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What Is A Phytocannabinoid?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is rapidly becoming one of the most sought-after nutraceutical products on the market in the US and around the globe. It is important that distributers and consumers alike understand the science behind what they are selling or taking, how it is beneficial, and why it works. There are thousands of peer-reviewed research articles that are publicly available that explain how CBD works, and overwhelming numbers of personal-accounts of how CBD improves lives. We at Folium Biosciences are proud to share some of the research that inspires us to create phytocannabinoid-rich products.


What Role Do Cannabinoids Play?

A phytocannabinoid is a molecule synthesized by plants. There are 113 known phytocannabinoids in the cannabis plant, including CBD and CBG. Phytocannabinoids are used to treat a number of human and animal ailments. In 2008, the journal of Neuroendocrinology Letters published a proposal that some of the chronic health problems many people face may be due to an underlying endocannabinoid deficiency, including migraines and fibromyalgia. As our understanding of phytocannabinoids and their relationship with the human body grows, millions of patients all around the world are gaining access to treating conditions that were previously untreatable.


To understand phytocannabinoids, we first have to understand our bodies’ cannabinoid receptors. When receptors interact with a cannabinoid, they send molecular-messages throughout the cells, tissues, organs, and body. We can think of a cannabinoid and a cannabinoid receptor like a lock and key. A cannabinoid “unlocks” the cannabinoid receptor by physically interacting with it- initiating changes in cells and opening the door to enormous medical benefits for the body and mind. A cannabinoid is a molecule that activates these molecular-messengers, regardless of whether the cannabinoid came from our bodies (an endocannabinoid), or if it came from a plant (a phytocannabinoid). Endocannabinoids activate the same receptors as phytocannabinoids found in Cannabis. This explains why there is enormous medical potential for the use of phytocannabinoids; our bodies possess an endogenous system that responds to what is already present in our bodies and in plants.


Identifying The Phytocannabinoid Components.

Within the Cannabis plant, there are 113 known phytocannabinoids. Some have been found to be more useful than others to medical patients. These components include:

  • Cannabinol (CBN) ; sedative, antibiotic, anticonvulsant, and anti-inflammatory.
  •  Cannabidiol (CBD) ; anticonvulsant, antioxidant, reduces anxiety, treats psychotic disorders, relieves pain, reduces inflammation, and relieves spasms
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) ; antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, induces a euphoric high, relieves pain
  • Cannabigerol (CBG) ; antibiotic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and relieves pain
  • Cannabichromene (CBC) ; antibiotic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and relieves pain.
  • Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) ; induces a euphoric high and relieves anxiety.


Knowledge of the benefits of phytocannabinoids has reached beyond the scope of primary literature and is now widely utilized by people all over the world. Many people choose to avoid cannabinoids that induce a euphoric high or have other poor side effects and consequences. Patients should know that they have the right to request product-testing from their distributer or dispensary and should work with their medical professionals to ensure that they are getting the correct cannabinoid profile and dosages for their needs.


Phytocannabinoids and The Endocannabinoid System.

The knowledge of how the endocannabinoid system relates to our physiology and medical needs grows on a daily basis because doctors, biologists and chemists contribute towards research constantly. There are two known groups of cannabinoid receptors; CB1 and CB2. Cannabinoid receptors are classified by the types of cannabinoids that they bind. For example, THC binds the CB1 receptor while CBD weakly binds the CB2 receptor. When a cannabinoid meets with a cannabinoid receptor, the message begins to resonate throughout the cell and eventually reaches out to surrounding cells in a tissue, adjacent tissues in an organ, and neighboring organs in a body. This is why the benefits of phytocannabinoids are so rich; CB1 and CB2 receptors are found throughout the body and cannabinoids help to reestablish a homeostasis that has been disrupted by genetics or lifestyle factors.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The information available regarding phytocannabinoids is growing by the day, and with it the number of beneficial effects we can observe. Folium’s own research and development team focuses on not only on maintaining the industry leading standards for phytocannabinoid testing, but on making new delivery methods to target the cell-receptors more effectively. As knowledge regarding phytocannabinoids becomes more readily available to the public, we see laws and views change to recognize their undeniable value to those in need. 


