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  • by Nicola Boulton August 31, 2022 5 min read


    Epidiolex contains 99% of CBD. In contrast, full-spectrum CBD contains additional cannabis derivatives such as terpenes and flavonoids alongside traces of THC. The presence of THC enhances pharmacological activities, although it raises the after-use effects.

    Most products in the CBD market are not regulated by the Food and Drugs Administration agency (FDA). They are, however, on trial for multiple medicinal and therapeutic functions for various diseases. Epidiolex, an anti-seizure drug, has been approved for a rare type of epilepsy and other related diseases. Full-spectrum CBD can also dispense the therapeutic requirements for seizures. Anecdotal studies show that CBD can provide a better treatment outcome due to the presence of THC. Herein, we discuss the differences between full-spectrum CBD and epidiolex.

    What is CBD?

    CBD is one of the major compounds found in the cannabis plant. According to Schmitz et al. (2020), the compound is extracted from the plant matter using the CO2 method. The CO2 extraction method gives pure CBD and uses different medical functions. Studies show that CBD interacts with ECS receptors responsible for regulating body functions like pain, anxiety, depression, and sleep, among others (Schmitz et al., 2020).

    What is Full-Spectrum CBD?

    Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all the compounds found in the cannabis plant, such as terpenes, and essential oil.  In addition, it contains trace amounts of the psychoactive THC compound.

    How Does Full-spectrum CBD Work?          

    Full-spectrum CBD is made of two major compounds: CBD and THC, working together on different brain parts. Marinotti & Sarill (2020) noted that CBD helps interact with the body's internal endocannabinoid system, which regulates body and brain functions. The Endocannabinoid system is responsible for nervous and immune system functions; hence, full-spectrum CBD will help in regulating a person's stress, mood, inflammation, and other body functions altered by ECS receptors. The interaction helps in solving body imbalances.

    Disadvantages of Full-Spectrum CBD

    It Can Cause a ‘High’ Effect

    The THC present in full-spectrum CBD is low and is considered pretty insignificant. The effects of it causing high depends on the user; while the CBD product presents mild symptoms, the effects may be quite pronounced among first-time users. Marinotti & Sarill (2020) observed that the effects of CBD depend on a person’s weight and rate of metabolism.

    It Can Show in a Drug Test

    Common drug tests trace the presence of THC in blood. As aforementioned, full-spectrum CBD

    contains all cannabis derivatives including the psychoactive THC. While the THC present in full-spectrum is in trace amounts, an overdose of the products can elevate the levels of THC high enough to show in a drug test.

    Notably, the full-spectrum is well tolerated in the body. However, Crescioli et al. (2020) noted that CBD also has some side effects such as:

    • Vomiting
    • Mood change
    • Appetite changes
    • Diarrhea
    • Dizziness
    • Drowsiness
    • Interacting with other medications
    • Nausea
    • Dry mouth

    Some side effects can be controlled by proper usage of the full-spectrum products. Before using full-spectrum CBD products, seek medical advice.

    What is Epidiolex?

    Epidiolex is a CBD-approved prescription for treating seizures. Ideally, seizures are common for diseases like epilepsy, Dravet syndrome, and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. The drug is the first and the only one approved by FDA for treating seizures in patients above two years.

    According to Devinsky et al. (2020), Epidiolex is administered to people who don't have liver problems or cannabidiol allergies. During treatment, the patient is advised to stop the medication immediately they show symptoms of liver problem; the liver problem symptoms include, itching, yellowing of the skin, darkening of the urine, loss of appetite, fever, right upper stomach pain, and white eyes.

    Epidiolex medication may cause drowsiness. Hence, one is advised to avoid driving or operating a machine. If you get the signs of depression or anxiety, suicidal thoughts, agitation, aggression, or any other unusual behavior change, you should call a healthcare provider immediately. 

    Comparing Full-Spectrum CBD and Epidiolex in Treatment of Epilepsy

    Epidiolex in Treating Epilepsy

    Epidiolex is FDA-approved for treating epilepsy. It treats the two severe and common forms of epilepsy, such as Gastraut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, in children two years old and more (Maayah et al.,2020). It is also approved for treating seizures associated with tuberous sclerosis complex.

