As a CBD consumer, you might have heard of the entourage effect, a theory that could completely change the way you consume CBD moving forward.
The Science Behind It
Cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, affect your endocannabinoid system, which works to keep your body in homeostasis. The endocannabinoid system regulates everything from neuroperception to your immune system. It impacts things like appetite, sleep, mood, and pain.
Cannabis’ therapeutic effects derive from their ability to bind with naturally occurring endocannabinoid receptors in the brain and central nervous system. The endocannabinoid system is meant to link with cannabinoids produced by the body, but cannabis compounds bind with endocannabinoid receptors just as well.
Most current research on the entourage effect focuses on Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) interactions. The cannabis plant contains more than 120 different photocannabinoids, the most popular being CBD and THC. The entourage effect proposes that CBD is more effective when consumed simultaneously along with other cannabinoids, like THC or other smaller organic compounds found in the cannabis plant, called terpenes. Terpenes, also called terpenoids, are responsible for the smell of cannabis.
What’s the difference between the CBD products?
With CBD, there are three different types of products you can buy: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate.
- Full spectrum - Full spectrum CBD products contain several naturally occurring cannabis extracts like terpenes and up to 0.3% THC. This combination of terpenes and cannabinoids will maximize the benefits.
- Broad spectrum - Typically, broad spectrum CBD is entirely free of THC; however, some products may contain trace amounts. Broad spectrum still contains terpenes, though, which means it still harnesses some of the power of the entourage effect.
- CBD isolate – Isolated CBD, the third form, is pure CBD, meaning it contains no other cannabis plant extracts. CBD isolate can still be beneficial, however the lack of other cannabinoids removes the potential for the added benefit of the entourage effect.
Full Spectrum CBD
Some research suggests that the combination of CBD and THC is more effective than using either alone, thus the entourage effect. If you’re looking to intensify the effect of your CBD, a full spectrum product may be for you. In addition to CBD, full spectrum products also contain cannabinoids like:
- Cannabinol (CBN)
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabidivarin (CBDV)
- Cannabidiol Acid (CBDA)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
A 2015 study found that full spectrum CBD is more beneficial at higher doses, as it utilizes more of the hemp plant than isolated CBD. And although full spectrum CBD contains THC, it is in a low enough quantity that it does not typically produce the high people associate with cannabis use. However, even though the THC levels are negligible, they can sometimes trigger a false positive on a drug test if used regularly.
Which type should you use?
So, does this mean it is better to take CBD and THC together versus using them separately? Should you use a full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD, or CBD isolate product? That all depends on personal preference.
People use CBD and/or THC for a variety of reasons, everywhere from pain relief to relaxation. Many individuals choose broad spectrum CBD or CBD isolate over full spectrum CBD because they cannot have any trace amounts of THC in their system, whether for legal or personal reasons. If you’re a beginning user, full spectrum CBD may be overwhelming, so an isolated form of CBD may be a great introduction, as the effects are more subtle. While broad spectrum products do not contain THC, the addition of the terpenes still enhances the effects. It will just be more mild than any full spectrum product.
Many also prefer broad spectrum or CBD isolate because it reduces the unwanted effects of THC, like paranoia, anxiety, hunger, or sleepiness. A review of studies from 2011 in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that using CBD alone can help reduce these side effects. Broad spectrum is great for anyone who wants the benefits of a full spectrum CBD without the worry of THC accumulating in their system.
On the other hand, the same study also found that using photocannabinoids and terpenes together may be beneficial for pain, anxiety, inflammation, epilepsy, cancer, and fungal infections. For any more advanced CBD users suffering from any of these, full spectrum CBD may be a great solution.
There is no one product that is for everyone. For some, broad spectrum CBD gives them all the good with none of the bad, but for others, full spectrum works best with their lifestyle. It all depends on what works best for you and your needs.