What is Full-Spectrum CBD Oil?

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When we describe our full-spectrum CBD oil, we often use the analogy of a concert.

CBD is the headliner, grabbing all the attention in big letters and flashing lights. However, hemp, which is the source of CBD, also features hundreds of supporting acts such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and phytonutrients.

At Sunsoil, we take great care to preserve these compounds. That’s why we developed whole-plant infusion, our unique method of making CBD oil.

We simply infuse hemp in coconut oil, thereby capturing the CBD and other compounds in their naturally occurring ratios. Nothing is ever added or removed from the plant. It's just as nature intended: the whole plant working together.

Three Types of CBD

CBD oil can be broken down into three major types: isolate, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum. The three types have different cannabinoid profiles.

“Isolate” products are processed until they only contain CBD. All other cannabinoids, including THC, are removed (although, depending on the quality of the product, there may still be trace amounts of other cannabinoids).

“Broad-spectrum” oils are processed to remove THC, but retain many other cannabinoids and plant compounds.

“Full-spectrum” CBD oils can contain all of the cannabinoids and compounds in the plant, including THC (in small quantities).

The Entourage Effect

Early evidence suggests that the individual compounds in hemp may work together such that that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. There’s even a name for this synergy: the “entourage effect.”

This “entourage effect” is thought to explain why botanical, or natural, formulations perform better than isolated products that include only one cannabinoid, such as CBD or THC.

Several studies have provided a foundation for our understanding of a potential entourage effect in cannabis:

  1. In a 2010 clinical trial for patients with intractable pain, a THC-dominant extract did not perform better than a placebo, whereas a whole plant extract with both THC and CBD proved significantly more effective.

  2. A 2015 study of mice showed that there was a “bell curve” response when a pure CBD extract was applied. As the dosage of the pure CBD extract was increased, it actually became less effective. Meanwhile, equivalent doses of a full-spectrum cannabis extract removed that ceiling of efficacy. Its pain relieving effects increased as the dosage increased.

  3. A 2018 study showed that a botanical cannabis extract was superior to pure THC in treating several human breast cancer cell lines and implanted tumors.

  4. A 2018 experiment demonstrated that different cannabis extracts with equal CBD concentrations showed varied efficacy in reducing seizures, showing the importance of other "minor" cannabinoids and compounds.

  5. Anecdotal information from clinicians using high-CBD cannabis extracts to treat severe epilepsy showed that their patients experienced significant improvement in seizure frequency with doses far lower than those reported in formal clinical trials of Epidiolex, a pure CBD formulation. Patients also experienced fewer adverse effects.

In sum, there is some clinical evidence to support the idea that the cannabis plant, in its natural form, works better than isolated formulations. These early findings, however, still need more confirmation through rigorous clinical studies.

Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are one group of compounds found in hemp. 

While most people have heard of CBD and THC, hemp contains measurable amounts of other cannabinoids such as cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), and cannabinol (CBN). These minor cannabinoids may have their own unique properties and potential benefits.

So what might these minor cannabinoids do, exactly?

CBN

CBN, or cannabinol, is a compound that forms when the cannabinoid THC breaks down. CBN is naturally found in small amounts in hemp. Because it maintains some of THC’s intoxicating qualities, it is often referred to as a milder or moderate form of THC.

There is debate and little research surrounding CBN’s uses, but companies have primarily marketed CBN as a sleep aid because of CBN’s sedative property.

However, there is extremely limited evidence to support CBN’s use for sleep. A review of clinical studies examining the effects of cannabinoids on sleep found that many studies suggested cannabinoids could improve sleep quality, decrease sleep disturbances, and decrease sleep onset latency. However, most of the studies focused on THC and CBD rather than CBN. Many of them also had limitations such as small sample sizes.

There is an ongoing randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover pilot study investigating the acute effects of CBN on sleep in adults with chronic insomnia disorder. The estimated completion date of the study is September 30, 2023​.

CBG

CBG, or cannabigerol, is a non-intoxicating minor cannabinoid found in trace amounts in the cannabis plant. It is considered to be the precursor to THC and CBD within the plant.

CBG is thought to have potential benefits for pain, inflammation, and mood — in a very similar fashion to both CBD and THC.

However, there is almost no clinical substantiation for taking CBG in isolation despite its potential benefits. A 2021 review of the scientific literature stated that “although there is much to suggest that CBG may provide alternative therapeutics for a number of disorders, much is left to learn. There is simply insufficient experience with this relatively rare phytocannabinoid, and the potential for adverse effects is high.”

Terpenes

Terpenes are another group of compounds naturally found in plants, including hemp. They give plants their characteristic aromas, such as pine (pinene), lavender (linalool), and citrus  (limonene).

Hemp is rich in terpenes, with over 120 terpenes discovered in the cannabis sativa plant. Some commonly found terpenes in hemp include myrcene, β-caryophyllene, α-humulene, α-pinene, limonene, and linalool. 

Terpenes are believed to have therapeutic benefits and can interact with various receptor systems in the body, including the endocannabinoid system. 

A University of Arizona study investigated the benefits of terpenes found in the cannabis plant. They found that terpenes, when isolated from cannabinoids, have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, among others. When these terpenes were combined with cannabinoids, these pain-relieving effects were amplified, further contributing to the entourage effect.

Like cannabinoids, the clinical research on terpenes is still in its early stages, and more studies are needed to fully understand and reap their benefits. 

The Downsides of Full-Spectrum

Full-spectrum CBD oils such as Sunsoil’s contain the entire makeup of the hemp plant. That includes some small amounts of THC.

While the amount of THC in hemp is minimal and typically not associated with a "high," some individuals may be more sensitive to the adverse effects of THC. A large enough serving may have euphoric or intoxicating effects.

Depending on various factors, this means that a full-spectrum hemp extract could also produce a positive THC result on a drug test. This 

There are plenty of potential benefits to incorporating a dose of CBD into your daily routine. As with any supplement, even a generally well-tolerated CBD product, some individuals may experience side effects such as gastrointestinal distress, decreased appetite, drowsiness, or irritability.

It is critical to start with a low dose and monitor your body’s response when using any CBD product. We advise that you speak with a health professional prior to starting a CBD oil regimen, especially if you have a serious health condition or take prescription medication, as there may be interaction effects.

What It Means For You

The clinical research on cannabis is in its early days—limited in many ways by the uncertain legal and regulatory environment for hemp and cannabis. While there is early evidence to support an “entourage effect,” there’s not much we can definitively say about the benefits of CBD or any of the other compounds in hemp.

As a consumer, what’s important to know is how the CBD oil you’re taking differs from others. Does it just contain CBD? Or does it contain some of these supporting cannabinoids and terpenes, as well?

At Sunsoil, we make products that preserve hemp in its closest-to-natural state, complete with cannabinoids and terpenes. Rather than using CO2 or ethanol to process hemp into CBD, we developed a method that preserves the plant’s compounds in its natural ratios.

You can learn more about our process for whole-plant infusion here.

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