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Full Spectrum CBD: What It Is & How It Works

Written By Ellese Symons Apr 1st 2024
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When pilot programs first brought hemp cultivation back to American soil nearly a decade ago, recreational marijuana was legal in two states, people were hesitant to try hemp-derived CBD because of the "stigma" associated with cannabis, and consumers had a lot of misconceptions about hemp. Despite numerous skeptics assuming consumer interest would fade, experts predict CBD will expand to a $16 billion industry by 2025.1

As the popularity of CBD-infused products continues to climb, so does the number of people exploring product options and planning their first purchase. People who want to take advantage of everything the plant has to offer typically choose CBD oil tinctures, softgels, and gummies made with full spectrum hemp extract. Although full spectrum products won't appeal to every first-time CBD user, knowing how they compare to other product types could be just what you need to determine if you should try one. 

CBD 101: What Is Full Spectrum Hemp Extract?  

CBD is the commonly recognized abbreviation for cannabidiol, the most abundant of more than 113 cannabinoids in hemp flower extract. Full spectrum hemp extract contains CBD plus the full complement of minor cannabinoids, hundreds of potentially beneficial terpenes, and many other phytonutrients produced in the plant in the ratios nature intended,2 including a small amount of THC. Each active plant element contributes to CBD's overall effect in different ways.3 

How Does Full Spectrum CBD Work?  

CBD asserts its influence on more than 65 molecular targets,4 including your endocannabinoid system (ECS) receptors, the largest regulatory system in the human body.5 Based on decades of research, the signaling between ECS messengers and receptors plays a crucial role in nearly every aspect of health and well-being, from emotional regulation and memory to immune system function, sleep cycle regulation, and muscle movement. Although most of their evidence is based on lab results, animal studies, and a steadily increasing number of clinical trials, cannabis researchers believe CBD helps support ECS function in a way that promotes internal balance (homeostasis).6

Of the three main types of hemp extract, many CBD users feel the effects of full spectrum products are more robust, an observation researchers' credit to a phenomenon unique to cannabis commonly known as an "entourage effect." First discovered decades ago, this well-documented theory is often used to explain how the combined impact of the plant's minor cannabinoids and terpenes creates an effect that amplifies the therapeutic potential of CBD by optimizing the synergistic contributions of each plant component.

Who Has the Most to Gain from Full Spectrum CBD Products?   

Adults of all ages could benefit from full spectrum CBD because there are two types of cannabinoids that function as ECS messengers, plant-derived phytocannabinoids and the endocannabinoids produced as needed in the body, anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). When internal or external factors, stress, for example, create a demand for ECS messengers that exceeds the supply, communication stalls. CBD's interaction with ECS receptors inhibits the function of FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase), the enzyme that metabolizes anandamide.

According to an in-depth report by the World Health Organization, CBD is well-tolerated, safe for most adults, and poses no risk of public health-related concerns.9 Some people do, however, experience dry mouth, digestive upset, fatigue, or an increase or decrease in appetite.10 But that doesn't mean CBD, or any other phytocannabinoid, is the best choice for everyone. Cannabinoids are not ideal for people with certain medical conditions and are known to interact with several over-the-counter treatments and medications.11 Consult your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns. 

What Are the Reported Benefits?  

Every CBD user is unique. The only way to know how you could benefit from CBD's health and wellness potential is to purchase a product and try it. But keep in mind that it could take days or even several weeks for your system to adapt and respond, maybe longer. While you're waiting to achieve the results you're hoping for, you may find it helpful to know that based on a 2019 CBDistillery® survey of 1,900 customers, most report positive results for better sleep, relaxation, mild (temporary) anxiety, and pain, stiffness, and inflammation after physical activity within 7-14 days of consistent use. 

