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Maximizing CBD’s Effects and Benefits: 5 Experts Weigh In

Firefly logo Presented By Firefly February 23, 2017
This article is sponsored by Firefly, a San Francisco-based technology company that specializes in the research, design, and manufacturing of vaporizer hardware.

Is CBD the magic cannabis molecule, or a misleading fad? There’s certainly a major trend toward CBD-only products on the cannabis market, and a push in some states leery of medical marijuana to legalize only one or two cannabinoids. Yet many are fighting back against this approach.  That’s because there’s an interactive synergy between cannabis compounds, known as the entourage effect, and many benefits attributed broadly to cannabis can only be unlocked through “whole plant medicine” – that is, with THC, CBD, terpenes, and other cannabinoids working together in sync.


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Whole plant medicine has been widely debated as many states consider limited legalization of cannabinoids like CBD, and the idea that the entourage effect is integral to using cannabis as medicine is increasingly accepted. In fact, some products are being designed specifically to maximize the value of whole plant medicine for the consumer. Take Firefly’s vaporizer technology, which sets out to capture all the myriad benefits of the entourage effect through dynamic convection technology. “[Firefly 2 was] truly designed around the plant…in order to deliver all the cannabinoids and terpenes in the most efficient way,” says Rachel Dugas of Firefly. Yet given the complexities of these chemical interactions, it’s still hard to pin down how exactly this maximizes the benefits of cannabis.

What the Experts Say About CBD’s Effects and Benefits

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To shed some light on the subject, we assembled a panel of five experts in different areas of the cannabis space to weigh in:

Here’s what they had to say.

What effects does CBD have on its own?

Mary Lynn Mathre: “Many – anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, anti-seizure, neuroprotective, bone stimulant, anti-spasmodic, and more.”

Jessica Peters: “Anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, anti-proliferative, analgesic, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), neuroprotective, anti-psychotic, anti-emetic (anti-nausea) … I can technically answer what are the properties of CBD, but these properties might not pop out if THC is not present. A potential new research category that I’ve seen evidence of anecdotally are addiction-fighting properties … CBD seems to reroute those neural pathways.”

Constance Finley: “Studies have shown CBD to have a positive effect on inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis and spasms, but it should be noted that most of these applications are not treated with just CBD alone and in fact do require some level of THC, whose role as a phytotherapeutic compound has already been established vis-à-vis many of the same conditions. CBD acts on different receptors than THC in the body.”

Perry Solomon: “It’s been found that CBD alone can cause a feeling of calm, relaxation. CBD’s other medicinal effects stem from completely separate pathways, such as the cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2), mu and delta opioid receptors. Taken on its own, CBD has sedative, antioxidant, anti-anxiety, and antidepressant effects on the brain, but does not create any overtly psychoactive high like THC. It’s also been shown to have change gene expression and remove beta amyloid plaque, the hallmark of Alzheimer’s, from brain cells.”


Product Review: The Firefly 2 Portable Vaporizer

How are these effects augmented or altered by other compounds?

Peters: “Pretty significantly. CBD being cannabis-based is what’s most crucial for these properties to exist. The range of the volume of THC in relation to CBD will feature different properties. An equal amount of THC to CBD [for example] is often the best pain reliever. Many terpenes have relationships [and] the fact that those relationships exist is becoming clearer and clearer.”

Eloise Theisen: “CBD and THC seem to work better together. They lessen each other’s side effects.”

Solomon: “THC seems to potentiate all the effects of CBD and conversely, CBD affects THC. Dr. Ethan Russo further supports this theory by demonstrating that non-cannabinoid plant components such as terpenes serve as inhibitors to THC’s intoxicating effects, thereby increasing THC’s therapeutic index. This ‘phytocannabinoid-terpenoid synergy,’ as Russo calls it, increases the potential of cannabis-based medicinal extracts to treat pain, inflammation, fungal and bacterial infections, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, and even cancer … Terpenes act on receptors and neurotransmitters; they are prone to combine with or dissolve in lipids or fats; they act as serotonin uptake inhibitors (similar to antidepressants like Prozac); they enhance norepinephrine activity (similar to tricyclic antidepressants like Elavil); they increase dopamine activity; and they augment GABA (the “downer” neurotransmitter that counters glutamate, the “upper”). However, more specific research is needed.”

