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What is Full Spectrum CBD?

Updated: Mar 15, 2021


It’s unlikely to not have heard about CBD by now. This all-natural product has dominated the health market for several years now. Many users claim that CBD helps with chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, and many other health concerns. Some research has shown that CBD may be effective and help with certain health conditions.


If you shop for CBD online you may find yourself overwhelmed by the variety of CBD products available. You may know what tinctures or salves or edibles are, but may not know the difference between full-spectrum CBD and broad spectrum CBD, let alone which one is right for you. Read on and we’ll help explain the differences and potential benefits and uses of each.


Retention of Phytochemicals in Full-Spectrum CBD

So just what is full spectrum CBD? Full spectrum CBD is a rich extraction of the hemp plant that retains all of the naturally occurring phytochemicals, terpenes, and other cannabinoids present in the plant. Full spectrum CBD might also retain up to 0.3% THC, the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants. Meanwhile, in products like CBD isolates, you’ll get a more refined extraction, lacking some of the plant’s components.


What are the phytochemicals and other compounds present in full spectrum CBD? Let’s have a look:


Cannabinoids

Hemp contains more than 80 cannabinoids. These biologically active compounds interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to produce a variety of effects. Two of the most famous cannabinoids are CBD and THC. Scientists are studying CBD for its medicinal properties.

Meanwhile, THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana that causes a high, but due to its lower concentration in hemp, it won’t produce the same effect when you take full spectrum CBD.


Terpenes

Terpenes are organic components found in all plants. Other than repelling foraging animals and harmful insects, they are responsible for the scent and taste of the plants. Lavender, berry, orange, and pine all get their characteristic aromas from terpenes. Based on recent studies, other than their calming effects, terpenes can also have health benefits like reducing pain and inflammation. Cannabis is one of the richest sources of terpenes with more than 100 different types currently documented.


Flavonoids

Flavonoids are a class of phytonutrients, giving fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors. You can also find flavonoids in grains and teas. Cannabis has a rich supply of 20 different types of flavonoids. Studies show that they have anti-inflammatory, neurocognitive, and anti-cancer properties.


Full spectrum CBD contains amounts of all of these compounds and a lot more. This gives it an edge over other types of CBD products and gives its users the most potential benefits through something called the entourage effect.


The Entourage Effect of Full-Spectrum CBD

It’s thought that the various cannabinoids and terpenes in the cannabis plant interact with each other and with receptors in the brain in ways that magnify their effects. For example, many users report that CBD is more effective in conjunction with a small amount of THC than it is by itself. This entourage effect was seen in epileptic patients who got better results in stopping their seizures when using full spectrum CBD compared to the pure form of CBD.


More research is needed to understand the cannabis plant and the possible entourage effect of full spectrum CBD products that retain terpenes, flavonoids, and small amounts of THC, but early evidence seems promising.


Other Cannabinoids Found in CBD

Besides CBD and THC, there are some other cannabinoids that help create the entourage effect:

  • Cannabinol (CBN): A rare non-psychoactive cannabinoid produced as a result of THC oxidization, showing promise for treating glaucoma.

  • Cannabigerol (CBG): Another non-intoxicating cannabinoid made from cannabigerolic with promising effects against cancer and bacteria.

  • Cannabidivarin (CBDV): A minor cannabinoid with a structure resembling CBD and potential uses as an anti-seizure and anti-nausea agent.

  • Cannabidiol acid (CBDA): An understudied cannabinoid with potential anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerogenic properties.

  • Cannabichromene (CBC): A cannabinoid mostly in tropical strains of cannabis with promising antimicrobial and anti-viral effects.

Full-Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum CBD

Most people think broad spectrum CBD is the same thing as full spectrum CBD, and in fact the two are very similar. However, the process to create broad spectrum CBD removes chlorophyll and some other strong tasting elements of the CBD extract. This results in the extract having a milder taste, but removes some of the compounds that contribute to the entourage effect.


Can broad spectrum CBD still benefit from the entourage effect? While some of the compounds that may contribute to the entourage effect are removed, terpenes can be added back in and like full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD contains trace amounts of THC. So broad spectrum CBD can still induce it, although to a lesser degree.


These two types of CBD each have their own advantages. With broad spectrum CBD you'll experience a milder taste, but possibly less of the entourage effect since studies show that full spectrum CBD oil benefits are higher. But in the final battle of choosing full spectrum vs. broad spectrum CBD, your preference and what works best with your body should be the determining factor.


Full-Spectrum CBD Products

CBD comes in a variety of forms that you can choose from. Here are the most popular ones:


Tinctures

CBD tinctures are absorbed fastest because they are taken sublingually. After putting a few drops under your tongue, the product will be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. You can enjoy its effects 10-15 minutes later.


Capsules

Capsules have pre-measured doses of CBD which makes them easy to use and a good option for people new to CBD. Although ingested CBD goes through the first pass effect of the digestive system and will therefore deliver less of the CBD to your body, on the whole it will still be enough for you to notice the same beneficial effects.


Topicals

Topicals are applied directly to the skin. CBD will only affect the applied area and won’t enter your bloodstream, so it won’t produce the same effect as a tincture or capsule. Instead, it exerts a more localized effect to the area on which it is applied. CBD topicals are great method for people who want to target muscle pain.


Takeaway

Full spectrum CBD retains cannabinoids, terpenes, a small amount (<0.3%) of THC, and other natural compounds that are thought to work together in a beneficial way known as the entourage effect.


Broad spectrum CBD has been distilled in a process to remove chlorophyll and some other strong tasting elements of the CBD extract in order to have a milder tasting CBD extract to use in tinctures. In the process most of the terpenes are removed also and must be added back in. Like full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD contains less than 0.3% THC.


Both forms of CBD are available in a variety of products with a variety of uses and applications.


Do you have a favorite type of CBD or CBD product? Let us know in the comments below.

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