Have you come across the term “full spectrum” when shopping for CBD? When a product is labeled full spectrum, it’s an important qualification that savvy CBD shoppers should know about.
Sometimes products are labeled as “full spectrum CBD.” This can be confusing, because it’s not the CBD itself that is full spectrum. The term refers to the oil extracted from plants like hemp. The extracted oil contains numerous compounds, of which CBD is just one.
Full spectrum products are also referred to as “whole plant,” as the oil contains all the compounds that have been extracted from the hemp plant. These include:
The additional compounds present in full spectrum products each have their own unique benefits. The cannabinoids are especially important to note. “Cannabinoids” are compounds that occur naturally, produced by both our bodies (endocannabinoids) and plants (phytocannabinoids). Both interact with our Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which works to keep the body in a state of balance. When we aren’t producing enough endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids can be consumed to help the ECS work on a more optimal level.
Different strains of cannabis plants contain different cannabinoids. CBD and THC are the most studied cannabinoids, but they are certainly not the only beneficial ones. For instance, Cannabinol, or CBN, is shown to be an effective sleep aid. And Cannabichromene, CBC, has been studied for its use as an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antidepressant.
The cannabis family of plants, which includes hemp and marijuana, are noted for their concentration of cannabinoids. Over 85 different cannabinoids have been identified in cannabis plants, each with unique functions.
Because CBD has been shown to have important healing properties, it is sometimes separated from the other parts of the hemp extract to maximize the amount of CBD in the final product. The most potent CBD product available is CBD Isolate, essentially the opposite of a full spectrum product. An isolate has “isolated” the CBD from the rest of the compounds in the cannabis extract, creating a white powder. Isolates are often sold in concentrations of 99% CBD.
As CBD first began to be studied and included in wellness supplements, an isolate was considered the ideal CBD product to purchase. Over time, support has grown in favor of full spectrum extract over isolates, due to the Entourage Effect.
Full spectrum extracts are often described as being more than the sum of their parts. This is known as the Entourage Effect. Per this concept, what a full spectrum extract can provide is more effective than each of its contents consumed alone.
This was supported by a 2015 study conducted in Jerusalem. Researchers there found that subjects who received full spectrum extract reported higher levels of relief than those who received CBD isolate.
And, the study also found that higher dosages of the full spectrum product produced an enhanced effect on the subjects. Higher dosages of the CBD isolate showed effects consistent with a higher dosage, but no enhanced effects.
More research is needed to fully understand how the Entourage Effect works. However, current researching shows promising support for full spectrum products.
A true full spectrum product does contain THC. While hemp plants naturally contain higher concentrations of CBD, there is usually a trace of THC in any hemp extract.
To regulate this, many CBD products contain extract from industrial hemp. Industrial hemp is legally defined as hemp which produces a product with 0.3% THC or less. At this level, consuming even large amounts of the product won’t cause a high (though too much may give you an upset stomach!)
But even at this low of a concentration, the presence of THC can be problematic for some. If your job requires regular drug testing, the trace levels of THC at a 0.3% concentration can still show up in a test. If this is the case for you, or if you simply don’t want to ingest any THC, there is an alternative: broad spectrum.
Broad spectrum products contain everything in the hemp extract except the THC. It allows you to enjoy the benefits of a full spectrum extract without worrying about the presence of THC.
Our Hemp Oil Care is such a product. An extra-strength CBD tincture, it is THC-free but still contains the other compounds that constitute a full spectrum product.
Full spectrum products are popular for many CBD fans. Tasty Drops, our most popular product, contains full spectrum extract, as do several other products on our website.
However, there may be times when you don’t want or need to consume a full spectrum product. A CBD product that isn’t full spectrum isn’t a lesser product—it simply has a different application.
This is especially apparent in one of our CBD concentrates, Gold Label Proprietary Hemp Extract. Gold Label has been heated to activate its phytocannabinoids, then filtered to remove plant parts.
The final oil is highly concentrated in CBD, at 25%, but no longer contains all the compounds of the hemp plant. This means it is not a full spectrum product. Our customers who have purchased Gold Label report that it works well for chronic pain, which makes sense due to CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties. For these individuals, more CBD works better for them than a full spectrum product.
Ultimately, whether you choose a full spectrum product, an isolate, or something in between, it all depends on your personal needs, preferences, and wellness goals. Reading this post will give you an idea of the differences between different forms of CBD products, so you can determine what works best for your situation.