With all the buzzwords and acronyms being thrown around the cannabis industry, it’s hard to keep track of everything.
You’ve probably heard about the cannabinoid called CBD by now or else you wouldn’t be here. You may have heard about other phytochemicals such as terpenes and flavonoids, too.
Maybe this is brand new information and you’re just curious about the fundamentals without all the deep, sciencey stuff…
Let’s start by taking a look at the baseline differences between some phytochemicals like cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids.
Cannabinoids, the most popular of the three, belong to a diverse set of chemical compounds that are found sparingly throughout nature. Not every plant produces cannabinoids but about 113 cannabinoids have been identified in cannabis (e.g. THC, CBD, CBN, etc… etc… etc…). Different cannabinoids interact with the body in different ways. Check out our CBD vs. THC post for more on that.
Less frequently discussed, terpenes are the phytochemicals that give essential oils their smells and flavors. Terpenes are produced naturally and broadly across the plant world. For example, one terpene found in hemp called Linalool also exists in mint, cinnamon and lavender. Linalool’s therapeutic properties are being evaluated among individuals suffering from a variety of ailments.
Flavonoids are similar to terpenes in that they are abundant in plants. They give vibrance and color to plants and are commonly found in fruits and vegetables. Scientists are still researching the health benefits of flavonoids for their antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties.
The Entourage Effect
It’s clear that cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids offer benefits on their own. So what do these phytochemicals have to do with the entourage effect?
In its simplest form, the entourage effect suggests that when a collection or “entourage” of phytochemicals are introduced in unison, their therapeutic benefits are synergistic. Some studies suggest CBD may counteract or diminish negative effects associated with THC (paranoia, anxiety, munchies, etc…).
Today, plant genetics and phytochemical ratios are being studied to improve our understanding about how these compounds work together. Such information could help us develop better therapies for targeting specific ailments in the future.
Choosing Hemp Products
What products are right for me? It really depends and it isn’t a one size fits all model. Here’s a look at the available options.
Using certain extraction and separation techniques, we can create products with varying concentrations of specific phytochemicals.
- Isolate – products that include an isolated phytochemical (99.9% pure) like CBD
- Full Spectrum or “whole plant” – products that contain the kitchen sink of phytochemicals (<0.3% THC)
- Broad Spectrum – products that include many phytochemicals like full spectrum, without the presence of THC
Full spectrum and broad spectrum products both produce the entourage effect whereas isolated phytochemicals are selected for their unique, standalone benefits and may be used to address a users unique needs.