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Much of the cannabis debate has included mention of the cannabinoid THC. But the cannabis plant also contains hundreds of other cannabinoids, such as CBD and CBG, and assorted chemical compounds that contribute to its medical and recreational benefits.
State and federal laws have long prohibited cannabis and CBD research to further study these compounds, their effects, and interactions. Scientists today slowly but surely continue to unveil the mysteries surrounding the cannabis plant as legalization efforts spread nationwide. But anecdotally, cannabis and CBD have successfully treated a wide range of health and wellness issues, from appetite and anxiety to chronic pain.
Researchers continue to push for more cannabis studies to prove the validity of many of these anecdotal claims, particularly as cannabis legalization gains a stronger foothold. One mystery they are likely to focus on is what’s known as the entourage effect of cannabis, including CBD oil products.
The prevailing theory behind the entourage effect is that varied cannabis compounds result in different physical or psychological effects when consumed together, as compared to any of the single compounds on their own, such as THC or CBD isolates.
Depending on the goal of treatment, the interactions of these compounds can have a synergistic effect, heightening or even multiplying many of the compounds’ individual benefits.
Cannabinoids still only tell part of the story. The cannabis plant contains hundreds of cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, but hundreds of other chemical compounds, such as terpenes and flavonoids, are also present in cannabis plants. These compounds further contribute to the smell, taste, effects, and other aspects of the cannabis user experience, and also influence cannabis’s entourage effect.
The theory behind the entourage effect aligns with other shifts in and toward more holistic and plant-based medicines and therapies for a wide range of ailments. A growing body of evidence indicates the potential boost in effectiveness for treatments that utilize plants in their whole and natural state, rather than chemically processed into isolated compounds.
CBD consumers browsing their online or in-store options often come across product label terminology like CBD isolate, full spectrum CBD, and broad spectrum CBD. These labels mark the distinction between CBD oil and other products that contain either CBD on its own or CBD in combination with other cannabinoids and compounds in the whole cannabis plant.
Consumers who purchase full spectrum CBD oil, gummies, topicals, and so on, experience the benefits of the entourage effect, with the other compounds working synergistically with the CBD to enhance its benefits and effects. Consumers who purchase CBD isolate do still experience the benefits of CBD taken alone, but not enhanced by any other compound.
Broad spectrum CBD oil is closer in chemical makeup to full spectrum CBD oil, in that it contains an array of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds. The main difference between broad spectrum and full spectrum CBD is that broad spectrum CBD products do not contain THC. This is one way to address demand from consumers who want to use CBD oil products but who cannot consume THC specifically, for a variety of reasons.
More research is needed to scientifically confirm many of CBD and cannabis’s anecdotal benefits. But consumers today can experiment with CBD-based therapies, in conjunction with conversations with their primary care doctor, to potentially experience the entourage effect for themselves.