Full-spectrum extracts are extracts of cannabis flower that include all compounds of the plant including cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, alkaloids, and more, instead of an isolate of one of the compounds. Full-spectrum extracts take advantage of the entourage effect—the synergistic effects of the combined compounds are often stronger and have greater medical benefits than an isolated compound on its own.
“I always look for a full-spectrum extract when looking for pain relief because I find it does a better job and an isolate.”
What are full-spectrum extracts?
Full-spectrum extracts contain all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, alkaloids, and other active compounds in the cannabis plant. Full-spectrum extracts are the opposite of isolates, which are a concentrated form of just one cannabinoid or other compound.
A 2015 study compared a full-spectrum extract of Avi Dekel, a CBD-rich strain comparable to ACDC, to a CBD isolate and found that the dose response of the two were very different. While the full-spectrum extract had a clear correlation between how much a subject took and how much relief from inflammation the subject experienced—which is normal for most pharmaceutical drugs—the CBD isolate had a bell-curve shaped dose response, similar to what is observed with vitamins. This bell-curve shaped dose response is potentially dangerous, as it is much more difficult to pinpoint a correct dose for an individual to determine symptom relief.
The study offers compelling evidence for the existence of the entourage effect, the phenomenon that the whole of all compounds in the cannabis plant is greater than the sum of the individual compounds—using all compounds of the cannabis plant together will lead to stronger effects, greater symptom relief, and more beneficial results than a single compound on its own.