Full Spectrum Oil vs CBD Isolate – A Fact-Based Report

Medical Cannabis Is Nothing New –

Since the dawn of time humans have used plant-based medicines for healing, and historical records tell us that cannabis has been used as medicine for five thousand years. [1] The early Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Egyptian practitioners used it to treat rheumatism, anxiety, epilepsy, gout, malaria, and many other conditions. These ancient cultures had an intimate relationship with the cannabis plant, as did many others before records of its use were kept. Since the cannabis plant has been around for millions of years, far longer than mankind has been, it’s not that difficult to understand why early societies held it in such high regard.

Unlike us, early humans co-existed with nature and revered the Earth Mother and all she provided them. Cannabis was something other-worldly, a plant with nearly magical healing properties, and it was cherished as a gift from the gods. While few people these days respect nature as it once was, we are at least discovering more and more about how powerful cannabis is for treating our health problems naturally, and many are turning to it as their choice of medicine.

After having been suppressed for almost 100 years, cannabis research is now growing by leaps and bounds. Discoveries are being made daily, and some in the medical profession have even started to use cannabis in place of pharmaceutical medications as the safest and most effective treatment for many chronic conditions that they would have otherwise prescribed drugs for. Considering this was the case in many over-the-counter medications before the 1920’s, it’s about time. [2]

The Magical Powers of Cannabis Explained –

Of course, we now know that the healing properties of cannabis are not magical, but they are certainly considered miraculous for those who have found relief after suffering for years with chronic conditions. Cannabis has been shown to help with arthritis, fibromyalgia, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders. CBD has also shown great results in protecting the brain and nervous system and has powerful cancer-fighting abilities. [3]

These healing properties come from the cannabinoids, terpenes, and phenols each plant contains. Every cannabis strain has unique amounts and ratios of these in their genetic makeup. However, the way each is grown, harvested and processed also affects the content of the finished product, making it difficult to accurately predict how it will work for each individual. Depending on their individual needs and physiology, each person reacts differently to each component, making cannabis more of a personally chosen treatment plan than a simple medical protocol.

Medicinal Cannabis Compounds –

Creating cannabis-based medicines is a very precise science. It involves the combination of selective plant breeding, environmentally controlled growing operations, precise timing of the harvest for optimum yield, proper extraction methods to release the medicinal compounds, and the blending of those extracted compounds into the most effective form for maximum benefit. The cannabinoids, terpenes, and phenols in cannabis each have unique and powerful therapeutic properties that need to be considered carefully.

Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System

Unknown until 25 years ago, we have within us an endocannabinoid system [4] (endo meaning internal) that processes cannabinoids through two different receptors. CB1 receptors are mainly located in the nervous system, connective tissues, glands and organs. CB2 receptors are primarily found in the immune system, spleen, liver, heart, kidneys, bones, blood vessels, lymph cells, endocrine glands, and reproductive organs.

As you might imagine, the CB1 and CB2 receptors have very different functions, and the endocannabinoid system (ECS) has far-reaching effects within the body. The ECS is the largest self-regulating system in our bodies and controls all other body systems, working constantly to achieve homeostasis, which is maintaining complete balance within our bodies. The ECS regulates such functions as mood, sleep, appetite, hormone regulation, blood pressure, body temperature, and pain and immune response. Cannabinoids work within your body through the actions of the ECS, working to naturally balance deficiencies throughout the body, which is why it seems to be able to heal many chronic conditions. A chronic condition is usually the result of long-term deficiencies and medical use of cannabis is the safest and most effective way to reduce your symptoms and bring your body back to balance. [5]

Although few people know this, our bodies make their own cannabinoids, which are chemicals that send signals through our ECS creating various responses. These are called “endogenous” cannabinoids, and when we have deep feelings of bliss, peace or well-being this is the process creates it. The Hindus called it “Ananda”, the Sanskrit word for bliss, and it is scientifically known as anandamide. Spiritual meditation, holding your new-born baby, or watching a glorious sunset all bring about these feelings, and those are your own cannabinoids at work.

