Cannabidiol or CBD products classified as full-spectrum CBD contain all the naturally occurring cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, particularly hemp.
High-quality full-spectrum CBD products have high CBD concentrations and trace amounts of secondary cannabinoids only. These cannabinoids include cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabinol (CBN).
Such products also contain less than 0.30% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This psychoactive cannabinoid can get users high, but virtually not at such low levels.
To keep CBD products federally legal, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standardized the 0.30% THC limit.
The Entourage Effect
Many experienced CBD users believe that full-spectrum is the superior type of CBD product because of the entourage effect.
This process is characterized by different cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids working synergistically to regulate the user’s metabolic activity, cardiovascular system, and digestive tract(1).
Full-spectrum extract uses all the naturally occurring cannabinoids in cannabis. To produce the purported benefits of full-spectrum CBD, companies extract the phytocannabinoids from the whole plant.
In full-spectrum CBD products, CBD works together with over a hundred identified cannabinoids to produce the entourage effect(2). Although the range of cannabinoids includes THC, the content is within the 0.30% limit.
The full range of cannabinoids, flavonoids, fatty acids, and terpenes interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS)(3).
The ECS is an elaborate network of cannabinoid receptors that affect the body’s biological functions, including mood regulation, pain perception, and memory.
The endocannabinoid system exists in all animals, except insects(4).
Currently, most research surrounding the potential health benefits of CBD involves animal studies. More research on CBD’s effects on humans needs to be done.
The entourage effect is mostly associated with full-spectrum CBD. It may also occur when using broad-spectrum CBD products, which contain most components of hemp plants, except THC.
Meanwhile, CBD isolate contains pure CBD extract only. Such products contain chemically-isolated CBD and do not have THC and other non-CBD cannabinoids.
This type of CBD does not produce the entourage effect. Still, some consumers may prefer CBD isolates because they guarantee that products are THC-free.
Some studies suggest that full-spectrum CBD products are more effective than CBD isolates.
In 2015, researchers who conducted a study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Hadassah School concluded that full-spectrum CBD treated inflammation more effectively than CBD isolates did(5).
Laws and Legality
Through the 2018 Farm Bill, congress legalized hemp cultivation(6). This law differentiated hemp from marijuana based on their THC content on a dry weight basis.
According to the law, hemp is considered cannabis with less than 0.30% of THC content. Meanwhile, marijuana contains more than that amount.
As such, CBD products derived from industrial hemp plants are federally legal, as long as their THC content remains below 0.30%.
Historically, hemp was classified under cannabis varieties, which the 1970 Federal Controlled Substances Act banned(7).
This law categorized cannabis under Schedule I narcotics, which are substances without any accepted medical use and could be abused.
With new definitions under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is no longer categorized under Schedule I drugs.
This revision allows hemp cultivators to harvest, produce, and sell the agricultural commodity under specified federal conditions.
The Farm Bill of 2018 also granted the FDA permission to regulate CBD’s circulation in the market.
The agency is responsible for maintaining public health by ensuring food supply and medications’ safety and security. As such, the FDA prohibits CBD companies from making unproven claims about the health benefits of CBD products.
How to Use Full-Spectrum CBD
Companies that produce and sell CBD products offer CBD oil products in a variety of forms to suit different people’s needs. Users can take CBD oil directly or apply the product topically, proving its versatility.
CBD dosages may also vary depending on the consumers’ needs.
CBD Oil Tinctures
CBD in oil tincture format is the standard form of CBD products on the market. Users may apply these tinctures sublingually by dropping or spraying CBD oil under the tongue and leaving the CBD for about 30 to 90 seconds before swallowing.
CBD tinctures may be taken daily by applying one or two drops of oil with a dropper.
This method allows CBD to directly enter the body through the mucous membranes without going through the body’s natural metabolic or digestive processes.
One study found that CBD’s sublingual administration improved the participants’ quality of life and did not result in any adverse drug reactions(8).
CBD products may come in the form of softgel pills or capsules. These products contain a pre-measured and controlled amount of CBD for convenience. One capsule a day is a typical dosing amount.
Ingesting CBD through pills or capsules allows it to enter the body through the digestive system. This method works similarly to food supplements, although the FDA prohibits companies from marketing CBD as dietary supplements.
A study mentioned that patients showed a reduced level of anxiety upon taking CBD capsules(9).
