CBD and THC are two abbreviations that you have probably heard being bandied around. But what do they stand for?
CBD stands for cannabidiol – a cannabis compound that is quite popular nowadays thanks to its astounding health benefits! THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is another cannabis compound whose fame predates CBD.
Even though these two cannabinoids exist naturally in the same plant (marijuana and hemp), their differences are as stark as day and night.
THC is psychoactive, which means it alters how the brain works. An altered mind is typically characterized by physical changes in mood, thoughts, feelings, awareness, or behavior. The most observed effect of this property is the "high" or "stoned" feeling associated with smoking cannabis.
On the other hand, CBD is non-psychoactive, so it has no physical effect on how the brain works. However, it can potentially induce a myriad of physiological processes that alter mood and feelings. As a result, psychoactivity is the main distinguishing property between CBD and THC.
You may have noticed the words "full spectrum" or "broad spectrum" on the labels of CBD products. If you have been left wondering what they mean, this article intends to bring you up to speed and provide further relevant information on these two types of CBD.
Let's get started.
What is full spectrum hemp
Remember, CBD and THC can be sourced from hemp or marijuana. These two plants are essentially two species of the same family, differentiated only by their THC content.
When a cannabis or hemp product is referred to as full spectrum, it basically means it was made by extracting all the naturally occurring components of the plant, not only CBD.
THC and CBD are not the only compounds found in cannabis. The cannabis plant is believed to have at least 100 cannabinoids, over 150 terpenes, 20+ flavonoids, vitamins, essential oils, and fatty acids.
So, full spectrum hemp essentially contains all the naturally existing cannabis compounds.
What is full spectrum CBD
There are three types of CBD – full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate. They are all different in terms of composition and effects.
Same as full spectrum hemp, full spectrum CBD is a CBD extract that also has the naturally occurring compounds found on the plant.
What does full spectrum CBD mean
The earlier definition implies that full spectrum CBD contains all the compounds that naturally exist in cannabis. That's the basic definition because full spectrum CBD has a literal and legal meaning.
The legal definition touches on issues which come down to the source. Full spectrum CBD derived from hemp is generally permitted in most states, while those from marijuana are illegal because marijuana is a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
The provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill stipulate that full spectrum cannabis products must not contain more than 0.3% THC. Since marijuana typically has high levels of THC, any marijuana-derived products are equally illegal.
Therefore, full spectrum CBD, under the legal provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill, is CBD extract with no more than 0.3% of THC.
What does full spectrum CBD do
To understand what full spectrum CBD does, we have to talk about the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is an intricate network of cellular receptors and chemical signals (neurotransmitters) found throughout the mammalian body.
The endocannabinoid receptors in the brain, identified as CB receptors, typically outnumber other receptor types. These receptors regulate neurotransmitter activity and levels. They manage numerous processes by providing quick feedback and upregulating or downregulating system activities accordingly.
To activate the CB receptors, we manufacture endocannabinoids (endogenous cannabinoids), which are structurally identical to the cannabinoids of cannabis. We all have these cannabis-like chemicals in our brains.
The cannabinoids from the cannabis plant effectively function by duplicating the roles of endogenous cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids interact with specific receptors that control various physiological processes. Experts claim that CBD alters the responses of these receptors to signals, thereby influencing things like pain perception or sleep.
Research studies show that CBD possesses numerous health benefits thanks to its wide-ranging properties.
For example, a 2020 study investigating the potential for CBD in pain management showed that CBD might have therapeutic potential for chronic pain. CBD's novel analgesic properties have made it even more popular among people with various types of pain.
Other studies have also shown that CBD supports better sleep due to its calming effect on the central nervous system. This cannabinoid may also enhance sleep quality because it can regulate serotonin activity.
CBD use is also prevalent among people with stress and anxiety. A 2015 study on the effects of CBD on anxiety disorders concluded that it has "considerable potential" as a treatment for various types of anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder, general anxiety disorder, panic disorder, PTSD, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
This cannabis compound is also a powerhouse of anti-inflammatory properties. A 2020 study investigating CBD's antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties highlighted its therapeutic potential for many conditions, including those associated with oxidative stress.
Another property of CBD that signaled the research world to take it seriously is neuroprotection. This quality enables CBD to provide a naturopathic remedy for various neurological conditions such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and seizure disorders.
In conjunction with the Realm of Caring Foundation, medical researchers from John Hopkins carried out an observational study to better understand the effect of CBD products on patients with epilepsy.
They found that CBD seems to improve numerous health aspects and reduces the adverse effects of anti-seizure medicines. Cumulatively, it seemed to improve the quality of life of people with seizure disorders.
Moreover, in 2018, Epidiolex became the only FDA-approved CBD-based medication for managing seizure disorders.
In 2021, the European Commission approved another variation of Epidiolex as an adjunctive treatment for TSC-related seizures. TSC stands for tuberous sclerosis complex, a rare genetic disorder symptomized by non-cancerous tumors in different body parts.
