CBD oil is currently rising in popularity amongst Americans. The industry is rapidly growing across the country and North America is changing its stance on the previously demonised plant.
Medicinal marijuana is being used across the United States from veterans trying to find a sustainable solution to PTSD to adults of all ages looking for an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs. In this spin of medicinal marijuana, there is still much misinformation and misunderstanding surrounding this plant. There are many people seeking to understand what makes up this plant, how to use cannabis effectively and what the best way to consume it is.
More specifically, the question that is rising amongst cannabis consumers is this: “What is the difference between whole plant hemp and CBD isolate?”
In order to properly understand the answer to this question we need to properly understand the basics. What is CBD? CBD comes from the cannabis sativa plant and is an active chemical compound. CBD is the main compound that is gaining global attention because unlike THC it offers potential health benefits without making you ‘high’.
There have been many medical studies that have shown that CBD does indeed have these suggested health benefits however there has not been any statements by the FDA that have released the details of these benefits. Once the information began to spread that CBD is different to the compound responsible for creating the ‘high’ everyday folk began to welcome CBD as an alternative medicine.
Another important factor is that the terms ‘hemp’ and ‘marijuana’ are widely used rather loosely and are often interchanged. However in order to create a fully aware consumer industry we need to properly identify and distinguish between the terms. Hemp is part of the cannabis sativa variety and does not contain the psychoactive ingredient we know as THC. Marijuana can be from both the cannabis sativa and the cannabis Indica plant and marijuana can contain high(er) levels of THC. The term ‘cannabis’ is used as an umbrella name to house both of these varieties. Hemp and marijuana are two separate strains of the cannabis sativa plant.
Hemp plants cannot by definition be hemp plants if it contains THC levels that are higher than 0.3%. This is what makes hemp and hemp products legal to buy and sell. Once this definition was made public knowledge CBD medication took off as it became easier to buy and sell.
- Marijuana can contain both THC and CBD
- Hemp contains mainly CBD (and only trace amounts of CBD)
- Marijuana is illegal in most states, and most countries.
- Hemp and hemp products are legal.
- CBD derived from the Hemp plant is used as an alternative medicine and is legal in almost all states and countries.
Now that we have the basics covered, we can move onto the more complicated question of what the difference between whole plant hemp and CBD isolate.
There are a few different ways that CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant. Initially the most popular technique involved harsh chemicals that people soon discovered were detrimental to the CBD quality as well as the health of the consumer due to the residual carcinogenic compounds that resulted in the end product. This is important to know because there are still some manufactures that use this method and that is exactly why it is so important to research the company you are purchasing your CBD extraction from. The newer and cleaner extraction method is the CO2 extraction method. This method is cleaner and healthier than the previous method however there is another method that is believed to be even cleaner. This method is called cold ethanol extraction however there are doubts as to the safety of the actual extraction process.
Depending on what extraction method the manufacturer uses, the end product (i.e the CBD) will be either a ‘full spectrum oil’ or a ‘CBD isolate’.
But what are the differences between the two?
And finally we arrive at the answer to the question you asked at the very beginning of the article. the CBD isolate is true to its name; it is a pure and isolated (separated) compound. It is separated from the rest of the plant and compounds. It looks like an off-white powder and it is only the compound CBD. It literally does not contain anything else. This pure compound was, at first, believed to be the ultimate in CBD ‘products’. However, as more and more studies are being conducted into this plant and CBD, research is finding that other compounds could actually help and assist CBD is working well with the human endocannabinoid system.
Full spectrum oil contains the CBD cannabinoid, among other cannabinoids as well. These other cannabinoids are much lesser known- CBL, CBN and CBCVA are just a few.
So how do you choose which one to use?
While CBD isolate might be the obvious choice, especially for people who tend to be ‘purists’ this isolated CBD may not actually be the most efficient option. Remember that the cannabis is a plant. And this plant contains all sorts of various cannabinoids, and in nature there is no such thing as coincidence. Everything, no matter how small the compound, has a purpose and a role. In 2015 there was a group of researchers that to investigate the function of CBD with all the other ‘supportive’ compounds. This became known as the “entourage effect”. This “entourage effect” depicts how CBD works hand in hand with the other cannabinoids. The study was performed on mice and the results showed that CBD was more effective when it was used alongside the other cannabinoids. There has been no published results on the ‘why’ of this only that it is the case. Due to this study that was performed in what is considered by many to be the epicentre of cannabis research, Jerusalem University, it is now widely accepted that full spectrum CBD is a more effective and efficient option that isolated CBD.
There is still much room for research and studies however for now you have your own experience and that of others to rely on. Be a responsible and conscious consumer and be aware of how each CBD product effects you, whether it is full spectrum, whole plant or isolate.