Is CBD a Botanical?

Published Thu, June 30, 22

Botanicals come in all shapes and sizes. In most cases, even hemp is considered to be a botanical substance, but it might not be defined as a botanical for regulatory purposes. Find out why hemp products like CBD are often considered botanical extracts, and learn more about hemp’s official classifications.

Is hemp a botanical?

Hemp fits the general definition of a botanical as a plant-derived substance widely believed to have medicinal or therapeutic benefits. The various components of the hemp plant have widely differing regulatory statuses, however, and claiming that hemp has botanical properties could imply that it offers medicinal benefits.

The fact remains that the hemp plant and most types of hemp extracts are plant-based substances that have not been chemically altered, so most consumers would consider hemp to be botanical in nature. Hemp producers just need to be careful when classifying their products for official purposes.

What part of the plant is CBD made from?

CBD is most concentrated in the flowers of the hemp plant, so the vast majority of CBD on the market today is derived from hemp flower. The CBD extraction process involves removing the flowers from the plant and exposing them to a solvent, which separates cannabinoids and other desirable substances from unusable compounds.

What is CBD classified as?

Due to the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD is generally classified as an industrial hemp substance, a special regulatory category created to legitimize the growing CBD industry. From a regulatory perspective, therefore, CBD is not strictly a botanical even if it fits all the requirements of this term’s layman definition. The important part, however, is that CBD is usually not considered a Schedule I illicit drug.

Is CBD considered a pharmaceutical?

CBD is not usually considered to be a pharmaceutical from a regulatory perspective. Currently, the lone exception is Epidiolex, a prescription drug produced by GW Pharmaceuticals that is FDA-approved for certain forms of epilepsy. Even though the sole ingredient in Epidiolex is CBD extract, it is the only CBD product yet to be approved as a prescription drug.

Is CBD a phytochemical?

CBD is generally considered to be a phytochemical since it is a chemical substance derived from a plant. Unlike terms that are sometimes used for regulatory purposes like “botanical,” the term “phytochemical” is almost always used to simply designate a class of substances, not indicate their regulatory status.

What is botanical hemp extract?

The term “botanical hemp extract” can be used to refer to any extract derived from the hemp plant. It usually refers specifically, however, to cannabinoid-rich hemp oil, which is the main valuable extract of cannabis plants legally defined as hemp.

Is CBD considered a botanical extract?

Since it is an extract derived from a botanical source, CBD can generally be considered to be a botanical extract. It is not necessarily a botanical drug, however, which refers to a strictly regulated class of plant-derived substances the FDA has recognized as showing medical potential.

Is CBG a botanical?

Cannabigerol (CBG) extract can be considered a botanical in the general sense of the term. It is, after all, a derivative of the hemp plant, and CBG is not usually altered in any way when it is added to products. Again, however, it’s important to know the differences between substances that are considered botanical simply because they are unaltered and extracted from plants and substances that are called botanical because the FDA has designed them as botanical drugs.

Is CBN a botanical?

The cannabinoid cannabinol (CBN) would generally be considered a botanical substance, but certain caveats apply. Some definitions, however, would only consider a substance to be botanical if it is not altered in any way. Since natural concentrations of CBN are so low in hemp flower, however, this cannabinoid is usually converted from CBD.

The CBD-to-CBN conversion process does not involve the addition or subtraction of any chemical components — the composition of the molecule is simply rearranged. Still, purists might not consider CBN extract to be a botanical substance in the strictest sense of the term.

Is delta 8 a botanical?

Since it is derived wholly from a plant without any components added or removed, the THC analogue delta 8 would usually be considered a botanical substance. Like CBN, however, delta 8 is derived via chemical reconfiguration since it is not present in hemp flower in usable quantities.

No expert, though, would consider delta 8 to be a strictly synthetic substance either since it doesn’t contain any man-made components. Delta 8’s converted origins generally only matter from a regulatory perspective — from a layman’s point of view, it’s perfectly accurate to call delta 8 a botanical.

