Did you know that there are more than 120 types of cannabinoids in Cannabis sativa, aside from CBD and THC? Depending on the formulation of the CBD product, you can take advantage of the potential benefits of CBD either as a single cannabinoid — or CBD isolate — or combined with the properties of all the other cannabinoids — or full-spectrum CBD.
Is one more advantageous than the other? Read on to find out.
What Are Cannabinoids?
The medicinal properties of Cannabis sativa, be it marijuana or hemp, can be attributed to the more than 120 identified phytocannabinoids present in the plant. Phytocannabinoids, or cannabinoids, are a type of phytochemicals that are part of a plant’s molecular makeup.
The most popular and active cannabinoids in cannabis are CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Take note that marijaua has higher levels of THC than CBD, which gives the plant its characteristic euphoric effects. Hemp, on the other hand, has higher levels of CBD and only trace amounts of THC; CBD is non-psychotropic and the levels of THC in hemp are not enough to cause a high.
Cannabis is also high in terpenes — aromatic compounds that create the characteristic scent of plants; the plant also contains about 20 types of flavonoids, which also contribute to the aroma of cannabis, as well as its flavor and color.
CBD and other cannabinoids are believed to produce health effects by directly interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system — which is responsible for regulating many of the body’s processes. Terpenes also interact with certain receptors to affect mood, energy levels, and even inflammation response, among many others. Flavonoids are known for their antioxidant effects.
CBD Isolate vs Full-Spectrum CBD
As one of the primary chemical compounds in cannabis, and the most active one in hemp, CBD is responsible for much of the plant’s therapeutic value. Deriving the potential benefits of CBD can be done by using the whole plant or by extracting CBD from the plant.
CBD products may use either CBD isolate or full-spectrum CBD in their formulation.
CBD isolate is pure CBD extract. A product formulated with CBD isolate contains no other compound from hemp — no THC, none of the other phytocannabinoids, and zero terpenes and flavonoids.
Full-spectrum CBD, also known as whole-plant CBD, delivers the complete chemical makeup of hemp in its formulation. But keep in mind that CBD is still the main “product.” This means that full-spectrum CBD products also contain trace amounts of THC — no more than 0.3% as required by law — which does not cause euphoric effects.
The Entourage Effect
CBD is one of the most widely studied cannabinoids, alongside THC. A number of cannabis studies have found that each one works better — i.e., produces better benefits — in the presence of the other. Further studies have also revealed that using the whole plant — with all the compounds preserved — results in higher efficacy, compared to just using CBD (or THC) alone.
It is theorized that the phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids augment each other’s effects, particularly those of CBD, thereby creating what is known as the “entourage effect.”
Full-spectrum CBD delivers the entourage effect. Products formulated with full-spectrum CBD, therefore, offer the maximum therapeutic potential of CBD plus the additional benefits of the other chemical compounds present. You can say that full-spectrum CBD is as close to the “raw materials” of the plant as you can get.
The fact that full-spectrum CBD contains minimal amounts of THC may not appeal to some people, even if the THC levels will not cause a high.
CBD isolate is pure cannabidiol extract and offers a THC-free option. The formulation typically contains 99% CBD; all the other plant compounds are removed. On its own, CBD still delivers its potential health benefits, although they are no longer augmented by the other phytochemicals.
CBD Isolate vs Full-Spectrum CBD: Which is Better?
In terms of CBD’s therapeutic potential, both CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD deliver. The difference is that CBD’s potential health effects are enhanced in the full-spectrum form.
Because CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, the extraction process also ensures that all impurities and contaminants are removed. A good-quality full-spectrum CBD product should, of course, also not have any contaminants, but CBD isolate may offer a better guarantee of being contaminant-free.
With the absence of terpenes and flavonoids, CBD isolate has no smell or taste. This characteristic might be a good trade-off for the absence of the entourage effect — for people who are averse to the taste and aroma of cannabis.
At the end of the day, the better choice will depend on the person’s preferences and needs.