Cannabidiol (CBD) is a popular treatment for ailments like chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease, anxiety, Crohn’s disease and gastrointestinal issues. If you have decided to buy CBD online, you have probably noticed that there are options like full-spectrum CBD and isolates available for sale. These labels are designed to show you what is actually in the product you are buying.
The main difference is whether you are buying one cannabinoid or a spectrum of cannabinoids. CBD isolate is made of pure CBD, but a full-spectrum product has many different cannabinoids. Since cannabis is made of dozens of different cannabinoids other than just CBD, these other components may also have a medicinal benefit. Some proponents even believe that these cannabinoids can boost the effectiveness of CBD and each other through something called the entourage effect.
How Cannabinoids Work
The cannabis plant is known for producing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but it also contains around 100 other cannabinoids as well. These compounds occur naturally within this plant and are known to work with receptors in the human mind known in the endocannabinoid system (ECS). In 1995, researchers discovered how cannabinoids interact with the receptors in the ECS and affect the body in different ways. While tetrahydrocannabinol causes psychoactive effects, CBD does not. Instead, it can actually counteract some of tetrahydrocannabinol’s psychoactive properties.
There are many cannabinoids in a cannabis plant, and they all serve a specific purpose. Some of the other cannabinoids in this spectrum include cannabinol and cannabigerol. Together, all of these different cannabinoids make up the cannabinoid spectrum.
- THCA: THCA turns intro tetrahydrocannabinol when it is heated up or burned. It is also an antispasmodic that has powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
- CBDA: This cannabinoid is the main constituent in cannabis plants that have naturally high CBD levels. It helps to produce anti-inflammatory effects as well.
- CBN: This compound is produced when tetrahydrocannabinol degrades. CBN has a mild psychoactive effect and a strong sedative effect.
- CBG: This cannabinoid has an antibacterial effect that reduces inflammation. Some cannabis proponents believe that this compound can inhibit tumor growth, but more research needs to be done to prove this claim.
- THCV: THCV is structurally similar to THC, but it produces different effects. Currently, it seems like THCV can help to reduce panic attacks and feelings of hunger.
What Is a Whole Plant Extract?
Right now, medications like Cesamet and Marinol are legally sold to cancer patients for treating nausea. Interestingly, the majority of cancer patients prefer using infusions or inhaling cannabis instead of taking pharmaceuticals. Part of the reason for this may be because tetrahydrocannabinol pills take hours to actually produce an effect. In addition, these medications are THC-only products instead of a whole plant extract.
CBD-only medications became popular after Charlotte’s Web was found to help with epilepsy in children. Many CBD medications no longer use the whole plant like Charlotte’s Web does. Instead, these medications use pure CBD. Since other compounds in the cannabinoid spectrum may have a synergistic effect, many patients could be missing out on potential benefits by using CBD-only medicines.
Other than working with cannabinoids, CBD could also work with terpenes in the plant. Terpenoids are remarkable substances that give cannabis and other plants their aroma and flavor. For example, pinene has a pine-like scent. In comparison, limonene smells like lemon or citrus fruits.
When THC and pinene are taken together, pinene seems to counteract the memory and cognition problems that are associated with tetrahydrocannabinol. Research also indicates that limonene and linalool can work with the cannabinoid CBG to treat MRSA. Meanwhile, CBN and tetrahydrocannabinol can work together to create a sedative effect. By using a whole plant extract, you can enjoy the effects of all of the terpenoids and cannabinoids that exist within cannabis.
What Is Full-Spectrum CBD?
Full-spectrum CBD is a product that is made out of an entire range of cannabinoids. After all of the cannabinoids are extracted, the resulting extract is turned into a product you can buy. This means you can enjoy all of marijuana’s health benefits instead of focusing on just one.
The only issue with a full-spectrum product is that it will still contain tetrahydrocannabinol. If you live in a place where cannabis is currently illegal, then this is a major problem. It is also an issue if you do not want any psychoactive effects.
Thankfully, there is an alternative. Since recent changes to federal law have made hemp legal, many producers use hemp instead of typical marijuana plants to produce full-spectrum CBD. According to federal law, hemp has to contain a tetrahydrocannabinol content of less than 0.3 percent. This means that any products made from hemp are not going to get you high.
Today, we know that all of the compounds in cannabis work together to create a synergistic effect. When GW Pharmaceuticals did clinical trials of pure CBD and pure tetrahydrocannabinol, the trial participants went through weird and potentially harmful side effects. If tetrahydrocannabinol is illegal in your area, you may not be able to use a whole-plant product. Thankfully, innovators like Tweedle Farms in Colorado are working to develop hemp plants for CBD that do not contain any tetrahydrocannabinol. If you want to treat a medical ailment, using the whole plant is a better option than just using an extract.