CBD Isolate Vs. broad spectrum Phytocannabinoid Hemp Oil

How is Broad Spectrum Phytocannabinoid Hemp Oil better than using purified Cannabidiol isolate?

The cannabdidiol in a phytocannabinoid-rich Broad Spectrum hemp oil is much more effective than a pure cannabidiol isolate, when used at the same level (mg/kg), controlled for the delivery and routes of administration for the following reasons:

(1) Scientific evidence, see references 1-6, exist to show that CBD in the presence of other plant constituents improves the dose-response in a standardized hemp extract, showing it is more potent or efficacious than pure CBD isolate. Various research groups have studied a range of physiological parameters, such as analgesic effects, and have concluded that the higher efficiency of plant extract can be explained by additive or synergistic interactions between CBD, terpenes, and the minor phytocannabinoids or non-cannabinoids presented in the extracts. This is because other phytocannabinoids, including Tetrahydrocannabivarin, Cannabigerol and Cannabichromene, as well as mono- and sesqui-terpenes, exert additional effects of therapeutic interest and the therapeutic synergy observed with plant extracts results in the requirement for a lower amount of active components, with consequent reduced adverse effects.

(2) A broad spectrum PCR hemp oil is easier to manufacture with since it can be emulsified, dissolved, and homogenized much more effectively, compared with an isolate. Since the isolates are difficult to dissolve in water-containing media during manufacturing or consumption, they pose a risk of inconsistent delivery of active for consumers and patients alike. Although an insufficient dispersion of isolate in a supplement, vape, or food product is difficult to observe, experimental evidence point to a a better consistency, delivery, and efficiency (bioavailability) when a PCR hemp oil is used to manufacture the finished product.

(3) Isolate CBD has been used for various Investigational New Drug (IND) applications. GW Pharmaceuticals has an approval pending with Food and Drug Administration for a drug with CBD as the active ingredient. Historically, the active ingredients in their purified form are not allowed in any consumer or drug product upon FDA-approval. Therefore, designing a product with purified CBD that will soon be illegal to use, presents a challenge for manufacturers. However, designing consumer products or supplements with Broad Spectrum hemp oil with up to 80% CBD and no THC provides a solution to those who would want a viable and legal supply of CBD raw material in the form of a botanical extract.

[1] Ruth Gallily, Zhannah Yekhtin, Lumír Ondřej Hanuš, Overcoming the Bell‐Shaped Dose‐Response of Cannabidiol by Using Cannabis Extract Enriched in Cannabidiol, Pharmacology & Pharmacy, 2015, 6, 75‐85

[2] Romano, B., Borrelli, F., Pagano, E., Cascio, M.G., Pertwee, R.G. and Izzo, A.A. (2014) Inhibition of Colon Carcinogenesis by a Standardized Cannabis Sativa Extract with High Content of Cannabidiol. Phytomedicine, 21, 631-639. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2013.11.006

[3] Capasso, R., Aviello, G., Borrelli, F., Romano, B., Ferro, M., Castaldo, L., Montanaro, V., Altieri, V. and Izzo, A.A., (2011) Inhibitory Effect of Standardized Cannabis Sativa Extract and Its Ingredient Cannabidiol on Rat and Human Bladder Contractility. Urology, 77, 1006.e9-006e15. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.urology.2010.12.006

[4] De Petrocellis, L., Ligresti, A., Schiano Moriello, A., Iappelli, M., Verde, R., Stott, C.G., Cristino, L., Orlando, P. and Di Marzo, V. (2013) Non-THC Cannabinoids Inhibit Prostate Carcinoma Growth in Vitro and in Vivo: Pro-Apoptotic Effects and Underlying Mechanisms. British Journal of Pharmacology, 168, 79-102. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.02027.x

[5] Russo, E.B. (2011) Taming THC: Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phytocannabinoid-Terpenoid Entourage Effects. British Journal of Pharmacology, 163, 1344-1364. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x

[6] Wagner, H. and Ulrich-Merzenich, G. (2009) Synergy Research: Approaching a New Generation of Phytopharmaceuticals. Phytomedicine, 16, 97-110. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2008.12.018

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