• Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabis-derived compound that may contain anxiolytic properties(1).
  • Crystalline solids, or crystals, are solid-state homogenous compounds produced through crystallization(2).
  • CBD crystals are made by isolating pure CBD from impure CBD mixtures through recrystallization(3).
  • Information on the health benefits of CBD products, such as CBD crystals, is scarce. Therefore, individuals may consult with a healthcare professional to determine whether CBD crystals are effective.

What Are CBD Crystals?

CBD crystalline or crystals are a form of CBD produced synthetically through crystallization. Compared to other forms of CBD, CBD crystals contain more concentrated amounts of CBD(4)

CBD crystals come in a white powder form that looks like coarse sugar. This substance consists of pure CBD(5).

CBD crystals may also be CBD isolates due to their CBD makeup(6).

CBD isolates are a form of CBD void of the natural components of the industrial hemp plant, including delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol THC, terpenes, and flavonoids. The primary characteristic of CBD isolates is their high CBD concentration.

Do CBD Crystals Work?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabinoid found in industrial hemp that has beneficial effects among individuals with epilepsy and mental disorders, such as anxiety(7).

There is no difference between cannabidiol and CBD. Both terms are variations of the same cannabinoid.

Studies on the health benefits of CBD crystals are diverse. Therefore, whether CBD crystals work is currently unknown.

Moreover, a study that tested the effects of CBD crystals taken in different doses presented that the bioavailability of CBD crystals depends on the drug administration method and quantity(8).

However, research postulated that manipulating the structure of CBD crystals may improve their bioavailability(9).

Bioavailability measures a drug’s potential to be absorbed by the human body.

Another study suggested that a nano-emulsified CBD derived from pure CBD showed high bioavailability in rat subjects and recommended that pure CBD isolate powder may work for human trials(10).

As CBD crystals contain pure CBD, CBD crystals may also be detected by the body’s endocannabinoid system, which consists of cannabinoid receptors.

The endocannabinoid system is a vast network of neurons that helps with the body’s self-regulating mechanism. Its cannabinoid receptors work with CBD to activate naturally occurring body chemicals, such as serotonin(11)

Before using CBD products, individuals should approach a healthcare expert on cannabis extract and cannabidiol use to avoid misinformation.

How Does CBD Crystallization Work?

CBD can be turned into crystals, which individuals may use for varied purposes. 

CBD crystallization is a method that produces pure CBD crystals or high-quality CBD isolates.

After the initial extraction process, the resulting hemp extract is considered full-spectrum CBD. When full-spectrum CBD undergoes cooling and purification, it becomes a CBD isolate(12)

Finally, CBD isolate turns into CBD crystals when it undergoes crystallization,  ridding the extract of impurities.

Aside from pure CBD, crystallization may also produce pure forms of other cannabinoids used for other purposes(13).

Cocrystallization is a process done to increase a drug’s bioavailability. The process results in soluble by-products easily digestible by the human body(14).

Cocrystallization may also help reduce side effects potentially caused by CBD crystals(15).

How to Use CBD Crystals

Some individuals take CBD crystals with other media, like meals. However, it may be uncomfortable to mix CBD crystals with food and eat them after due to their solid nature.

Another way to use CBD crystals is with vaporizers or vape pens, also known as dabbing

Compared to smoking, vaporizers do not burn CBD. Instead, vaporizers melt CBD crystals with heat. 

Therefore, vape pens may offer a safe way for individuals to utilize the benefits of CBD without intaking the toxins that usually come with smoke(16).

Additionally, vaporizers may allow CBD to enter the bloodstream quickly, which may help individuals experience CBD’s effects immediately(17-18).

However, vaping may still produce toxic chemicals that may be trapped in the lungs when inhaled. 

Vape pens use e-liquids to improve the user’s vaping experience.

Despite the absence of smoked chemicals when vaping, the pen’s e-liquids contain synthetic chemicals, such as aromatics and other additives that may harm the lungs. 

Therefore, vaping may cause several respiratory issues, such as shortness of breath and even pneumonia(19).

Moreover, individuals may also take CBD crystals orally under the tongue. This method may help individuals take CBD crystals more effectively as it allows the body to absorb the product gradually.

CBD crystals taken orally may function the same as CBD oils and CBD tinctures

CBD oils are produced by combining CBD with a carrier oil, like a medium-chain triglyceride oil or MCT oil(20).

Meanwhile, CBD tinctures are extracts wherein CBD is infused in alcohol and aromatic additives.

The tongue uses its sublingual glands underneath to take in the benefits of CBD crystals without the need for the product to enter the digestive tract. 

Meanwhile, digesting CBD crystals allows other digestive enzymes to mix with the product, affecting its potency.

CBD crystals may also come as topicals. Some CBD oils, creams, and waxes contain CBD crystals dissolved in moisturizers. Using CBD crystals topically may help individuals with pain relief(21).

What Are the Benefits of CBD Crystals?

CBD crystallization has not shown any benefits on the efficacy of CBD(22).

Moreover, a study that compared the effectiveness of CBD-rich extracts and pure CBD showed that non-pure forms of CBD may be more helpful than pure CBD(23).

