What is Full Spectrum Hemp
What makes a hemp or cannabis product full spectrum? Many are marketed as full spectrum, because it’s a trendy buzzword, and consumers have a vague idea that full spectrum is a good thing. Many of these claims are misleading because the products lack crucial and beneficial classes of phytochemicals (phyto refers to plant-derived). Full spectrum means the product contains the entire spectrum of beneficial phytochemicals originally present in the whole plant. This includes cannabinoids, terpenes, polyphenols, and more.
There are over 120 cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant, including THC, CBD, CBG, and CBC. Phytocannabinoids, as well as endocannabinoids (produced by our body), interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) and other receptor pathways to regulate fundamental physiological and cognitive functions. The goal of the ECS is to produce homeostasis, or equilibrium, within the organism.
Terpenes are the essential oil phytochemicals responsible for a plant’s aroma and flavor. There are over 100 terpenes produced by cannabis, including limonene, myrcene, and linalool. Terpenes engage with receptors throughout the body, including the ECS, generating an array of beneficial pharmacological activity.
Polyphenols are a class of phytochemicals that include flavonoids and other beneficial compounds. Cannabis produces over 20 flavonoids, as well as many other polyphenols that await further study. Phenolic compounds amplify antioxidant activity and are associated with reduced incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative disease.
The cannabinoids, terpenes, polyphenols, and other beneficial constituents of the cannabis plant synergize to amplify the efficacy of whole plant medicine; a synergy referred to as the entourage or ensemble effect. This is the crucial and unique aspect of true full spectrum products that cannot be duplicated with cannabinoid distillates, isolates, and other products of selective extraction processes.
Supercritical CO2 and hydrocarbons are the most common extraction solvents used in the cannabis industry, and they are both nonpolar solvents. Nonpolar solvents readily extract oil-soluble components, which include cannabinoids and terpenes. However, nonpolar solvents do not extract water-soluble compounds, which include polyphenols and other beneficial phytochemicals. Thus, CO2 and hydrocarbon extracts cannot be accurately termed full spectrum, as they do not provide the synergy of the whole plant.
In contrast, Siskiyou Sungrown uses only USP certified organic cane alcohol (ethanol) as our extraction solvent. Ethanol demonstrates both polar and nonpolar extraction activity, pulling both water soluble and oil soluble constituents from the plant. Consequently, products of ethanol extraction are truly full spectrum, exhibiting the synergy of all available beneficial phytochemicals.
Here in the early stages of the cannabis industry, consumer awareness is low and misleading claims are commonplace. In order to choose the most efficacious cannabis products, education and scrutiny are required. For health and wellness, true full spectrum products are a perfect choice. By thoroughly investigating each product’s ingredients, extraction process, solvents used, and raw material source, we can discern which products will best support these goals.
– Cedar Grey
Founder & CEO, Siskiyou Sungrown
For more information, you can reference the National Institute of Health report.