Like CBD pills and capsules, CBD gummies contain a controlled amount of CBD that enters a user’s system through digestion.
Several CBD brands prescribe users to take one CBD gummy a day. This dosage is recommended to first-time CBD users so they can get acclimated to the product.
CBD first-timers who dislike the natural, earthy flavor of pure CBD may enjoy CBD gummies’ flavors.
CBD topicals may come in the forms of lotions, creams, balms, salves, massage oils, and other medicines meant for direct, transdermal application.
Most brands market their topical CBD products to athletes or people who engage in heavy physical activity. Still, they cannot make explicit claims about CBD’s health benefits.
Typical dosages call for a coin-sized amount of the topical product that users can apply to the affected area.
Research about the use of topical CBD discovered the potential relief that CBD provides to patients with nerve pain. The study stated that patients who used topical CBD experienced an improvement in their pain and other disturbing sensations(10).
CBD Vaping Oils
Many CBD brands offer full-spectrum CBD in the form of e-liquids or vape products. This method allows users to take CBD through inhalation instead of ingestion.
Vaping CBD products allows CBD to enter the bloodstream without going through the digestive process.
According to a 2016 study, vaping CBD eliminates the harmful byproducts of combustion from smoking while utilizing CBD’s potential therapeutic properties(11).
Still, consumers must consider the potential risks associated with vaping. Some reports have linked vaping to lung disease(12).
Where to Get Full-Spectrum CBD Products
Many CBD brands offer full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, or CBD isolates. However, some brands exclusively sell one type only. The following brands include full-spectrum CBD in their product line:
This CBD brand offers all three types of CBD: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolates.
JustCBD offers full-spectrum CBD tinctures that range from 50mg to 1,500mg strengths. Topicals, capsules, vape products, and gummies are also available.
This CBD brand exclusively distributes full-spectrum CBD products. It offers full-spectrum CBD oils, bath soaks, and chocolates.
The brand’s CBD oil tinctures come in 700mg to 2,000mg strengths, which customers can apply topically or sublingually.
Oregon-based Rosebud CBD began operations in 2018.
Charlotte’s Web CBD
Charlotte’s Web CBD offers full-spectrum CBD and CBD isolates. Its product line includes CBD oils, CBD capsules, CBD gummies, CBD topicals, and CBD pet products.
The seven Stanley brothers established Charlotte’s Web in 2012 when they developed a new hemp strain with high CBD content and low THC content.
The brothers shared the new hemp strain with Charlotte Figi, a little girl who had a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome(13).
The new strain helped with Figi’s symptoms and reduced the frequency of her seizures.
These positive findings prompted the brothers to name the strain after her.
This brand offers full-spectrum CBD oil and CBD isolates. Its range of CBD products includes hemp oil, pet products, capsules, and creams.
Bluebird Botanicals CBD Hemp Oil comes in 50ml bottles with 250mg of CBD and 60ml bottles with 500mg of CBD.
The capsule variant comes in softgels that contain 15mg of CBD.
This brand offers full-spectrum CBD oils, gummies, capsules, vape pens, and topicals. It also sells CBD isolates in the form of CBD toothpicks.
CBDfx offers full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolates. Its products come in various forms, including vape juice, gummies, tinctures, capsules, cream and topicals, vape pens, oils, pet products, drinks, edibles, face masks, and wax.
Established in 2014, CBDfx claims to be one of the first CBD companies to make third-party lab tests publicly available.
Lab test results’ transparency allows potential customers to verify the potency and quality of the products they desire.
These reports also reveal if a product contains heavy metals, pesticides, and stray solvents.
Benefits of CBD
CBD products have several purported benefits. However, CBD companies may not make any health claims about their products, per FDA regulations.
The only FDA-approved CBD treatment is Epidiolex, a drug for rare forms of epilepsy(15).
The following alleged health benefits include preclinical scientific research to back them. Still, further studies are needed to better understand the potential benefits and adverse effects of CBD and cannabinoids.
In a 2012 study using animal models, researchers found that CBD had anxiolytic properties. They discovered that CBD reduced anxiety in patients with social anxiety disorders(16).
Similar studies support evidence that CBD may improve sleep and anxiety problems in patients in a clinical population(17).
Researchers have also looked into the potential of CBD as an anti-inflammatory agent(18).