Pure CBD may also be called CBD isolate crystals as they contain about 99% CBD(24)

Aside from CBD isolates, other types of CBD oils are full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD. Both types contain phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids from the cannabis plant.

However, full-spectrum CBD contains THC, which contributes to a CBD product’s synergistic properties(25). Synergy is less likely to occur in broad-spectrum CBD as its THC content is little to none(26).

When a CBD-rich product’s components interact to maximize the product’s medicinal benefits, the entourage effect occurs(27)

Even though broad-spectrum CBD and pure CBD crystals are unlikely to bear synergistic effects, individuals who want to avoid THC’s psychoactive effects may resort to broad-spectrum CBD and CBD crystals.

Moreover, since CBD crystals consist of CBD in their purest form, individuals who react negatively to THC, such as those allergic to THC, may use CBD crystals(28).

What Are the Side Effects of CBD Crystals?

CBD has been criticized for its chemical composition and potential side effects on individuals.

In 2019, the FDA released information on some CBD products containing trace amounts of heavy metals and pesticides(29).

Moreover, clinical trials that tested the effects of CBD crystals on healthy rats showed that pure CBD crystals caused depressive behavior among the subjects(30).

The study also showed that CBD crystals may increase symptoms of anxiety and tiredness, such as slow movement(31). According to the study, these results may correlate with human depression and helplessness. 

Therefore, amidst the scarcity of data regarding the effects of CBD crystals, it may be best for individuals to seek professional advice. Medical experts may also recommend better supplements to CBD crystals, if necessary.

CBD Crystals vs. Other Forms of CBD

CBD crystals may come in coarse or powder form, making CBD crystals easy to mix with food and drinks. Individuals may also take CBD crystals with snacks, such as CBD chocolate bars, gummies, and other edibles

Contrary to CBD crystals, other CBD products may contain elements other than CBD. Some may contain phytochemicals, lipids, and other cannabinoids, such as CBN and CBG.

Cannabinol, or CBN, is a cannabinoid that may help individuals get better sleep(32).

Meanwhile, cannabigerol or CBG may be helpful for brain-related conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease(33).

Compared to other forms of CBD, CBD crystals are made of pure CBD as a result of crystallization. Therefore, individuals who prefer to utilize the benefits of the compound without the psychoactive effects of THC may opt to use CBD crystals(34).

CBD distillate is another form of CBD that may be used to create CBD crystals. CBD distillate, or CBD crude oil, is a dark, viscous liquid that may undergo a purification and crystallization process to turn into CBD crystals(35).

Moreover, as CBD crystals are THC-free, they may pass the FDA’s Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018(36).

The legislation states that CBD products that contain less than 0.3% of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC are exempted from FDA regulations.

With that said, CBD crystals may be more accessible in the market for individuals interested in the product’s potential benefits.

What Is Crystallization and How Is Crystalline Made?

Crystallization is a solidifying process heavily utilized by various industries, like pharmaceuticals. This method’s by-product is a crystal whose components are intricately arranged in a microscopic grid.

Crystalline or crystal is produced from a homogenous chemical solution that underwent a process of supersaturation and cooling(37)

Supersaturation is a state where the amount of solute material is higher than the amount of solvent used. 

The production of crystalline varies upon necessity. Here are the basic steps to making crystals(38):

  • Primary nucleation

Primary nucleation produces the first crystal needed in the crystallization process. This initial crystal is created during supersaturation, when the solvent cannot dissolve the excessive amount of solute at a specific temperature. 

  • Secondary nucleation

In secondary nucleation, crystal growth becomes constant at a lower saturation level. Here, the crystals are introduced to machinery, such as a mixer blade. This step is the mechanical part of crystallization.

The resulting crystals may come in several shapes, such as cubic and hexagonal. Crystalline forms depend on production factors such as the growth rate of crystals(39).

What Is the Difference Between Crystallization and Precipitation?

Both precipitation and crystallization create a solid by-product derived from a saturated mixture.

The two methods differ in their production speed and the size of their by-products. Precipitation is faster than crystallization(40)

However, crystallization is a process that produces complex three-dimensional crystals. This method creates crystals whose components are more intricately arranged than solids formed through precipitation(41)

Unlike precipitation, crystallization produces soluble particles. To dissolve these particles, they need to be exposed to heat or diluted with other substances(42)

Additionally, researchers prefer crystallization for its ability to produce highly pure products at low production costs(43).

What Is Seeded Cooling Crystallization?

Seeding is done to speed up crystallization.

In seeded cooling crystallization, particles are manipulated by controlling their crystal size distribution, determining the size of crystals present in a mineral per unit volume.

Researchers observed that seeded cooling crystallization may be helpful for reproduction purposes, such as in pharmaceutical products(44-45).

Although seeded cooling crystallization is theoretically effective, research showed that optimal crystal reproduction depends on factors like temperature(46).

Moreover, the success of the process may also depend on the resulting crystals’ ease of filtration and drying(47).

