Whole-plant extracts — or full-spectrum extracts — are in high-demand in the cannabis industry. Known for their high concentrations of cannabinoids and other cannabis compounds, full-spectrum extracts are said to have greater therapeutic properties, as well as flavors, aromas, as compared to isolates, for instance. Usually, we distinguish HCFSE (High Cannabinoid Full Spectrum Extract) and HTFSE (High Terpene Full Spectrum Extract), as products for consumers searching for purity with outstanding aromas.
Whole-plant extracts represent the future for cannabis producers. As such, cannabis artists may create their full-spectrum extracts with different methods, offering them the possibility to appeal to consumers in a variety of ways.
So how do we define HCFSE? Why are whole-plant cannabis concentrates sought-after in the industry? And what are the methods to produce full-spectrum extracts?
How Do We Define HCFSE?
HCFSE refers to a hash oil product that is rich in flavors and aromas and contains high cannabinoid concentrations, including all major and minor cannabinoids, as well as terpenes and flavonoids. These products retain the most components of the plant — preserving its taste — and are complex to achieve, making them highly desirable products on the market. Yet, making HCFSE products, as their quality increases, requires more sophisticated processes than isolates, for example.
Similar to HTFSE, HCFSE products are deprived of the unwanted components of the cannabis plant, such as wax, fats, and lipids. But, the difference is that HTFSE focuses on maintaining the level and quality of the terpenes while HCSFE preserves the variety of cannabinoids. Hence, producers can develop custom-made full-spectrum extracts rich in cannabinoids, with THC and CBD interacting with each other to the most-efficient levels.
Why are Full-Spectrum Extracts Sought-After?
Therapeutic properties are enlarged with full spectrum extracts. Isolates do also contain terpenes and flavonoids, yet with whole-plant extracts, we obtain a more complex product — which consumers genuinely love for their depth, flavors, and medicinal properties. On top of it, aromatic terpenes work together with cannabinoids to amplify some effects, such as pain relief or other therapeutic responses.
What’s interesting in HCFSE is the entourage effect as all compounds are preserved and work in synergy. We know that THC and CBD are enhanced when working together and create specific effects wanted for therapeutic reasons. As the cannabis plant is made of 400 different compounds, studying the interaction between all components are forever interesting.
Full-spectrum CBD extracts also present more efficiency with a higher dose in comparison to isolates. Researchers have found out that CBG or CBN are found in full-spectrum extracts and show analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties. Yet, to produce such effects, producers still need to maintain a high level of cannabinoids, while getting rid of unwanted materials as seen above.
What are the Methods to Produce Full-Spectrum Extract?
HCFSE can be found in crystallized form and may boast a broader level of THC up to 55%. Yet in sugared form, that level may reach up to 90%. THCa diamonds can be mined from HCFSE, as well. Cannabis connoisseurs are sensitive to such products and research high cannabinoid spectrum in their purest forms. Producers need to search for a plant with desirable criteria and create HCFSE that are solvent-free with:
Manual extraction via Rosin press is made by squeezing resin from the starting material with heat and pressure. That method presents the advantage of not using a solvent and, therefore, is considered safe. However, the purity may be on par with other extraction methods, as unwanted materials may not be removed entirely. With the use of heat, additional components may also be altered (flavors or cannabinoids).
BHO (Butane Hydrocarbon extraction) removes the unwanted materials with the gas that’s cooled and liquefied. The compounds of the plant are dissolved and then refined with winterization or dewaxing. As more solvents are used in the process, the parameters must be precise to avoid the alteration of the final product. Yet this extraction method is more complicated than the Rosin press, for instance, but offers more precision with wanted extracts.
CO2 extraction relies on phase changes in CO2 — and displays gas and liquid aspect. The method can produce a high-potency extract. The temperature and pressure can be adjusted with C02 extraction, which enables to create a precise environment to obtain desirable attributes or flavors. Lastly, this complex process doesn’t require post-processing treatment, as seen with other extraction methods.