The battle of broad spectrum vs full spectrum hemp oil unleashed in this no-holds barred article covering the differences between these two hemp heroes…
We’ll also be talking about CBD oil and comparing all three products so you can better distinguish between which hemp product is better for your needs.
There are benefits and drawbacks to each product, so without further ado, let’s get right to it.
Before we get into broad spectrum vs full spectrum hemp, let’s cover exactly what hemp is and what the differences are so we can make more informed decisions about which hemp products we choose to use.
Hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant. In much the same way that granny smith and macintosh are varieties of apples, hemp and marijuana are varieties of cannabis. This has caused much confusion among the general public because after the ban on all cannabis products in 1930, they were all grouped into the same category as marijuana, which is incorrect.
Hemp has been around for millenia and used traditionally across many cultures around the globe for a wide variety of purposes from textiles like rope and building material, to oils for beauty, cooking and medicine.
One of the main differences between hemp when people ask us ‘what is hemp’ is that unlike marijuana, hemp legally contains less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), whereas MJ typically contains 10-20% THC and is currently illegal in New Zealand.
THC is the cannabinoid that produces a “high” in users and is the main reason marijuana is a controlled substance in New Zealand. Many countries around the world have legalized the sale of marijuana to over-the-counter or by prescription, but New Zealand is still yet to do so.
For these reasons growing hemp in NZ requires strict legal requirements with only the seed being allowed to be used, commonly resulting in most hempseed oil products being relegated to supermarket shelves.
You can help support growing hemp in NZ by purchasing any hemp products you can get your hands on. This boosts our local economy and supports our kiwi farmers doing their best to provide for the health of kiwi families.
Cannabinoids are compounds found inside the cannabis plant. More specifically, these are referred to as phyto-cannabinoids, as “phyto” refers to “from plants.” Whereas the endo-cannabinoids the body produces, are termed “endo” meaning, “from within.”
The differences between phyto and endo-cannabinoids aside, plant based cannabinoids act very similarly inside our body to the cannabinoids our body produces on its own through the endocannabinoid system (more on this later).
Cannabinoids have been proven by research to alleviate many pre-existing conditions, and to assist with preventing future disorders, both mental and physical in humans.
Currently, there are over 400 documented cannabinoids and the list continues to grow as research into this area evolves. You can read more about some of the single cannabinoids in this article here.
Terpenes are aromatic compounds often found in essential oil products such as lavender (linalool), or pine (alpha-pinene). There are hundreds of documented terpenes, all with their own unique advantages. Science has discovered when terpenes are combined with cannabinoids in a product, the cannabinoid benefits are two-fold.
Meaning, terpenes produce synergy that boosts the effectiveness of cannabinoids. This is important when we begin to look into broad spectrum vs full spectrum and later at CBD isolate. Hemp naturally contains hundreds of terpenes, so to keep terpenes in a hemp product would be to retain much of the already naturally occurring compounds.
Terpenes are part of what is called the “entourage effect” coined by Dr Russo when he discovered terpenes' ability to increase the effectiveness of cannabinoids when combined. He also noted that when a wide range of hemp compounds are consumed together, they all work together to improve the effectiveness, as opposed to extracting one singularly and taking it that way.
The entourage effect as mentioned previously is a way to describe the effect produced when more than one compound is bio-active in a hemp product. If you take an isolated hemp product like CBD oil, you only have the CBD oil, no terpenes, fatty acids or other plant compounds.
What the research shows us is that when the entire range of compounds from the hemp plant are used, the results are completely different than if we were to extract one single cannabinoid, such as cannabidiol (CBD).
This is kinda like baking a cake. When you combine all the ingredients, they work together to allow the cake to rise. The same can be said with the entourage effect. When we bring together all the naturally occurring plant compounds from the hemp plant, we bring about a synergy and effectiveness that is simply not possible through an isolated compound.
This is because nature intended these plant compounds to interact and work with each other, not as lone rangers on a singular mission. But as a collective force to assist our bodies in tackling disorder, dis-ease and degeneration.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is the most important system of physiology inside the human body. So important to human health and development, it was seen to develop 8-weeks in gestation, and its compounds, present in mothers breast milk.
This system both oversees the healthy functioning of every vital system and organ in the body, and steps in to resolve matters when systems of the body become overworked, overstressed and overtired.
Chronically overstressed systems of the body, over time, lead to disorder, dis-ease and degeneration. This is why the ECS is so vital to healthy human functioning. It is the grandmaster, holding all the keys to the medicine cabinet that lies dormant in many of us.
We say dormant, because without cannabinoids in our diet, the last time we would have received cannabinoids would have been through breast milk if we were breastfed.
A dormant ECS has disastrous consequences. To know this, we need only look at the sharp decline in the health of our population over the past hundred years since the ban of hemp in 1930, with rates of degenerative diseases and chronic illness becoming increasingly problematic and burdening our already tired healthcare systems.
Even in our younger populations with auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, endometriosis and multiple-sclerosis on the rise, we need to take a serious look at why we’re seeing so much pain and suffering in the faces of our friends, family and co-workers.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a product either originally derived from the hemp plant, or synthetically made in a laboratory that contains only CBD.
