As we have detailed in a previous article , the cannabis plant contains lots of different types of beneficial compounds. Full-spectrum CBD therapy involves using oils that contain compounds from across the entire spectrum of cannabinoids, including THC – the hallucinogenic element of the plant.
While CBD products generally don’t contain THC, full-spectrum products have hundreds of naturally occurring compounds from the cannabis plant – including the psychoactive compounds. The idea is that when these compounds are used concurrently (know as the entourage effect), they create a much more powerful treatment that surpasses the efficacy of standard isolated CBD products. Many of the elements in full-spectrum treatments include proteins, fatty acids, fibres and essential vitamins that would otherwise be missing in an isolated CBD product.
What is Ful-Spectrum Therapy?
Full-spectrum CBD therapy is regarded as an effective way to treat common medical complaints like muscular pain, migraines, inflammation, and insomnia – along with mental health illnesses such as anxiety, depression and a whole host of other conditions. It is used to treat one or more conditions concurrently and effectively reduce symptoms caused by one or more conditions (such as jaw pain caused by anxiety resulting from teeth-grinding or sleeplessness caused by joint pain).
Though using CBD products to ease these ailments has become a popular practice in recent years – the average consumer is yet to discover the more impressive healing properties of CBD therapy. Using the 3 major components found in the cannabis plant – terpenes, flavonoids, and of course, cannabinoids – full spectrum CBD therapy may represent a natural alternative to treating terminal illness and their symptoms such as neurological tremors, tumors, and cancer.
Full-spectrum CBD therapy only contains a tiny THC percentage (typically less than 0.3%), meaning it will not create a “high” or psychoactive effect. Most countries with laws governing active THC’s sale still consider full-spectrum CBD therapy as legal. The amount of THC present is not enough to create any tangible mind-altering experiences.
Recent studies & articles on full-spectrum CBD therapy
• Giving up Smoking and full-spectrum CBD therapy
A recent study found that users who switched to full-spectrum CBD inhalers were significantly more successful in reducing or eliminating the use of cigarettes, thereby conquering their nicotine addiction.
A 2018 study found that users who began using CBD products over recreational cannabis and tobacco were able to reduce the use of cigarettes, or stopped smoking completely. This is because cannabidiol (CBD) is thought to relieve those feelings of craving and addiction, easy withdrawal side effects.
• Mental health issues and full-spectrum CBD therapy
Regular full-spectrum CBD use can help users suffering from anxiety, depression, and addiction. For example, a 2019 article in Psychology Today discussed the use of CBD products, particularly CBD oil, overtaking prescription medication like antidepressants to ease debilitating mental health illnesses.
• Cancer prevention and full-spectrum CBD therapy
One study has identified the potential for cannabinoids as an anti-cancer fighting mechanism. Conventional thinking is that the low level of toxicity in full-spectrum CBD oils could help slow cancerous cells’ growth, thereby buying additional time to search for effective treatments.
A 2020 medical journal in MDPI explored the potential of cannabinoids to be used as an anti-cancer fighting mechanism. Conventional thinking is that the low level of toxicity in full-spectrum CBD oils could help slow cancerous cells’ growth, thereby buying additional time to search for effective treatments.
• Neurological issues and full-spectrum CBD therapy
Previous studies in 2017 and 2020 have demonstrated that patients with severe neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s found relief from their symptoms with full-spectrum cannabis oils, resulting in better patient outcomes at all stages of these diseases. These studies were conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information and explored the use of full-spectrum CBD oils in patients with severe neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s (AD), Parkinson’s (PD), Huntingdon’s (HD), and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). A small amount of data has been collected on its positive outcomes, but further clinical research is being conducted for it to be deployed as a go-to treatment.
Components of Full-Spectrum CBD Therapy
Full-spectrum CBD therapy uses oils from the 3 major components found in the cannabis plant – terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids. To give a better understanding of how complex and intricate the cannabis saliva plant is – it’s worth noting that CBD is just one of the active compounds found within the plant. CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it’s categorized as a cannabinoid. Here is an example of each component of the cannabis plant utilized when providing full-spectrum CBD therapy:
1. Terpenes are the aromatic compounds found in plants; they are responsible for what a plant smells like. Though lots of plants contain terpenes, they are associated with cannabis, or marijuana, because there is a high concentration of the present. Examples of terpenes in the cannabis plant are pinene and bergamotene, which you will recognize as pine and bergamot.
