Full Spectrum CBD: What is it?

By July 15, 2019 No Comments
Full Spectrum CBD What is it

Full spectrum CBD is thought of as the prime or optimal type of CBD oil to seek out. The entourage effect is possible. It may be a better option for support for some people.  What is full spectrum CBD, why is it more sought after and why is it superior to other types of CBD oil?

What does Full Spectrum CBD Mean?

When speaking about full spectrum CBD, it’s important to know what it means. Full spectrum means that the full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes that are naturally present in a hemp or cannabis plant remain intact following the extraction process. Since hemp plants do contain a minimal amount of THC (0.3% or less), there is a small amount of THC in full spectrum CBD products. This is not, however, enough to induce a high.

Some will argue that a variety of cannabinoids, minus THC, can still be considered full spectrum. That being said, if THC is missing, it is no longer the full (complete) spectrum of cannabinoids that were originally present in the plant. If you see full spectrum CBD products being advertised as THC-free, it is important to know that these are not true full spectrum products. These would be classified as broad spectrum. Broad spectrum CBD can be THC-free due to additional filtration processes that the oil will undergo to remove the THC.

A variety of cannabinoids is not the same as all of the cannabinoids. A variety of cannabinoids plus terpenes or without terpenes is known as broad spectrum since it contains several cannabinoids. Broad spectrum CBD products can contain a very small amount of THC if the original CBD is full spectrum and only had some of the THC removed. Some THC can be left in the oil, and in most cases, it is 0.1% or less. Broad spectrum can also be derived from isolate where the oil has additional terpenes and/or cannabinoids added back to it but leaves out THC completely.

Full spectrum CBD is essentially one step under raw CBD extract. With raw CBD extract, it hasn’t undergone any filtration processes so it still contains everything that is in the hemp plant, including chlorophyll and other plant matter.

CBD structure

CBD Structure

Why is Full Spectrum Better than Isolate?

It is often said that full spectrum CBD is better than isolate. This may be the case for some people, but there are those that find ample support from CBD alone (isolate). The entourage effect is impossible with isolate because it’s just CBD; there are no other cannabinoids present to create the entourage effect.

The entourage effect refers to all of the cannabinoids and terpenes of a hemp or cannabis plant working together creating synergy (harmony) in the body.  CBD and THC work very well together. They can, of course, work independently in the body as well.

When it comes to full spectrum vs. isolate it comes down to what your body needs. For some, CBD is enough or their jobs test for THC so they can’t ingest any THC at all. For others, the body needs a variety of cannabinoids and terpenes to achieve a comfortable level of support. The entourage is important for many, but isn’t necessary for all people.

Full spectrum is superior because it contains a variety of cannabinoids and terpenes. It is also less filtered and processed than isolate. It may also be a multitasking formula in terms of efficacy due to the variety of cannabinoids working together.

One benefit of isolate is that it’s just CBD, and for those with worries about legality or maintaining employment, it is the best option.

The Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system is very complex. It works with the central and peripheral nervous systems to maintain homeostasis (balance) in the body.  There are a multitude of cannabinoid receptors located throughout the body that help the endocannabinoid system work. These receptors are known as CB1, CB2 and GPR55 receptors.

The GPR55 receptor is often called “the orphan receptor” because it performs multiple functions in the body, both positive and negative. CB1 receptors are mainly concentrated in the brain and spine. CB2 receptors are located mainly in major organs and other parts of the body.

The endocannabinoid system produces endocannabinoids itself, but it isn’t always capable of producing enough to help the body maintain optimal performance.

Some of the functions that the endocannabinoid system regulates via cannabinoid receptors are:

  • Appetite
  • Mood
  • Sleep
  • Emotions
  • Hunger
  • Perception of pain

This system has a big job to do in the body and sometimes needs assistance from cannabinoids that are obtained from an outside source like hemp and cannabis. A variety of cannabinoids may be required to support the endocannabinoid system in maintaining balance, which is where full spectrum CBD would come into play.

cannabinoid receptors

How to Determine if a CBD Product is Full Spectrum

Other than a CBD company advertising their products as full spectrum, there are a few other items to look for. The CBD industry is still not regulated, so yes, there are still some companies out there selling products that aren’t what they say they are. Doing a little research can help you learn more about a company and the product they’re selling.

What to look for:

  • Lab testing reports that indicate a full cannabinoid profile including the presence of THC
  • See if the brand is listed on a CBD review website, not all brands are, but the review site will be honest about what the product is or isn’t
  • Ask the company yourself what their CBD oil is – there are 4 options including full spectrum, broad spectrum from full spectrum, broad spectrum from isolate or isolate. Keep in mind that isolate cannot become full spectrum because it is intended to be only CBD
  • Read the information on the label (front and back) as well as on the website. This is where a company will go into more detail about what their product is.

When reading lab results, you also want to see what state the third-party lab is located in, what different areas of testing are performed and ensure that the lab is licensed/compliant.

Lab reports should also include:

  • Lab license number
  • The sample batch number
  • Type of sample received
  • Contact information from the lab
  • The date the sample was received
  • When the sample was tested
  • If the sample passed all sections of the state’s requirements
  • A signature and date from a senior member of the lab ensuring that the results are accurate

Make sure that the lab report does not appear altered and that the CBD company is not affiliated with the lab in any way.

Closing Thoughts

While full spectrum CBD products are ideal, not everyone can use them. Even with the very small amount of THC that is in them, there is a small percentage of the population that is allergic to THC. If this is the case, isolate or another type of product would be ideal. When buying full spectrum CBD products, make sure that they really are full spectrum.


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