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- Evaluate ingredients and composition: Do they have the potential to cause harm?
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Healthline has sole editorial control over this article. Potential uses for the products listed here are not health claims made by the manufacturers. The information in this article is intended to be general in nature. It’s not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from a healthcare professional. Healthline encourages you to make any treatment decisions with your healthcare professional.
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Cannabidiol (CBD) products have been growing in popularity as a way to help manage many different conditions, including pain and anxiety. But since the world of CBD is relatively new and research is still ongoing, it can be a little overwhelming to navigate.
If you’ve already started looking for a CBD product to try, you might have noticed that some labels say they’re made from full-spectrum or whole-plant CBD. But what exactly does that mean?
Here’s what you need to know about full-spectrum CBD and how to decide whether it’s right for you — plus our picks for the best full-spectrum CBD products to try.
Full-spectrum CBD is a type of CBD that contains all the beneficial compounds naturally found in the cannabis plant. These include:
- Cannabinoids: There are more than 100 cannabinoids, including CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD and THC are responsible for the therapeutic and psychoactive effects of cannabis products. While CBD doesn’t cause impairment, THC has an intoxicating effect.
- Terpenes: Cannabis has more than 150 terpenes, which affect the plant’s fragrance (i.e., what makes an orange smell citrusy). Terpenes can also have therapeutic benefits (e.g., how lavender has a calming effect).
- Flavonoids: Cannabis includes about 20 flavonoids. Flavonoids are found in all kinds of plants, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and more. Like terpenes, they have therapeutic effects.
Research from 2016shows that the flavonoids found in cannabis have anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and neuroprotective properties.
If you’re ready to dive in, here are some full-spectrum CBD products to get you started. The products on our list meet specific safety, quality, and transparency criteria. Each product:
- is made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab
- is made by a company that discloses the source of their hemp
- contains no more than 0.3% THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
- passes tests for pesticides, heavy metals, and molds, according to the COA
We also considered:
- company certifications and manufacturing processes
- product potency
- overall ingredients
- indicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as:
- customer reviews
- whether the company has been subject to a
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning letter
- whether the company makes any unsupported health claims
Best full-spectrum CBD oils
Best full-spectrum CBD topical
Best full-spectrum CBD gummies
CBD may be an effective remedy to help relieve a number of mental health and physical symptoms, like anxiety and pain. It’s important to remember that CBD products come in many different types. You can choose the spectrum, method, and dose that fits your specific need.
If you want the full benefits of the entourage effect — particularly the chemical compound THC — then full-spectrum CBD may be the best option for you.
Andrew Kerklaan, DC, CEO of Dr. Kerklaan Therapeutics, told Healthline that the entourage effect is the idea that “multiple cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes work together to potentially offer more benefits and therapeutic potential than isolated, individual cannabinoids on their own.”
If you want the broader effects of the entire cannabis plant, full-spectrum CBD may be the best fit for you.
The biggest difference is that while full-spectrum CBD products contain small amounts of THC, broad-spectrum and isolate products do not.
Full-spectrum CBD has a couple of benefits over broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate.
The entourage effect
While a 2015 study suggests that CBD can be beneficial on its own, other research from 2017 suggests that CBD’s therapeutic effects are stronger when combined with other cannabis compounds, including terpenes, flavonoids, and lesser-known cannabinoids. This theory is called the entourage effect.
Broad-spectrum CBD does include other compounds, but the THC found only in full-spectrum products may increase the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving benefits of CBD.
Keep in mind that with very low levels of THC (less than 0.3%), full-spectrum CBD still shouldn’t cause you to feel “high.” However, this depends on the product’s potency and the amount you take at once.
If you take a large dose of a high potency product, you may be ingesting enough THC to produce a euphoric effect.
Despite the benefits of full-spectrum CBD, it does have a few drawbacks as well.
Not everyone wants THC in their CBD products. You may prefer to avoid it or you might worry about it showing up on a drug test. Depending on the test, this is a possibility, especially if you’re buying CBD products that are mislabeled and contain more THC than they claim.
Not always legal
The products we cover in this article are hemp-derived, which means the plants themselves contain less than 0.3% THC. Hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC are federally legal, though they’re still illegal under some state laws.
Additionally, some CBD products may be made from what’s commonly called “marijuana” and may have more than 0.3% THC. These products can be found at dispensaries in states where cannabis is legal.
If you’re shopping for a full-spectrum CBD product, check how much THC is in it so you can make sure it’s what you want.
If you’re interested in the potential therapeutic benefits of the entourage effect, full-spectrum CBD may be the best choice for you.
However, if you’re sensitive to THC or just want to avoid it, you might want to try broad-spectrum CBD. That way, you’ll still get some benefits of the entourage effect but with no THC.