Mathre: “CBD has value, but its value can be enhanced with the whole plant and we can develop more individualized medicine (specific ratios depending upon the person and the need).”


The entourage effect: How cannabis compounds may be working together

How much more effective would you say whole-plant medicine is than CBD-only?

Peters: “Radically. Not even close. It’s as though you’re working with different substances.”

Solomon: “I think that any whole plant medicine is more effective then any CBD-only product.”

Theisen: “Whole plant medicine is the only way to go.”

Mathre: “Safer and more effective, and tolerance will develop more slowly (if at all).”

Finley: “In almost all cases…I would say whole-plant therapeutics are 100% more effective than CBD-only.”

Thoughts on those who exclude THC or other cannabis components from the realm of medicinal cannabis?

Finley: “I believe everyone should have access to all types of treatment options that could potentially benefit them, and people need to be aware that not all cannabis is created equal. CBD from hemp does not have the medicinal properties that CBD from cannabis possesses, and is frankly an inferior product.”

Mathre: “We have lawyers and politicians practicing medicine without a license – they don’t know what they are talking about. Clearly there may be some patients who need little to no THC, but the vast majority will benefit from it. Patients should have all of the options open to them and research needs to continue to help determine how to best individualize cannabis medicine.”

Peters: “It’s so extraordinarily problematic that it feels criminal to me… The wall of bureaucracy is pushing up against the wall of science.”


Firefly 2: The Dynamic Convection Vaporizer Pushing the Industry Forward

What is the best way to consume cannabis to access its complete entourage of effects?

Finley: “Delivery methods vary greatly in terms of their efficiency and their effects. I heard a colleague say that smoking a joint for therapeutic effect is akin to opening your mouth in the rain to get a drink of water … Our preferred methods [are] buccal ingestion or sublingual ingestion, vaping from a vaporizer or vape pen whose hardware is safe to use with cannabis extracts, and topical for additional localized impact.”

Peters: “Certainly vaporizing flowers is one of the easiest options. I would [also] say tinctures … especially full plant and alcohol-extracted (with organic ethanol).”

Theisen: “Vaporization or tinctures of whole plants. Any sort of extraction method that isn’t going to deplete it.”

How Vaporizer Technology Can Maximize the Entourage Effect

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In the vaporizer world, dynamic convection is the process by which vapes can capture a complete range of active ingredients and flavors in cannabis flowers and full-plant concentrates. This maximizes efficiency and optimizes the benefits of the entourage effect for the consumer. As vaporizer technology continues to advance in this direction, it will become easier and easier for patients to explore the benefits of whole plant medicine for themselves, and hone in on the cannabis strains best suited to their needs.

To learn more about dynamic convection technology in the Firefly 2, please visit the sponsor’s website.

  • Alan479 Martin

    Fantastic article that throws a pie into the faces of the high THC crowd and leaves them with egg on their faces. The current fadish trend to super strong THC concentrates or the inhaling of huge bong hits is now being seen as ridiculous theatrics producing little enjoyment and having minimal positive effects. We still have a ways to go to unlock the magical combinations of the marijuana plant and brute force is not the answer. The hybrid industry must be more plant component educated, flexible, resourceful and creative in the breeding of future strains that will have multifaceted dynamic effects on a multitude of human levels. The study of the marijuana plant is also a study of man and his own unique complex combinations composite.

  • This remark is sheer unadulterated ignorance:

    “CBD from hemp does not have the medicinal properties that CBD from cannabis possesses, and is frankly an inferior product.”

    If Constance Finley (founder and CEO, Constance Therapeutics) is advanced as an ‘expert” and come out with this sort of gibberish, how do we judge the validity of the rest of the article?

    • Jane

      What makes this quote gibberish exactly? Do you have any use cases or evidence yourself? Given Constance’s experience with the cannabis plant, I take her opinion as valid far above yours.

      • I expect my experience is at least as extensive as Constance but she has become very confused somewhere along the way. Cannabis is hemp is cannabis and CBD is CBD whether it comes from any variety of cannabis or from, for instance, the echinacea plant.