Mimicking this action, the plant-based cannabinoids in cannabis flood the ECS with the same chemical signals, and each cannabinoid in cannabis has a different target causing a slightly different effect on our neurochemistry as a result. With over 100 known cannabinoids contained in cannabis, these effects are far-reaching, and the science is so new that we are just now finding out the many things they can do. The two most well-known cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), but others showing medical properties are THC-A, THC-V, CBD-A, CBC, CBN and CBG. (Cannabinoid chart follows for easy reference)

THC targets the CB1 receptors found mainly in your brain and central nervous system causing the feelings of euphoria (high) when you take it, the main focus of recreational users. Medically though, it has shown to reduce pain and muscle spasms, and can reduce nausea and stimulate appetite in those who need it such as cancer patients on chemotherapy.

Oddly enough, CBD doesn’t work with either CB1 or CB2 receptors, but works to assist all other cannabinoids bind easier to their receptors. As a result of it not being able to bind to CB1 receptors, pure CBD can never make you high since it doesn’t impact those receptors in any way.

Cannabinoid Receptors and Their Individual Targets Within the Endocannabinoid System

Image Courtesy of www.iusvitae.co.uk

Ground-breaking research is now revealing the impact the endocannabinoid system has on our overall health. It has been called the biggest scientific discovery of the past century by leading cannabis researchers, and by those in the medical profession who are just now becoming enlightened about this previously unknown internal mechanism.

One very recent discovery is the CB3 receptor, or the GPR55 receptor. This CB3 receptor is triggered in times of acute pain, as in a traumatic physical injury, or in when you are suffering intense inflammation. Clinical studies are now showing that THC and other specific cannabinoids can reduce the neurological signals from your brain, thereby reducing the pain it causes. This may pave the way for cannabis to become a mainstream medical practice in treating pain and help patients avoid opioids and addictive pain medications with their devastating side-effects. [6]

Cannabinoids have such a wide range of targets across the body that it has led to challenges in determining which does what. Most cannabinoids affect our neurochemistry by activating neurotransmitter receptors, and by doing so they can calm down our immune systems and pain levels. CBD alone has more than 65 different functions, many of which overlap with other cannabinoids. This led researchers to believe that CBD offers the most relief when directly compared to any single cannabinoid. However, recent studies are showing that although CBD is effective for some people as an isolated compound it is even more effective for treating ailments when used in a blended combination with other cannabinoids. This blend is known as “Full Spectrum CBD Oil”.

You’ll see that many cannabinoids share common health benefits. It would be easy to assume that each could function on its own, but studies have shown that is not the case. More to follow on this below…

Terpenes –

Terpenes are the largest group of phytochemicals that cannabis produces, with over 140 currently known, and that number is still climbing. They come in various shapes and sizes, with the smallest ones being the most fragrant and pungent. These make up the essential oils of the cannabis plant. Larger terpenes are less fragrant, but instead contribute to color or the stickiness of the cannabis resin. [7]

With their powerful aromas, one of the most obvious functions of terpenes is through the nose, where fragrant terpenes signal our brains to relax, focus, or fire off neurons for other effects. Within our bodies, terpenes can also activate neurotransmitter systems and other receptors, much like cannabinoids do.

Many terpenes in cannabis have direct anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and analgesic properties. Others work within the ECS to enhance cannabinoid functions. having essential oil capabilities, terpenes are also used in cannabis oil formulations to help move other molecules across the skin and blood-brain barrier. Using this ability, terpenes make cannabinoids more bioavailable and effective, as seen with dermal patches for pain relief with menstrual cramps.

Phenols (including flavonoids)

Phenols are present in all plants, allowing us to determine the nutritional content of the ones we eat. Phenols are mainly antioxidants which defend the plants from harm, but also give foods like vibrant red and purple berries, dark green veggies and green tea their super-food status. When food turns brown and loses flavor it means the phenols have spent their antioxidants and the food has lost nutritional quality.

The most bioactive cannabis phenols are flavonoids that are found in other edible plants, including apigenin, luteolin, kaempferol and quercetin. Flavonoids that are only found in cannabis are called cannaflavins, which have incredible anti-inflammatory properties. [8]

As with terpenes, phenols often affect us through their aromas. Once they have been absorbed by our bodies, they begin to fight inflammation and even help prevent the growth of cancer cells. The unique cannaflavins have the added ability to block enzymes from producing tissue-damaging inflammatory prostaglandins.

