If you’ve read my blog on the entourage effect , you know CBD does better when it has its friends around it. A lot better.

The entourage effect occurs when CBD is administered along with the cannabinoids and terpenes that naturally occur with it: they work together to create a more potent therapeutic effect than with CBD alone. As a result, the desired effect can be achieved with a smaller dose with fewer side effects. That’s why full spectrum hemp oil extract, which contains multiple cannabinoids and terpenes, far outperforms single molecule CBD, also called CBD isolate: because nature got it right in the first place.

It sounds simple enough. Just use full spectrum hemp oil extract instead of pure CBD isolate. However, with a mainstream pharmaceutical industry based on isolating molecules, things can get more complicated. 

Take Charlotte Figi’s case as an example. 

Little Charlotte began experiencing seizures when she was just 3 months old. As she grew, so did the frequency and  intensity of her seizures. She seized about 350 times per week, some lasting up to 2 hours. Doctors gave her parents a devastating diagnosis: Dravet’s Syndrome. 

By the time she was 5 years old, she had lost the ability to talk, walk, and eat. Her doctors tried every treatment they knew, moving through one after another until there was nothing left. In the eyes of mainstream medicine, this little girl was out of options. 

Charlotte’s parents weren’t ready to give up. They had seen a video online about a boy whose Dravet’s Syndrome was remedied by cannabis. The doctors warned them against trying it with their own daughter, but they were desperate. They went against medical advice and sought out a brand CBD-rich, full spectrum hemp oil, later named after her, called Charlotte’s Web. Thank goodness they did. Charlotte’s seizures dramatically improved after her first dose. 

Today, Charlotte is a happy, active girl, with only has a few seizures a month. Her parents mix her dose of full spectrum hemp oil extract into her food every day.  When she does have a seizure, it usually occurs while she’s sleeping. 

Based on these observations, in Charlotte’s and other cases, GW Pharmaceuticals took the opportunity to develop a plant- based pharmaceutical version of Charlotte’s Web. The difference was that they used the usual research and pharmaceutical standard of isolating the active ingredient, creating a CBD isolate.

The result is Epidiolex. Almost purely CBD, it is devoid of all of the other healing cannabinoids and terpenes that make full spectrum hemp oil extract as effective as it is. As such, Epidiolex requires larger doses than Charlotte’s Web. In clinical trials, children received up to 20 mg of the CBD isolate per kg of body weight, the equivalent 9.1 mg per pound. Compare that to Charlotte’s dosage: she only takes 4 mg of full spectrum hemp oil per pound of body weight.

The body is not well equipped to handle as much CBD as Epidiolex requires. At high levels, CBD interferes with other medications and creates unwanted side effects like sleep disruption and indigestion. These issues seldom arise with full spectrum hemp oil extract. On the contrary, full spectrum hemp oil generally improves sleep and digestion.  

Even if all of those side effects sound tolerable, the price will not. Epidiolex will cost you a shocking $32,500 a year. 

A comparable supply needed of Charlotte’s Web, or similar brands of full spectrum hemp oil extract, will run from $200-$500 per month. The dosage, however, will depend on that individual’s needs. Full spectrum hemp oil extract is dosed very individually.  

This is not to say Epidiolex is without its bright spots. It is the first CBD product to gain FDA approval and become available by prescription. That’s a huge step forward for CBD, giving it newfound institutional validity. Obviously, though, there is still a long way to go.

In my own integrative psychiatry practice, I have relied on the potency and power of full spectrum, CBD-rich hemp oil to treat a variety of psychiatric issues as well as addiction. I have formulated my own full spectrum hemp oil extract that capitalizes on the synergy of the entourage effect, handpicking the best raw materials to create the healthiest, most effective product possible. You can learn more about it here.

Further Reading 

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