        It is absolutely outrageous for anyone to hold themselves out as an expert and suggest that CBD from hemp is different from CBD from cannabis. The statement is nonsensical.

        • Method Man

          @disqus_ctRNuuc9tu:disqus @disqus_jVFP6qI9Tf:disqus I agree with @PeterReynoldsClear:disqus like he mentioned Hemp And Cannabis (Marijuana) Is the same, cbd is cbd. The real difference is that hemp is the male cannabis plant, hemp does not produce flowers (buds) and smoking it does not produce that high that people typically look for when smoking cannabis. The term Hemp was created and separated from the term Cannabis because it has a different use, Hemp was commonly used to create textiles, fuel, paper, food, etc… while Cannabis or marijuana was used for medicine or to get high because it had THC. More recently they have discovered that CBD is another very important ingredient on cannabis, which is found in Female plants (Cannabis) AND male plants (Hemp). Hemp produces a very small amount of CBD and even has some traces of THC but those are practically zero. With the increasing popularity of medical cannabis use, people who is in need of CBD extracts, often encounter that the extract that they are using also contains THC, this is because female plants have a very high amount of THC in comparison with CBD and its hard to separate them, so they have found that is easier to get a more pure CBD product from hemp. Growers are also engineering female plants with higher CBD and lower amounts of THC like is the case of the famous Charlotte’s Webb. I hope this is helpful for everyone, sorry for the Grammar. Cheers!

          • Hemp is not the male cannabis plant. If it was, how could hemp produce seeds?

            Hemp does produce flowers (from which the seeds come) and male cannabis plants produce flowers as well, flowers that produce the pollen that fertilise the female plants.

          • Method Man

            Sorry, that was a misconception i had over the matter. After a little research i found out that in 1971, a Canadian researcher draw the line saying that a cannabis plant with less than .3%THC is considered Hemp. Although this term still differs a little depending in the place you live in. here is the link with the article.

          • Hemp is just a nickname. A specific term is ‘industrial hemp’. This is cannabis that has less than 0.2% THC (Europe), 0.3% (Americas).

          • Anna Yensen

            Holy Mother of God Leafly…I thought of you as a reliable media source for Cannabis, you know the term the rest of the world uses. Hemp is Cannabis and Cannabis is Hemp and Marijuana. Apparently the Stoners that give the rest of the Industry also have buckets of misinformation…as usual.
            Growing Hemp for CBD is grown just like marijuana. There are cultivars that naturally have high CBD,CBG, ECT and little to no THC.
            CBD is CBD the molecular weight is no different from it’s origin of marijuana or hemp. Those terms are simply made up terms to refer to how much THC is in the Cannabis plant. There are male and female plants just like….marijuana.
            The Industry as a whole needs to stop warring each other because at the end of the Day we all have the same goals.

          • Thank God, at last someone who knows what they’re talking about!

          • Craig

            Cannabis gave it’s name to the material made from it canvass. Hemp was a slang turn first used by rope makers. The one I hate is marijuana is the mexican term used to describe low grade tobacco that grew in the ditches around tobacco plantations. The plantation farmers could harvest for their own use. It was first used to be derogatory to cannabis and so the American hemp farmers didn’t realise what was being banned during the marijuana tax act.

          • Douglas Green

            Thank you for your wise words and insight in this subject. I think Mr. Reynolds probably needed a little CBD and a lot of THC after these posts. High-Five.

          • BrianFrichette

            From what I can tell, Leafly has the culture, the processes, and the technologies well covered, but as far as the science, they are as abysmal as most other “natural” sites.

            This article is almost pure pseudoscience. The scientific community is nowhere even *close* to understanding THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. We don’t understand the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, interactions. We don’t even understand in any meaningful way how the endocannabinoid systems work or what their functions are let alone how dozens of chemicals work together to produce meaningful effects.

            That doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons to be hopeful. There’s plenty of data indicating a ton of potential here and of course countless people are helped by these drugs. But we don’t actually know why, or how much, or for whom it may help / hurt.

            Anyone pretending to have these answers should be met with a great deal of skepticism.

          • BrianFrichette

            You’re a damn hero. You did a bit of research, realized your understanding was misconceived, and changed your understanding to match the new facts.