Our survey results reflect the personal experiences of people using the three main product types. Which can be good to know if you're uncomfortable ingesting the small amount of THC in full spectrum CBD products. Although the 15-20:1 CBD to THC ratio in unaltered hemp extract ensures there's minimal risk of intoxication, many CBD users are more comfortable using products with non-detectable amounts of THC, tinctures, softgels, and gummies made with the following alternatives. 

Broad Spectrum Hemp Extract   

Broad Spectrum hemp extract contains many of the additional cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other phytonutrients as full spectrum hemp extract, but an additional step called chromatography reduces the THC to non-detectable levels.12 With most of its minor cannabinoids and terpenes intact, broad spectrum CBD users still get the potency-maximizing potential of an entourage effect. Although some people feel that removing THC from the equation diminishes its impact, others report no noticeable difference.13 

CBD Isolate Powder & Tinctures  

CBD isolate is highly refined. All that remains after extraction and "winterization" is a flavorless, odorless, crystalline powder with 0% THC. Although products made with CBD isolate do not have the additional cannabinoids and terpenes needed to initiate an entourage effect, researchers point out that most studies and reports reflect the results of using the "pure form" of CBD.14 Since CBD isolate is flavorless and odorless, it's most often favored by CBD users who don't care for the distinctive taste and smell of cannabis and people who enjoy cooking and baking with CBD. 

How Much CBD Should I Take?  

Most CBD products have serving size suggestions printed on their labels. But again, every CBD user is different. That amount could be considerably less or a lot more than the serving-size that's ideal for you. When using any hemp-derived product for the first time, we generally recommend starting low and going slow. Although using more than you might need to achieve a specific result isn't harmful, there's also nothing to be gained except an increased risk of potentially unpleasant side effects. Consider using the following suggestions to find the amount of CBD that's right for you. 

Start with a Partial Serving  

The ideal serving size for any CBD user is the smallest amount needed to achieve the best results. We suggest starting with a partial serving, just a part of a dropper of a CBD oil tincture, or maybe half of a gummy. With CBD oil tinctures, you can count drop-for-drop; gummies are less precise.  

Increase Gradually  

If your starting point doesn't produce the results you're hoping for, increase your serving sizes gradually and in small increments. The exact amounts and pace are up to you. Some first-time users prefer waiting several days between increases to give their systems time to respond; others increase daily. 

Track Your Experience  

Many people find it helpful to make a chart detailing their experience. Consider jotting a few quick notes throughout the day or making a checklist. If you notice any changes, write them down. You could also experiment with serving size increases or decreases if you have more than one goal in mind. 

Finding the Full Spectrum Product That's Right for You   

The purity and potency of full spectrum CBD can vary by brand. Although 75% of CBD manufacturers claim their products are third-party tested for pesticides, heavy metals, and other potentially harmful contaminants, only about 13% submit samples for at least 90% of their products.15 If you can't verify a claim by accessing a Certificate of Analysis (COA), move on. 

When you choose CBDistillery®, you can enjoy your favorite products with confidence. We were one of the first, possibly the first, CBD brands to post our third-party test results on our product pages. Today, you can also scan the QR code on our product labels to verify our commitment to consumer safety and upholding rigorous quality control standards. Once you've confirmed the third-party test results of any products that have caught your eye, use the following descriptions to determine which options are most likely to fit your needs, preferences, and lifestyle. 

CBDistillery® ahhh distilled Full Spectrum CBD Gummies   

CBD ahhh distilled full spectrum gummies are a clear favorite among first-time CBD users. They're made with 100% clean ingredients, vegan, and have just enough delicious strawberry flavor to complement their terpene profile. Great for home use and travel, our gummies have 30mg of CBD. 

CBDistillery® ahhh distilled Full Spectrum CBD Oil Tinctures   

Our full spectrum CBD Oil tinctures are made with hemp extract and MCT (fractionated coconut) oil for optimal bioavailability. A 1000 mg bottle of  CBDistillery® ahhh distilled CBD Oil Tincture gives you 33mg of CBD per serving. For fast results, hold the oil under your tongue for 45-60 seconds, then swallow.   

