FULL-SPECTRUM CBD AND THE ENTOURAGE EFFECT
WHOLE PLANT MEDICINE
A major aspect of alternative medicine comes from the idea the using the entire plant as a medicine is superior to isolating an ingredient from the plant in a laboratory. We refer to this as whole plant medicine.Practitioners of this type of medicine are experts in cultivating holistic remedies based on full plants with the aim of treating many different conditions. A Western medicine continues to push towards the use of pills, medicines, and other treatments designed to give a quick fix without regard for long term consequences, it may seem strange and antiquated to rely on a medical approach that emphasizes nothing more than the use of whole plants. The “entourage effect” comes about when the hundreds of chemicals and compounds found within plants work together to produce a positive effect that is stronger than would occur if any of the isolated compounds were acting alone. Many alternative health practitioners refer to this as a synergistic effect. By blending all of these plant compounds, the effects don’t end up as the sum of all the parts, but rather multiply to produce an even greater effect. This multiplication of effects makes the plant more effective in handling medical conditions and illnesses.
FULL-SPECTRUM CBDFull-spectrum CBD is CBD which includes all of the valuable and beneficial cannabinoids, terpenes, vitamins, fatty acids and minerals found within the hemp plant. “The Entourage Effect” happens when CBD works in conjunction with other compounds in the hemp plant. Studies have shown that when when taking CBD along with the other cannabinoids and terpenes present in hemp, the benefits and effects of CBD are enhanced.1
CBD ISOLATEWhen CBD first began gaining popularity, many people believed that CBD isolate was more potent than full-spectrum CBD. This is the basis of pharmaceutical companies – there is one active ingredient and we should focus only on that. When a plant shows potential potential to heal, we make the assumption that it is one compound in the plant that causes this action. Pharmaceutical companies call that the “active principle.” They isolate it, put it in a pill, and sell it as a medicine. They then forget about the plant and any of the other compounds present in it that could be offering additional benefits and contributing to the complex interactions that take place within the human body. However, nature doesn’t work in a vacuum and neither does plant medicine. The synergy of all the compounds present is what makes it powerful. This myth of CBD isolate was disproved after multiple studies discovered that full-spectrum CBD offered more relief than CBD isolate and was able to generate more positive results.2
THE STUDY THAT CHANGED EVERYTHINGIn February of 2015, a study published in the journal Pharmacology & Pharmacy provided a direct challenge to the typical mantras of pharmaceutical companies–the idea that “full plant” medicine preparations were less impactful on health than pure single compounds. Lumir Hanus and two other colleagues at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem surveyed studies that had been conducted over the 15 previous years that examined the effects of CBD isolate on animals and its ability to treat various diseases within animals.
“Healing was only observed when CBD was given within a very limited dose range, whereas no beneficial effect was achieved at either lower or higher doses.
The team came to some interesting conclusions.
“It is likely that other components in the extract synergize with CBD to achieve the desired anti-inflammatory action that may contribute to overcoming the bell-shaped dose-response of purified CBD.”The team believes that the multiple cannabinoids and terpenes that exist within cannabis and hemp account for the synergy. With all of these compounds working together, they can better help the body to reach a state of optimal health. They also came to the conclusion that plant medicine may be better suited than synthetic drugs for many different conditions:
“A lot of research has been made to isolate and characterize isolated single constituents of traditional herbal medicine to find their rationale for therapeutic uses. However, our data together with those of others provide legitimation to introduce a new generation of phytopharmaceuticals to treat diseases that have hitherto been treated using synthetic drugs alone. The therapeutic synergy observed with plant extracts results in the requirement for a lower amount of active components, with consequent reduced adverse effects.”3
PHARMACEUTICALS VS. PLANTSAround 8% of all hospital visits in the United States are attributed to negative effects from pharmaceutical drugs. Around 100,000 people die every year as a result of adverse effects from synthetic drugs.4 Without question, pharmaceutical drugs provide some amazing benefits, but they can also produce deadly results. If you’re in a state of desperate need where your body is on the verge of total breakdown, pharmaceuticals may provide the exact miracle you need. But what about many of the diseases that impact Westerners today? The kinds of diseases that are chronic and slow-moving diseases that slowly eat away at you may not be best handled by traditional pharmaceutical drugs. Dr. Andrew Weil, found of The Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, traveled to South America to study some of the ancient plant medicines still used there and their potential healing effects. One plant that he examined was the coca leaf. You may have heard of it. It is the plant that people derive the illegal drug cocaine from. The Andean Indians believe the coca leaf is one of the most medicinally beneficial plants in the region. Dr. Weil found that they use coca to treat diarrhea and constipation. This may seem counterintuitive as those seem like two different conditions that could not be treated by the same thing. Cocaine, one of the many compounds present in the coca leaf, can work to increase activity in the digestive system which leads to the conclusion it would be great for constipation, but what about for diarrhea?5 Upon further examination, the coca leaf contains multiple different compounds that are active within the human body. Cocaine works to increase gut activity while some of the other compounds do the exact opposite. When you consume coca leaf, your body has the option of utilizing any of the bioactive compounds that are present.
The body chooses to use whichever of the compounds it is most in need of at the time, rather than being forced to only pick one as would happen with a synthetic drug.
ADAPTOGENS BRING BALANCEPlants like this are known as adaptogens. Rather than only having one effect, they can have multiple effects depending on what the person taking them is experiencing. Adaptogens work to bring the body into a state of homeostasis. Homeostasis occurs when the body reaches a balanced level in its functioning. Homeostasis occurs throughout different physiological systems in the body and tends to involve two extreme poles. In the case of the digestive system, diarrhea would exist on one side of the spectrum, constipation on the other, and homeostasis right in the middle where everything in the digestive tract is working as it should. There are numerous examples of adaptogens in nature. Chinese herbalists use many different types of natural plant extracts in their practice that are derived from adaptogens. They may prescribe turmeric for the reduction of inflammation, ginseng for exhaustion and lethargy, or St. John’s Wort for depression.6
Full-Spectrum CBD takes advantage of this same mechanism. It provides the body with a multitude of different cannabinoids and terpenes that can work together as needed by the body.