Benefits of CBD Oil

Researchers have been studying CBD for years, with each new study providing exciting possibilities for the enrichment of our lives. Current research shows CBD oil may be able to help reduce inflammation, restrict the growth of cancer cells, improve sleep quality, promote bone growth, inhibit the growth of bacteria, relieve pain, treat fungal infections, reduce muscle spasms, reduce seizures, relieve nausea and vomiting, reduce blood sugar levels, treat psoriasis, and calm anxiety and stress [1]. From one special plant comes a natural treatment for conditions that have plagued us for centuries. How does one obtain these benefits, though? There are a number of options out there and each option has different formulas available. So which one is right for you? Let’s discuss the difference between two of the most popular options: full and broad spectrum CBD oil.

CBD Extraction

Extracting CBD means extracting all the cannabinoids available in the hemp plant. Along with CBD, this includes CBDA, CBG, CBGA, CBC, CBCA, THCA, THCV, and other terpenes and flavonoids. This does mean that trace amounts of THC are also extracted in the process, but the amount that can be extracted is limited to 0.3%, which is not enough to activate any of the psychoactive risks in most people. If the THC in the extraction exceeds that level, the CBD is considered illegal in some states. 

CBD can be extracted using a few different methods. One of the most common is CO2 extraction, which uses carbon dioxide under high pressure and low temperature to maintain the purity of the oil. Another extraction method uses a similar process, but instead of CO2, it uses food grade ethanol to create the oil. This oil is generally used in vape pen cartridges or other similar products. Extracting with ethanol can destroy some of the plant waxes, which could potentially mean the loss of some beneficial compounds in CBD oil. 

In both processes, the plant will come in contact with a reactant, causing the hair on the plant to open. Inside these hairs (called trichomes) are cannabinoids. Once the cannabinoids are released, their molecules will bind to the carbon and later be distilled to remove any solid plant material. 

After the extraction process, the CBD can be refined further to only include certain cannabinoids or plant parts. This involves removing the solvents and leaving only the cannabinoids, terpenes, and phytochemicals. Once these compounds are able to be identified, specialists can select which ones to remove to finalize the product. This process of refining is what determines if the CBD will be considered full spectrum or broad spectrum. When all of the cannabinoids, terpenes and essential oils naturally found in the plant are included, the CBD is considered full spectrum. Broad spectrum CBD occurs when all of the same cannabinoids and essential oils are left in the extract, but the THC is completely removed. 

Full Spectrum CBD

Sometimes referred to as “whole plant CBD’, full spectrum is the extraction process that includes the entire hemp plant, including the leaf, stalk, and seeds. After extraction and refinement, full spectrum CBD contains all naturally present cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids. Full spectrum CBD also contains trace amounts of THC.

Entourage Effect

Because all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils are working together in full spectrum CBD, something called the Entourage Effect occurs. The Entourage Effect means hundreds of compounds in the plant all work together synergistically to amplify the combined therapeutic benefits more than any one compound could do on its own. Research has shown that removing even one of these compounds may reduce the effectiveness of the CBD [2].    

Pros of Full Spectrum CBD

Full spectrum CBD is popular for its health and restorative needs, especially when compared to isolate CBD, which has removed all other cannabinoids and left only the CBD, therefore disrupting the Entourage Effect and dulling the product’s potency. Because of the included THC, it may be especially effective in the treatment of eating disorders, pain management, PTSD and other severe forms of anxiety, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s [3].  

Cons of Full Spectrum CBD

Since THC is present in full spectrum CBD, it could mean that if taken in large enough quantities or for long enough, THC may build up in the system and show up on drug tests [4]. Full spectrum CBD is also known to have a strong odor and flavor. While these are naturally occurring odors and flavors, some people with sensitivities might find them unpleasant. 

Best Uses for Full Spectrum CBD

Some treatment recommendations might include taking CBD with a specific ratio of THC. In those cases, full spectrum is the best choice. The included THC may mean full spectrum is a great option for those seeking treatment of more severe or painful medical conditions that CBD formulas with fewer compounds may not be powerful enough to help. Finally, if cannabis is legal in a particular state, it might be someone’s preference to have a product that includes THC since there are no legal complications. 

Note About Full Spectrum CBD

While many full spectrum products are derived from hemp plants, in states where recreational cannabis is legal, it can be extracted from a marijuana plant. If you live in a state where cannabis is legal, either option shouldn’t be an issue for you. However, if you live in a state where cannabis is not legal recreationally and you happen to purchase full spectrum CBD from a marijuana plant extract, you could run into issues getting it to your state. Always read the label to find out the plant source.

Broad Spectrum CBD

While broad spectrum CBD contains all the same beneficial cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids, it lacks the THC. During the extraction process THC is either removed from the full spectrum product or sometimes a CBD isolate will be combined with other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that have also been isolated during a separate extraction process. Because it contains the same compounds as full spectrum, broad spectrum CBD still includes the beneficial Entourage Effect. Even though THC has been removed, all the other compounds are still combined in the oil and working together synergistically.  

Pros of Broad Spectrum CBD

Broad spectrum CBD offers the full benefits of full spectrum, but without the trace amounts of THC in the full spectrum formula, removing the risk of potentially having a positive result on a drug test.

Cons of Broad Spectrum CBD

Like full spectrum, it does have a strong natural odor and flavor which some more sensitive people may find offensive or difficult to manage.

Best Uses for Broad Spectrum CBD

Broad spectrum may be a great solution for those looking for the full benefits of full spectrum CBD, but without the added THC. It may provide the same therapeutic benefits as full spectrum CBD for the management of stress, anxiety, pain, sleep, and a multitude of other issues. There may be new CBD users or those just beginning their research of cannabis products who are nervous to try a product containing THC. Broad spectrum CBD can be a safe and effective introduction to the world of CBD.

Which is Right for You?

Simply put, if you prefer the THC compound and live in a state where THC is legal, full spectrum may be the right choice for you. If you have a severe condition you’re trying to treat and want to start with the oil containing the most cannabinoids, give full spectrum a try. However, if you don’t have a particularly severe condition and the idea of trace amounts of THC causes you concern, perhaps because you work for the federal government and can’t risk a positive drug test, start with broad spectrum and see how that works for you. 

Additionally, keep in mind that the first product you use may not work the way you like, but there are other options available that may work better with your physiology. Just like any other CBD treatment option, you should always consult your doctor before adding it to your treatment plan or into your daily routine.