When searching for CBD products, you may have noticed these words used somewhere on the packaging or in the descriptions. Each “Spectrum” contains varying levels of major and minor cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes that all influence the effects of the product you’re using. For example, products with full or some broad spectrum extracts contain natural terpenes to create a synergy known as the “Entourage Effect” within your body, which include psychoactivity. This allows your body to be more receptive to the product. Depending on your experience level, all of these terms so far may be confusing to you.
CANNABINOIDS, FLAVONOIDS & TERPENES
Cannabinoids, known to most as THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (Cannabidiol), CBN (Cannabinol), CBG (Cannabigerol) and so on, are the chemical compounds produced in the trichomes of cannabis flowers. These compounds work by emulating compounds that our bodies already naturally produce, called endocannabinoids. These compounds are responsible for helping our body reach states of homeostasis via a complex sensory system rightfully dubbed the Endocannabinoid System. There are over 120 isolated cannabinoids from the cannabis plant, most of which have not been studied yet to figure their full therapeutic values.
Have you ever noticed the aroma and taste of cannabis products? Whether it’s hemp or marijuana, Terpenes play a large role in modulating or “guiding” the effects of the product you’re consuming. Terpenes are created in the resin glands or trichomes of the cannabis plant. Biologically, most all plants use terpenes as a natural predatory defense mechanism to deter pests that could damage it’s growth integrity. There are well over 100 cannabis terpenes, with studies that show promotion of different synergistic effects per each terpene. An example is the terpene Myrcene, which is thought to promote sedative, anti-inflammatory and other therapeutic and medicinal effects. The true “Entourage Effect” happens when terpene molecules, classed as an organic hydrocarbon, decrease resistance of the blood-to-brain barrier, allowing cannabinoids to flow freely to their respective psychoactive and biological positions.
The less studied organic compounds in cannabis and other plants that are known as Flavonoids. These are found from cannabis to fruits all throughout nature. A popular flavonoid is Anthocyanin, which gives a fruit like a blueberry it’s blue color. These compounds also hold true with cannabis, as some cultivars can produce blue, purple and red hues. Much like terpenes, flavonoids also seem to modulate or complement the effects of the cannabinoids or terpenes being consumed. Cannabis is unique in the sense that it has it’s own class of flavonoids mostly known as variations of Cannaflavins. For example, Cannalfavin A is being studied as an anti inflammatory property that may be promising greater effects than Aspirin. Unfortunately, with the state of federal law, these cannabis specific compounds are largely understudied just waiting for their potential medicinal value to be unlocked.
FULL SPECTRUM CBD
Full spectrum CBD is an extract that contains most all active compounds found naturally occurring in the plant, including terpenes, flavonoids, and other major and minor cannabinoids. Full spectrum, by definition, also contains trace amounts of THC. It has to be under the federal law of 0.3% by weight, but depending on consumption and your body’s response to cannabinoids, full spectrum products could produce negative outcomes to a standard drug test.
Full spectrum usually gets diluted with a carrying agent such as MCT Oil or hemp oil to spread out the THC percentage over a larger volume. Products such as Full Spectrum Tinctures typically use MCT as a carrier oil and is actually encouraged for oral use as it contains a high level of usable fats. Since diluted full spectrum CBD oil is readily available in wholesale markets to white label brands, this can also lead to some subpar products that flood the market such as MCT infused vape cartridges. If using vapables, it is recommended to look for clean and pure products that contain nothing but cannabinoids and terpenes.
Full spectrum also brings us back to the Entourage Effect, which uses that little bit of THC to slowly activate more receptors, in turn modulating effects of CBN and CBD, along with the other minor cannabinoids.
BROAD SPECTRUM CBD
Broad spectrum extracts only contains certain isolated cannabinoids and sometimes terpenes. This can be achieved a few different ways, but with the advancement of THC remediation while still retaining non-psychotropic cannabinoids, broad spectrum distillate oil is becoming more available for different product formulations. This oil usually contains nothing but CBD, CBN, minor cannabinoids and sometimes natural hemp terpenes. Purity usually falls around 80% CBD and 0% THC. Broad spectrum distillate oil is perfect for tinctures, edibles, topicals and more as it’s very easy and safe to work with. CBD starts to crystallize on it’s own when at this purity, so formulating products like vape cartridges can be tricky. This is why quality CBD vape cartridges are hard to find, but not for long.
Refining CBD oil down to it’s purest crystallized form is known as CBD Isolate. These products usually test above 99% CBD purity with 0% THC. CBD Isolate resembles a fine white powder that can retain minute scents of cherry like terpenes in the final product. Though not as effective as the previous options, you can have peace of mind knowing that most isolate is pure. This route is perfect for dosing since it’s close to 100% pure, 1 gram is equal to 1000mg of pure CBD. To create a more synergistic effect while consuming isolate products, some CBD isolate shatter may be infused with natural terpenes.
It is smart to choose from trusted brands due to low quality products utilizing imported isolate that can contain traces of heavy metals and toxins. Also, some CBD vapes on the market are derived from MCT, PG, or VG with CBD isolate infused. These products should also be avoided as the purity claims are usually exaggerated and the carrier oils are not recommended for vaporization.
Avoid products that label themselves as “Full Spectrum” but also “THC free”. This is a classic marketing ploy that is used to deceive and to serve best of both worlds. It is simply just not transparent. True Full Spectrum products are usually offered in forms of tinctures, concentrates, topicals and edibles. Look for lab tests that clearly show activated levels of Delta 9 THC (Δ-9-THC) to make sure you’re getting a real full spectrum product. Remember, more cannabinoids and active plant compounds equals more synergistic effects! Consume safely-