2. Flavonoids (otherwise known as cannoflavins) are responsible for how cannabis looks, tastes, smells, and how strong it is. Though the work of the flavonoids is most applicable to recreational cannabis, they are also packed with healing properties.
3. Cannabinoids are the most popular set of compounds found within the cannabis plant and include THC (a hallucinogenic crystalline compound that induces the `high` effect of recreational marijuana) and of course cannabidiol, or CBD, which is known for its healing properties.
With full-spectrum CBD therapy or any CBD treatment for that matter, there is an absence of THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol). This means that the medicinal properties of all compounds (including THC) will be present, but the quantity is so low (typically less than 0.3%), it inhibits its psychoactive effect. Most countries with laws governing active THC’s sale still consider full-spectrum CBD therapy as legal because the amount of THC present is not enough to create a tangible mind-altering experience.
However, while CBD products generally don’t contain THC, full-spectrum products have hundreds of naturally occurring compounds from the cannabis plant – including the psychoactive compounds. The idea is that when these compounds are combined, they create a powerful treatment that surpasses the efficacy of standard isolated CBD products. Many of the elements in full-spectrum treatments include proteins, fatty acids, fibers, and essential vitamins, too. These extra properties are not present in standard CBD products that you’d purchase online or in a health shop.
Though CBD therapy functions as a natural pain relief treatment for minor, everyday ailments – there is increasing evidence that full-spectrum CBD therapy could also help to ease the harsh effects of major terminal illnesses or chronic conditions, as studies referred to above indicate.
Now that we’ve explored full spectrum CBD therapy as a whole, let’s look at the 3 components in more detail.
What are cannabis terpenes?
Terpenes are compounds in cannabis that are recognizable by their smell. These aromatic oils help to color various varieties of cannabis with distinctive flavors. Terpenes are useful in differentiating the effects of various types of cannabis, too; for example, some might promote focus and mental acuity, while others provide stress-relief and relaxation.
Over 100 different unique terpenes have been identified in cannabis plants, and the climate, soil type, weather, and maturation of the plant will dictate which kind of terpenes it has. Interestingly, the effect of different terpenes can change the efficacy of other compounds. This is known as the entourage effect. Research is currently ongoing to help healthcare professionals better understand each terpene’s effects and how they interact with one another.
Some of the most common cannabis terpenes include the following:
Aroma: Warm, woody, sweet
Properties: Eases anxiety, promotes sleep
What is Myrcene?
Myrcene is a common terpene that is also found in hops used in beer brewing. You will also find it in lemongrass, which has been used as part of traditional natural medicine for centuries. It is the most abundant terpene in commercial cannabis, representing over 20% of the widely grown commercial strains profile.
Contemporary belief is myrcene has sedative and relaxant properties. Myrcene has long been used as a sleep-aid and anti-anxiety medication throughout the world. A study published in 1990 found that myrcene could also help reduce pain by helping the brain and spinal cord produce opioid-like chemicals.
Aroma: Rich, earthy, peppery
What is Beta-caryophyllene?
Beta-caryophyllene, or BCG for short, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It works by activating the endocannabinoid system. It is unlike other terpenes in that it can directly activate CB2 cannabinoid receptors.
Aroma: Lavender, floral
Properties: Promotes relaxation
What is Linalool?
Linalool offers a floral aroma believed to help promote relaxation. It is not specific to cannabis and is found in over 200 plants – including lavender. It is not hugely common in cannabis, although it is abundant in several specially curated species.
Aroma: Herby, fresh pine
Properties: Anti-inflammatory, eases congestion
What is Pinene?
Pinene is the most common terpene in the world, found in basil, rosemary, and pine needles. Pinene can be beneficial as an anti-inflammatory and as a natural anti-anxiety remedy. It also functions as a bronchodilator, which means it helps to open the airways during congestion (such as when fighting off a common cold).