Is CBD a botanical? The bottom line

Once we venture into the weeds of regulatory phrasing, the basic definition of CBD as a botanical substance can become obscured. Yes, CBD is a botanical — it’s an unaltered derivative of a plant. Is CBD just a botanical, though? Absolutely not.

This cannabinoid, along with most other cannabinoids that aren’t delta 9 THC, occupy a unique regulatory space due to their historical similarities to illegal drugs. Even though CBD is no longer considered to be an illicit substance, the regulatory context in which it resides is directly derived from archaic drug laws.

As a result, it’s very unlikely that CBD will ever be considered a conventional botanical drug. The federal legal status of cannabis is always evolving, and the government’s stance on CBD will evolve along with it. In the meantime, it’s perfectly fine to accept the simplest answer to this question: CBD is plant-derived, so it’s a botanical.

Botanical CBD FAQ

There’s still more to learn when it comes to botanicals and CBD’s status within both official and layman definitions of this category of substances. Expand your knowhow with this question-and-answer section:

1. What is the difference between CBD oil and CBD extract?

In many cases, the terms “CBD oil” and “CBD extract” are used interchangeably. CBD oil most commonly refers, however, to tincture products that consist of CBD extract combined with carriers and other ingredients. People usually use “CBD extract,” on the other hand, to refer to pure extracts of hemp flower that contain high concentrations of cannabidiol. There are a few different types of hemp extract, but they’re all alike in that they contain high concentrations of cannabidiol and are generally difficult to use when not paired with other ingredients.

2. Can CBD come from other plants?

No, CBD is only found in cannabis and hemp — that’s why it’s called a cannabinoid, which is just a fancy word for “cannabis-derived substance.” Certain substances found in other plants, however, almost exactly mimic the chemical structure or effects of CBD.


Due to the fact that they mimic cannabis, these substances are called cannabimimetic, and some scientists believe that cannabimimetic compounds can sometimes be used in lieu of genuine, cannabis-derived cannabinoids. Terpenes are excellent examples of cannabimimetic substances that are found both in cannabis and in a wide abundance of other plants.

3. What does the FDA say about CBD oil?

While the FDA continually updates its explainer page pertaining to CBD, this agency has not made any major alterations to its CBD guidelines since the flurry of rules that emerged in the wake of the 2018 Farm Bill. Generally speaking, the FDA concurs with Congress that CBD products are considered industrial hemp substances as long as they contain less than 0.3% delta 9 THC. 

The FDA continues to issue warnings and fines to CBD companies that violate the rules it has established around this cannabinoid, and official FDA documents indicate that the agency is very interested in moving CBD regulation speedily along. We’ll just have to wait and see, however, when this regulatory agency finally makes moves to fully legitimize CBD commerce in the United States.

4. Is hemp CBD effective?

Most users report that hemp-derived CBD is just as effective as CBD derived from cannabis. From a chemical perspective, there’s no reason that the effectiveness of CBD should change depending on where it’s derived from. What’s much more important is the presence of minor cannabinoids and terpenes, which contribute to the entourage effect and make CBD products more effective.

5. Is hemp the male plant?

No, contrary to popular belief, hemp is not the “male plant” and marijuana is not the “female plant” of the cannabis species. Both hemp cannabinoids and delta 9 THC are, in fact, derived from female plants — some hemp cultivars (marijuana) have simply been bred to be high in THC, and others (hemp) have been bred to keep THC at a minimum. Only female cannabis plants produce buds, which are the only parts of the plant that bear significant concentrations of cannabinoids.

6. What is the difference between hemp and CBD for anxiety?

Both cannabinoid-rich hemp extracts and hemp seed oil are commonly referred to as “hemp,” but there’s no indication that hemp seed oil should be investigated for its anti-anxiety potential. Research into CBD and other hemp cannabinoids, however, indicates that these substances are well-worth investigating as potential anxiolytic treatments.

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