What Does Full Spectrum CBD Oil Mean?
What do the terms parallel-path, value-add, and future-proof all have in common? They are all forms of corporate-speak that nobody outside the boardroom understands. Similarly, CBD labels include terminology that often leaves many in a state of bewilderment.
Hemp is still an emerging industry, so commonly used descriptors are not yet commonplace among consumers. And more often than not, people use umbrella terms when they’re really trying to talk about different types of CBD.
People who become more familiar with CBD will learn that hemp products fall under three distinct categories:
Each of these offers unique benefits that appeal to different people for various uses. This article will eliminate any head-scratching you may have about one of those terms – Full Spectrum CBD – and shed light on broad-spectrum and CBD isolate, too so you can determine which is best for your personal hemp needs.
Full Spec Products
Full spectrum products deliver the strongest entourage effect. Try it for yourself!
Cognitive Support CBG Oil Tincture – Broad Spectrum
Daily Support CBD Softgels – Full Spectrum
The Spectrum in Full Spectrum
Many people are now familiar with the acronyms CBD and THC, the stars of the cannabis industry. They are the most abundant cannabinoids found in hemp and recreational and medical marijuana.
Fewer people know there are actually more than 100 other minor cannabinoids in the entire spectrum of cannabinoids. As cannabis study progresses, researchers are discovering new molecules such as CBN and CBC, each serving its own purpose with distinct side effects.
The spectrum also includes terpenes, flavonoids, and other naturally occurring plant compounds. Terpenes are aromatic compounds that give oils their fragrance, while flavonoids are associated with color. Terpenes and flavonoids create a unique character profile for various hemp strains that appeal to our senses.
Greater Than the Sum of its Parts
The Entourage Effect
The spectrum of cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes work in tandem in what is known as the entourage effect. Together they are said to be more effective than they would be alone, like how a band sounds better as a unit.
Jagger was embarrassing without Richards, whose scratchy-sounding guitar riffs gained a deeper resonance held in contrast to Ron Wood’s more polished touch. Full-spectrum CBD products work together similarly, bringing out the best qualities in each other to create different desired effects.
The Full in Full Spectrum
If you’re wondering “Does CBD oil have THC” or “What is full-spectrum CBD oil” here’s the answer:
Full spectrum contains a small amount of THC. “Full” refers to one specific cannabinoid included in the spectrum: THC. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that gives people a “high” feeling.
Legally, the amount of THC in hemp must be less than 0.3 percent. Anything less than 0.3 percent is defined as hemp (legal in all states), and anything over 0.3 percent is marijuana (only legal in some states). Even at this low THC level, a CBD tincture with 0.3 percent THC would still be considered full spectrum.
Full-spectrum oil may also be referred to as whole plant or full-spectrum hemp oil. Whenever you see this language used, you know you’re purchasing a product with a small amount of THC. If you want to avoid THC altogether, you should not use full-spectrum products but can opt for other CBD products that are THC-free.
Full Spectrum CBD Oil = some THC
Similar, but different
Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum
Some believe that CBD products are more effective with THC included, while others may want to pass on THC altogether because they want to avoid psychoactive ingredients. This is the reason for the distinction between full-spectrum and broad spectrum CBD.
Broad-spectrum oil still includes a range of cannabinoids, just not THC. It’s why broad-spectrum oil and THC-free CBD oil are used interchangeably. The entourage effect still applies to broad-spectrum CBD, because there is still a gang of other cannabinoids despite the absence of THC.
Broad-spectrum CBD can still help you relax, unwind, or sleep better depending on the cannabinoids used. However, you don’t get any of the psychoactive ingredients that could give you the feeling of euphoria.
Broad Spectrum CBD Oil ≠ THC
Party of one
CBD isolate is pure 99-100 percent pure CBD that comes in a crystallized form. CBD isolate is the most versatile of the three types, and can be used in home formulations, sprinkled on a bowl or joint, or can be added to topicals and tinctures. Unlike broad-spectrum and full-spectrum hemp extract, there are no other cannabinoids in isolate other than CBD.
Isolate = only CBD
The ROYGBIV of the Cannabinoid Spectrum
We know there are over 100 cannabinoids that work together to enhance their effectiveness (the entourage effect), and we are familiar with two of those, CBD and THC, but what about the rest of the spectrum? Here’s a closer look at CBD, THC, and their entourage.
CBD is the most abundant compound in the hemp plant. To understand the CBD meaning, consider its formal definition: Cannabidiol, or CBD as it’s more commonly referred to, is a naturally occurring chemical compound in the cannabis Sativa plant.
