You’ve probably come across CBD isolate, full spectrum CBD and broad spectrum CBD.

Discover the differences and learn about the advantages and disadvantages.

CBD ISOLATE VS FULL SPECTRUM VS BROAD SPECTRUM

​Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive cannabis compound, has gained tremendous attention lately, with consumers using it to treat all manner of ailments such as chronic pain, anxiety, epilepsy and more. As you become increasingly aware of how CBD can be used to alleviate your symptoms, you may be faced with an overwhelming array of products to choose from.

Today, there are three main types of CBD on the market: CBD Isolate,
Full Spectrum CBD, and Broad Spectrum CBD. Understanding the difference between these will help you find the best CBD product for your needs. So, what exactly is the difference, and what are the disadvantages and advantages of each?

Let’s start by discussing the key factor that distinguishes each CBD product—cannabinoids.

What are Cannabinoids, and Why Are They Important?

All CBD users should understand the term cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that are naturally produced by the Cannabis plant. Researchers have identified over 100 different cannabinoids, including the well-known CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

Cannabinoids are important because they deliver specific therapeutic effects. For example, THC is responsible for providing psychotropic effects associated with “euphoria,” while CBD can actually counteract the psychotropic by decreasing anxiety.

Cannabinoids exert these effects through the endocannabinoid system by imitating compounds that occur naturally in our body, called endocannabinoids. In essence, cannabinoids interact with different cannabinoid receptors throughout the body and brain to excite to inhibit the nervous system to bring about different effects.

With a wide range of effects, knowing the ratio of cannabinoids in any CBD product is essential to predicting its therapeutic benefits.

Fun Fact

CBD can actually be derived from hemp or marijuana. Hemp-derived CBD comes from the hemp plant, a plant of the genus Cannabis and any part of the plant, whether growing or not, containing a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of no more than three-tenths of one percent (0.3%) on a dry weight basis.

Marijuana-derived CBD is Cannabis sativa L grown under a state marijuana license and sold through a licensed dispensary (medical or adult-use).

CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum

Full Spectrum CBD

full spectrum cbd

Products labeled full spectrum CBD contain all cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids found in the hemp plant, including cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabivarin (CBV), to name a few. In addition to these, full spectrum CBD also contains trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While the THC content is very low (less than 0.3%) and results in little to no psychotropic effects, individuals concerned about passing a drug test should be wary of its presence.

The advantage of a full-spectrum CBD product is that by preserving the complete plant integrity, all naturally occurring compounds, such as cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and fatty acids can work together to magnify the therapeutic benefit of each. This is commonly referred to as the “entourage effect.” 

CBD Isolate

cbd isolate

When CBD is referred to as isolate, it simply means pure CBD. In order to make these products, manufacturers extract CBD from the marijuana plant and isolate it from all other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids to produce a 99+% pure CBD. As CBD isolate only contains CBD, it’s a good option for individuals who cannot have any trace of THC in their system, whether for legal or employment purposes.

CBD isolate is typically extracted from Hemp, due to it’s low or non-existent THC. Once extracted, CBD isolate is typically mixed with a carrier oil, such as medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil. It’s also available as a concentrated crystalline powder or slab.

Broad Spectrum CBD

broad spectrum cbd

Broad spectrum CBD products contain the full spectrum of cannabinoids without any trace of THC. Broad-spectrum CBD is also a smart choice for individuals that need to avoid any trace of THC in their system.

Broad-spectrum CBD can be made using two different methods. One method involves starting with CBD isolate and then adding select cannabinoids, terpenoids and flavonoids in specific quantities. Another way involves removing every single trace amount of THC (including the permitted 0.3%) from a full spectrum CBD extract.

The second method is preferred by individuals who favor natural ratios of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, but also need to be confident the product contains no THC.

CBD Isolate Vs Full Spectrum CBD: Which is Most Effective for Therapeutic Relief?

In the past, CBD in its isolated form was considered superior to full-spectrum CBD. This idea was led by the belief that CBD was the only therapeutic cannabinoid in cannabis and that by removing the “unnecessary” components of the plant, CBD isolate would provide a more powerful and efficient oil benefits.

However, in 2015, researchers disproved this theory while investigating the efficacy of CBD as a treatment for inflammatory conditions. [1] In the study, mice were given either full-spectrum CBD or CBD isolate. According to the results, mice that received full-spectrum CBD experienced a greater improvement in inflammatory markers and pain levels.

Furthermore, full-spectrum CBD produced a linear dose-response, meaning increasing the dose led to higher levels of relief. In contrast, CBD isolates produced a bell-shaped dose-response, meaning relief was not sustained with higher doses.

Full Spectrum CBD and the Entourage Effect

As mentioned earlier, it is believed the complete cannabis profile present in full-spectrum CBD increases the products therapeutic effects, in a process known as the entourage effect. A prominent British neurologist, Ethan Russo, M.D., has played an instrumental role in this area of research. He describes various synergistic interactions between not only THC and CBD but also phytocannabinoids and terpenoids. [2]


For example, the combination of CBD and THC has proven to be a critical factor in the ability of nabiximols oral spray to successfully treat pain in cancer patients. The CBD/THC spray reduced pain by 30% from baseline, while a high-THC extract devoid of CBD failed to produce a distinguishable difference from a placebo (fake) cannabis. [3]


In another example, the presence of both CBD and cannabigerol (CBG) inhibits the growth of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) [4], an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that claimed 18,650 lives in the USA in 2005. [5] One other example is the terpene, pinene, which can also help counteract impaired memory and cognition caused by THC. [6]

Which Type of CBD is Best For You?

Although full-spectrum CBD has proven to be more effective than CBD Isolate in treating a wide variety of ailments, this does not mean CBD Isolate is not effective, or not right for you. We all have our own unique needs, and this determines which type of CBD is best-suited for you.

To help point you in the right direction, we have listed the advantages and disadvantages of each type below.

full spectrum vs broad spectrum vs cbd isolate

Advantages

Disadva​ntages

Full Spectrum CBD

•The most natural form of CBD oil with the least manufacturing

•Offers all therapeutic benefits of the Cannabis plant through the entourage effect

•May trigger psychotropic effects e.g paranoia, anxiety
•May cause drowsiness, which is not ideal for operating a vehicle
•THC content may trigger a positive drug test
•Strong natural order and taste

CBD Isolate

•The purest type of CBD
•No risk of psychoactive effects
•No risk of testing positive for THC
•Considered safe by most medical authorities
•Tasteless and odorless

•Does not deliver all therapeutic benefits through entourage effect
•May not provide enhanced benefits at higher doses

Broad Spectrum CBD

•Offers all therapeutic benefits of the Cannabis plant through the entourage effect
•Can create highly specific blends

•May trigger psychotropic effects e.g paranoia, anxiety
•May cause drowsiness, which is not ideal for operating a vehicle
•May cause natural odor and taste

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