CBD Oil vs Full Spectrum Hemp Oil: What’s the Difference?
CBD, or Cannabidiol, is a panacea whose health benefits humans have been experiencing for millennia. I myself have been happily experiencing them in various doses and for various occasions for about a year now. Since my first introduction to CBD oil, it has recently and perhaps somewhat confusingly been renamed.
The name CBD Oil is no longer allowed on packaging due to FDA restrictions which were made public last September via a series of cease and desist letters sent to CBD companies like Charlotte’s Web and others. Today, companies can only call their products hemp oil.
This May, I discovered and began working with a Full Spectrum Hemp Oil, called Ned – an all organic whole hemp flower only (most companies use stalk, leaves, etc) ethanol extracted complete hemp oil loaded with CBD and complemented with whole plant cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and minerals. As a result, I have been hitting Google Scholar for the latest and greatest research on CBD, THC, Terpenes, the endocannabinoid system, cannabis extracts, and everything in between. The following is what I’ve learned about the synergistic effects of all the compounds in the cannabis plant (i.e. the entourage effect) and the benefits of using a full spectrum whole flower hemp brand versus CBD Oil Isolate products.
What Is CBD?
Now available as oil infused with CBD isolate, and in a variety of full spectrum hemp oil products, CBD can be orally consumed for therapeutic benefit.
Known as a phytocannabinoid, CBD is one of about 100 compounds found in the Cannabis Sativa L plant. It interacts with an important lipid-signaling bioregulatory system known as the endocannabinoid system. This system is present in humans and other vertebrates and invertebrates (including the sea squirt whose species dates back 600 million years ago and is the oldest known invertebrate species to possess an endocannabinoid system).
The endocannabinoid system has receptors throughout the entire body. It is responsible for maintaining equilibrium across various body functions such as immunity, metabolism, anxiety, stress, neuronal processes, bone formation, liver function, hormonal release and more. CBD and other phytocannabinoids found in the Cannabis Sativa plant bind to endocannabinoid receptors in the body triggering physiological responses such as hormone production, bone formation and cell apoptosis in cancer cells. CBD and its sister cannabinoids have been shown to benefit over 50 medical conditions including cancer, PTSD, obesity, endometriosis, and menopause.
Over the past several decades, scientists have been uncovering the wonder-drug-like effects of Cannabis constituents and going to great lengths in using them to help patients suffering from anxiety, PTSD, bone loss, hormonal deficiencies, sleep, cancer, nausea, pain, headaches, post-surgical recovery and so much more. Having few if any negative side effects in most patients, CBD is well tolerated in chronic users in human doses of up to 1500mg/day. Due to its high safety profile and its wide-stretching non-psychoactive healing properties, CBD has become an effective natural alternative for patients seeking relief from an astounding array of health issues. However, CBD and cannabinoids are not the only healthful compounds found in full spectrum hemp oils, which is why oils that preserve the entirety of hemp’s complex biological makeup have been found to be superior in healing and symptom relief when compared to their isolated counterparts.
Cannabis Sativa Oil Extracts
Once defined by hash, the category of cannabis Sativa oil extracts has undergone a technological revolution over the past several years. This has led to a large variety of cannabis extracts known by names such as wax, oil, cannabis concentrate, butter, shatter, dab, distillate, and isolate. This umbrella term of “extract” refers to any number of products created using an extraction method which strips compounds like CBD from the cannabis plant.
For years the preferred extraction methods have been butane and Co2 extraction. More recently, however, sophisticated closed-loop ethanol extraction, regarded for its safety, efficiency and non-harmful environmental impact, has become touted by experts as the best and highest quality extraction method. This is because unlike harsh Co2 extraction, closed-loop ethanol systems are able to retain the volatile aromatic terpenes and nuanced cannabinoid compounds, by recovering the ethanol under vacuum and low heat (or in Ned’s case no heat) conditions, while at the same time activating compounds such as CBD-A and THC-A which need to be decarboxylated to exert their effect on humans.
What Are the Differences Between CBD Oil Isolate and Full Spectrum Hemp Oil
Isolated CBD oil and full spectrum hemp oil are both orally consumed, non-psychoactive cannabis Sativa extracts used for their therapeutic benefits. CBD isolate contains only CBD suspended in a carrier oil, while Full Spectrum Hemp Oil retains volatile terpenes and a full array of cannabinoids present in the Cannabis plant.
CBD Oil Isolate
CBD isolate is comprised of 99 percent or higher CBD and takes the form of a crystalline white powder. Isolated CBD Oils generally consist of a carrier oil such as MCT and are infused with CBD crystalline isolate powder. An isolated extract of the cannabis plant, CBD isolate has been separated from other plant materials such as terpenes, other cannabinoids, oils, and chlorophyll. Devoid of odor and flavor, CBD isolates lack the delicate phytocannabinoid, terpene and nutrient profile responsible for the unique entourage effects of cannabis extracts.