At Canna Centers, Bonni Goldstein and the team have done years of research in treating conditions like epilepsy in children. Over the years, they have discovered how effective whole-plant products are at treating different medical problems. While cannabis is still misunderstood as a healing plant, researchers have proven that it is effective at treating conditions like chronic pain and anxiety. While you may be able to buy an isolate product for as little as $10 per gram or less, it will not have the full spectrum of cannabinoids that make cannabis such an effective healing plant.
Hemp-based CBD is made from industrial hemp plants. These plants are typically grown for their seeds and fiber. They are shorter and skinnier than marijuana plants. In addition, hemp plants do not have the same psychoactive properties as typical marijuana plants.
In comparison, marijuana-derived CBD is made from the marijuana plants you see in movies and posters. The plants are grown because of their intoxicating properties. Because of this, they have a tetrahydrocannabinol content that is more than 0.3 percent. Marijuana-derived products are illegal in many states, which is why many sellers produce their products using hemp plants instead.
CBD isolate is the most basic version of CBD. It is made by processing cannabis to remove terpenes, flavonoids and other cannabinoids. This process ensures that the final product is completely pure.
To make pure CBD, you have to go through many different steps. The hemp plant goes through an extraction process that separates the cannabinoids from the plant. Then, CBD is separated from the other cannabinoids. Because this process requires chemicals, the final product must go through a distillation step to remove any of the chemicals that were used along the way.
CBD isolate can be sold in a powder form, but you can also use it with dabs and vaping. Isolate dabs are sold as a resin, powder, shatter, crystal or wax. Shatter is a popular option, and it received its name because it has a glass-like texture. While dabbing is a popular way to use marijuana’s different compounds, many people dislike inhaling anything into their lungs. Because of this, there are many edibles, capsules and oils available as well.
Other than buying an isolate or full-spectrum CBD, there are also options available like Epidiolex. This drug was created to treat Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Epidiolex is the only CBD medication for these forms of epilepsy that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Unlike other cannabis compounds, Epidiolex is made from pure CBD.
What Is the Entourage Effect?
The entourage effect can maximize the therapeutic benefits of CBD oil. Each cannabis plant has hundreds of different chemicals. Out of all of these chemicals, there are about 100 compounds that are cannabinoids. Other compounds like flavonoids and terpenes can also be found within the plant. Together, these chemicals can alter or increase some of marijuana’s effects.
An estimated 40 percent of people will experience toxic psychosis if they take 10 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol in one dose. Scientists believe that CBD can mitigate marijuana’s paranoia effects and toxic psychosis. Companies like GW Pharmaceuticals create products that contain both tetrahydrocannabinol and CBD to avoid these side effects. Recently, GW Pharmaceuticals made Sativex in order to treat multiple sclerosis. To avoid effects like psychosis, Sativex is made out of equal parts of tetrahydrocannabinol and CBD.
Should I Use Full-Spectrum CBD or an Isolate?
Once you understand the difference between an isolate and full-spectrum CBD, the next step is determining which option you want to buy. An isolate is the purest form of CBD and does not have any psychoactive effects. Since it is odorless and tasteless, it is ideal for cooking and eating. The main problem with isolates is that you will not get to take advantage of the entourage effect because there are no other cannabinoids present in the final product.
In comparison, full-spectrum products have the entire spectrum of different cannabinoids. If you want an efficient product that is chemically similar to an actual cannabis plant, this is the best option to pick. Since it does contain tetrahydrocannabinol, full-spectrum CBD is not ideal if you live in a state where marijuana is illegal. It is also not the best choice if you need to pass a drug test because there is a small amount of tetrahydrocannabinol present. Because it has a stronger taste, full-spectrum CBD might not be a good option if you want CBD for making food, drinks or candy.
Many people consider the ‘best of both worlds’ option to be broad spectrum CBD. Broad spectrum takes full spectrum and chemically renders out all of the THC. This produces a product still rich in phytocannabindoids but removed of all THC. Which makes it a great product for kids and seniors.
Ultimately, your decision depends on what works for you. The entourage effect means full-spectrum CBD is more potent, but this option will not work if you need to pass a drug test. A broad spectrum hemp product could be great for you if you can afford its additional cost. If you are uncertain about which product to choose, you can always test out multiple options before choosing the one you like the best.