We’ve all heard a lot of news about cannabidiol (CBD) and its potential therapeutic benefits for a number of diseases and disorders. Scientists have shown keen interest in researching this compound. The’ve also begun to explore the myriad other cannabinoids, terpenes, Omega 3 fatty acids, flavonoids and other miscellaneous compounds and byproducts found in the cannabis plant.
There are a number of available means to apply or ingest CBD. It can be a question of what form of cannabidiol is in the product that sparks more nuanced conversations. We’ve seen emergent hypotheses around the benefits of CBD as an isolate vs “whole plant material” or “full spectrum” hemp oil. This article discusses some of the differences between CBD isolate and full spectrum hemp oil. We’ll look at some of the perceived advantages of each. We’ll also take a look at a bit of the science driving the various thinking in the field.
CBD isolate has been processed and refined so that all that remains is a pure cannabidiol isolate, typically above 99% purity. Cannabidiol isolate is a powder in its final form, which can then be incorporated back into a variety of products. With the purity of refinement, there are no (or next to no) other remaining cannabinoids, terpenes, etc. in the product. Some reasons certain people might prefer an isolate product include: precision titration (a perfectly measured dose of only CBD), absolutely zero THC (fear of failing a drug test – unlikely), taste and odor free (some find the taste of cannabis unpleasant), a belief that removing the “extraneous” elements in the remaining plant material offers a concerted benefit (more on that below).
FULL SPECTRUM HEMP OIL
Full spectrum means hemp oil that is made from a pressed extraction of the whole industrial hemp plant. This produces an oil extraordinarily rich in CBD. Whole plant material also contains a variety of the more than 100 additional cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant as well as a host of terpenes, omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids, and other compounds, some of which have their own identified benefits to offer. (Omega-3 fatty acids have implications for cancer prevention, heart health, and they along with terpenes both have implications for inflammation, a leading indicator for, and even cause of, many disorders). Many people feel they gain additional benefit from the “entourage effect” produced by keeping these other constituent compounds together.
The science seems to validate this entourage effect. There is an old adage in the culinary arts – “what grows together goes together”. It doesn’t take much consideration to see how organisms adapted to similar environments might complement each other’s nutritional components. As the adage indicates, they often make a delicious pairing of complementary flavors on the dinner plate. This macro level analogy seems to be carrying over to a microlevel with full spectrum hemp oil. In a set of mouse trials comparing isolate CBD and full spectrum hemp oil as treatment for inflammation and pain response, the Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology in Jerusalem clearly demonstrated that full spectrum extracts produced better result than did isolating the material to a single cannabinoid.
As is true for coffee, orange juice, and olive oil, there are enough different compounds and their associated chemistry in the hemp plant that it is unlikely we will ever have a complete understanding of the way different constituent parts influence each other when introduced to the human body. However, there are myriad good reasons to believe that a full spectrum product will provide additional benefit. While we may never understand the precise reasons, the science indicates a benefit to full spectrum hemp oil vs. CBD isolate.