Just imagine: CBD from hemp is banned overnight. Could you still buy CBD oil in a legal way? We’ve investigated alternatives to hemp as a source of CBD. CBD oil from other plants? In this article, you’ll read that CBD can also be made from things other than hemp.

In which plants does CBD occur? Let’s first of all broaden the topic. CBD is a substance which belongs to the cannabinoids. This group of substances definitely doesn’t only occur in hemp. Our own body even contains cannabinoids! Nature is bursting with cannabinoids and closely related substances. In this article:

  • 5 medicinal plants which contain cannabinoids
  • Real CBD from Hops?
  • CBD (and THC) from Yeast
  • Synthetic CBD
  • Conclusion: CBD Oil from Other Plants?

5 Plants which Contain Cannabinoids

Chinese Rhododendron

A rhododendron (Rhododendron anthopogonoides) grows in the south of China which has special properties. Extracts from this plant have been used since times immemorial in traditional Chinese medicine. It now appears from a Japanese study that substances in the Chinese rhododendron are quite similar to cannabinoids.


Liverwort is actually a collective name. The plant in question is Wairuakohu (Radula marginata). This particular moss which is indigenous to New Zealand, contains an acid which is very similar to THC with one important difference: this substance is not as psychoactive.


Paracress (Acmella oleracea) is a promising herb from the Amazon that contains cannabinoid-like substances. Just like CBD, these substances stimulate the CB2 receptor.


Coneflower (Echinacea) is one of the plants which is frequently used in herbal medicine. One of the properties of this magnificent red flower is that it interacts with our endocannabinoid system just like CBD.

Curry plant

This plant with bright yellow flowers comes from South Africa. The curry plant (Helichrysum italicum) contains a substance that is very similar to CBG - a precursor of CBD.

Real CBD from Hops?

So far we have discussed plants which contain substances which are comparable to CBD but not touched on any plants that actually contain CBD.

Not long ago, the company Isodiol announced that it was bringing out on the market under their brand ImmunAg a hop extract from a specific hop variety which contains CBD. The process is a well-kept secret. Although we don’t know precisely how, the idea that hops can produce CBD themselves is very promising.

A Recipe for CBD

The fact so few plants produce CBD is not strange. In nature, CBD, THC and other cannabinoids occur due to enzymes in plants. Enzymes are the natural factories which convert substances into other substances. You can compare it to boiling potatoes.

In raw form you can’t eat potatoes but under the influence of heat they change into a tasty base for real Dutch meals. That comes about because something exciting happens in the potato. The substances in potatoes change in such a way that we can indeed eat them.

Hemp is particularly suitable for obtaining CBD. The raw materials and the enzymes are both present in large numbers in a single plant. This combination is not found in other plants. But what if a natural source does contain the raw materials but not the enzymes? Can we add the enzymes ourselves so that we can produce CBD from something other than hemp?

The Ingredients of CBD

To produce CBD you need CBG - a natural precursor of CBD. And to produce CBG you need two other substances.

  • 1 teaspoon caproic acid
  • 1 teaspoon geranyl diphosphate
  • A touch of natural enzymes

In short: a complex story. Apart from hemp, we have not discovered any other plants which have this very specific ingredients list. So is that it then?

CBD (and THC) from Yeast

We live in a time when the world population is growing at a rapid rate. That is forcing science to think about how we can continue to feed everyone. One of the solutions is to increase the yields of plants by modifying their DNA. We can also make organisms do other things. Create cannabinoids, for example!

By means of genetic modification it is now possible to make CBD from hops. It is presumed that ImmunAg has already used these techniques. Now scientists working for the company Librere have managed to create CBG from yeast - an important step in the process to make CBD in an alternative way.

Synthetic CBD

Why stop at genetic modification though? After all, CBD can be completely synthesized in a laboratory. One argument is that for every new technology there is always a fear of the unknown. 

Think of the introduction of the microwave oven, when almost everyone thought that we would get radiation sickness from microwaves. Just to be clear: that doesn’t happen! Microwave ovens make water molecules move very quickly. That causes friction which heats up our food.

And now we have concerns about genetically modified fruit and vegetables, and for CBD from the laboratory. But, on the other hand, this fear is not without some justification. We keep forgetting that the entire plant extract from hemp is important for the potency of CBD. There are innumerable substances present in the hemp plant, all of which contribute to the unique character of CBD oil. Producing the entire ingredients list in hemp is a time-consuming and expensive task which we would rather defer to the hemp plant.

Conclusion: CBD Oil from Other Plants

What will the future reveal? CBD from genetically modified hops? Or will it be yeast? Perhaps we have overlooked a plant which can completely naturally and all by itself make CBD. But so far there is no plant apart from the hemp plant in which CBD occurs naturally. It will be some years before we can get our beloved cannabinoids from other, reliable sources besides hemp. 

And then there’s the other part of the question: why would we want to do it differently? Why should hemp not be a good source for CBD? That is a subject closely related to soft drugs, legalisation and regulations. We’ll leave that aspect of hemp to another article. Until then, we’d like to let you read 6 common statements about CBD. Spoiler alert: they are not all true!