Aroma: Spicy, earthy, woody
Properties: Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, appetite suppressant
What is Humulene?
This earthly, subtle, woody, and spicy terpene has been subject to a lot of modern biomedical research. This research has demonstrated that Humulene could be an effective anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agent that could also function as an appetite suppressant. It is similar to myrcene in that it is a fundamental element in the aromatic profile of the cannabis plant, although it usually appears in slightly smaller quantities.
Aroma: Fruity, citrus tones
Properties: Treats bouts of anxiety & stress
What is D-Limonene?
D-Limonene is produced in the resin glands of the flowering cannabis plant. It offers a fruity, citrus-like aroma and is believed to help combat anxiety and stress. It is also found in lemons, oranges, and juniper berries.
Aroma: Lilac, floral
Properties: Mood-enhancing, relaxant
WHAT IS TERPINEOL?
Terpineol is found primarily in medical-grade cannabis for its wide range of therapeutic properties in addition to its mood-enhancing attributes. Research has revealed that terpineol also triggers anti-inflammatory responses, too.
Furthermore, concentrations as low as 100 mg/kg may alleviate chronic epilepsy, reducing both the intensity of seizures and increasing the latency between episodes. These compounds are also present in pine oils and cajuput oil among others, making them ideal for full-spectrum CBD therapy.
Aroma: Minty, eucalyptus
Properties: Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, treats side effects of neurological diseases
WHAT IS EUCALYPTOL?
Also widely known as cineol, eucalyptol induces an analgesic response that is common in similar terpenes. Research on this specific compound demonstrates that it could also soothe inflamed airways, but its effects on Alzheimer’s disease symptoms are more noteworthy from a strictly scientific perspective. These properties were a surprising find, only revealed after research on the compound’s medicinal characteristics.
Aroma: Floral, balsamic
Properties: Treats stress and anxiety, sedative-like, anti-inflammatory
WHAT IS PHYTOL?
Phytol is another naturally occurring terpene found in green tea varieties. It has demonstrated analgesic properties and anti-inflammatory responses in lab testing. Studies on its effect on humans are needed to further quantify this compound’s potential for use in medicinal treatments, particularly those involving CBD-dominant strains of cannabis.
Aroma: Fresh, floral
Properties: Relieves neurological tremors
WHAT IS OCTANOL?
Octanol is a chemical compound that increases the fat-solubility of CBD. Left to its own devices, CBD molecules don’t readily pass into the body in large enough quantities to yield positive effects. Technically, it’s most closely related to ethanol with a distinct pungent odor, and octanol is often used in pharmaceuticals to raise lipophilicity and more efficient absorption in the body.
Aroma: Spicy, peppery tones
Properties: Anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory
WHAT IS BERGAMOTENE?
Bergamotene is a compound that various plants, such as orchids and bergamont species, product naturally. Further research is needed to correlate the effects of bergamotene on the human endocannabinoid system to medicinal properties.
Yet recent findings suggest that the chemical does, indeed, have anti-inflammatory properties similar to other cannabis terpenes. Essentials oils manufactured from cannabis that have high concentrations of bergamotene seem to contribute to the entourage effect, a characteristic of terpenes that’s still being studied today.
Aroma: Notes of tobacco
Properties: Neurological protection
WHAT IS GERANIOL?
The geraniol terpene is considered a primary terpene, according to researchers due to its high concentration in medical-grade cannabis strains and its anti-inflammatory reactions in lab settings. Geraniol has shown particular promise as a potential ingredient for anti-bacterial treatments.
In a 2011 study, research revealed that the compound’s anti-bacterial effects could one day lead to new courses of treatment for a variety of inflammations. As the name implies, geraniol can be found organically in plants like geraniums or lemons, which emit rose-like odors.
Aroma: Fresh pine
WHAT IS SABINENE?
This monoterpene can be extracted from essentials oil similar to other terpenes that contain related compounds. Due to the relatively low concentration in cannabis varieties, both indica and sativa, sabinene is classified as a secondary terpene.
