While cannabidiol (CBD) is all the rage at present, it is often hard to understand what you are getting. With so many products available, it can be nightmarish trying to navigate the confounding influx of new terminology. Full-spectrum oils, isolate tinctures, CBD cannabis oils, CBD hemp oils — what does it all mean?
With so many products available, it can be a nightmare trying to navigate all the new terminology
In this article, we answer the popular question, “What is full-spectrum CBD oil?” as clearly as possible. We’ll also talk about how full-spectrum CBD oils are made, how they’re different from other types of oils, and how you can tell quality full-spectrum tincture from low-grade ones.
What Is Full Spectrum CBD Oil?
Believe it or not, CBD (cannabidiol) is just one of 100+ cannabinoids that have been identified in the Cannabis sativa L plant. Full-spectrum CBD oil includes most of these cannabinoids, while CBD isolates oil contains only the isolated CBD compound.
Depending on what exactly you are trying to achieve, full-spectrum CBD oils can work better than CBD isolate. In fact, research has shown that cannabinoids working together are more effective than cannabinoids working by themselves. This phenomenon is known as the entourage effect (more on that later).
In addition to a full inclusion of cannabinoids, full-spectrum CBD oil contains an assortment of other beneficial plant-based ingredients. These ingredients may include:
- Essential vitamins and minerals
- Beneficial fatty acids (i.e. Omega-3 and Omega-6)
- Plant-based protein and fiber
Sometimes you might see the ingredients on a bottle of CBD oil identified as “hemp oil extract.” This term can be ambiguous, as it doesn’t clarify how much CBD you’re actually getting. This is where the importance of lab reports and cannabinoid profiles comes into play.
Also, one last thing before we explain the benefits of full-spectrum CBD oil. It’s important to understand that full-spectrum CBD can come from both hemp and marijuana. Products that are for sale online (and that can be shipped to a variety of areas) are made from hemp. Hemp products must have a THC content at or lower than 0.3% to be sold in the U.S.
Products with a higher THC content are not available for consumption in all states. Many marijuana dispensaries in legalized states also sell full-spectrum CBD oils, but these are not the same as the full-spectrum hemp oils for sale online. It’s confusing, but we’ll clarify in more detail later on.
The Benefits of the Whole Plant
One of the most important studies relating to full-spectrum CBD oil took place at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2015. It compared the performance of a full-spectrum cannabis extract with one that contained CBD only. The study concluded that, in mice, the full spectrum extract was more effective for pain and inflammation. In fact, scientists claimed that the whole plant cannabis extract was “ideal for clinical uses” as compared to isolated CBD.
In other words, while “pure CBD” can be effective, it appears that full-spectrum extract is preferable for therapeutic purposes. And indeed, there has been scientific validation to back this up.
One molecule [i.e. CBD by itself] is unlikely to match the therapeutic potential of cannabis as a phytochemical factory.
The aforementioned entourage effect helps to explain the efficacy of whole-plant cannabis extracts. As we mentioned, there are over 100 identified cannabinoids in the Cannabis sativa L plant. When in the presence of one another, these cannabinoids appear to combine synergistically to enhance physiologic effects.
In a January 2019 publication, Dr. Ethan Russo suggested that “one molecule [i.e. CBD] is unlikely to match the therapeutic potential of cannabis itself as a phytochemical factory.” Among many other things, cannabidiol may provide positive therapeutic benefit on the following conditions:
- Gastrointestinal Disorders: CBD may have protective effects in cases of colon injury and may also be helpful with conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease.
- Anxiety Disorders: Full-spectrum CBD may mitigate some symptoms of chronic anxiety. In a large case series, patients reported decreased anxiety scores. Most patients also reported minimal side effects and improved sleep patterns.
- Neurological Disorders: CBD may be of use to patients suffering from neurological conditions such as epilepsy. In one study, CBD was indicated in reducing the frequency of seizures in treatment-resistant children and adults.
Why Is Full Spectrum CBD Different to CBD Only Oils or Isolates?
While full-spectrum CBD oil contains a complete array of cannabinoids and terpenes, CBD isolate oil contains only the cannabidiol compound by itself. This can lead to confusion, as products labeled “99.9% pure CBD” would seemingly be more beneficial than something labeled “full-spectrum extract.”
Of course, this is where the skill of knowing how to read a lab report comes into play. High-quality CBD oil manufactures include lab sheets that outline the cannabinoid profiles of the various products they are selling. In addition to the CBD component, several other ingredients are typically included in full-spectrum hemp extract.
While most readers are probably aware of the impact that THC and CBD can have on their health, there are lesser-known cannabinoids that may also provide therapeutic benefit. When checking the lab report for a quality full-spectrum CBD oil, you may see some of the following cannabinoids:
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabinol (CBN)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Cannabidivarin (CBDV)
- Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
High-quality full-spectrum CBD oils are not limited to phytocannabinoid content, however. Quality, well-grown hemp contains an assortment of additional ingredients, each with their own benefit. A full spectrum extract should also contain terpenes (aka ‘terpenoids’).
Terpenes are chemicals that give the cannabis plant its unique scent. Even in small amounts, terpenes are believed to work synergistically with cannabinoids to heal the body. Here are some well-known terpenes that may be found in full-spectrum CBD oil:
- Limonene: A stress reliever that is believed to help boost mood. May also assist with gastric issues.
- Pinene: May potentially improve memory and boost alertness. Also anti-inflammatory.
- Linalool: Has a sedative effect and may work to help patients with depression, insomnia, and stress.
- Caryophyllene: An antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. May help relieve the symptoms of pain and insomnia.
- Humulene: Has antibacterial properties and may work as an appetite suppressant.
The Function of “Other Cannabinoids” in Full-Spectrum CBD Oil
Apart from its use in treating seizures, little is known of the clinical action of CBD. Even less is known of the clinical action of “other cannabinoids” found in full-spectrum CBD oil. That said, there have been publications suggesting therapeutic benefits of compounds other than CBD:
- Cannabigerol (CBG): Known as the ‘stem cell’ cannabinoid, CBG is transformed into CBD (and to a lesser extent THC) via chemical processes. As a result, most end-user CBD oils have low levels of CBG.
- Cannabinol (CBN): The degradation of THC leads to CBN. While there is usually a low amount of it in the fresh plant, decarboxylation typically raises the level of CBN. It offers a slight psychoactive effect and is believed to have a greater affinity for CB2 receptors compared to CB1 receptors.
- Cannabichromene (CBC): This is probably the least studied cannabinoid – even though it is rather abundant in certain marijuana strains. There simply isn’t enough data available to suggest it offers isolated therapeutic benefits.
Final Thoughts on Full Spectrum CBD Oil
Most would agree that full-spectrum CBD oil offers a superior therapeutic benefit over CBD isolates. In addition to the CBD compound, full-spectrum tinctures contain dozens of other cannabinoids and terpenes. In the presence of one another, these ingredients combine to produce a synergistic effect that is greater than the effect of a single ingredient by itself.
Full-spectrum CBD oil has been known to help relieve pain, reduce stress, and help improve sleep patterns.