Cannabis isolates versus whole plant extracts, the two main types of extractions
Already, 99,99% of pure THC distillates are hitting the markets. But, do these products deserve the hype? For those hoping to take advantage of the many micronutrients found in the cannabis plant, choosing a whole bud may be preferable. Here are the comparisons on cannabis isolates compared to the complete plant medicine.
The two main types of cannabis extractions
Today, many consumers have access to more products than ever before. Oils impregnated with isolated cannabis compounds can even be purchased online and in stores in several countries. Here are two main types of cannabis extractions hitting the markets.
Isolates are purified forms of cannabis compounds. Two types of isolates are most common in today's cannabis market, isolates containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The THC is the main psychoactive agent in the cannabis plant. This is the compound that gives you a “high”. CBD is a non-psychotropic cannabis compound. It is currently being researched for its use in epilepsy and cancer, among other diseases.
Advances in extraction technology have allowed processors to isolate individual cannabis compounds. This means that some people can now buy purified distillates in stores and dispensaries. Pharmaceutical and supplement manufacturers may also purchase isolates for inclusion in sprays, oils, and other infused products.
Isolates have a few major advantages. Some of them include:
- Standardized product
- Precise dosing
- Sweet experience
- Less sedative experience
Complete vegetable extract
This kind of extraction refers to extracts and products made from the entire cannabis plant. THC and CBD are just components in cannabis resins. In total, the cannabis plant is capable of producing over 400 different chemical compounds. At least 113 of these are chemicals like THC and CBD called cannabinoids.
200 of these compounds are aromatic molecules called terpenes. Terpenes not only provide flavor and fragrance to the cannabis plant, but they themselves have therapeutic properties. In fact, terpenes may be the reason that individual strains have their unique effects. Research suggests that with a concentration of 0,05% terpene, this is pharmacologically active. This means that very low doses can have big effects.
Complete plant extraction retains as many terpenes as possible in the final product. The whole approach of the plant also tries to retain as much cannabinoids as possible, not just THC or CBD. This means that there are substantially more nutrients in this kind of cannabis product than there are in an isolate. Some of the benefits of complete plant medicine include:
- More flavor
- More micro nutrients (terpenes and cannabinoids)
- Different effects specific to the strain
How do they compare?
If you are hoping to take advantage of the nutrient richness of the cannabis plant, complete plant medicine is the winner. The complete extraction of cannabis oils and other whole plant products simply contains more nutritional diversity than an isolate.
However, isolates can still be extremely useful. Isolates are often used in pharmaceutical drugs to better control the dosage and the overall experience a consumer has with the product. While whole plant medicine is more nutritious, each batch of oil or whole extract product will produce different amounts of terpenes, cannabinoids, and other micronutrients.
Sometimes terpenes can be added to isolated products. While it may be best to isolate on your own, some terpenes can be burnt just by using certain types of solvents in the extraction process. The use of extracts made with butane or ethanol may be preferable for maintaining terpene diversity.
Research into all of the various compounds in cannabis and how they might interact with each other in the human body is fundamentally lacking in science. This fact has led many cannabis users to opt for full extract products, with the understanding that individual strains of cannabis produce fundamentally different experiences and have different therapeutic effects. There are many cannabis compounds that can be of value to the human body in ways that are not currently understood.