Although being a secondary terpene, sabinene terpenes come in higher concentrations in several cannabis strains, such as Super Silver Haze and other Haze varieties. The compound’s pleasant aromas and taste when ingested make this terpene a common component of medicinal cannabis, including medicinal cannabinoids low in THC.
Aroma: Herby, minty tones
WHAT IS BORNEOL?
Borneol has a lengthy history of alternative treatment for anxiety, stress, and pain. Also known as moxa, it’s a compound that’s been used in Chinese medicine for centuries; however, recent studies suggest that borneol may act as a drug potentiator. Its neuroprotectant characteristics are also noteworthy from a scientific point of view, suggesting that this terpene in particular seems to promote healing in full-spectrum CBD therapy.
A 2013 study of borneol discovered that, unlike related compounds, there was no loss of motor coordination in mice, but further research is needed to clearly identify other positive side effects. Aside from cannabis, sagebrush, wormwood, and ginger are among the plants that organically produce borneol in quantities large enough to study.
Aroma: Potent, menthol-like
Properties: Cough & cold remedy
WHAT IS CAMPHOR?
The terpene camphor is arguably the most recognizable terpene since pharmaceuticals include the compound for its unmistakable menthol aroma. Its effectiveness as a localized pain reliever that produces a soothing, cooling sensation on the skin has been demonstrated in lab settings as well as in popular health and wellness products.
Medicinally, camphor ranks among the most promising of all terpenes, useful for alleviating asthma and improving blood circulation. It’s also used as a nasal decongestant for its cooling sensation on the olfactory system.
What are cannabis Flavonoids?
The cannabis plant contains over 20 flavonoids. Many of these chemicals are common among other plant life, although some are exclusive to cannabis. These are known as cannaflavins. Many veteran cannabis users have reported different medical benefits from different strains of cannabis, which can be attributed to the different concentrations of compounds in each type of cannabis plant.
Some of the most common cannabis flavonoids or cannaflavins and just some of their medicinal properties are:
Reduces anxiety and eases cancer-related ailments
According to research studies on the effects of flavonoids, apigenin is one of the most promising compounds that naturally occur in cannabis. It shows particular promise for the treatment of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, age-related disorders, insomnia, and also affective impairments like clinical depression. Similarly, it reduces anxiety and may ease cancer-related symptoms, as well. More research is needed to uncover the compound’s full potential in CBD treatments.
Reduces inflammation and cholesterol
B-Sitosterol similarly reduces inflammation and lowers cholesterol by minimizing the amount absorbed overall. The chemical itself is closely related to cholesterol, and scientific research continues to this day.
What’s well understood is that compounds can reduce coronary heart disease due to their chemical structure and broad availability. Government entities, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, allow product manufacturers to highlight these findings.
3) Cannoflavins A, B, C
Studies continue to suggest that the cannaflavins A, B, and C – compounds that are specific to cannabis – reduces inflammation similar to other organic compounds in cannabis. Particularly, the chemical demonstrated noteworthy anti-inflammatory responses during a study in 1985; however, in modern-day studies, cannaflavins A, B, and C shows promise as a treatment for pancreatic cancer. The exact mechanism that triggers such effects requires further scrutiny to identify additional medicinal uses in full-spectrum CBD therapy.
Isovitexin contains anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties.
Also a long-time ingredient in Eastern medicine, isovitexin belongs to the same family of compounds as vitexin. Specifically, isovitexin is an organic isomer that has shown promise as a neuroprotectant in lab settings. It also may trigger anti-inflammatory and anti-hyperalgesic responses, making this compound one of the most helpful cannaflavins in CBD-dominant cannabis strains
Protects the body’s blood cells and lipids
Research seems to suggest that kaempferol – one of the most studied cannaflavins to date – helps protect the body’s blood cells and may also alleviate cancer-related ailments. Technically, it’s known as a polyphenol antioxidant, which naturally occurs in many fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, it seems to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, according to epidemiological research on the relationship between this cannaflavin and cancer-stricken cells.