Putting It All Together –

If there seems to be an echo of health benefits between terpenes, phenols, and cannabinoids, it’s no coincidence. Cannabinoids are compounds created by combining a terpene and a phenol. This is yet another way that nature works together to create the medicinal properties that cannabis can provide. This process of each compound working together in synergy for maximum health benefits is called “The Entourage Effect”. [9]

With all the information laid out, we can now look at the big picture. By doing so, we can see that removing one single molecule from the full spectrum of the cannabis plant’s medicinal compounds can significantly alter its effectiveness. Extracting single compounds may be beneficial in some instances, but to get the most from the cannabis plant it is best used as a whole plant extract.

Is Full Spectrum Cannabis Oil Your Best Choice?

Although I could go much deeper into the science behind what makes cannabis such a powerful medicinal plant, we’ve gone over it enough to give you a good understanding. Knowledge is power and it’s important to have solid facts to base any opinion on. Setting this aside for a minute though, let’s look at it from my opening remarks…

As I alluded to in my opening comments, mankind has been using cannabis for thousands of years. Long before it was set down on record, tribal cultures throughout Asia used cannabis for ceremonial rites, burial rituals, and mystical vision quests by Shamans and village healers. Traces of ancient cannabis remnants and seeds have been found in archaeological finds dating back over 10,000 years indicating this is the case. Studying today’s tribal cultures, we know it was the psychoactive properties these early people were using it for, but there is really no way to know if they also used it for pain relief or any of the other recently known health benefits it can provide.

One thing we can safely assume is that they didn’t extract single compounds to use as we do today with our modern technological approach. The early tribal cultures lived as one with the Earth and considered themselves to be part of the natural world. They may not have understood some natural phenomena as we do today, but they knew they were not separate from it. This connection with nature and their simplistic approach tells us they would have only used cannabis as the whole-plant medicine it is meant to be. We may consider ourselves to be far more advanced than our ancestors, but our analytical practice of breaking down and refining everything nature provides us does not work well when it comes to cannabis.

And The Winner Is… Full Spectrum Cannabis Oil!

As you’ve learned, the compounds in cannabis work together synergistically as nature intended, each supporting the function of the other to create powerful healing processes within our endocannabinoid system. I firmly believe that cannabis is the safest alternative to pharmaceutical medications, and a medicine we’ve used for our whole existence as humans. Properly grown and produced, full-spectrum cannabis oil has the optimum combination of cannabinoids, terpenes, phenols and plant nutrients your body needs to feed your ECS and bring about healing. [10]

In order to advise my clients accurately I am constantly researching, and new studies on cannabis and CBD are published regularly. Following the latest evidence, at the time of this writing the only times I recommend using a single isolated cannabinoid (as is the case with CBD isolate oil) is for:

1. Treating children and teenagers under the age of 18 due to the possible effects of THC on the developing brain;

2. People that need to avoid failing drug screening by their employer; and

3. Determining how well CBD isolate may work on its own before adjusting to a different formulation.

“While the content of this article is based on clinical research it is intended for educational purposes only, NOT to provide you with medical advice, or to be misconstrued as such. It may certainly help you become healthier and have more wellbeing, but no promises or expectations of healing are ever indicated on my part. I encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your own research in a cooperative partnership with a qualified health care professional that has your best interests at heart. If you feel that your problem is medical in nature, you should first seek the advice of your physician or health care practitioner before using this information to self-diagnose and treat your particular issue.”

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02861426
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5312634/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3202504/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4789136/
  5. https://norml.org/library/item/introduction-to-the-endocannabinoid-system
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2268199/
  7. https://www.alchimiaweb.com/blogen/marijuana-terpenes-effects/
  8. https://www.medicinalgenomics.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Chemical-constituents-of-cannabis.pdf
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6334252/
  10. https://file.scirp.org/pdf/PP_2015021016351567.pdf