CBD Explained: CBD Isolate vs. Broad Spectrum vs. Full Spectrum
CBD products have grown incredibly popular. Far from only being sold in the form of oil, CBD can now be found in capsules, gummies, vape e-liquids, creams, and even beverages.
Yet, CBD products remain confusing in many ways. One common source of uncertainty is CBD product labels, which use terms like full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate.
What exactly do these mean? How are they different from each other? And which one is best for you? Let’s explain what these terms mean in detail.
Full Spectrum CBD
Full-spectrum CBD is the most common type of extract used in CBD products. It contains all of the beneficial active compounds naturally present in hemp: a variety of cannabis with low THC levels.
Although CBD is still the main ingredient, full-spectrum extracts also contain small amounts of THC (<0.3%), many other cannabinoids such as cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabidivarin (CBGV), terpenes, flavonoids, fatty acids, minerals, and other natural compounds.
These preparations are made by extracting the whole hemp plant and removing fats, lipids, waxes, and chlorophyll.
Full-spectrum CBD is the most popular type of CBD extract because of something researchers call the “entourage effect.” This effect refers to the synergistic relationship between all of the different compounds found in cannabis.
When you use full-spectrum hemp extract, you’re not only benefiting from CBD, but all of the beneficial compounds found in hemp, and the synergy between them. Simply put, the combined effects of CBD, other cannabinoids, terpenes, and other active compounds are greater than CBD on its own.
Is Full-Spectrum CBD Legal?
Despite containing trace amounts of THC, full-spectrum CBD is legal. This is because the legal status of CBD is based on its source, the hemp plant.
By law, hemp must contain 0.3% or less of THC. This small amount is not high enough to cause intoxication, which is why hemp was made federally legal in the United States by the 2018 Farm Bill.
Broad Spectrum CBD
Broad-spectrum CBD extract is the same as full-spectrum, but with one key difference: zero THC. It’s made by removing THC from full-spectrum extract or combining pure CBD with other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
Although the amount of THC present in full-spectrum CBD extract is already minimal, it can pose a problem in two cases.
On one hand, some employees have to pass marijuana drug tests which look for the presence of THC in your system. If you use a full-spectrum CBD product, it’s possible to test positive on these tests.
On the other hand, some people are so highly sensitive to the effects of THC that even the small amounts present in full-spectrum CBD products are enough to cause a negative reaction.
In both of these cases, broad-spectrum CBD extract offers similar benefits as full-spectrum products but without any of the potential risks of THC.
The final type of CBD extract is called CBD isolate. As the name suggests, this extract is made by isolating CBD from all the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other hemp compounds.
CBD isolate typically starts out as a full-spectrum extract that undergoes further processing. The result is >99% purified CBD, which looks like a white, crystalline powder. This powder can then be sold by itself or formulated into standard products like CBD oils and capsules.
Similar to broad-spectrum CBD, isolate is a good option for people who want to completely avoid THC for one reason or another.
However, the main attraction of CBD isolate is that you can use it to formulate your own CBD preparations. You can use CBD isolate powder to make your own CBD oil, vape juice, add it to beverages such as coffee and tea, and even use it in cooking. Another benefit of CBD isolate is that it’s cheaper than other types of CBD extract when bought in its pure, powdered form.
Which Type of CBD is Best?
The question of which type of CBD extract is best depends on your context. As with most things in life, your specific needs and circumstances will determine which CBD extract suits you best.
For the vast majority of people, full or broad-spectrum CBD is the best choice because it maximizes the entourage effect and offers the greatest efficacy.
Meanwhile, for someone who wants to create their own CBD preparations with precise CBD levels, CBD isolate would be the clear winner.