The Problem With Full Spectrum CBD
You would never know it from the ads.
Huge companies are pushing full or broad-spectrum CBD.
The general offer usually speaks to the benefits of terpenes, phytochemicals, other cannabinoids, and even the coveted "entourage effect".
We'll get into the origin of that phrase and how it has nothing to do with what they're selling.
Here's the issue.
If you bring up a google browser, some of the common search terms say…around anxiety…might be:
- Can CBD make anxiety worse
- Can CBD cause anxiety
- Why is my anxiety worse with CBD
This makes no sense as the research speaks to pretty significant effects of CBD on anxiety.
We have a full review here.
There's a major component that's not being discussed and it's a problem specifically with full-spectrum and/or broad-spectrum CBD.
We see so many people who have bad responses to "CBD" and find those go away with CBD isolate.
That's how we originally found isolate ourselves.
We're going to look at that but also the other "selling" points of full-spectrum.
Here are the categories we'll cover:
- A quick comparison between CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD
- The terpene and phytochemical ruse
- The issue with the other cannabinoids (including THC)
- The problem with histamine in full-spectrum CBD
- The research problem with full-spectrum CBD
Let's get started!
A quick comparison between CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD
CBD isolate is just CBD by itself…usually in a base oil of olive, hemp, or MCT oil (from coconut).
Full-spectrum CBD is usually the raw hemp pressed down.
In this, you have various constituent parts such as terpenes, phytochemicals, hemp oil, and the other cannabinoids naturally present in hemp (or cannabis).
Hemp is just a legal distinction with under.3% THC. Otherwise, it's cannabis.
CBD isolate is processed to extract CBD from this plant material.
Either way, 3rd party testing should be done on any product to rule out:
- Heavy metals
So…let's break down these differences to get to the heart of the issue.
The terpene and phytochemical ruse
With full-spectrum, there's a big push to sell the benefits of the naturally occurring chemicals in hemp.
Terpenes and phytochemicals are plant-made substances that are present in all plants with different levels and forms.
You can take a given chemical and find benefits in research.
For example, pinene.
If you read the research which full spectrum promoters are sure to offer:
Linalool and pinene influence multiple neurotransmitters, inflammatory and neurotrophic signals as well as behavior, demonstrating psycho-activity (albeit non-intoxicating)
Okay…sounds somewhat good. Alertness is one effect but CBD for sleep is a big use case.
Either way, the issue is that the effects actually born out in research are at very high levels. Concentrated!
The levels found in hemp are minute comparatively.
Terpenes give plant matter its color, smell, and taste.
You would be better served just eating more veggies and you would save quite a bit of money doing so.
Companies are selling 250mg of full-spectrum CBD for $40-50 while a basket of veggies will probably run $5 and have much more of the terpenes and phytochemicals.
Basil, parsley, dill, pine nuts, and more for pinene as an example.
There are 100's of chemicals in hemp, much of which we don't have a full understanding of how they function.
Many of these chemicals are actually defense mechanisms the plant uses to ward off pests (keep in mind the histamine piece below).
Let's turn to the more targeted sell point for full-spectrum.
The issue with the other cannabinoids (including THC)
The biggest selling point for full or broad-spectrum CBD is that you get all the cannabinoids.
A range of cousins generally figure in but the big ones are:
- THC (up to .3% with legal hemp)
Keep in mind that in cannabis THC and CBD are the dominant cannabinoids.
Even in modified strains with higher levels of CBN or CBG, the levels are still very small.
So…how do we look at this based on research?
We have a whole review on THC.
We're not anti-THC or anti-cannabis but longer-term, THC builds tolerance at the very mechanism that we're using CBD to target.
THC mimics anandamide for CB1 receptors. The problem is that it hits too hard and stays too long (hence the high and other effects).
Longer-term, THC builds tolerance which means our body actually reduces anandamide (CB1) receptor numbers and activity.
That's entirely the wrong direction if we're using CBD for health reasons (anxiety, sleep, pain, etc).
Short term, probably not an issue although you can still have rebound effects for CB1 pathways being exhausted.
CBN and CBG?
CBN gets promoted for sleep and pain and that makes sense…it's essentially a discount THC!
It works like an agonist…one direction on the same pathways but not as strong as THC.
Same tolerance effect with time.
CBG is also an agonist. One direction. You can see the pathways for all the cannabinoids here:
CBD is special in the cannabinoid space because it functions like a feedback mechanism.
Technically called an allosteric positive modulator for key pathways:
The latter is key to its full-body effects across almost every pathway you can find.
More on how CBD works here.
We did a big review on CBD versus CBN and CBG.
This brings up the whole "entourage effect". Literally the ad is slick for full or broad spectrum.
The term was coined by the Israeli Godfather of CBD research (OG), Raphael Mochoulam.
It referred to CBD's ability to offset some of the negatives of THC. They counter each other in many pathways which is fascinating.
Again, in the original (untampered) cannabis plant, CBD and THC are the dominant cannabinoids…by leaps and bounds.
Big review on full-spectrum versus CBD isolate or why you must include CBD if you use cannabis here.
This all sounds good but let's get to the heart of the issue for many people.
The problem with histamine in full-spectrum CBD
We tried 3-4 of the biggest CBD brands when we first started.
The effects were stomach issues, clicking in the back of the throat, and feeling "janky"...revved up.
This made no sense since we were taking it for anxiety, sleep, and panic attacks.
Turns out that histamine is a huge issue.
40-60% of the population has histamine issues and that number goes up as we get older and for women (progesterone leaving the scene).
Histamine is a part of the immune system and it's a cause of many issues (insomnia, inflammation, gut issues, anxiety, etc).
Full-spectrum can actually trigger histamine response and it literally undoes everything we're being sold on for CBD itself (sleep, pain, anxiety, etc).
Somehow, that's missing in the advertising for full-spectrum.
Check out the reviews on the product page. It's a huge issue with full-spectrum.
CBD isolate and histamine response? It actually calms it as expected considering its effects on immune hyperactivation.
Check out CBD and histamine, CBD and mast cells, or CBD and neuroinflammation.
We have dozens of NIH studies to back this up. Speaking of which.
The research problem with full-spectrum CBD
Click on our blog page here and type in why you're taking CBD.
We go deep into research across every pathway we can find.
The bigger issue with full or broad-spectrum is that the research is on…CBD isolate!
Full-spectrum CBD is very sparse and generally at levels that don't match what actually being offered on the market.
That's partially true for CBD isolate as well.
For example, peak neurogenesis (key to mental health) occurs around 300mg daily of CBD isolate
Many products out there are between 250-1000mg…for the whole bottle!
Good luck with that.
We have a 6000mg bottle (200mg per dropper) to actually match the research.
Full-spectrum research levels for terpenes, CBG, CBN, phytochemicals, etc?
Good luck. You can't actually get the levels in products that match the limited research that is out there.
In fact, at those levels, they might have issues (remember the agonist one-direction effect for CBG and CGN alone).
CBD isolate has been tested up to 1500mg with a strong safety profile.
This is because it's a modulator…not an agonist.
Read through the research. You'll see right away that it's 99% based on CBD isolate.
We follow the research and if you look at our reviews, hopefully, that's evident.
Be well. Take care of each other. Take care of yourself
Always work with a doctor or naturopath with any supplement!
The information provided here is not intended to treat an illness or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.