Benefits Of Whole Plant Medicine - Why Using The Full Spectrum Of Cannabis Compounds Is Medically Valuable.
By: Saif Khan
While certain ailments may benefit from narrow spectrum formulations of cannabis and its constituent parts, most illnesses that currently allow cannabis as a recommended treatment show greater disease management and even remission with broad or full spectrum formulations.
The pharmaceutical industry tends to favor the ‘single active molecule’ approach to medicine and thus give the impression that whole plant extracts are crude and somehow less effective than isolated active molecules. The medical community’s recognition that whole plant medicine can be even more effective than isolated, purified cannabinoids is imperative to maximize the healing potential of cannabis. More and more, research is proving this to be the case; here are a few examples how these discoveries are developing.
CBD is the heavy lifter of the cannabinoid family, with a wide array of applications for various ailments. It is also currently the most in demand cannabinoid, thanks in no small part to its non-psychoactive nature and miraculous results for epileptic disorders.
This has led to a surge in CBD processors and vendors, claiming to have pure CBD oils and tinctures, often made from synthetic CBD or derived from poor-quality hemp (where other useful compounds are either not present or lost in processing).
Yet should your ailment be inflammation or pain related, as a vast majority are, researchers have found that whole plant extraction of CBD-rich cannabis was preferable to synthetic CBD as the anti-inflammatory and anti-pain response increased with dose, which is ideal for clinical use.
THC is the most well known cannabinoid, be it of Delta 9, Delta 8 (inhaled) or Hydroxy-11 (ingested) nature. It may not have quite the healing power of CBD, but the two combined make for a potent remedy to many diseases. The pairing has demonstrated particular promise for brain cancers and both cannabinoids complement each other’s anti-tumor efficacy. CBD also manages to both temper the psycho-activity of THC and amplify its medicinal properties, allowing for greater dosage and regularity of dosing for those with a low tolerance for THC.
Terpenoid modulation is perhaps the greatest argument for whole plant medicine, as the essential oils have well-documented health benefits. Many of the terpenes in cannabis can also be found in other plants and spices, which have long been used in aromatherapy. Terpenes are widely believed to modulate the effects of cannabinoids, and many cannabis scientists are beginning to theorize that they are the prime compounds responsible for determining the ‘effects’ of a high.
Finally, as a quasi-adaptogen, cannabis and its 400 compounds means whole plant medicine can improve the absorption of active ingredients and minimize adverse side effects. These added benefits come from the synergy of Cannabinoids, Terpenoids and Flavonoids all working in harmony.
Many illnesses and diseases, such as arthritis, osteoporosis and diabetes among others; are partially a result of ‘homeostatic imbalance’ - where the illness in question prevents the body from working as it normally should and maintaing the baseline balance of health.
Cannabis’s ability to promote homeostasis (restore the body’s natural balance) on a cellular level across a range of different systems in the body (body temperature, heart rate, appetite, sleep cycles and more) is the main reason it is sometimes categorized as adaptogenic; and in the future it may be legitimately considered so, if current discoveries continue to point to its potential in this area.