Unlike THC, CBD will not give the user a “high” feeling that the cannabis plant has been traditionally known for. It is used by consumers to promote wellness. Some people report it has a relaxing or calming effect, while others may feel more energized. It all depends on the user and the mix of cannabinoids used.
THC is the second most common cannabinoid in the hemp plant. It is also the most desired compound in hemp’s sister plant, the marijuana plant. As mentioned earlier, THC is the compound in the cannabis plant that makes the user feel high.
While full spectrum CBD tinctures and products will contain trace amounts of THC, levels will always be below the 0.3 percent mark. In such small amounts, consumers using CBD products will not feel the psychoactive effects of the THC, it is only present to help increase the entourage effect.
CBG is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, just like CBD. It’s actually the parent compound of THC and CBD and acts as a precursor to the three main cannabinoid lines: tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCa), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCa). Enzymes in the cannabis plant will break down CBG and convert it to one of these final compounds.
CBN is a minor cannabinoid that is being studied for its sedative effects. CBN is believed to be the compound in cannabis that generates a relaxing feeling in the user. Many CBN users report having an easier time falling and staying asleep with this cannabinoid as well as waking up refreshed.
CBC bears the structural similarity to the other natural cannabinoids, including THC, THCV, CBD, and CBN, among others. CBC and its derivatives are as abundant as cannabinoids in cannabis. It is thought to reinforce the entourage effect and enhance the overall benefits of hemp extractions.
The “Full-Spectrum” Difference: Why To Look Out For This Term On A Label
Jennifer Chesak is a freelance medical journalist with bylines in several national publications, including Washington Post, Healthline, Prevention, Greatist, Runner’s World, and more. She earned her Master of Science in journalism from Northwestern’s Medill School.
Dr. Bindiya Gandhi is an American Board Family Medicine–certified physician who completed her family medicine training at Georgia Regents University/Medical College of Georgia.
As hemp extract—an extract from hemp plants that’s rich in cannabinoids, including CBD—becomes more popular, it’s starting to pop up in all different forms. One term you’ve likely noticed on hemp supplements, tinctures, and creams is “full spectrum.” Here’s what that means and why it’s important to look out for.
What “full-spectrum” means on a hemp or CBD label.
Full-spectrum hemp oil (not to be confused with hemp seed oil) is an extract only derived from hemp. Hemp is the term for a cannabis plant with 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or less—not enough for mind-altering effects. In contrast, a CBD oil can be extracted from either hemp or marijuana. Marijuana is the term for cannabis plants with higher levels of THC.
Full-spectrum hemp oil contains all of the naturally available compounds the hemp plant has to offer, including CBD and more than 100 cannabinoids and a host of terpenes and flavonoids to boot. This is different from a CBD isolate product that will only contain a single cannabinoid: CBD.
The benefits of full-spectrum oils.
When you take a full-spectrum supplement rather than a CBD isolate product, the hemp plant’s hundreds of compounds have a way of working together to boost the product’s overall benefits. Researchers call this synergy the entourage effect: when cannabis compounds work together, they’re more powerful than any one cannabinoid on its own. “I think about it in a sports metaphor, where you’ve got one star player, but you need the team,” explains renowned integrative physician Robert Rountree, M.D. “It’s the mix that’s important.”
So what are all those compounds, and what do they do? First, cannabinoids affect the body’s endocannabinoid system, the body’s “master regulatory system,” which plays a role in maintaining the immune, digestive, and central nervous systems.
Our bodies actually make their own endocannabinoids to help keep us in balance or homeostasis. But researchers theorize that sometimes we become deficient in endocannabinoids, which can lead to chronic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or migraines. When taken as a supplement, phytocannabinoids, which come from plants, may be able to help ease some of the symptoms by helping our endocannabinoid system perform its delicate balancing act.*
One of the most talked-about and researched phytocannabinoids in hemp oil and CBD oil is, of course, CBD. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg: Scientists are still studying just how many cannabinoids can be derived from hemp and what their capabilities are individually, collectively, and in various combinations.
What’s more, cannabinoids are just some of the beneficial compounds present in cannabis that end up in a full-spectrum product. “We know that phytocannabinoids are more effective and better tolerated when taken together and in concert with their co-occurring terpenes, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals than when they are taken in isolation,” explains Jessica Knox, M.D., MPH, co-founder of the American Cannabinoid Clinics and a preventive medicine physician.
Terpenes, responsible for the aroma of cannabis, enhance how we process the plant’s many cannabinoids. And flavonoids—also abundant in tea, fruits, veggies, and more—are phytonutrients known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects.
“When you mix all those phytocannabinoids together and not just the phytocannabinoids—but their supportive compounds and antioxidants that are in the [hemp plant] stalk—it’s a whole mix,” Rountree explains. “There’s this whole system at work.”