CBDistillery® ahhh distilled Full Spectrum CBD Softgels   

Softgels could be your best bet if you value convenience and portability. Formed, filled, and sealed in a single operation, CBDistillery® ahhh distilled Full Spectrum CBD Softgels deliver 30mg of CBD inside a smooth gelatin shell. They're available in 30 and 60-count bottles. 

CBDistillery® oooh distilled Full Spectrum CBD Balm 

Topicals give you fast, targeted relief. For discomfort after physical activity, try CBDistillery® oooh distilled Full Spectrum CBD Balm, a salve with 500mg of CBD per jar and a soothing blend of botanical ingredients. CBD topicals can be used on their own or alongside tinctures, capsules, and gummies. 

Could CBDistillery® Full Spectrum CBD Products Be Right for You?   

At CBDistillery®, we're committed to providing the details people need to make informed decisions about adding hemp-derived products to their daily routines. If you have questions or concerns we haven't covered (or aren't quite sure where to start), consider setting up a personal consultation. Our products are quality-assured, made with 100% clean ingredients, and backed by a 60-day, hassle-free satisfaction guarantee. 

References  

  1. FN Media Group (Global Newswire. (2024) Hemp-CBD Market Demand Gaining Momentum While Projected to Reach $16 Billion By 2025. Morningstar.com 

  1. Jenkins, B. (2018) Is Full Spectrum CBD Really Better? Terpenes and Testing Magazine. 

  1. Komarnytsky S, Rathinasabapathy T, et al. (2021) Endocannabinoid System and Its Regulation by Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Full Spectrum Hemp Oils. 22(11) Int J Mol Sci 5479. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22115479 Elsaid S, Foll B (2020) The Complexity of Pharmacology of Cannabidiol (CBD) and Its Implications in the Treatment of Brain Disorders. 45 Neuropsychopharmacol 229-30 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-019-0518-1 

  1. Elsaid S, Foll B (2020) The Complexity of Pharmacology of Cannabidiol (CBD) and Its Implications in the Treatment of Brain Disorders. 45 Neuropsychopharmacol 229-30 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-019-0518-1 

  1. Marzo V, Piscetelli F. (2015) The Endocannabinoid System and Its Modulation by Phytocannabinoids. 12, Neurotherapeutics 692-98. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-015-0374-6 

  1. Sallaberry C, Astern L. (2018) The Endocannabinoid System, Our Universal Regulator. 34(6) JYI 48-55. https://www.jyi.org/2018-june/2018/6/1/the-endocannabinoid-system-our-universal-regulator 

  1. S Gupta. (2014) Medical Marijuana and "the Entourage Effect." CNN Health 

  1. Devitt-Lee A. (2019) Natural High: CBD Augments Anandamide. Project CBD. 

  1. World Health Organization. (2020) Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Review Report. PDF https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/controlled-substances/whocbdreportmay2018-2.pdf?sfvrsn=f78db177_2 

  1. Bergamaschi M, Mateus R, et al. (2011) Safety and Side Effect of Cannabidiol, a Cannabis Sativa Constituent. 6(4) Curr Drug Saf 237-49. https://doi.org/10.2174/157488611798280924 

  1. Iffland K, Grotenhermen F. (2017) An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies. 2(1) Can and Cannabin Res 139-54. 

  1. Ashton L. (2022) Broad Spectrum CBD Oil, Capsules, Edibles: Definitions & Benefits. CFAH 

  1. Wilkins T. (2022) What Is the Entourage Effect? How This Enhances CBD Effects. Marijuana Takers. 

  1. Larsen C, Shahinas S. (2020) Dosage, Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol Administration in Adults: A Systematic Review of Human Trials. 12(3) J Clin Med Res 129-41. 

  1. Harrington A. (2021) 25% of CBD Products Are Not Tested for Purity. Forbes.