    Which is Better between Full-Spectrum CBD and Epidiolex in Treatment of Epilepsy?

    Full-spectrum CBD contains THC and CBD that work in synergy to suppress seizures. However, Devinsky et al. (2020) noted that an elevated level of THC has adverse side effects after consumption. On contrast epidiolex contain pure CBD that suppresses seizures. Hence, the epidiolex is crucial for seizure therapy than full-spectrum CBD.

    What to Consider When Choosing between Epidiolex and full-spectrum CBD for Epilepsy?


    When choosing between these two, you should be guided by the regulations in your country. Epidiolex is approved by the FDA and is prescribed to treat Lennox and Davet syndrome. Doctors also recommend CBD oil for dealing with other health conditions. The regulations imply that, the Epidiolex in the market is safe for consumption.  On the other hand, there is no record of a full-spectrum product approved for medication. Hence, consumers are exposed to poor quality products.  The following considerations should be made to purchase high quality products.


     FDA’s approved Epidiolex contains 99% of purified CBD. Full-spectrum CBD oil contains other cannabis chemicals, that may undermine the effectiveness of CBD for seizure control.


    Epidiolex has been approved and scientifically established for the treatment of epilepsy. It is believed to interact with a receptor system that no other drug touches. There is still a need for more research on CBD's effectiveness in the treatment of epilepsy.

    Side Effects

     Epidiolex and full-spectrum CBD have mild to severe side effects. For instance, Epidiolex may change liver functions, or lead to severe liver damage. However, this side effect occurs in rare cases. CBD full-spectrum has mild side effects like drowsiness, dry mouth, and diarrhea.


    Although insurance may cover Epidiolex purchases in certain regions in the U.S, Epidiolex Sis expensive compared to CBD oil.


    Both epidiolex and full-spectrum CBD can be used for t epilepsy therapy. However, epidiolex is FDA-approved. While the full-spectrum provides a better therapy experience due to the THC presence, it has adverse effects. The approval of Epidiolex by the FDA implies that it is safe for consumption and can be found in many drug stores. The epidiolex is more expensive than the full-spectrum CBD oil for treatment. Lastly, the choice between the two anti-seizure therapies depends on the individual preference.


    Crescioli, G., Lombardi, N., Bettiol, A., Menniti‐Ippolito, F., Da Cas, R., Parrilli, M., ... & Vannacci, A. (2020). Adverse Events Following Cannabis For Medical Use In Tuscany: An Analysis Of The Italian Phytovigilance Database. British Journal Of Clinical Pharmacology, 86(1), 106-120.

    Devinsky, O., Verducci, C., Thiele, E. A., Laux, L. C., Patel, A. D., Filloux, F., Szaflarski, J. P., Wilfong, A., Clark, G. D., Park, Y. D., Seltzer, L. E., Bebin, E. M., Flamini, R., Wechsler, R. T., & Friedman, D. (2018). Open-label use of highly purified CBD (Epidiolex®) in patients with CDKL5 deficiency disorder and Aicardi, Dup15q, and Doose syndromes. Epilepsy & Behavior, 86, 131–137.

    Maayah, Z. H., Takahara, S., Ferdaoussi, M., & Dyck, J. R. B. (2020). The anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of formulated full-spectrum cannabis extract in the treatment of neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis. Inflammation Research, 69(6), 549–558.

    Marinotti, O., & Sarill, M. (2020). Differentiating Full-Spectrum Hemp Extracts from CBD Isolates Implications for Policy, Safety, and Science. Journal of Dietary Supplements, 17(5), 517–526.

    Schmitz, S. M., Lopez, H. L., & Marinotti, O. (2020). Post Marketing Safety of Plus CBDTM Products, a Full Spectrum Hemp Extract: A 2-Year Experience. Journal of Dietary Supplements, 17(5), 587–598.

    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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