Let’s face it. we’ve ALL heard a thing or two about CBD. In a relatively short time span, CBD has garnered a mountain of media attention and a seemingly fanatical user base. But outside of user ravings, what actually makes CBD so great, and is there more to the story than those three letters?
Whether it’s CBD drops, infused gummies or skin-care, most hemp-aficionados might be surprised to learn that what makes these products really “tick”, may actually be due in part to a host of “silent helpers” accompanying CBD in it’s extracted form.
In this article, we’ll break-down the main nutritive components found in most CBD products, and what their interactions can mean for your health. Lastly, we’ll compare which extracted forms of CBD stand to deliver the best results and “biggest bang for your buck”.
To kick things off, we’ll start first at the source. As it happens, Hemp extracts are where all the magic begins, and are the richest sources of CBD. A hemp extract is had through refining the oil or resin found throughout the plant itself. This distillation of plant nutrients, can be further broken down into Phyto-Cannabinoids and Terpenes, the two main categories that we’ll explore below.
Phyto-Cannabinoids are likely the most noteworthy components of hemp extract. In short, these compounds set to work by imitating the functions of endocannabinoids (“endo” meaning within) which are naturally produced by the body to maintain and balance certain health functions.
If you haven’t guessed it yet, CBD is one of these phyto-cannabinoids, and is the most abundant one found in hemp. What most don’t realize, however, is that there are over 100 additional phyto-cannabinoids that make up as much as 20% of a given hemp extract.
While this may seem a relatively small fraction, their individual and combined effects can be surprising.
For instance, one runner-up cannabinoid found in most Full-Spectrum CBD products is Cannabigerol or CBG. Although similar to CBD, this phyto-cannabinoid is thought to be even more adept as a neuro-protectant against the psychoactive effects of THC, and has further been shown to defend against neurodegenerative conditions like Huntington’s Disease, according to one study.
Now that we’ve touched on phyto-cannabinoids the next category of hemp nutrients worth exploring are terpenes.
Terpenes or terpenoids are an abundant compound found in just about all plants, with over 200 different strains found in hemp alone.
Most of us would recognize terpenes not by their appearance or taste, but rather their smell. Produced as means to ensure a plants survival, terpene scents also offer the fortunate side-effect of providing us the many “natural smells” we know and appreciate today. You’ll find terpenes are behind such scents as citrus, mint, and yes, even that distinct “hemp smell”.
However, beyond just being a treat for the nose, terpenes have been shown to serve a therapeutic purpose. Aside from benefits touted in the immensely popular field of aromatherapy, terpenes also show a surprising range of effects when taken internally.
In one report by the Chongqing Medical University in China, the terpene: Beta-caryophyllene (common in hemp), showed promising results as a potential treatment for alzhiemers in rats, after being internally administered.
Beta-caryophyllene was also shown to bind to CB-2 receptors in the brain, a stimulating function very similar to that of CBD and other phyto-cannabinoids found in hemp.
This compound synergy between terpenes and phyto-cannabinoids is what has also sparked research on a therapeutic phenomena, dubbed “the entourage effect”.
The entourage effect is very simply the idea that hemp constituents and nutrients are more powerful in combination as a “whole plant extract”. This notion was first introduced in the late 1990’s and has since gained traction with researchers and users alike.
One of the more comprehensive publications in support of the entourage effect came in 2011 report by the British Journal of Pharmacology. In this research it was noted that the accompaniment of certain cannabinoids and terpenes, showed a potential synergy with respect to the treatment of pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, cancer, fungal and bacterial infections.”
While this makes a strong case for whole hemp extracts, it’s important to know which CBD products contain this balance of terpenes and phyto-cannabinoids.
As it stands, there are 3 common forms of CBD, each with varying concentrations of the phyto-nutrients described above.
The first and most “potent” form of CBD is Full-spectrum, which keeps as much of the hemp extract intact, including nearly all of those cannabinoids and terpenes. While this extract can have a noticeably “herbal” taste, it more than delivers with regards to the entourage effect.
Broad-spectrum CBD comes in at a close 2nd, with the only real difference being its absence of the cannabinoid THC (previously discussed here). While THC in hemp is already too low to be noticeably psychoactive, broad-spectrum CBD can be a good route for those in sports competitions or certain fields of work requiring drug tests, as many tests won’t allow for even the faintest amounts of THC.
Lastly the 3rd, and perhaps most mainstream form of CBD, is CBD from isolate. This form is not only less labor intensive to produce, and therefore cheaper, but is also nearly imperceptible taste-wise, making it a common choice for food and beverage infusion. The downside? CBD isolate comes in at about 99% or more CBD, meaning nearly all other cannabinoids, terpenes and phytonutrients have been stripped away. In short, this means
no entourage effect.
In closing, choosing the product that works best for you, will depend on your own personal health goals, and lifestyle choices. Hopefully, by learning more about what lies “under the hood” with CBD, you’ll have some of the insight needed to make a good buying decision.
If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to us via our social channels or through email. We’d love your thoughts!
To view or lineup of full spectrum products click here.