To fully grasp whole plant or full-spectrum cannabis medicine, we should have an understanding of the entourage effect concept. The cannabis plant can produce 80 cannabinoids, and a bouquet of terpenes and flavonoids in various combinations that work synergistically to reveal that plant’s unique therapeutic qualities. A full-spectrum medicine is derived from the cannabis plant and includes all of its parts.
What we commonly call the entourage effect is the coming together of all of the plant’s compounds and therapeutic benefits. For example, as we all know, CBD has plenty of healing potential on its own, but when combined with the rest of the plant’s components you end up with a complex medicine.
Better Together: When Full-Spectrum Cannabis Matters
Research on whole plant medicines shows that they are potentially more effective in the treatment of health conditions, specifically pain and inflammation, than an extract that contains only the isolated cannabinoid, CBD (cannabidiol).
In one study, titled “Overcoming the Bell-Shaped Dose-Response of Cannabidiol by using Cannabis Extract Enriched in Cannabidiol,” researchers from the Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology in Jerusalem looked at the effectiveness of administering isolated cannabinoid extracts (a CBD-only formula) versus whole plant extracts to mice. The results clearly show that more medical benefits were observed from the whole, raw cannabis flower than the single, isolated cannabinoid.
Even children with treatment-resistant epilepsy are exposed to small amounts of the cannabinoids THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) if they use full-spectrum cannabis oil. A hemp-derived cannabis oil, because it contains only trace amounts of THC is accessible to more patients but doesn’t offer the depth of therapeutic and sensory effects present with oil produced from a plant with a more balanced cannabinoid profile.
In Canada, whole plant extractions exist legally only in oil form, but residents can obtain full spectrum concentrates from grey market sources. Legal sources are scheduled to enter into Cannada’s cannabis regulations by 2019. In the US states where concentrates are legal, high-terpene full-plant extracts are a hot commodity and come in many forms, from amber sauces to crisp shards of shatter. Keep an eye out for some whole-plant medicine available where you live or tell us below what HTFSE (high terpene full spectrum extract) you’re dabbing these days.