CBD Isolate Vs. Full Spectrum: Explaining the 2015 Jerusalem Study

In the early days of the CBD movement, isolate CBD was considered the best way to enjoy the numerous benefits of the cannabinoid. Now, full spectrum CBD is the preferred choice by the industry. This shift in understanding is largely supported by a 2015 study done in Jerusalem. This groundbreaking research was done by The Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology, the accredited authors are Ruth Gallily, Zahannah Yekhtin, and Lumir Ondrej Hanus. Many articles online advocating for full spectrum CBD reference the study but fail to mention some of its key facts. In this article, I explain the Jerusalem research and how it should be applied to the consumer’s choice when purchasing CBD products. First, in case you don’t already know, this is the difference between isolate CBD and full spectrum CBD.

Disclosure: We sell isolate CBD products on this site. 

Isolate CBD

Just the chemical compound CBD. No other cannabinoids, terpenes, or any other compounds present from the plant that was extracted.

Full Spectrum CBD

Full plant extract. Everything that is in the plant will be in the product.

The 2015 Jerusalem Study

The goal of the study was to determine if a full plant extract administered orally will keep showing reduction in inflammation as the dose is increased. The authors note that past studies have found ‘that purified CBD(isolate CBD) gives a bell-shaped dose-response curve. Healing was only observed when CBD was given within a very limited dose range, whereas no beneficial effect was achieved at either lower or higher doses.’ The study uses mice with inflamed paws to observe the benefit of isolate CBD, a full cannabis plant extract, and other anti-inflammatory drugs like Aspirin. The scientists use zymosan to induce the inflammation, then immediately give the mice oral doses of the extracts. Mice were given 1, 5, 25, and 50mgs of the extract and their paws were measured after 2,6, and 24 hours.

This study was successful, the full plant extract performed better than isolate CBD as the dose increased, eliminating the bell-shaped dose-response. The study also confirmed previous research in that as you increase the dosage of isolate CBD you lose benefits. However, the marijuana strain used, clone 202, has 1.1% THC. This is about 4 times the maximum amount of THC allowed in hemp. Companies selling CBD online using this study to advocate their full spectrum products, fail to mention that the THC content used in the study is much higher than in their product. Hemp derived CBD products by definition contain only 0.3% THC or lower.

A marijuana dispensary is the only place you will find the oil that is similar to clone 202. Selling marijuana extract is illegal outside of a dispensary.

This doesn’t mean that ‘full spectrum’ CBD with trace amounts of THC isn’t beneficial or more beneficial than isolate CBD. However, I think the term ‘full spectrum’ needs to be reevaluated. Many companies are claiming the benefits of full spectrum marijuana while selling full spectrum hemp.

The intention of this study was to avoid the bell-shaped dose-response, in order to find an extract to move forward with studying the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD. The study accomplishes this as well as shows that CBD was more successful than the commercial anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory drugs, ‘CBD and clone 202 extract are endowed with different traits than aspirin and tramadol, making them superior with respect to anti-inflammatory properties.’

My intention is to explain, not diminish the results of this study. I think this is groundbreaking research that benefits the cannabis industry but needs to be better explained when referenced by CBD companies. The term ‘full spectrum’ shouldn’t be associated with this study unless the product is derived from marijuana. Using this study to promote products with trace amounts of THC or less is misleading. That being said, the major issue is the lack of research. We shouldn’t have to look at studies from 2015 done on mice to justify the benefits of CBD in any form. Hopefully 2020 will bring more original research on human subjects for the industry to reference.

If you haven’t tried CBD, start slow. Try a low dosage, see how you feel over time and increase the dosage as you get comfortable. If you are worried about testing positive for marijuana on a drug test, full spectrum CBD could cause you to fail because of its THC content. Isolate CBD will not trigger a positive drug test for marijuana. Regardless of what you decided to take, check for lab tests verifying the amount of THC and CBD in the products.

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