If you don’t want anything but CBD, isolate will be your best bet.
Currently, the FDA does not guarantee the safety, effectiveness, or quality of over-the-counter (OTC) CBD products. That means it’s especially important to research before buying to make sure you’re getting a quality product.
Here are a few important things to look out for:
- COA: Make sure the product has an up-to-date and comprehensive COA from a reputable third-party lab. Take a look at the cannabinoid profile, the potency, and contaminant testing results.
- Transparency: Make sure the company says where they grow their hemp and how they make their products. Hemp grown in the United States is subject to certain regulations, making it a safer bet.
- Unsupported health claims: Make sure the company doesn’t claim their products treat or cure any diseases. CBD may help manage symptoms, but it’s not currently an FDA-approved treatment for any disease outside of the prescription Epidiolex for seizures.
- FDA warning letters, lawsuits, or poor customer reviews: Review any FDA warning letters the company may have received. These letters could mean the company made health claims they should not have. Also, check for any legal issues or poor reviews from customers.
There are a lot of different kinds of full-spectrum CBD products. How you use them varies by type:
- Topicals: Topical products are applied to your skin. They can come as creams, lotions, or salves. They’re usually used for muscle and joint pain or skin conditions.
- Edibles: There are a lot of edibles available. You’ll find gummies, mints, lozenges, chocolates, and even beverages.
- Pills or capsules: Precisely dosed and straightforward to take, pills and capsules are an easy way to add CBD into your routine.
- Sublinguals: Sublingual products are taken under your tongue. These include tinctures, oils, and sprays. Products placed under your tongue may take effect more quickly than edible products.
If you’re new to CBD, start with a very small dose and work your way up depending on how you feel.
Additionally, some people may experience side effects like:
- changes in appetite or weight
It’s always best to talk with a healthcare professional before trying CBD, especially if you’re already taking medications or want relief from specific symptoms. CBD may interact with some medications that have a grapefruit warning.
If you’re planning on taking CBD products by mouth, avoid doing so alongside high fat meals. One
If you plan on using a topical product, avoid applying it to broken skin. Do a patch test before using it broadly.
It’s best to talk with a healthcare professional before trying full-spectrum CBD products.
“A good relationship with your medical provider is important for your health,” Kerklaan said. “Keeping your doctor up to speed on what you are taking is important. When it comes to heart-related issues, your physician should be aware of cannabis use.”
Additionally, CBD may interact with some medications.
Full-spectrum CBD products may also affect your eligibility to compete in athletic competition, or even your work status.
“Product quality has come a long way, but cannabis is a relatively new industry. It’s important to look for proper testing and brands that you can trust. A full-spectrum CBD product has the potential to result in a positive drug test for THC — especially when ingested — so that’s something to consider,” Kerklaan said.
Does full-spectrum CBD make you ‘high’?
CBD on its own will not make you feel high. However, full-spectrum CBD does contain some THC, and THC can make you feel high.
If you take a large enough dose of a potent full-spectrum CBD product, you may be consuming enough THC to feel the effects.
If this is something you want to avoid, opt for a low potency product and start with a small dose.
Is full-spectrum CBD better than broad-spectrum or isolate?
Not necessarily. While full-spectrum CBD may offer additional benefits thanks to the entourage effect, broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate still carry benefits on their own.
Is full-spectrum CBD safe for everyone?
No. People who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as children, should avoid OTC CBD products.
Additionally, if you want to try CBD, talk with a qualified cannabis clinician or your healthcare professional first. They can help you monitor any side effects that may occur and discuss how safe CBD is for your specific needs and condition. They may also want to monitor your blood level.
Does full-spectrum CBD make you sleepy?
It’s possible. Full-spectrum CBD contains small amounts of THC, which may induce feelings of sleepiness.
Is full-spectrum CBD good for anxiety?
According to Kerklaan, “A full-spectrum CBD product with small amounts of THC makes sense from an anti-anxiety perspective. CBD and THC in moderate amounts likely has the best potential to reduce anxiety. But some people are more sensitive to THC, which can bring about anxiety related to THC use.”
Full-spectrum CBD can be beneficial due to the entourage effect, which theorizes that CBD is more effective when taken alongside other cannabis compounds.
Full-spectrum CBD does have traces of THC, but it’s likely not enough to have an intoxicating effect. This depends on the CBD product’s potency and your dosage, though. If you take a large dose of a high potency product, you may be ingesting enough THC to produce a high.
CBD can interact with some medications. It’s best to talk with a healthcare professional before getting started.
Is CBD legal? The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC legal at the federal level. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them illegal at the federal level. Some states have legalized CBD, so be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.