This drug is also presently used as an adjunct treatment to Clobazam in treating patients with Lennox Gastaut Syndrome (LGS) or Dravet syndrome. These are rare types of childhood epilepsy that do not respond to conventional epilepsy medications.
So, there is no doubt that CBD has much to offer health-wise. However, not all CBD is the same—some are more potent than others. Indeed, most CBD users swear by the effectiveness of full spectrum CBD compared to other types of CBD. So, what could be the logical basis for such an assertion?
As earlier pointed out, full spectrum CBD contains all the naturally occurring cannabis compounds, i.e., other cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, essential oils, vitamins, and fatty acids.
Researchers believe that, collectively, these compounds enhance each other's effects, a phenomenon referred to as the entourage effect. Leading cannabis experts contend that this mix-up is what actually gives cannabis its "character."
Proponents of the entourage effect have made several claims to support this theory.
Generally, cannabinoids have some neurochemical impact because they can influence cannabinoid receptors in various parts of the body, including the central nervous system, in many ways.
CBD is usually cited as a perfect example. Researchers believe it alleviates THC's well-known "high" and paranoia-inducing effects by inhibiting certain cannabinoid receptors.
Indeed, many researchers now believe that CBD modulates some of the adverse effects of THC.
A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology documenting the cause-and-effect relationship between THC and other cannabis compounds such as cannabinoids and terpenes lent more credence to the entourage effect.
It suggested that alpha-pinene, a terpene responsible for the pine scent of certain marijuana strains, might aid memory formation because it helps preserve acetylcholine.
A recent study at the University of Arizona Health Sciences backs up the entourage effect theory. It suggests that terpenes are a possible target for pain medications, especially those needed in lower dosages with fewer adverse effects.
Terpenes are the building blocks of essential oils and are responsible for the different flavors and tastes of various marijuana strains.
More importantly, research now shows that terpenes are cannabimimetic and thus mimic the activity of cannabinoids. The implication is that when mixed with cannabinoids, they amplify their effects, albeit selectively.
For example, when used with THC, terpenes enhance its pain-relieving effects but not its intoxication.
Researchers investigating the effects of four cannabis terpenes made interesting discoveries, further cementing the entourage effect theory. The four terpenes – linalool, beta-pinene, humulene, and geraniol – were evaluated independently and then together with a synthetic cannabinoid.
The researchers established that besides activating all the receptors stimulated by the cannabinoid, the terpenes also lowered pain sensitivity and body temperature and induced catalepsy—one of the effects of psychoactive cannabinoids.
The use of medical marijuana is not entirely a new thing. Since the 80s, a synthetic form of THC has been used to stimulate appetite. However, it also made patients paranoid and "high."
On the other hand, Sativex, which has both THC and CBD, is much better tolerated leading to conclusions that CBD mitigates the less desirable effects of THC.
This happens due to CBD’s interactions with CB1 receptors. THC is a CB1 agonist and binds nicely to these receptors. CBD is a CB1 antagonist, which means it limits this receptor's activity by blocking access to it.
In other words, it identifies THC's binding spots and attaches itself there, thus preventing THC from doing the same.
It is worth mentioning that CBD uses various action mechanisms to achieve its effect on the body; CB1 occupancy is just one of them.
Does broad spectrum CBD have THC?
Ideally, broad spectrum CBD does not contain THC. However, recent revelations regarding the CBD industry suggests this may not be entirely true. The CBD industry is unregulated, meaning no one truly knows the composition of CBD products.
If recent lab test reports are anything to go by, then it is safe to presume that unless a CBD product meets all the safety and quality criteria, it may contain not only THC but also other toxic substances.
So, if you want broad spectrum CBD products that do not contain THC, it is critical to purchase from accredited manufacturers and vendors.
Where to buy full spectrum CBD
At FOCL, we’re proud to offer our new line of full spectrum CBD products. The same quality you knew from our broad spectrum products is now available in full spectrum so you can enjoy the full benefits of our premium hemp extract and live your best life.
For instance, our Premium Full Spectrum CBD Drops are made with whole hemp extracts for optimal effect, whether you want better focus, more restful sleep, or a long-lasting, relaxing feeling. They come in two strength levels and three different flavors to ensure everyone's preferences are met.
If you’re more sweet-toothed, then go with our Premium Full Spectrum CBD Gummies. These pack 25mg of full spectrum CBD each and come in three different flavors to ensure that grassy aftertaste does not spoil the fun. Enjoy maximum relief with these CBD treats made with extracts from the whole hemp plant to give you the most resounding benefits.Finally, if you want a full spectrum CBD product to take at night, check out our Full Spectrum CBD + CBN Sleep Gummies. These naturally flavored gummies combine 25mg of full spectrum CBD with 15mg of CBN, L-theanine, and passion flower extract to help you get the deep, restful sleep you deserve.