Molecules. 2021 Jun 2;26(11):3343. doi: 10.3390/molecules26113343.
Isolation of the therapeutic cannabinoid compounds from Cannabis Sativa L. (C. Sativa) is important for the development of cannabis-based pharmaceuticals for cancer treatment, among other ailments. The main pharmacological cannabinoids are THC and CBD. However, THC also induces undesirable psychoactive effects. The decarboxylation process converts the naturally occurring acidic forms of cannabinoids, such as cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), to their more active neutral forms, known as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The purpose of this study was to selectively extract cannabinoids using a novel in situ decarboxylation pressurized hot water extraction (PHWE) system. The decarboxylation step was evaluated at different temperature (80-150 °C) and time (5-60 min) settings to obtain the optimal conditions for the decarboxylation-PHWE system using response surface methodology (RSM). The system was optimized to produce cannabis extracts with high CBD content, while suppressing the THC and CBN content. The identification and quantification of cannabinoid compounds were determined using UHPLC-MS/MS with external calibration. As a result, the RSM has shown good predictive capability with a p-value < 0.05, and the chosen parameters revealed to have a significant effect on the CBD, CBN and THC content. The optimal decarboxylation conditions for an extract richer in CBD than THC were set at 149.9 °C and 42 min as decarboxylation temperature and decarboxylation time, respectively. The extraction recoveries ranged between 96.56 and 103.42%, 95.22 and 99.95%, 99.62 and 99.81% for CBD, CBN and THC, respectively.