What is a Full Spectrum Oil? [Experts Answer]
CBD oil is becoming pretty well known these days; no longer is it something you think of as belonging to drug users and those scary looking people hiding in alleyways.
Even marijuana itself – formerly known as an evil drug that will get you high – is undergoing a huge fundamental change in how it’s viewed. Thanks to legalization, you can now buy CBD oil throughout most of the USA, allowing people to access its medical benefits far more than ever before.
However, thanks to the fact that buying CBD oil for medicinal purposes (legally) is a relatively recent thing, most people don’t understand that there are actually different types of CBD oil.
In fact, many types of CBD oil that you can buy are not actually full spectrum.
Wait… what’s full spectrum? For that matter, what actually is CBD oil?
So, What actually is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is the name given to CBD-heavy extracts suspended within an inert oil. It is taken to help treat a variety of conditions, ranging from tackling eczema and multiple sclerosis to treating mental conditions and even Parkinson’s disease.
The mechanisms of how CBD works are now, finally, properly understood. As a result of countless studies, we now know that CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, a health system that exists within the human body with the ability to interact with a variety of different functions through its two primary receptors, CB1 and CB2.
The CB1 and CB2 receptors are stimulated by CBD, causing them to then release a variety of other chemicals which encourage the body to heal itself more naturally than with conventional medicine.
This is very similar to how THC interacts with the ECS and makes you high, with one major difference – CBD doesn’t over stimulate the receptors. THC binds itself with the two receptors (primarily the CB1 receptors) and keeps activating them, causing an overstimulation and the eventual high.
Instead of that, CBD just sort of hangs around near the receptors and encourages their activation more gradually and gently, allowing you to get the medicinal effects without the accompanying high.
The two different receptors have different effects when triggered, based on their primary locations in the body. The CB1 receptors are concentrated within the brain and central nervous system, and are thus linked to a variety of functions within the brain, such as serotonin release.
CB2 receptors, however, are spread more liberally throughout the body, allowing them to interact with a wider variety of bodily functions. Principally, the CB2 receptors are affiliated with cellular regeneration, meaning that activation of these receptors leads to better cell regrowth and a healthier body.
CBD oil accomplishes all this with remarkable efficacy, but there is still so much we don’t understand. A great example of this is the fact that cannabis actually has a lot of different cannabinoids within it, but we generally just group them into either THC or CBD.
If you want the full CBD experience, with the most ability to help treat conditions, you want full spectrum oil.
What Exactly is Full Spectrum CBD Oil?
When you buy CBD oil, you are buying an extract of CBD, a cannabinoid, suspended in inert oil for the purposes of easy application.
However, if it’s full spectrum oil, you are getting a lot more than just CBD.
Despite the immediate assumption that there are only two types of cannabinoids – CBD and THC – there are actually a lot more useful substances within cannabis than you first might realize.
Though we normally say CBD oil when we refer to the product, it is in fact a large number of cannabinoids combined together. At least it is when it is a full spectrum oil.
Within cannabis, there actually exists a huge variety of different cannabinoids, as well as other substances known as terpenes.
Each of these substances plays a different role in cannabis’ usefulness, so much so that taking just CBD can in fact have a very limited effect on you.
To get the full benefit of CBD oil, it is advisable to ensure you’re taking a full spectrum oil so you can get all the important substances hidden within cannabis.
What are all these substances, though? Well…
What About the Other Cannabinoids?
Though you likely just think of CBD and THC when you think of cannabinoids, there are actually a variety of different cannabinoids within cannabis that play their own roles.
Firstly, there is cannabigerol, known as CBG, which acts a sort of placeholder cell for other forms of cannabinoids. All cannabinoids start as CBG, and this is essentially what the plant creates as a template for all other cannabinoid cells.
It is found in lower quantities in processed cannabis products, as by the time the plant has been harvested, most CBG compounds have developed into other cannabinoids.
Its medicinal benefits aren’t fully understand however – when testing CBD oils, it is usually very difficult to differentiate whether you’re testing the abilities of CBD or of the other substances.
CBC, known scientifically as cannabichromene, is a pretty mysterious cannabinoid. There is very little research done its uses, as it is extremely difficult to pin down whether it’s the CBD or the CBC that’s creating its effects.
CBC interacts in particular with the CB1 receptor, allowing it to encourage a healthy mental state by tackling such conditions as depression or anxiety.
There are other types of cannabinoids besides the standard CBD, THC and those mentioned here, but they perform smaller functions that are harder to pin down.
Additionally, we also have terpenes.
Terpenes are a group of organic compounds that many plants produce for a variety of purposes. Due to their extremely pungent smell, terpenes have been theorized to be responsible for deterring herbivores and other predators away from their host plants.
Within cannabis, terpenes act to provide the unique smell of marijuana, as well as complementing the effects of cannabinoids to be more easily be assimilated into your body.
Some of the most understood terpenes include:
Caryophyllene is a terpene that acts as a powerful antioxidant within the body. CBD is widely taken for its antioxidant capabilities, and a large portion of these abilities are thanks to this terpene.
It also works extremely well as an anti-inflammatory, engaging with the CB2 receptors to encourage the human inflammation response to abate itself and reduce inflammation throughout the body.
Limonene works with the CB1 receptor and encourages an increase of serotonin and a variety of other hormones. Essentially, limonene works to improve your mood and helps you balance out negative feelings and emotions – it is one of the reasons why doctors recommend full spectrum CBD oil for those suffering from depression.
Humulene works as a pain-relieving substance, interacting with both major receptors in the ECS to help reduce the sensation of pain throughout the body.
What Else is in Full Spectrum CBD Oil?
Alongside terpenes and cannabinoids, CBD oils also contain other substances that are very important to the human body.
For example, in the same way that honey is more than just yellow sugar water, it actually contains a variety of important vitamins and minerals, as a result of the cannabis plant’s biology.
Additionally, vital fatty acids and proteins that humans need to survive, such as the well known omega group commonly found in fish, exist within cannabis.
Though original CBD extractors tried to leave these substances behind, it was discovered that these nutrients were very useful in helping CBD and THC be assimilated into the body.
For example, the landmark study for the Journal of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research by Kerstin Iffland and Franjo Grotenhermen found that, by researching the health effects of cannabidiol, the intake rate increased when it was imbibed as part of a full spectrum oil, rather than just as a CBD isolate.
What About CBD Isolate?
As CBD full spectrum oil is CBD oil with all the other, less well known cannabinoids and terpenes included within it, CBD isolates are any medical substance that is made entirely and only from CBD.
Doctors recommend this when they consider it important for a patient to receive only the medical benefits of CBD, with no other effects from the other cannabinoids.
For example, the mix of other cannabinoids and terpenes is a large part of what gives CBD oil its pain relief properties, but some patients might not benefit from a reduction in pain, so would instead be recommended to take CBD isolate.
Final Thoughts on Full Spectrum CBD oils
CBD oil comes in many shapes and sizes and is a good deal more complicated than you’d first think.
In a way though, this additional complexity is actually a good thing; it means that what you’re taking is a lot more complex than you understand, but there are medical professionals working to make sure you take exactly what is right for you.
CBD full spectrum oil is what you take when you have conditions that need to be treated with more than just one type of cannabinoid. It isn’t necessarily better or worse than CBD isolate, but it does offer a more general dose.
The next time you take CBD oil, take a look at the label; if it says “whole plant” or “full spectrum”, you’ll know you’re getting the benefits of many different parts of the cannabis plant, and not just the CBD.