What this means is that CBD oil is a product that has been completely isolated down to a singular component. Only the CBD remains.
In order to produce CBD oil, the producers of such a product must ensure there are no other compounds present. This means removing any applicable naturally occurring compounds such as terpenes, fatty acids, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids.
Full spectrum on the other hand is completely different from CBD oil. In fact, almost the exact opposite of a CBD isolate. A full spectrum hemp oil contains all of the naturally occurring compounds from the hemp plant including cannabinoids, terpenes, fatty acids, flavonoids and phytosterols.
A full spectrum hemp oil brings in the entire army of plant compounds to assist in working with the body to activate the endocannabinoid system and bring it back online so it can do its job of restoring and bringing balance to every vital system of the body. It is, after all, the key to unlocking your body’s own internal medicine cabinet.
Not only that, but a big benefit of a full spectrum is, you guessed it… The entourage effect. Because a full spectrum product contains all of the powerful plant compounds from hemp, it automatically brings about a synergy and effectiveness simply not seen in an isolated product such as CBD oil.
In fact, it was once believed that a high dose CBD oil was more effective than a full spectrum product. But a study in 2005 had researchers from Jerusalem find that full spectrum provided significantly higher levels of relief for participants than CBD alone.
They also found that contrary to what was popular belief, increasing the dosage of CBD provided no further benefit, whereas full spectrum continued to provide advantages at higher dosages.
Broad spectrum CBD is typically a blend of full spectrum hemp oil and CBD isolate in that it still contains a wide range of naturally occurring cannabinoids, terpenes and fatty acids, however the THC content has been completely removed.
This is important in countries that have legalized the sale of marijuana as this has led to full spectrum hemp oil products containing varying amounts of THC (above 5%). This is crucial for those wishing to avoid the psychoactive effects of THC, as the levels will need to be kept to a trace level, if not nil.
Growing hemp in NZ requires kiwi farmers to keep the THC level to below the legal limit of 0.3%. Any hemp found with THC above this level is ordered destroyed. Even though in broad spectrum CBD the THC level is extremely low, you still receive benefits of the entourage effect.
After understanding the difference between broad spectrum vs full spectrum hemp oil you’re probably wondering what is best for you and your particular needs and wants. The main point to realize, is that neither is necessarily better than the other, they all just have slightly different benefits and drawbacks.
In order to assist you with deciding which one to choose based on what condition you want assistance with, we’ve put together this small list of benefits and drawbacks of each product.
An isolated product containing only one single cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD).
CBD oil is best for people who have been prescribed or recommended to take certain doses of CBD only.
Great if you have a sensitivity to THC and/or want to avoid any potential “side-effects” such as anxiety or paranoia.
A helpful choice if you get drug screened regularly for employment.
There’s no flavor or taste, so that can be an advantage if you don’t like the taste of hemp.
For people who’ve never used cannabis products, who may want to try a single cannabinoid first.
A hemp extract containing all bioavailable cannabinoids from the hemp plant.
Full spectrum hemp oil is best for people who’ve been prescribed specific THC to CBD ratios, or certain blends of other cannabinoids.
Great for people who’ve tried CBD isolate or broad spectrum and have not noticed the desired relief for their condition or ailment.
A cannabis extract containing cannabinoids, but no THC.
Broad spectrum CBD is an option for those where CBD isolate has failed to provide the desired results.
Great for those not wanting THC, or who have an aversion or ‘sensitivity’ to the cannabinoid.
Excellent for people who are hesitant about THC.
Again, we’ve mentioned out of the three options, one isn’t better than the other. They are all just slightly unique in their own way. There were some punches thrown, but we have to say, they all come out winners, in their own respective right.
There are several factors that impact how cannabinoids are received by the body from weight, past history of substance use, and the chemical makeup of the individual.
CBD oil is an option for those wishing to avoid any other cannabinoids, and to try cannabidiol without the entourage effect (excluding other plant compounds). No taste and no THC, there’s certainly not going to be any risk of psychoactive effects.
Full spectrum hemp oil is an option for those who want to take advantage of the entourage effect, and who don’t mind an earthy nutty flavor when taking this product sublingually as drops (under the tongue). We reiterate, that in New Zealand, all hemp oils have less than 0.3% THC, rendering any chance of a psychoactive effect nil.
Broad spectrum is the option when you live outside of New Zealand, you still want to take advantage of the entourage effect, but you want to avoid any THC. In some countries where marijuana is legal, a full spectrum product can contain a ratio of 1:1 THC to CBD, along with all the other cannabinoids, terpenes and fatty acids present.
As researchers continue to study the effects of cannabinoids, we will learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of the different variations of hemp products and this will shed more light on just how powerful this plant is for creating change in the health of our population.
In the meantime, check out our blog for the latest research on all things hemp, cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system as it relates to various bodily conditions.
As always, prior to making any changes to your lifestyle or treatment plan, consult with a licenced medical professional.