A 2007 study detailed CBD’s effects on chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain among rats(19). The results showed that cannabidiol had therapeutic potential in relieving chronic pain.
A 2021 study provides data that suggests the neuroprotective and Immunomodulatory properties of endocannabinoids(20).
A 2019 study discussed the efficacy of CBD as epilepsy treatment(21). Results showed that CBD had similar effects as common antiepileptic drugs.
Meanwhile, another 2019 study looked into the potential of CBD to regulate certain seizures(22). Evidence indicated that CBD was able to control particular types of seizures via the activity of cannabinoid targets including TRPV and serotonin receptors.
A 2020 study investigated the purported analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of full-spectrum CBD in treating neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis(23).
The study suggested that full-spectrum CBD was effective in treating such conditions. Still, further tests for other dosage formulations of CBD remain crucial.
CBD for Pets
Many participants of a 2019 study agreed that marijuana and CBD products offer benefits to humans. Thus, researchers support the use of CBD products in animals(24).
A 2018 study looked into the effects of cannabidiol in treating canine osteoarthritis(25). Results showed a significant decrease in pain and an increase in activity when using CBD oil without any apparent side effects.
Side Effects of CBD
FDA regulations are in place to prohibit companies from making any health claims about their CBD products. Although many studies supporting CBD’s benefits already exist, further research is needed to prove CBD’s efficacy.
Potential CBD users should also note that the substance may interact with existing medications and cause adverse drug events.
A 2019 study looked into potential adverse drug events (ADEs) and the potential for pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic drug-drug interactions (DDIs)(26).
Researchers found that nearly one-half of CBD users who participated in the study experienced ADEs, including sedation, infection, sleep disturbances, anemia, and transaminase elevations.
The researchers urged people to take note of these side-effects before turning to CBD therapy.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Will You Get High with Full-Spectrum CBD?
Full-spectrum CBD does not get users high. Although such products contain trace amounts of THC, the content is not enough for users to feel THC’s psychoactive effects.
Still, regular use of full-spectrum CBD may cause users to fail a drug test because of the existing THC content.
Full-spectrum hemp is usually grown in US states including Tennessee, Kentucky, Colorado, Vermont, and Oregon.
What Is the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?
Although both plants are of the same Cannabis sativa species, CBD is abundant in hemp extract, while THC is abundant in marijuana extract.
There are several methods to obtain these cannabis extracts. The most common extraction process among CBD companies is the CO2 extraction, which uses pressurized carbon dioxide to obtain cannabis extracts.
Full-spectrum CBD contains the entire spectrum of naturally occurring cannabinoids from hemp plants.
Full-spectrum CBD contains less than 0.30% THC, which is not enough to get people high.
CBD products do not promise to treat, prevent, mitigate, diagnose, or cure any medical condition. Before turning to CBD for treatment or general wellness, users are encouraged to consult with doctors who have prior experience with the substance.
CBD may interact with other prescription medications, which may lead to serious medical conditions and adverse side effects.
Still, research surrounding full-spectrum CBD has garnered significant attention from medical professionals. Several studies also support the therapeutic properties of CBD for different ailments but most have yet to be confirmed.
Despite the existing research, CBD is strictly regulated by the US FDA.
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- Hudak, John. The Farm Bill, hemp legalization and the status of CBD: An explainer. The Brookings Institution. 2018 December 14. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/12/14/the-farm-bill-hemp-and-cbd-explainer/
- Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. FindLaw. 2019 February 4. Retrieved from https://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/comprehensive-drug-abuse-prevention-and-control-act-of-1970.html
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- Hu, D., Cullen, B., Tang, M., & Fang Y. (2020). The Effectiveness of Topical Cannabidiol Oil in Symptomatic Relief of Peripheral Neuropathy of the Lower Extremities. Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, 390-402. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31793418/
- Peace, M. R., Butler, K. E., Wolf, C. E., Poklis, J. L., & Poklis, A. (2016). Evaluation of Two Commercially Available Cannabidiol Formulations for Use in Electronic Cigarettes. Frontiers in pharmacology, 7, 279. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2016.00279
- Shmerling, R. Can vaping damage your lungs? What we do (and don’t) know. Harvard Health Publishing – Harvard Medical School. 2019 September 4. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-vaping-damage-your-lungs-what-we-do-and-dont-know-2019090417734
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