What is Full-Spectrum Hemp Extract? CBD, CBG, CBN, and More

What is Full-Spectrum Hemp Extract? CBD, CBG, CBN, and More
Dr. Jen Palmer, ND

Medically reviewed by Dr. Jen Palmer, ND -  Naturopathic Doctor


Hemp extract is on a lot of people’s minds these days, especially when it comes to CBD. Short for cannabidiol, CBD is one of the many powerful (and among the most well-known) cannabinoids found in hemp and cannabis and is known for supporting the body and mind in various ways.*

Which ways, you ask? Well, a lot of them, potentially. CBD and other cannabinoids fit into the receptors of the body’s Endocannabinoid System, or ECS, which is involved in many physiological processes like appetite, sleep, digestion, mood, memory, metabolism, neuroprotection, hormones, and heart function. Among the many benefits our user's experience, some of the main ones are: 

  • A sense of calm for focus*
  • Relief from everyday stresses*
  • Help in recovery from exercise-induced inflammation*

Given the above, it's not too difficult to imagine how CBD has grown into the popular compound that it has; after all, everyone has an ECS, and everyone experiences occasional circumstances like stress (unless you’re one of the lucky few who manage to live life completely stress-free!).

At Charlotte’s Web, we pioneered the CBD industry by creating reliable, high-quality CBD products. But one thing we also like to say is that our extracts are More Than Just CBD™. Since hemp offers additional naturally occurring phytocannabinoids and other plant compounds, we use extraction methods which capture the “full-spectrum” of nature’s goodness for you.

In this article, we’ll dive into what full spectrum means and break down some of hemp’s lesser known compounds so you can get a clearer picture of what hemp has to offer.

Full-Spectrum vs. The Rest 

When you’re shopping for a reliable CBD, you may come across a number of different terms that you’re not familiar with. The market is currently saturated with adjectives such as full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate (to name a few). What’s the difference? What do they all mean?

To understand that, you first need to develop a base understanding of the extraction process hemp undergoes. First, plant material is reduced down to a consistent size to prepare it for extraction, and the material is baked in order to decarboxylate the cannabinoids. Then, after testing, the extraction process uses either CO2 or alcohol depending on the product we are producing. Our Original Formula is alcohol-extracted, whereas all our other concentrations are CO2-extracted. In the Original Formula, the alcohol is completely separated from the hemp extract and collected to reuse. The next step for both hemp extracts is to dilute and blend with a carrier oil. Every batch undergoes extensive testing by a third party, then is bottled and packaged.

As you can see, hemp extraction is a rather extensive process.

For CBD products to be considered “full-spectrum,” it needs to be comprised of all the various compounds hemp has to offer, like cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes (more on hemp’s compounds below). If a product is labeled “broad-spectrum,” however, it likely contains more than a few compounds, and by definition should offer a minimum of 2 cannabinoids and one terpene. It may or may not contain THC. CBD isolate is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum and is filtered and processed more extensively to contain nothing but CBD, without any supportive plant compounds.

What are the benefits of a full-spectrum hemp extract? The short answer is that all of hemp’s compounds tend to work better together in a synergistic way. Since research shows that using the entire plant maximizes benefits delivered throughout the body by supplying many of the beneficial components in the original plant (known as the Entourage Effect), we try to incorporate as many of them into our full-spectrum hemp extracts as we can.

What to Expect in a Full-Spectrum Hemp Extract: 

CBD is just one of many cannabinoids that can be extracted from hemp, along with naturally occurring flavonoids, terpenes, fatty acids, and many other beneficial compounds. Science has shown that these compounds help CBD have a better effect when they all work together, rather than alone.

So, while CBD often tends to be the star of the show, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with some of hemp’s other compounds as well. Here are a few others you might be seeing more and more of soon:

Cannabichromene (CBC): Like CBD, CBC is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, meaning it will not cause a consumer to feel “high” upon consumption. It is typically found in low levels in most Cannabis strains but is thought of as a complementary compound in relation to full-spectrum hemp.

Cannabigerol (CBG): Another key cannabinoid found in hemp, CBG is considered the precursor to other cannabinoids like CBD. Research suggests it may have powerful benefits of its own and in combination with other compounds and may be a supportive factor in recovering from exercise-induced inflammation. In full-spectrum oils, it is typically found in quantities of less than 3%.

Cannabinol (CBN): CBN has the potential to be a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid, but it is found only in trace amounts in Cannabis. It is another complementary plant compound whose effects are most often tied to support with sleep.

Terpenes: Terpenes are fragrant oils found in hemp and other plants (like lavender and rosemary) that bind to receptors in the human body and carry a variety of wellness benefits.* Terpenes may also contribute to the Entourage Effect that occurs in a full-spectrum extract.

Flavonoids: These are a group of phytonutrients that serve as cell messengers with their own health-promoting benefits.* You can also find them in fruits and vegetables, acting as plant pigments.

Hemp and cannabis can produce many different phytocannabinoids plus other plant compounds, in addition to CBD. These are just a few of the more well-known ones. 

As you can see, full-spectrum hemp extracts contain a variety of different compounds, each with their own potential benefits. All of these work together, building on their individual strengths to enhance the body’s positive response to CBD. That’s why we believe so strongly in a full-spectrum extract: we want to deliver the best that our plants have to offer for you and your CBD wellness routine.

It’s helpful to understand the distinctions and variety of compounds that hemp offers, in order to appreciate the benefits of a full-spectrum extract. In other words, it’s important to know what is actually in the products you purchase, beyond just the CBD content. When evaluating other brands, we suggest requesting a Certificate of Analysis (CoA) for any CBD products you intend to consume, at a minimum. You can locate a CoA for any Charlotte’s Web product heresimply type the lot number on the packaging in the field and download the report. 

You can learn more about all of Charlotte’s Web’s the full-spectrum CBD products or read more about CBD on our blog.