CBD oil exploded onto the mainstream at a time when people in the UK were becoming wary of pharmaceuticals and moving towards holistic plant medicines. Also known as cannabidiol, CBD is sourced from hemp, a variety of the Cannabis Sativa species that produces small amounts of THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the main psychoactive agent in cannabis and it is responsible for the plant’s distinctive ‘high’. Unlike THC, cannabidiol is not psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t create the mind altering feelings cannabis is famous for.
Over the years, CBD has gained immense popularity as a naturally sourced alternative medicine. Anecdotal evidence claims that CBD will treat anything from anxiety, stress and depression to chronic pain and insomnia and even though there’s not much research to prove this, preliminary findings are quite encouraging. At the moment, most of the CBD on the market is either purified CBD (CBD isolate) or full spectrum CBD oil.
What is Full Spectrum CBD Oil?
THC and CBD aren’t the only components of the cannabis or hemp plant. They are part of a class of chemicals called cannabinoids, and the plant produces over a hundred of them in varying quantities. Depending on the strain, THC or CBD may be the most dominant cannabinoid accompanied by the other minor cannabinoids. These include cannabigerol (CBG), THC-A and CBD-A (the acidic forms of THC and CBD), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabinol (CBN) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV).
Cannabis also produces a wide variety of aromatic, volatile compounds called terpenes. Terpenes are actually found in all plants, not just cannabis, and they are responsible for the plant’s very distinctive smell and they stimulate receptors in the brain to bring forth feelings of relaxation and relief. The wide variety of terpenes found in full spectrum CBD oil can also inhibit the reuptake of wellbeing hormone serotonin, thus increasing its levels in your body, increase dopamine production as well as gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GAMA), the anti-anxiety hormone.
Full spectrum CBD oil also contains flavonoids, various compounds that are naturally found in many plants, fruits and vegetables. Like CBD, flavonoids are powerful antioxidant agents, and they help normalise cellular activity and fight off free radicals that trigger oxidative stress. They also have potent anti-inflammatory properties, enabling them to reduce inflammation in the body and the symptoms that come along with it.
On the other hand, CBD isolate or purified CBD contains pure (99%) CBD. After oil is extracted from the cannabis plant, it goes through further processing where all the other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids except CBD are stripped, leaving a white, crystalline powder that’s pure CBD. Although CBD isolate products are renowned for their purity, they don’t measure up to full spectrum CBD oil. As a whole plant extract, full spectrum CBD oil contains multitudes of individual components that collaborate to bring the best out of each other, something that has been termed the entourage effect.
What is the Entourage Effect?
Two heads are better than one or in this case, a whole bunch of heads work more effectively and produce better results than one. While CBD isolate definitely has its advantages, all you get in that bottle is pure CBD. Full spectrum CBD oil, on the other hand, contains a multitude of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids, each with its own effect on the body. The ‘entourage effect’ basically refers to the sum of all of these individual components working together in synergy, making the treatment a lot more effective than just CBD isolate.
For instance, THC in its purest form is a potent pain reliever and it is as equally effective against nausea and muscle spasms. However, the user may also experience increased anxiety, memory issues and in extreme cases, atrophy in the brain’s hippocampus. But when full spectrum CBD oil with higher CBD content is used, things start getting interesting. It boosts the positive effects and makes them stronger while tamping down or even reversing the negative side effects such as anxiety.
The effect is also similar when comparing CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD oil. Purified CBD has potent anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving and anti-anxiety properties, but they are most effective at medium doses. Once the dosage starts increasing or decreasing, the effects fade away. Full spectrum CBD oil doesn’t have this constraint, and it is as effective at high doses as it is at smaller doses. Since many of the terpenes and flavonoids have similar effects on mood, pain and inflammation, a smaller dose of broad spectrum CBD oil will be as effective, or even more effective than CBD isolate.
Minor Cannabinoids in Full Spectrum CBD Oil
Although cannabis produces more than 100 cannabinoids, THC and CBD are the most dominant. Of the remaining cannabinoids, only a few are produced in a quantity big enough to have an effect. They include;
- Cannabichromene (CBC) – Also called cannabichrome or pentyl cannabichromene, CBC is one of the most abundant non-psychotropic cannabinoids produced by cannabis. It is effective against pain and inflammation and it may be able to fight cancer cells as well. It also has neuroprotective properties, has been shown to have a positive effect on acne and it works in synergy with THC and CBD to bring forth potent antidepressant effects.
- Cannabigerol (CBG) – CBG is usually present in very low levels, less than 1%, but breeders are experimenting with genetic manipulation and cross breeding to yield higher levels of the cannabinoid. It is thought to be effective at treating glaucoma as it reduces intraocular pressure. It has neuroprotective properties, anti-inflammatory properties and is a powerful vasodilator. CBG has also shown promise as a cancer fighter, displaying the ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in test mice. Additionally, studies have found it to be a potent antibacterial agent.
- Cannabinol (CBN) – CBN is a non-intoxicating compound that’s usually created as THC ages, and older cannabis has high amounts of CBN. Preliminary studies have found it to be a potent antibacterial agent as well as a neuroprotectant. It also stimulates appetite, can be helpful for those suffering from glaucoma and it has potent anti-inflammatory properties.
- Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) – Although THCV is similar in structure and psychoactive properties to THC, its effects are quite different. Unlike THC, it is an appetite suppressant, and it may help with diabetes, panic attacks, Alzheimer’s as well as stimulate bone growth.
At the end of the day, both CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD oil will bring the desired results. Full spectrum CBD oil just has a little more, giving it an extra kick and making it more effective. And as you search online and in local stores for the best full spectrum CBD oil for sale, make sure you do your due diligence: check out third party lab results and read reviews. And most important, make sure you speak to a doctor before you start using CBD, especially if you are pregnant, are trying to conceive or if you are on some other medication.
Have you tried full spectrum CBD oil before? What was your experience like? Please tell us in the comments below!