Guest post by Karhlyle Fletcher
With the rising popularity of CBD over the last couple of years, it’s no surprise that questions and misconceptions abound. Hemp is federally legal in America, as is CBD.
What is federally illegal is THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. Farmers bred modern hemp with cannabis, selecting for cultivated varieties (cultivars) with low THC concentration. Those cultivars that regularly contained less than 0.3 percent THC are now the primary plants used in the hemp industry.
If the hemp grows “hot” (i.e., it contains more than 0.3 percent THC), is the CBD contained within it irretrievable? No. Several extraction methods, from chromatography to CO2 extraction, allow producers to obtain almost pure samples of CBD.
Once all other cannabinoids and cannabis compounds such as terpenes are stripped out, almost all cannabis flowers become viable for creating CBD isolate. This is because isolate can be up to 99 percent pure, and thus any material, such as THC, or even pathogens, can be removed through extraction.
In contrast, hemp extract is broad-spectrum. What does that mean? Well, cannabis includes more than just cannabinoids. CBD is a crucial component; however, there are hundreds of compounds in addition to terpenes and flavonoids. Scientists are still working to understand all the different components of cannabis and how they interact.
To explain the phenomenon of all of the components of cannabis working together, researchers use the term “entourage effect.” This phrase represents the interrelation between all of the elements of cannabis.
What’s the difference between CBD and hemp oil? Why use one or the other? Almost every hemp oil is an oil containing CBD. If you’re using a broad-spectrum or full-spectrum hemp extract, it almost certainly contains CBD.
So, the discussion should be centered on whether you should buy a CBD isolate product, like our CBD gummies; a full-spectrum hemp extract; or a broad-spectrum hemp extract CBD oil. While none of these contains significant amounts of THC, there are distinct differences between all of these products.
Research often focuses on a single component, such as THC in cannabis or psilocybin in psychedelic mushrooms. Due to this focus, the research is sometimes not generally applicable.
Our understanding of CBD is more advanced than our understanding of how CBD interacts with beta-caryophyllene or any other natural cannabis compound. Additionally, there’s more information about how CBD functions than there is on cannabis in general.
Due to this, pure CBD isolate is the preferred choice for the clinical environment and the conscientious consumer. Since the latter half of the 20th century, leading researchers such as Raphael Mechoulam have studied CBD’s efficacy.
While their work has not yet hit mainstream medicine, even the federal government has slowly been accepting Mechoulam’s findings. CBD was recently allowed in the treatment of novel forms of epilepsy, something Mechoulam and his colleagues first recommended in 1980.
CBD research has expanded in recent decades, and consumers are encouraged to go through the findings. While most doctors are not allowed to fully discuss CBD as an option, many will happily discuss studies with consumers and allow them to make their own informed decisions.
The world has yet to reach the point of normalizing cannabis prescriptions, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a strong foundation of research on which consumers can build their understanding of the substance.
Currently, CBD is considered an alternative dietary supplement. It is the consumer’s responsibility to understand what they are consuming. In a world of for-profit pills and an ever-growing reliance on caffeine, plant-based substances like CBD offer a mellow, natural alternative.
Certain people may have more sensitive endocannabinoid systems. While some can easily process trace amounts of CBN or other minor cannabinoids, others may be strongly affected by them.
CBD oils made from isolate may be ideal for those who wish to stay away from unwanted effects. Every human body is different, and the variety of available products reflects the variety of human beings and their needs.
The debate between isolate and full-spectrum will likely never end. Some think isolate is the only way to promote cannabis as a pharmaceutical. Others think full-spectrum products are the only viable cannabis products.
For those who don’t want to lose the entourage effect, but want to avoid products over the legal limit of 0.3 percent THC, broad-spectrum hemp extract is the winner. Though it retains key components of the plant such as other minor cannabinoids and terpenes, broad-spectrum hemp extract contains no THC whatsoever.
While this may seem a minor issue, as hemp usually contains less than 0.3 percent THC, there are several benefits to broad-spectrum hemp extracts. First, they won’t cause a false positive on a drug test.
Even trace amounts of THC, such as in full-spectrum CBD products, can cause someone to test positive, and thus ruin their chances when applying for jobs, or even result in them being fired. Broad-spectrum CBD products will not have the same effect, and are entirely legal to consume.
Although they don’t contain the famous cannabinoid THC, broad-spectrum extracts still can contain hundreds of other minor cannabinoids such as CBN, which may help alleviate minor sleep irregularities.
