Full Spectrum CBD vs CBD Isolate

The Beginning of Botanical Medicine 

Humans have been using whole-plant medicines since the dawn of time – and CBD oil is part of this tradition.

Medicinal herbs are often found in discoveries of prehistoric settlements and the remains of ancient explorers, plus many wild animals instinctively consume plant medicine — suggesting that herbal remedies have been our companions throughout evolutionary history.

Beneficial plants contain a diverse spectrum of active molecules that work together, as designed by nature, and cannabis is no exception.

It's a botanical medicine with a rich therapeutic history, and pharmaceutical companies have attempted to capture cannabis’ therapeutic properties by extracting single molecules (like THC crystals, or CBD isolate).

These purified drugs are typically less effective — or have undesirable side effects when compared to the whole plant.

But why?

This article will clear up your questions about why full-spectrum and broad-spectrum cannabis & hemp extracts are more powerful than single isolates & purified synthetics.

There are hundreds of active compounds in cannabis — and we'll explore how these cannabinoids, terpenes, and phenolics work best together, according to nature’s design.

The Entourage Effect
(Teamwork makes the dream work)

The "entourage effect" is the idea that the strength of cannabis lies in the teamwork of its many active compounds.

Although the concept may seem obvious to you, it took scientists a long time to catch on. Here are some of the findings that helped researchers understand that the entourage effect is real:

THC’s Entourage

THC is the most abundant and psychoactive compound in cannabis, so everyone first assumed it was also the active ingredient behind all the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. Although purified THC relieves pain, nausea and muscle spasms, it also comes with some downsides: such as increasing anxiety and affecting memory.

On the other hand, when scientists use whole-plant extracts or study people who regularly smoke or consume cannabis products with higher CBD content, the positive effects are stronger and the negative side effects decrease or even reverse.

For instance, botanical extracts are more effective at fighting breast cancer cells than THC alone, and the anxiety induced by THC is reduced by CBD — and probably other cannabinoids as well.

CBD’s Entourage

Not learning their lesson the first time, scientists next focused their attention on CBD as a standalone therapeutic molecule. CBD has anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving and anti-anxiety properties, but (like purified THC) CBD isolate also comes with its downsides.

The most important downside is what’s known as the bell-shaped response curve. Although purified CBD is effective against inflammation and anxiety in rodent and human experiments, its effectiveness peaks at a medium dose but tapers off for higher doses AND lower doses — which graphically looks like an inverted “U” or a bell. Unfortunately, the bell-shaped curve means that purified CBD has limited usefulness — because its effective dose is narrow and difficult to pinpoint.

However, when scientists repeat their experiments with a full-spectrum, CBD-rich extract, the bell-shaped response disappears. In a study involving inflammation in the paws of mice, researchers observed that purified CBD was only anti-inflammatory at a moderate dose, whereas a CBD-rich extract became more effective with a higher dose.

Cannabis is Greater than the Sum of its Parts

When CBD is combined with a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum (meaning there’s no THC) of cannabinoids, terpenes, and phenolics, we often see two results: lower doses are required, and the bell-shaped response curve disappears.

Why does this happen?

Back-up support: First off, many terpenes and phenolics have effects similar to those of CBD on mood, pain, and inflammation. Although CBD has more than 65 targets throughout the body, its activity at each individual target varies. Other members of the entourage could be even more effective than CBD where you need it most.

Complementary paths to the same outcome: When looking for relief from a complex issue like anxiety, there are often multiple paths that lead to the same outcome. While CBD is busy acting on serotonin receptors, other entourage compounds might focus on other neurotransmitters. 

Counteracting downsides:
 Scientists think purified CBD has a bell-shaped dose-response curve because it activates different targets at different concentrations. For instance, CBD relieves anxiety at moderate doses (through 5-HT1A receptors) but might trigger anxiety-inducing neurotransmitters at high doses (through TRPV1 receptors). In this way, the higher dose doesn’t turn off the positive effects — it just turns on negative effects that obscure the benefits. However, the bell-shaped curve disappears when purified CBD is combined with molecules that block TRPV1.

 CBD alone might not absorb or travel as far through the body without its entourage. A few of the terpenoids found in cannabis extracts are so good at moving drugs across skin barriers that they are added to products designed for transdermal delivery.

 Many members of the entourage are metabolised by the same enzymes as CBD (cytochrome p450). This means that the entourage could delay CBD from being broken down by the body — keeping CBD in circulation and effective longer.

Source Matters

We’re all concerned about what we put in our bodies, so when choosing your CBD you want to know exactly where it's coming from. The quick rise of the popularity of CBD has seen a flood of brands enter the market, and they're not all created equal. 

It’s extremely important that your extracts come from a trustworthy source that follows sustainable & organic farming best-practices — otherwise, synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and even heavy metals could be surprise guests in your daily dose of CBD.

Stay local - Some brands use CBD from overseas sources where they have lower purity standards.

Another reason to choose sun-grown CBD from sustainable US farms?

Happy plants are better for your body. Think of the smell and taste of farm-fresh vegetables vs those from the supermarket.

Make sure your extracts come from fresh, pampered, sun-grown cannabis and hemp plants!

Read more about Our Farm Commitment.


Contact us connect@higherwavewellness.com

Blog post source: Toni e Luca 

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