The Science Behind Phytocannabinoids
And a brief reflection on its effect on product marketing
The understanding about cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinoids is rapidly changing, and is doing so alongside an exploding market demand for cannabinoid products. The understanding of how CBD can benefit young and old alike, across a wide variety of illness and diseases is quickly getting taken over by a new understanding of how there is much more happening within the entire cannabinoid family than initially met the eye. These days the market, led by new research, seems to be shifting towards a more whole-plant, and holistic approach instead of being increasingly focused on only one small component of a powerful plant.
What is a phytocannabinoid?
As the hemp industry moves beyond being solely focused on the benefits of CBD, there is more funding being made available to support fuller spectrum studies. New research is being undertaken to develop a better understanding of how all the cannabinoids function together, and to actually increase their individual health benefits by working together. The cannabis sativa plant actually contains upwards of 100 secondary cannabinoids beyond the most well-known ones like THC and CBD. On top of this, hemp contains 500 trace chemical compounds which are also thought to work cohesively alongside cannabinoids for greater benefit. Some of these trace compounds are terpenoids (about 200 different ones exist in cannabis), and caryophyllene (which has been proven to exist outside the cannabis family of plants).
Because the industry is moving away from its previously strict focus on either THC-heavy or CBD-heavy cannabis strains of cannabis, the term phytocannabinoid is likely only going to become more widespread. A phytocannabinoid refers to the whole spectrum of cannabinoids, both primary and trace, found within the cannabis plant. For many people, the term more accurately captures the progress and focus of the hemp oil industry these days.
Why is full spectrum important?
Full spectrum phytocannabinoids obviously contain more than just the CBD cannabinoids people have come to know and love. These extracts are processed carefully in order to ensure the entire spectrum of cannabinoids, present within the hemp plant, are carried into the hemp extract. Increasingly, it’s being understood that there is more to hemp beyond CBD, considering all the cannabinoids work together cohesively and have a more powerful synergy when ingested. Its strongly suggested through the research that the health benefits made popular through CBD oil are strengthened when CBD is taken in association with its family of other cannabinoids. This effect is called the entourage effect.
On top of the health benefits, extracts made with crystallized CBD are isolates, and therefore illegal under most circumstances within the natural product industry. Isolates are considered medical in nature and cannabidiol isolates are still targeted by the Food and Drug Association (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as illicit drugs. On the other hand full spectrum hemp oils are much more easily classified as a dietary supplement at this time.
Many producers are tackling the entourage approach through artisanal selection. They specifically source a selection of high quality hemp farms with each focusing on a certain strain. The strains all come with individual cannabinoid focuses, and for the final product all the strains are mixed together in a strict laboratory process. This allows the hemp extract producer to have complete control over the final product’s cannabinoid content by having an in depth understanding about each individual strain that makes up the whole. Through lab analysis of the initial hemp and then the final product, the company can choose to highlight some phytocannabinoids over others, and also ensure there is still a full spectrum present.
How does this shift in research affect CBD oil marketing?
No matter the industry, unscrupulous businesses will eventually flood the market with poor quality and ill-labeled products. The phytocannabinoid extract industry is no different, and perhaps more confusing than other sectors due to the fast pace of progress.
In the beginning, finding a hemp extract with a high percentage of CBD was all that mattered. After All, the research was piling up showing the possible health benefits of CBD oil. Many companies labeled their product as CBD oils, despite the fact that they were found to be low in that specific cannabinoid. In one investigation, it was found that only 8 out of 23 phytocannabinoid products contained what they advertised. For many desperate suppliers, they were trying to bank on the popularity of CBD, and sell their products through false advertising and misinformation.
These days, the tables of turned. Now, CBD focused oils are trying to bank on the new found research behind the entourage effects. As the market starts to shift, it’s very important to seek out reputable suppliers and businesses who produce high quality and accurately labeled cannabinoid products.