacteria, etc.). Rick Simpson Hemp Oil is actually more a method of extraction than it is a specific product. People use the Rick Simpson method with hundreds of different strains of marijuana, so the THC, CBD and other cannabinoid content of the final oil is always varying greatly, depending on the cannabis the consumers are acquiring. Usually what’s used for Rick Simpson oil is a strain with an inferior CBD content (and high THC), because that’s what the vast amount of marijuana is nowadays.
15. Where do you source your hemp and CBD from?
We have partners in Kentucky who grew a dedicated plot for us this year (2016) which is being used in our products now. We also currently source from Europe but we’ll be changing that soon.
16. What kind of testing/analysis is performed on your products?
We have an industry leading quality control system, and we have third party laboratories analyze all of our hemp extracts and our final products for cannabinoid potency, heavy metals, bacterial and microbial life, mycotoxins (fungus), and pesticides.
17. What is CO2 extraction? What’s the difference between subcritical and supercritical CO2 extractions?
CO2 extraction is an extraction process that uses pressurized carbon dioxide to extract phyto-chemicals (such as CBD, CBG, or terpenes, flavonoids, etc.) from a plant. CO2 at certain temperatures and pressures acts like a solvent, without the dangers of actually being one. It is the most expensive extraction method, and is widely considered the most effective and safest plant extraction method in the world.
Many hemp and CBD companies boast about their supercritical CO2 extractions, but that’s actually only one (and perhaps an inferior) method of using a CO2 extraction machine. There are also subcritical CO2 extractions, and ‘mid-critical’, a general range between subcritical and supercritical. Subcritical (low temp, low pressure) CO2 extractions take more time and produce smaller yields than super-critical, but they retain the essential oils, terpenes, and other sensitive chemicals within the plant. Supercritical, on the other hand, is a high pressure and high temperature process that damages most terpenes and heat sensitive chemicals, but can extract much larger molecules such as lipids (omega 3 and 6), chlorophyll, and waxes. A truly full-spectrum CO2 extract includes first performing a subcritical extraction, separating the extracted oil, and then extracting the same plant material using supercritical pressure, and then homogenizing both oil extracts into one. In the essential oil industry, an extract made using this specific process is referred to as a CO2 Total.
18. What is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)?
“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located in the mammalian brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems, consisting of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors.” Wikipedia
There are two main types of receptors in the ECS, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the central nervous system and brains of mammals, and CB2 are generally found in the peripheral nervous system. There are two main cannabinoids mammals produce- 2AG and Anandamide (named after the Sanskrit term “ananda” which translates to “peace”).
For hundreds of millions of years every vertebrate on Earth has been equipped with this ECS, a crucial system in the body, and it has been known about in the scientific and medical communities since the 1980’s. However, it’s still not taught about in most medical schools.