Full spectrum (or “whole plant”) products contain CBD as well as terpenes and other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN and trace amounts of THC. Usually these will be in ratios that were naturally-occurring and extracted from the plant and specific strain. Terpenes and cannabinoids are occasionally added back into products as an isolated form to raise the potency of the product.
We also grow our hemp in close rows, limiting the ability of weeds to establish themselves among our fields. Since we sow our hemp seeds close together, the shade from the fast growing hemp plants inhibit the growth of common weeds, negating the need to use herbicides that could cause contamination. Like with pesticides, we avoid using herbicides because they can affect local biological communities or be absorbed by our hemp plants and transferred residually to our customers.
ISA HERRERA HEARD IT from her patients first. "I have less pain." "I'm having less anxiety." "My menstrual cramps are less intense," they told the New York City physical therapist about taking CBD oil, a product containing cannabidiol, one of many chemicals found in the cannabis plant. "I was like, 'I need to find out more about this,'" recalls Herrera, who specializes in integrative pelvic floor therapies.
CBD—or cannabidiol—is a type of cannabinoid, a family of molecules typically associated with marijuana, but in fact, also found in other plants and even humans (in us, they’re called endocannabinoids). There are hundreds of different cannabinoids in marijuana. The best known is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, a chemical in marijuana that targets and binds to certain receptors in the brain to give you a high. CBD is non-psychoactive and non-addictive, and it seems to bind to multiple target sites, thereby affecting a range of systems throughout the body.
Another concern is about medications with which CBD might interact. This won’t be an issue with most drugs, says Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, M.D., Ph.D., a palliative medicine physician and scientist who studies cannabis and integrates it into his Seattle medical practice. The exceptions are blood thinners, IV antibiotics, and other drugs whose exact dosing is crucial and must be monitored closely, he says. (Of course, if you have a health problem, talk to your doctor before using CBD, and never take it instead of seeing your physician for a serious condition.)
Miller, whose clients include patients referred by physicians, uses CBD in a variety of delivery modalities that she has found effective. “Patches can be worn for pain or anxiety management. Capsules or concentrated drops can be taken orally for pain, inflammation, sleep, and anxiety. Balms and creams can be used on the hands and feet to manage arthritic pain. Vaping is another delivery method,” she says.
Some work-place drug screens and tests detect THC and not the presence of Cannabinoids or other legal hemp based constituents. However, studies have shown that ingesting hemp can cause confirmed positive results. Based on this information, if you are subject to any form of drug screening or testing or are a member of the United States Armed Services, we cannot recommend that you ingest this product. Please consult with your healthcare practitioner as well as your employer or drug screening company.
CBD oil is most readily available as a tincture. This can be taken by applying a few drops under your tongue, holding in your mouth for a few moments so it can be absorbed, before swallowing. It can also be added to water or smoothies. A spray form is available (simply spritz under your tongue), as are capsules, gummies, creams that can be applied topically, and e-liquid for vape pens.
So Herrera, who's experienced her own share of pain due to a shoulder injury followed by a bout of Lyme disease, went to a local herb shop and bought a vial of the oil, which, by some definitions, is legal in all states if it doesn't contain more than 0.3 percent THC – the psychoactive component of cannabis. She began putting seven to nine drops under her tongue first thing most mornings – and was startled by the results. "It's changed my pain level, my anxiety level and my stress level," says Herrera, who already practiced yoga, meditated regularly, ate a healthy diet and tried conventional medical treatments for pain and mobility. "It was shocking," she says, because she thought her patients' reports were due to the placebo effect. "Right now," she adds, "I feel pretty amazing."
To make matters more confusing, nine states (including California, Washington, and Colorado) let residents buy cannabis-based products with or without THC. Nearly two dozen other “medical marijuana states” allow the sale of cannabis, including capsules, tinctures, and other items containing CBD or THC, at licensed dispensaries to people whose doctors have certified that they have an approved condition (the list varies by state but includes chronic pain, PTSD, cancer, autism, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis). Sixteen more states legalized CBD for certain diseases. But because all these products are illegal according to the federal government, cannabis advocates are cautious. “By and large, the federal government is looking the other way,” says Paul Armentano, deputy director of the Washington, DC–based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), but until federal laws are changed, “this administration or a future one could crack down on people who produce, manufacture, or use CBD, and the law would be on its side.”
With the variety of CBD concentrations and other compounds that hemp offers, full spectrum CBD products can cover all ground. If we were to directly compare the two, scientists point out that full spectrum CBD works with the endocannabinoid system entirely. Isolate products, such as crystal, the highest quality cannabidiol and natural ingredients, and will deliver the most amount of CBD to your system at once. Ultimately, preference is subjective to the user’s condition and system.
"If it proved effective for anxiety, depression and panic disorder, it may have other effects as well that could be useful and beneficial [but] this is a really early stage," says David Shurtleff, the acting director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. His organization's stance: "Take it one step at a time and do the work and really state where we are right now with the research," he says.
Considered the most scientific method this is also among the cleanest techniques of extraction. Referred to as sub-critical or super critical CO² method, it uses carbon dioxide under different pressures to extract the medicinal oil. This is among the most expensive techniques of extraction due to use of hi-tech equipment that can be operated by trained personnel only. The advantage of this technique is that the end product is the purest form of CBD oil which is highly potent and free of chlorophyll. However if the heat used during extraction is too high it can damage terpenes in the oil that have therapeutic benefits and provide flavor and essence to the oil strain.
When looking at isolate, it is important to verify the purity. While many are in the 99.9+% range with no identifiable amounts of THC, there are lower purity ones (such as 99.5% or lower) that may still have trace amounts that show up on the labs. This small amount is typically negligible, and is nowhere near the amount usually found in full spectrum products. But it’s still something to be aware of for those seeking the purest they can find.
Immediately after reading this article I realized this is not the difference I was expecting. While the USDA says that it takes a chemical analysis to tell the difference between hemp and medical marijuana, for most of us it would only take 2 seconds to notice the difference between a field of hemp and a medical marijuana grow operation. As far as definition is concerned the two are not so far off from one another. Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis and it would seem that the only real difference is that “marijuana” or more recent term “medical marijuana” is classified as a variety of cannabis with a high percent of THC and, occasionally, high CBD as well.
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