  1. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/
  2. Crystallization.
  3. Crystallization of CBD: Steps for Successfully Scaling Up. https://deliclabs.com/white-papers/crystallization-of-cbd/
  4. Crystalline Form of Cannabidiol. https://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2017/0349518.html
  5. CANNABIDIOL (CBD). https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/CannabidiolCriticalReview.pdf
  6. Healing with CBD, age 246. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AGlxnhS2SoFeOXEuysv75bd_C9pEnwsU/view
  7. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/
  8. A protocol for the delivery of cannabidiol (CBD) and combined CBD and ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by vaporisation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4274767/
  9. Towards Better Delivery of Cannabidiol (CBD). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7558665/
  10. Development of a Novel Nanoemulsion Formulation to Improve Intestinal Absorption of Cannabidiol. https://www.karger.com/Article/Pdf/497361
  11. Healing with CBD, page 46. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AGlxnhS2SoFeOXEuysv75bd_C9pEnwsU/view
  12. CBD: Is it Right for You? https://fightcolorectalcancer.org/blog/cbd-is-it-right-for-you/
  13. Isolating Valuable Cannabinoids from CBD Mother Liquor using Preparative SFC. https://www.greenchemistrygroup.org/images/conferences/SFC_2019_Poster_Abstracts.pdf
  14. Towards Better Delivery of Cannabidiol (CBD). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7558665/
  15. Ibid.
  16. A protocol for the delivery of cannabidiol (CBD) and combined CBD and ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by vaporisation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4274767/
  17. Ibid.
  18. Target-Controlled Drug Delivery: Progress toward an Intravenous “Vaporizer” and Automated Anesthetic Administration. https://pubs.asahq.org/anesthesiology/article/99/5/1214/40810
  19. What Does Vaping Do to Your Lungs? https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/what-does-vaping-do-to-your-lungs
  20. Quality Traits of “Cannabidiol Oils”: Cannabinoids Content, Terpene Fingerprint and Oxidation Stability of European Commercially Available Preparations. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6100014/
  21. Research shows pain relieving effects of CBD. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210423130221.htm
  22. Towards Better Delivery of Cannabidiol (CBD). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7558665/
  23. Overcoming the Bell‐Shaped Dose‐Response of Cannabidiol by Using Cannabis Extract Enriched in Cannabidiol. https://file.scirp.org/pdf/PP_2015021016351567.pdf
  24. Healing with CBD, age 246. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AGlxnhS2SoFeOXEuysv75bd_C9pEnwsU/view
  25. Healing with CBD, page 91. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AGlxnhS2SoFeOXEuysv75bd_C9pEnwsU/view
  26. Cannabidiol primer for healthcare professionals. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7340472/
  27. Ibid.
  28. An emerging allergen: Cannabis sativa allergy in a climate of recent legalization. https://aacijournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13223-020-00447-9
  29. FDA warns 15 companies for illegally selling various products containing cannabidiol as agency details safety concerns. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-warns-15-companies-illegally-selling-various-products-containing-cannabidiol-agency-details
  30. The long-term effect of CBD crystals and CBD oil on depressive-associated rat behaviors. https://emerginginvestigators.org/articles/the-long-term-effect-of-cbd-crystals-and-cbd-oil-on-depressive-associated-rat-behaviors/pdf
  31. Ibid.
  32. Cannabinol and Sleep: Separating Fact from Fiction. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34468204/
  33. The Pharmacological Case for Cannabigerol. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33168643/
  34. Cannabidiol primer for healthcare professionals. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7340472/
  35. Cannabidiol and terpenes from hemp – ingredients for future foods and processing technologies. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2772566922000015
  36. High Hopes for FDA Regulation of CBD Products. https://www.theregreview.org/2021/12/16/cass-high-hopes-fda-regulation-cbd-products/
  37. Crystallization. http://www.reciprocalnet.org/edumodules/crystallization/
  38. Ibid.
  39. Towards Better Delivery of Cannabidiol (CBD). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7558665/
  40. Precipitation and Crystallization Processes. http://www.cresp.org/NuclearChemCourse/monographs/09_Jarvinen_FuelCycleSep%20CrystPrec12-08fin_3_2_09.pdf
  41. Crystallization. https://oxford.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.1093/oso/9780195391817.001.0001/isbn-9780195391817-book-part-12
  42. Precipitation and Crystallization Processes. http://www.cresp.org/NuclearChemCourse/monographs/09_Jarvinen_FuelCycleSep%20CrystPrec12-08fin_3_2_09.pdf
  43. Crystallization. https://oxford.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.1093/oso/9780195391817.001.0001/isbn-9780195391817-book-part-12
  44. Seeding in Crystallisation. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-024-1117-1_13;
    Seed Recipe Design for Batch
  45. Cooling Crystallization with Application to L-Glutamic Acid. https://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/149569/8/Revision%20of%20ie-2018-04729p%281%29.pdf
  46. Evaluation of controlled cooling for seeded batch crystallization incorporating dissolution. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0009250912000784?via%3Dihub
  47. Optimization of cooling strategy and seeding by FBRM analysis of batch crystallization. https://pure.hud.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/13002430/Manuscript_Accepted_and_Corrected_Version_JCG_LLiu_2018_.pdf
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