Broad-spectrum extracts allow for the entourage effect, supplying a variety of natural compounds within cannabis, but with few to no psychoactive effects.
Until recently, many assumed that CBD isolate was the most effective variety. However, Israeli research in 2015 proved that wrong. The Lautenberg Center for General Tumor Immunology found that full-spectrum CBD was in fact more effective than CBD isolate.
Additionally, they found that full-spectrum CBD was more effective at a higher dosage than at lower dosages, implying that more availability of the spectrum of cannabis compounds in higher amounts increased the total effectiveness. CBD isolate was not found to have increased efficacy at higher dosages.
Broad-spectrum hemp extract represents the “Goldilocks zone” between full-spectrum and CBD isolate. While it’s more involved than the isolate, filled with natural cannabis compounds, it’s still free from THC.
For those looking for a full cannabis experience that’s still entirely manageable and free from psychoactive effects, broad-spectrum hemp extract is an excellent choice.
First, it’s important to differentiate between full-spectrum hemp extract and what may be called “enhanced” hemp extract. Full-spectrum products include the entirety of the natural profile of a hemp cultivar, down to the terpenes and other compounds.
Enhanced hemp extracts can be any sort of extract, but with additional cannabis compounds included. While some producers enhance a CBD isolate with CBN, most start with a full-spectrum product and add in the extra cannabinoids.
The reason for doing so is that full-spectrum hemp extracts can be inconsistent. Although a proper full-spectrum extraction mirrors the natural components of the cultivars, it’s difficult to get the same ratios every time.
While a cultivator may be growing the same cultivar every time, different harvests may produce different concentrations of minor cannabis compounds.
They will still contain the entire range of compounds, but the percentages may vary. This is why some producers add cannabinoids to their extracts to ensure a consistent experience.
Rather than hunting down precise cannabinoid percentages of minor compounds such as CBC and CBG, unaltered full-spectrum hemp extracts offer a richer experience.
Containing trace amounts of THC, and the rest of the phytochemicals present in cannabis, the full-spectrum hemp extract embodies the whole cannabis plant. Though it might not be safe for those who have to be tested for cannabis, it is a low-potency psychoactive substance appropriate for many consumers.
While CBN is considered something of a designer cannabinoid, the interrelation between THC and CBD has been recognized for decades.
There is ample research to suggest that the two improve the effects of one another, so perhaps even the trace amounts in full-spectrum hemp extract help CBD reach its true potential. Because they contain all of these benefits, full-spectrum products are the most popular in the CBD market.
CBD isolate is cleaner and more trustworthy, but consumers are seemingly more interested in the range of cannabis than in a specific compound. Full-spectrum hemp extracts allow for a well-rounded cannabis experience with only hints of the wild experience of THC.
By remaining federally legal through being under the 0.3 percent THC limit, full-spectrum hemp extracts are the only way to get access to the diverse range of cannabis compounds in many states in America.
As for enhanced products, they’re similar to full-spectrum, although they tend to be more consistent. Because it’s difficult to extract the same percentages of minor cannabinoids every time, producers use additional extracts to create enhanced formulations.
Some swear by adding in CBN, others by CBC, and others by cannabis-derived terpenes. Everyone has their theory about the best combinations of cannabis compounds in extracts, so shop around and find out what works for you.
While CBD oil and hemp oil both have advantages, it ultimately comes down to what you want from your oil experience. This is why the question should be between the three main extract types: CBD isolate, full-spectrum and broad-spectrum.
CBD isolate is clinical, clean and precise, but the entourage effect gives the advantage to the other two extracts. From researchers to consumers, the prevailing theory is that all of the different compounds within cannabis come together to create something more effective than any single component can offer on its own.
For those new to cannabis-related products, or who have had a bad experience with full-spectrum products, CBD isolate might be the most appealing. It’s an easy way to get into CBD and shows what the effects can be without having to smoke it or ingest THC. Also, due to being the less-popular method, CBD isolates often run cheaper than the other sorts of extracts.
Full-spectrum hemp extracts are geared toward those looking for a full hemp experience, complete with a light twist of THC. Those looking to taper off from full THC products should consider full-spectrum hemp extracts.
Broad-spectrum hemp extracts are probably the safest bet for most consumers. Containing more compounds than CBD isolate, but no THC, these extracts offer the other potent cannabis compounds without the risk of testing positive for THC.
All of these different extracts have their place, and appeal to people for different reasons.
However, broad-spectrum products are the easiest to recommend for all consumers, as they satisfy the need the for entourage effect without the THC.