This article was vetted for scientific accuracy by Dr. Ana Luiza Dias, PhD.
There’s a lot of talk circulating about cannabidiol (CBD), how it’s influencing both the medical and homeopathic communities, and how it could be used to help with a myriad of different ailments. Anecdotal evidence has shown that cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, has healing properties that can help remedy discomfort in conditions that include chronic pain, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Of the three commonly-available types of CBD extract, there is scientific evidence that full spectrum CBD is the most effective.
As with any new product, especially one that many claim can address health issues, there is a lot of confusing terminology you need to understand before you get started. You can’t even ask the right questions without knowing how to ask them first. That’s why we’re seeking to demystify some of the confusing information around CBD.
Starting with, of course, full-spectrum CBD – if you’ve done a bit of research, chances are you’ve heard this term by now. You might even know that it’s different from broad-spectrum or isolate CBD. But – what is it? And how might it help you? Let’s dive in:
What is full-spectrum CBD?
There are three main formulations for CBD extracts – full spectrum, broad spectrum and CBD isolate. In a word, full spectrum means what it sounds like – it contains the full spectrum of cannabinoids and compounds found in the natural plant, including CBD, CBG, CBN, terpenes, flavonoids, and yes – trace amounts of THC. Not to worry – to be sold legally, CBD products must contain less than 0.3% THC by volume. That’s low enough that the vast majority of users will never notice any psychoactive effect.
Let’s take a look at the three main formulations of CBD extract:
Full Spectrum CBD
Like the name implies, full spectrum CBD contains all of the compounds you’d find in a fresh, unprocessed hemp plant. This whole-plant formulation is considered by many to be the most effective, since it replicates the compounds and effects of natural hemp flower, producing what’s called the Entourage Effect (basically, these compounds work best when taken together). However, for those who are sensitive to THC, or who undergo drug testing, the presence of even trace amounts of THC can be undesirable.
Broad Spectrum CBD
Broad spectrum CBD is the exact same thing as full spectrum CBD, but with any trace amounts of THC removed. You’ll still get many of the beneficial effects associated with whole-plant extracts, but without any risk of testing positive for THC. This might also be a good option for pets, children, or anyone else who needs to avoid THC.
This method isolates the CBD from the rest of the hemp’s natural compounds. It The result is a crystalized solid, or white powder, with no impurities – it is 99% pure CBD.
How does full spectrum CBD work?
Full spectrum CBD is considered to be more effective than other formulations due to something called the Entourage Effect – this refers to the synchronous effect of various different cannabinoids and compounds working together to product a more effective result than taking those compounds individually.
In simple terms, cannabinoids work better in the presence of other compounds – like other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
While research is still being conducted to determine the exact mechanisms of this effect, studies show that the effects of CBD tend to be enhanced by the presence of THC and other compounds.
Long story short – CBD works best when you take it with the other stuff that’s naturally found alongside it. Whole plant, full spectrum, full effect.
What are the benefits of full spectrum CBD?
The human body has a system called the endocannabinoid system, that works alongside our nervous and immune systems. Discovered in the 1990s, the ECS (endocannabinoid system) is underresearched and information is still developing. Without overcomplicating it (and we could! You could write a 2000 page book on the ECS alone), what we know is that the ECS is comprised of a network of receptors called “cannabinoid receptors,” along with endocannabinoids and enzymes. These components help your body regulate various functions. For now, let’s focus on the receptors: these do what you think they do – cannabinoids like CBD and THC bind to them, playing a role in regulating human body functions like sleep, appetite and mood.
The hemp plant naturally produces hundreds of compounds, including CBD, terpenes, THC, and flavonoids. Case studies have shown that there is a boost in the positive effects of CBD when other compounds are present. For example, one study found that 25% more seizure patients experienced relief when taking full spectrum CBD versus an isolated compound.
This and other studies offer promising evidence that CBD works best when taken with the full range of compounds found in the natural plant – a.k.a., full spectrum CBD.
The benefits of full-spectrum CBD can include a number of different things – research is ongoing, but we know for sure that CBD can offer relief for a bunch of different ailments, including:
- Relieving chronic pain in patients with malignant diseases – researchers found that CBD “demonstrated a significant analgesic effect” in a majority of patients treated.
- Relieving pain due to inflammation – researchers found reduced inflammation pain after applying CBD in animal models
- Reducing anxiety and nervousness – scientists found “CBD significantly reduced anxiety” during public speaking
- Reducing blood pressure – a study found that “a single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure”
- Treating insomnia – this study found that “12 mg to 25 mg [of CBD] once daily appears to provide relief of key symptoms with minimal side effects”
As always, we recommend speaking with a doctor before using full spectrum CBD to treat any condition.
What’s the difference between full-spectrum CBD and broad-spectrum CBD?
The biggest difference between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD is the presence of trace amounts of THC. Both can be sourced from either marijuana or industrial hemp, and are carriers of cannabinoids.
What are the side effects of full spectrum CBD?
There isn’t much difference in the side effects of full spectrum CBD vs other formulations. In some cases, CBD can cause drowsiness, upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea.
What is the best full spectrum CBD oil?
Charlotte’s Web paved the way for many CBD companies and helped inspire the world to recognize natural alternatives. This company has always provided a pure product, with quality CBD. Their product is tested multiple times before packaging, they promise quality and effectiveness. Charlotte’s Web has a variety of bottle sizes, offering different doses to make sure there’s something for everyone.