            That’s what science is all about, and I wish more people had the guts to be open to new information and evidence.

            Thank you

          • Dave McGrath

            I’m glad you realized you were mistaken. All Cannabis plants have male and female plants in all it’s varieties as well as hermaphrodites. Hemp is merely a low THC/ high fiber strain of Cannabis.

        • Richard Carnell

          I expect you are talking out of your back end Peter, at least as much experience as Constance Finely? OK so how many cancer patients have you successfully treated with cannabis oil Peter, with Constance it is hundreds maybe thousands by now, here is a video of her taking to a doctor about her success treating cancer and she mentions hemp and why it is inferior at about 11:30 minutes in, if anyone reading this doesn’t know about Constance please watch it all and then Google ‘Constance Therapeutics’ leafly chose their experts well for this article and Peter you might learn something x

    • Paul

      You should do more research about Hemp CBD; it is inferior to Cannabis. The Hemp plant is somewhat different than Cannabis. The Hemp plant will absorb all the impurities in the ground it’s planted in so if not planeted in good soil the extracted CBD will also have the impurities. I would not want that in or on my body. I read once that they planted Hemp in the area around Chernobal to absorb the radiation in the ground faster than it would if doing nothing. Think about that for a bit.

      • You are very, very confused. Cannabis is the correct name and hemp is a nickname but they are exactly the same plant.

        CBD is CBD whatever variety or strain of cannabis it come from. This is basic science, first grade.

        • Paul

          Well it is a confusing topic. Type what’s the difference between cannabis and hemp into Google search and you will get a long list of links. Here are two links saying somewhat the same, but different regarding the difference between Hemp and Cannabis. and

          As you dig in and learn more about medical marijuana, CBD hemp oil, and more, one of the common questions that come up is “what exactly is the difference between hemp and marijuana?”

          Beyond cannabis slang, legal interpretation, and practical use of the plant, the fact of the matter is that few genetic differences exist between hemp and marijuana plants, but in practical terms, the differences are quite significant.
          Hemp and marijuana are actually both members of the same plant species, Cannabis sativa L. Cannabis sativa L. can contain a wide spectrum of cannabinoid concentrations, including wide ranging compositions of THC and CBD. Still, there are many practical differences between hemp and marijuana, and clear lines drawn between the two.

          • There is no difference between cannabis and hemp and why you now have to introduce the dirty racist ‘M’ word is beyond me, you’re just adding to the confusion.

            Different varieties of cannabis have different combinations of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other compounds. Just like different varieties of tomatoes have different proportions of compounds but they are all still tomatoes!

            Hemp is a meaningless term, it’s just a nickname.

            A specific term is ‘industrial hemp’. This is cannabis that has less than 0.2% THC (Europe), 0.3% (Americas).

          • Richard Carnell

            industrial hemp has stronger fibers and makes far less oil with a reduced spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes, industrial hemp was meant to be used to rope, paper and textiles because of the stronger fibers, we’ve had to use it only because of the illegality of thc and industrial hemp strains fit the bill or did because they don’t have the ability to create hardly any thc, it was never meant to be used for medicine…

          • Dave McGrath

            Paul, it would behoove everyone to stop using the slang term “marijuana” which was created as propaganda to help demonize the plant by Harry Anslinger, in a racist movement designed to criminalize Blacks and Mexicans. If we are going to discuss chemical compounds, molecules, terpenes, let’s at least have the sense to use the term “Cannabis”, the scientific label for the species instead of “Marijuana, dope, weed, grass, pot etc etc.”

        • BrianFrichette

          To be fair, it’s more like middle / high school level science 😂

    • I agree. We do not have enough large population research to back up statements like this. As a physician I rely on patient and product reviews. Some of the best reviews are of Charlotte’s Web hemp oil that is CBD dominant!

    • frankieryder

      its a paid advertisement by FireFly for full flower burning, what their product does

    • BrianFrichette

      You, sir, are 100% correct. CBD (cannabidiol) is a chemical, not a brand name for proprietary ingredients. Stating that CBD from one source is superior to CBD from another source is as ignorant as saying that purified water is superior when it comes from a lake or spring versuses from desalination. One process may be superior, but the end result is a chemical (CBD, H2O, etc). As long as they are purified to the same standards, the result is *impossible to distinguish*.