Eases allergies and protects heart health
Likewise, luteolin is found in several fruits, vegetables, and certain herbs as well. Studies of this specific cannaflavin continue to reveal more indications that the compound is, indeed, useful to increase memory and reduce the severity of neuropsychiatric disturbances. It’s a free radical scavenger and may also act as an modulator of the immune system. Such characteristics point to a possible mechanism that helps fight many different forms of cancer.
Orientin is a powerful antioxidant
Another powerful antioxidant organically occurring in cannabis, orientin is closely related to the cannaflavins vitexin and isovitexin among others, thus demonstrating similar properties in controlled research environments. One landmark study in 2015 revealed that this cannaflavin reacts favorably to esophageal cancers by inhibiting the proliferation of cancerous cells through the body. The most noteworthy finding from this study is that orientin is superior to vitexin at a comparable concentration.
Eases chronic inflammation
Quercetin eases chronic inflammation and can be found organically in green tea, St. John’s wort, and also red wine. Recently, research has discovered that quercetin may be useful to treat infections and arthritis, which will require further study to confirm. But the general trajectory of the research appears to pinpoint this particular cannaflavin as a potential pharmaceutical treatment
Helps to manage diabetes
The relationship between the cannaflavins vitexin and isovitexin has been studied for some time. Chinese medicines that are derived from vitexin-rich plants seem to be effective as an anti-hyperalgesic, a neuroprotective agent, and an anti-oxidant. Like other cannaflavins vitexin helps to manage diabetes among other conditions.
What are cannabis cannabinoids?
Where the other two components that make up full-spectrum CBD therapy – terpenes and flavonoids – exist in other plants, cannabinoids are what make a cannabis plant truly cannabis. Arguably, they are also the main selling point of cannabis because they are proportionally responsible for both the plant’s medicinal and psychedelic effects, compared to the other two compound categories.
There are 8 main cannabinoids in a cannabis saliva plant, though there are 120 types known. Here are the most common four:
1) CBD – medicinal cannabinoids
2) THC – hallucinogenic cannabinoids
3) CBG – medicinal cannabinoids, in lower quantities
4) CBC– receptor cannabinoids (helps to activate the body’s reaction to cannabis)
Are there any side effects of full-spectrum CBD therapy?
Though the benefits of full-spectrum CBD usage are plentiful, like most forms of treatment, there are potential side effects to consider. Possible side effects of using CBD products as a medicinal treatment may include, but is not limited to:
- Weight loss or gain
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Upset stomach
* For a full, updated list of CBD’s potential side effects, visit the Cannabis Cannabinoid Research tab on the PMC US National Library of Medicine’s website HERE.
Alternate therapies to full-spectrum CBD therapy
CBD isolate therapy
CBD insolate therapy involves using CBD in its purest form – as a solid crystallized powder. All over components of the CBD will be removed during processing, including the THC element. This type of therapy works by targeting the body’s cannabinoid receptors, and in turn, improving certain bodily functions such as:
1. Decreases inflammation
2. Improves appetite
3. Improves mood
4. Relieves pain
For the potential side effects of CBD isolate therapy, please visit an interesting article by the University of Michigan on side effects of full-spectrum therapy.
Broad-spectrum cannabinoid therapy
Broad-spectrum cannabinoid therapy is a type of treatment that is beneficial to cancer patients specifically, and just like the other CBD therapies, it works by targeting the body’s cannabinoid receptors. Types of cannabis products containing anti-cancer terpene are used.
For the potential side effects of broad-spectrum cannabinoid therapy, you will find the article University of Michigan article interesting, and comprehensive.
How to choose the best full-spectrum CBD products
When choosing your full spectrum CBD treatment products, it’s recommended you speak to a specialist in the subject – either a healthcare provider with a knowledge base in natural medicinal methods or a supplier of CBD products. It’s worth noting that CBD products come in different forms, including:
1. Food, drink, gummies, capsules, and other edibles
2. Vapes and other inhalation products
3. Oils, rubs, balms, creams, and other topical products
Once you know what type of products you’d like to try, you can ask the specialist which types of CBD you’d benefit from to suit your ailments according to their terpene and flavonoid content.