What if there was a way to get the medical benefits of cannabis – without the stigma of cannabis use?

This is the idea behind ImmunAG, the market’s first non-cannabis cannabidiol (CBD) product derived from none other than the cannabis plant’s cousin: the hops plant.

Surprised? The team behind ImmunAG expected as much.

“The widespread belief is that cannabinoids come from cannabis. The actual reality is that cannabis is one of several plants that produce cannabinoids,” Christopher Hussey of Isodiol, the bioactive phytoceutical company that developed the ImmunAG tablet, tells Civilized.

Hussey explains that cannabinoids – along with cannabinoid-like substances that also affect the body’s endocannabinoid system – can be found in several different plants in the Cannabaceae plant family, including liverwort and flaxseed. Cannabis, says Hussey, is simply the cannabinoid vehicle that “the world has latched onto for a long, long time.”

Within the Cannabaceae family, cannabis and hops are considered distant cousins.

“If you look at the hops plant, you’ll see the leaf structure is very similar [to cannabis],” says Hussey.

“In addition to that, while cannabis produces a bud where all its effects come from, the hops plant produces a pod. If you look at the two of them side by side, you’ll notice they’re very similar.”

It’s from this pod – over several years, millions of dollars and “lots of failure” – that the Isodiol team extracted the first-ever “highly bioactive, highly available CBD from a non-cannabis plant.”

“In the same way that the cannabis industry has grown and crossbred different strains to increase the cannabinoid output of the cannabis plant, we have created two high-output strains of hops – using proprietary techniques that we’re keeping to ourselves at the moment,” says Hussey.

Said techniques involved various extraction and purification methodologies that Hussey says allowed the Isodiol team to maintain the bioactivity (or a substance’s effectiveness on a target) of the molecule at a level “much greater than anything currently derived from the cannabis plant.”

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ImmunAG is the market's first non-cannabis CBD product derived from hops // Photo Isodiol

In other words, these hops-based CBD strains will allegedly do a better job at treating your ailments than cannabis-based CBD ever has.

This is partly because ImmunAG is a time-release tablet that does not dissolve in the stomach, but rather, dissolves in the lower intestine. This creates greater bioactivity, says Hussey.

“The body has a process that it goes through [when you ingest a product] and that process damages how effective the product’s bioavailability and bioactivity are. If the product isn’t processed in the right part of the body – which, for us at this point is the small intestine – and if it doesn’t make it through the tract before it releases the CBD, the reality is that you’re not getting the CBD that you put in your body,” says Hussey.

“ImmunAG is time released in the lower intestine so that it actually reaches its source ... This is a new level of CBD within the marketplace. There simply isn’t anything that compares to it.”

Hussey expects there will be a rise in non-cannabis CBD products in the months and years to come, largely due to the fact that “hops are not illegal anywhere.”

He says these kinds of products have the potential to reach a whole new audience; in other words, those individuals who are not plugged into the cannabis space in any way but who could still benefit greatly from the plant’s medical properties.  

He says he sees the cannabis industry in multiple verticals: those products designed for the cannabis lover who worships the whole plant and all its virtues; those products for the individual looking at cannabis from a purely medicinal perspective; and those products for people who don’t know anything about the industry at all. Enter ImmunAG.

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ImmunAG was unveiled at the Marijuana Business Conference & Expo in Las Vegas this week // Photo Isodiol

“The industry currently serves such a small amount of people. What if you could make a statement and make an educational initiative not around cannabis, but around an ingredient in the plant that civilizations for millennia have known is one of the greatest things you can put in your body?” says Hussey.

“What if, instead of serving a cannabis-aware marketplace, you could create products that soccer moms are happy having in their mini-vans and coaches are happy giving to their team and high school teachers are happy teaching about because there’s no stigma whatsoever?

“That’s the future that Isodiol is helping to create.”

ImmunAG was unveiled at the Marijuana Business Conference & Expo in Las Vegas this week and is now available through Isodiol’s website