    • Richard Carnell

      Constance knows what she’s talking about and Ethan Russo agrees, it depends on which kind of hemp you are talking about, cbd dominant strains like acdc have the full compliment of terpenes and flavanoids so have the ‘full entourage effect’ industrial hemp as we know it though lacks the main pathway for the creation of thc and so all of the chemicals from that side of the family are only found in puny trace amounts so industrial hemp has vastly reduced supporting cannabinoids and far less terpenes too, Ethan Russo is working on a testing method that will show the full spectrum and will show industrial hemp and its ‘vastly reduced spectrum’ for what it is, the whole point of the entourage effect is that all of the compounds work together and we know cbd and thc work best together and for the reason alone hemp strains that can’t do thc levels over 0.2% are inferior to medical cannabis, the cbd molecule is exactly the same but the entourage effect isn’t, industrial hemp is inferior Peter x

  • nigel bergstrom

    Vaping THC is supposed to be good for the lungs. Smoking or vaping CBD is not supposed to be good for the lungs. It apparently “sits” on the lungs and can cause a number of problems. I recommend edibles for CBD. I would like to know more about vaping and smoking CBD and the effect on the lungs.

    • BrianFrichette

      Do you have any peer reviewed sources to back this claim up?

      • Barry Richards

        I wish. Hopefully we will learn more about it. 🙂

  • Mark

    I think the whole plant would b the ticket. Your still getting CBD in it, right?? Plus you can get additional benefits to “enjoy”. Great reading by the way.

  • Mark Talmont

    There is a consumer review elsewhere on this site of the high-CBD variety “Harlequin” professing miracle-grade relief from chronic GI tract inflammation that was resistant to all conventional meds.

  • Etidorhpa

    I find that taking 1:1 thc/cbd orally or vaporly, feels balanced. If I take 99% cbd alone i got to use micro doses otherwise I feel “off”. If i combine the two i can take high doses like 10mg.

  • This is a very insightful discussion but it’s impacts are diminished by the fact it is an ad for Firefly vaporizer. I believe it is most important to have a reliable analysis of the content of any form of medical cannabis for it to be therapeutic and scientific as a medicine.

  • Happy to see the mention about Organic Ethanol Extractions. We feel there is no better way to extract if the goal is to create an effective product!

  • colvin

    I wonder what my sister’s life would have been if not for the timely intervention of Peter Hurt, who came to the rescue of my sister
    life when the Doctors here in Tallahassee, FL gave her just few months to live.I really appreciate brother Tulip $ sister Elisabeth for their timeless effort to get a cure for our sister by searching over the internet and giving me doctor Peter’s phone number after several effort to get a cure for my sister. Just last week the doctors who once said my sister only have few months to live just confirmed she is now cancer free of the brain after 3 months of using Doctor Peter’s CBD/THC Oil .Thank you so much brother Tulip/sis Elisabeth and Doctor Peter Hurt for saving my sister life phone #(804) 537-091

  • Rose Lemar

    Dr Peter Hurt get it through to me here in Oklahoma today with some CBD Cannabis Oil and meds discretely and very fast i vote for him 100% . Thanks to you tulip for linking me up with Dr hurt , he is legit love you Dr my Glycoma and brain tumor is now 80% free . Get him on #(804) 537-0917


      got some medical marijuana and Cbd/Thc oil from Dr peter hurt via Phone number +18045370917

  • Cristina Sulzener

    How to sensibly buy LEGAL cbd oil? Because I got a letter saying customs has confiscated my package two times already and I’m pissed.

  • CBD has resurged in the medical market over the past decade. Doctors of alternative medicine have been using the hemp plant to treat patients since the time of ancient China. The cannabis sativa plant has shown to have multiple uses and treat a multitude of ailments. Nowadays, medical marijuana has countless numbers of research papers to back up the claims of its medicinal benefits. Medical hemp oil for sale comes in many forms and concentrations and the dosage administered to the patients are dependent on the condition they are in. Technically, it’s impossible for CBD treatment to be lethal because it barely contains any of the psychoactive component THC. Although the substance hasn’t been approved by the FDA, its effectivity was proven time and time again by its users.