The cannabis plant contains multiple therapeutic compounds known as cannabinoids, of which 113 have already been identified. They activate the natural cannabinoid receptors in our bodies—also known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS)—to produce beneficial effects. These can vary widely, depending on the cannabinoid. When they work together, they produce the so-called entourage effect.
This article explains what the entourage effect is and why it matters.
- What is the entourage effect?
- CBD isolate vs. full-spectrum CBD
- Does hemp seed oil offer an entourage effect?
WHAT IS THE ENTOURAGE EFFECT?
Although each cannabinoid can be isolated in a laboratory and used on its own, a holistic approach may also be adopted by using the whole plant containing the full range of cannabinoids and terpenes to produce an extract. This enhances the effects as all the compounds present in the extract work in synergy to create what is called the “entourage effect”: when taken together, they produce greater, more positive effects on the body compared with the specific effects from each individual compound.
This holistic approach to health supplements and alternative medicine has been used traditionally for thousands of years in practices such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, and is now considered to be best practice regarding CBD products.
CBD ISOLATE VS. FULL-SPECTRUM CBD
CBD is the primary medicinal compound of the cannabis plant and has a profound effect on our bodies, even when taken in isolation. Its benefits are derived from its ability to influence our body’s endocannabinoid system in order to regulate homeostasis–the natural balance of various physical and cognitive functions.
Our endocannabinoid system affects:
CBD isolate extracts have been through several extraction and cleaning processes to ensure the final product is 99% pure CBD. Many companies do this because it’s easier for them to achieve accurate concentrations of CBD, which means labeling the packaging with the correct information is quicker and easier.
Conversely, when all the other compounds have been left in the extract, multiple, expensive lab tests need to be performed in order to determine the exact content, and then this information needs to be clearly listed or made available to the public.
Isolating the CBD also means that companies can guarantee their extract is free from THC—the main psychoactive cannabinoid which is responsible for the “high” associated with marijuana use. THC can have adverse side-effects for many people and actually worsens some conditions. Even worse, there have been reports of people failing drug tests as a result of using a CBD extract which contains THC. Lastly, CBD isolate products tend to be slightly cheaper than the full-spectrum equivalents. For these reasons, many people require or choose THC-free extracts.
However, and due to the entourage effect described above, the general consensus in the CBD industry is that extracts are more beneficial and effective when all the compounds of the cannabis plant are present.
That is why most people using CBD for specific medicinal purposes (for example, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, or arthritis) may benefit more from a full-spectrum extract.
For those who still wish to avoid consuming THC altogether but want to take advantage of the entourage effect, there is a third class of extract available: broad-spectrum CBD. This is an isolate extract which has had other isolates added back into it in order to broaden the range of its profile. For example, a manufacturer will isolate CBD and then mix it with isolated CBC, CBG, CBN, and various other cannabinoids and terpenes, while leaving out the THC.
While the addition of other isolated compounds certainly enhances the effects of CBD, it does not quite offer the same level of synergy provided by a full-spectrum extract. Broad-spectrum products, therefore, sit somewhere between isolates and full-spectrum extracts.
DOES HEMP SEED OIL OFFER AN ENTOURAGE EFFECT?
Some confuse full-spectrum CBD oil with hemp oil. However, these are not the same and no entourage effect is offered by hemp seed oil.
Produced by pressing hemp seeds, hemp seed oil is an excellent source of vitamins, proteins, and fatty acids. It is often added to food as a supplement due to its high levels of vitamins E, B, B1, and B2, which have a direct impact on energy levels and cell metabolism, and promote healthy brain function. It also contains omega 3 and omega 6, which can improve the heart’s overall health by lowering cholesterol and increasing metabolism.
However, and even though hemp seed oil is undoubtedly beneficial as a health supplement, it cannot be compared with full-spectrum CBD oil. It does not contain the full range of cannabinoids and other compounds which are found in the rest of the hemp plant—which is what the CBD is extracted from.
The best way to enjoy the full range of health benefits that CBD and hemp oil have to offer is to use a full-spectrum CBD oil which uses hemp seed oil as a carrier oil.
A carrier oil is what the name implies: another oil which, effectively, carries the main ingredient (in this case, CBD) into the body. It allows the CBD to be readily absorbed by the body, thereby increasing its bioavailability—something which can only happen when the CBD is in the presence of fat.
There is, therefore, no way to benefit from the entourage effect from taking hemp seed oil supplements alone.
Have you tried CBD isolate and full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD? If so, how did they compare to each other for you? Let us know in the comments!