If you’ve spent any significant amount of time clicking around our website, you’ve seen the words “full spectrum” more than once. If you’re new to CBD, you may be wondering what full spectrum actually means, and why you should care about it. The hemp and CBD markets are saturated with options, and it can be overwhelming to figure out what to look for. But at Flora Sophia, we believe full spectrum hemp unequivocally offers the greatest benefits–read on to learn why.
What Makes a CBD Product Full Spectrum?
Full spectrum refers to the way the hemp plant is extracted to become the product in your hand. Depending on the extent and type of processing it undergoes, hemp extract can be full spectrum, broad spectrum, distillate, or isolate. Each compound in the plant—including cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes—has a unique boiling point. So generally, the more you process hemp, the more compounds are lost. An isolate is the most heavily processed extract, resulting in one single, pure compound (such as pure CBD). Full spectrum extract is the least processed; it leaves as many of the plant’s natural compounds intact as possible, because it is processed gently and with minimal heat. While isolates and distillates can be useful and some folks prefer them (especially those who need a THC-free CBD product), we think a full spectrum extract has much more therapeutic potential. The Flora Sophia motto is, “Everything the plant gives to us, we give to you.”
The What & Why of Cannabinoids, Flavonoids and Terpenes
The hemp plant gives us so much more than just CBD. In a full spectrum extract, you'll find other cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, and phytosterols, which can all contribute to the Entourage Effect (which we'll discuss in more detail below).
Cannabinoids are the compounds in hemp that interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in our bodies. Plant-derived cannabinoids, like those in hemp, are sometimes called phytocannabinoids. Those found in hemp include CBD, THC, CBG, CBC, CBT and CBN, but there are also over 100 other known phytocannabinoids, and potentially hundreds (or even thousands) of phytocannabinoids we have not yet identified or studied. Cannabinoids like CBD and CBG work with the body’s ECS to regulate everything from mood, appetite, and sleep to immune and inflammatory responses, gut health, and pain responses.
Flavonoids are nutrients found in plants, fruits, and vegetables, as well as some of their derivatives like tea and wine. They are responsible for the bright pigmentation of fruits and veggies, and also regulate cell enzymatic function, resulting in anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic effects that are currently being studied all over the world.
Terpenes are the compounds in plants responsible for taste, aroma, and sometimes pigment. Any time you smell a rose or the burst of oils produced when you squeeze a lemon, you are actually smelling the combination of terpenes in that flower or fruit. In fact, terpenes are the molecular building blocks of essential oils. But terpenes also provide powerful medicinal benefits. They have long been a cornerstone of traditional herbal medicine, and are now routinely used in modern pharmaceuticals. Cannabis contains a host of powerful terpenes, which can vary depending on the strain and seed genetics.
Phytosterols are bioactive compounds found in the cell walls of plants. They are very close in molecular structure to cholesterol, and because of that, our bodies absorb phytosterols through the same pathways. This competition blocks some of the cholesterol in the body from being absorbed, which in turn can help lower blood cholesterol levels.
We'll talk in more detail about some of these intriguing plant components in future pieces!
The Entourage Effect
As we mentioned above, the many bioactive compounds in a high-quality full spectrum extract can work synergistically, offering greater benefits together than they might individually on their own. We call this concept The Entourage Effect. The basis for this school of thought is deeply rooted within traditional herbalism, where it’s often described as “whole plant medicine.” Simply put, these compounds occur naturally in the hemp plant in this precise combination for a reason. That’s why we process our extract as little as possible, and that’s also why we include a bit of hemp seed oil in most of our tincture formulations–the more of nature’s own recipe we can give you, the better.