‘The purer the better’ is a concept most of us employ in everyday life, particularly when it comes to our health. It would make sense, right? If there is a known active ingredient, surely it’s better to make a pure extraction, eliminating any other compounds present?
We’re all guilty of it. How many of us choose to pop a vitamin C pill, instead of turning to the original source? And yet scientists have already found that it’s better to eat oranges than taking the equivalent in a pill. They’re not sure why, but hypothesize that it’s something to do with the unique mix of antioxidants working together in the fruit that make a difference. Sound familiar? Different compounds working together to create a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts?
Entourage Effect – Plant Synergy
If you’re acquainted with the medical cannabis world, this will sound pretty much like the ‘entourage effect’- a term coined by the grandfather of cannabis research, Raphael Mechoulam to describe the synergistic harmony between all the different cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis plant.
Studies show that THC, the most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis, is more effective when accompanied by CBD, not only because CBD ‘tames’ its psychoactive effect, but because according to preclinical research, the two compounds used together have greater efficacy in reducing tumours.
For many the argument boils down to whether whole plant extracts are more effective than the isolated cannabinoids. The reality is as single cannabinoids or the combination of THC and CBD are favoured by pharmaceutical companies in their research, there is a lack of conclusive evidence comparing isolated cannabinoids with whole plant extracts, with the latter relying mainly on retrospective patients studies or anecdotal evidence.
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But what about CBD?
Right now, most people who take CBD either as a nutritional supplement or to address a particular health condition, take a whole plant botanical extract made from industrial hemp. While these contain only trace levels of THC (less than 0.2%) for legal reasons, most CBD oils on the market will also include small amounts of minor cannabinoids such as CBC, CBG and CBN, plus terpenes such as limonene, myrcene and pinene.
So for those wanting to experience the entourage effect, whole plant CBD extracts are the way forward, with their biggest proponents being the parents of children with epilepsy such as Charlotte Figi, Katelyn Lambert and Ava Barry, who say their seizures were reduced thanks to CBD rich extracts.
But as more evidence gathers pace about the anticonvulsant nature of CBD, it is the pure form that is being used in clinical trials by British pharmaceutical company GW Pharma, and it is the pure, isolated form that will almost certainly be approved by the FDA and eventually available to epilepsy patients worldwide.
Scientist says CBD rich extracts work better in epilepsy
Aside from the fact that it is far more financially viable to bring to market a drug based on a single molecule, one would assume that an epilepsy drug using pure CBD must out perform whole plant CBD extracts. But according to a recent presentation given at the International Cannabinoid Research SocietySymposium in Montreal, this isn’t the case.
Dr. Fabricio A. Pamplona, scientific director of Entourage Phytolab, compared 7 studies into epilepsy between 2013-2106 that had used either CBD rich extracts or a purified CBD isolate. What he found was that CBD isolates showed a 43% efficacy in reducing seizures, while CBD rich extracts almost doubled this at 78%. He also discovered that almost 3 times the amount of purified CBD isolates was needed for seizure reduction compared with CBD rich extracts, and that herbal CBD had less than half the amount of reported side effects compared to its isolated alternative.
OK, so with a name called Entourage Phytolab, it’s clear that Dr Pamplona has a vested interest in proving that whole plant CBD extracts work better than a single cannabinoid. Plus it is debatable about whether one can accurately compare the results obtained in clinical trials using purified CBD with retrospective or online patient surveys and CBD rich extracts.
However, his conclusions do back up what many patients and medical cannabis experts assert, that whole plant cannabis extracts gain superior results.
But what do you think? What has been your experience of using CBD rich whole plant extracts compared with say 99% pure CBD crystals? Have you noticed a difference? How about between Raw Hemp Oil containing both CBD and CBDa compared with just CBD? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments section below.