Full Spectrum Hemp Oil
Full spectrum hemp oil, also known as whole plant CBD oil is gently extracted to retain maximum CBD plus an array of phytocannabinoids including Delta-9-THC (in amounts up to 0.3%, which is the legal limit for hemp CBD products and produces minimal to no psychoactive stimulation), CBDV (Cannabidivarin), CBG (Cannabigerol), and CBC (Cannabichromene) as well as terpenes (aromatic organic hydrocarbons secreted in the flower’s sticky resin glands), antioxidants, and essential minerals such as Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, and Zinc. Because Ned oil is extracted from the terpene rich flower of the hemp plant, it’s medicinal profile extends to that associated with terpene consumption.
Entourage Effect – i.e. Why Whole Flower Hemp is the Gold Standard
Scientists once believed that CBD isolate was more potent than full spectrum hemp oil. However, a 2014 study performed by the Lautenberg Center for General Tumor Immunology in Jerusalem debunked this idea. The Lautenberg Center research concluded that full spectrum hemp oil is more effective at treating pain and inflammation, providing faster, better and longer lasting relief than isolated CBD oil. In addition, full spectrum hemp oil was found to continue providing relief with increasing doses, while the benefits of isolated CBD experienced a plateau with increasing doses failing to provide added benefit demonstrating the unique therapeutic potential of whole plant compounds.
The synergistic results of cannabis plant compounds when consumed together are known as the entourage effect. This effect is behind the efficacy of whole plant medicine and specifically whole plant (or in Ned’s case whole flower) hemp extracts. Each of the more than 100 cannabinoids, terpenoids and organic compounds identified in the cannabis plant have their own properties, benefits, and pathways of action. Most importantly the cannabinoids and terpenes (fragrant volatile organic compounds with their own set of healing properties), both synthesized in the secretory cells inside glandular trichomes of the cannabis plant, interact synergistically to increase each other’s performance, absorption and breadth of therapeutic influence in the treatment of pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, cancer, fungal and bacterial infections (including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
Although research into the specific synergies between cannabinoid and terpenoid compounds is still in its infancy, several profound findings have come to light indicating that when cannabinoids interact with each other or other terpenes they can assist or hinder each other’s effects. The terpene myrcene, for instance, can decrease the resistance in the blood-brain barrier enabling the passage of other beneficial compounds. It is suggested that pinene helps counteract the memory and cognitive deficits caused by THC, while mixing the terpenes myrcene, pinene and caryophyllene helps to alleviate anxiety. Combining the cannabinoid CBG with the terpenes linalool and limonene appears to aid in the treatment of MRSA. The cannabinoids THC and CBN have sedating effects. Used together, CBD, Linalool, and Limonene appear effective in the treatment of acne.
Ret, one of Ned’s owners told me to think about this synergism using a spaghetti sauce analogy. In essence, the difference between isolated CBD and a whole plant extract is the difference between plain tomato puree and an Italian herb, mushroom and garlic sauce. The plain tomato has only the benefits of tomatoes, while the herb infusion has the healthful vitamins, nutrients and organic compounds from a wide variety of ingredients which work together to enhance our experience of flavor, aroma, and nourishment.
Why I like Ned.
There are a few things that I immediately gravitated towards in Ned CBD oil compared to other hemp oils that I’ve tried. For one, Ned uses only organic whole flower, the hemp plant’s most cannabinoid, and terpene rich component, in their extracts, meaning it has a rich cannabinoid, terpenoid, and mineral profile. The second is, Ned’s owners believe that because plants are living beings the way they die is important to what we glean from them. Just as a cow that dies under trauma has inferior meat to the cow who doesn’t know it’s coming, plants that die under duress are more damaged than ones that don’t. Based on this principle Ned applies neither heat nor pressure in their hemp oil extraction process. Lastly, in the spirit do gooder altruism Ned offers individuals who need their products most, including veterans with PTSD, cancer patients and people with severe sleep disorders at cost purchase prices on their products.
Brenneisen, R. (2007). Chemistry and analysis of phytocannabinoids and other Cannabis constituents. In Marijuana and the Cannabinoids (pp. 17-49). Humana Press.
Brenneisen, R. (2010). Forensic Science and Medicine: Marijuana and the Cannabinoids.
Di Pierro, F. (2015). A nutraceutical role for cannabidiol. Why not?
Gallily, R., Yekhtin, Z., & Hanuš, L. O. (2015). Overcoming the bell-shaped dose-response of cannabidiol by using cannabis extract enriched in cannabidiol. Pharmacol Pharm, 6(2), 75-85.
Russo, E. B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid‐terpenoid entourage effects. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1344-1364.
Russo, E. B., & McPartland, J. M. (2003). Cannabis is more than simply Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Psychopharmacology, 165(4), 431-432.