In 1998, a landmark paper was released in the European Journal of Pharmacology which made a huge impact on the nascent CBD industry. It named the so-called “Entourage Effect,” a theory that suggests the full range of cannabinoids in extracts made from cannabis have wide-ranging synergistic effects that are potentially more therapeutic than CBD isolate.

Many in the CBD industry jumped on this research, with full spectrum CBD oil quickly becoming the holy grail of many CBD oil producers. Proponents made the case that the Entourage Effect justified a higher price for these carefully extracted CBD oils. Indeed, anyone with knowledge of the CBD industry is well versed in the use of “full spectrum” as a means of distinguishing some CBD oils from others.

The notion was the subject of controversy among experts in marijuana-based science. Some argued that the concept was more of a marketing tool than solid science, while others pointed to the limited research that suggested otherwise.

In the years that followed the landmark study, several researchers have tasked themselves with learning more about how the various 113 identified cannabinoids found in cannabis may be interacting to produce a variety of effects in the human body.

A prominent 2011 study extended the Entourage Effect to include specific Phytocannabinoids known as terpenes. These compounds found in cannabis are potentially therapeutic even in trace doses and are responsible for the flavor and scent of various cannabis strains.

Results from further studies have born some fruit, including the development of a few novel pharmaceutical treatments. For example, Sativex®, a drug made with a 1:1 ration of THC to CBD, has been approved for use in the treatment of Muscle Spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis in several countries outside of the U.S.

Full Spectrum CBD Oil vs. CBD Isolate

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of full spectrum CBD oil, it means that the extraction methods used to refine the oil from industrial hemp (a low THC cannabis strain that does NOT produce psychoactive effects such as a high) preserve the full range of compounds found naturally in the hemp plant.

On the other hand, CBD oil made from CBD isolate first uses various chemical processes to isolate the single molecule of cannabidiol (CBD) before adding this purified extract to various products, such as oil tinctures, edibles, and vape products.

Full spectrum oils usually contain trace amounts of THC (less than .3% by law). Also, they tend to contain very small amounts of other cannabinoids and terpenes found in the plant. Most of these compounds (except CBD, THC, and CBG) have been the subject of very little actual scientific research, so their exact role in healing is largely unknown.

CBD isolate products contain zero THC, a selling point for many people that want the health benefits of CBD oil, without any chance of testing positive on a drug test at their place of employment. These tend also to be less expensive since even low-quality industrial hemp can be used to produce a high-quality purified CBD isolate.

The “Entourage Effect” and Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy

The current study is specific to the therapeutic use of CBD oil for patients with epilepsy that are unresponsive to other forms of treatment. Two rare forms of childhood epilepsy are most associated with being treatment resistant with traditional pharmaceuticals: Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut Syndromes.

The current study is a meta-analysis of research, which means they looked at all of the known research related to CBD oil and the treatment of epilepsy. Then they quantified the results to look for whether or not, when taken as a whole, research supports the idea that full spectrum CBD oil has stronger therapeutic benefits for epilepsy than CBD oil based on isolated CBD.

The results of their study show that full spectrum CBD patients reported improvement at much higher rates than those using CBD isolate based extracts, 71% to 36%. In addition, the side effects of the full spectrum oils were significantly less than those using purified CBD. Finally, full spectrum CBD oil users used lower doses of the extract (average of 6.1mg per day vs. 27.1 mg per day) to reap the therapeutic benefits of the extract.

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