Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum vs Isolate: Explaining the Various Types of CBD Products

Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum vs Isolate: Explaining the Various Types of CBD Products

The CBD market is currently thriving and there’s no shortage of CBD products that people keep coming back to. But with all this variety, one might wonder about the difference between them, especially when it comes to full-spectrum products, broad-spectrum products, and CBD isolate. In order to understand which one fits your needs the best, you should learn more about each of them, and this article will focus on that.

How Is CBD Extracted?

Before we get into the topic of this article, we first need to explain how manufacturers extract CBD from the cannabis plant. Generally, one of the following methods is used:

  • Carbon dioxide extraction. CBD oil is separated from the cannabis plant using CO2. This method produces high-CBD products.
  • Steam distillation. Another popular method that separates CBD oil from the plant material by using steam. This method extracts the essential plant oils, though not as effective as the CO2 method.
  • Solvent extraction. Even though this method is effective, it isn’t used as much because it can leave solvent residue behind, which is a potential health risk, and it can also affect the final flavor of the product.
  • Lipid extraction. In recent years, this product has become a go-to method for extracting cannabis due to the fact that manufacturers are trying to turn away from using solvents and CO2.

After the CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant, the final product is referred to as a full-spectrum CBD product that contains essential oils, terpenes, and other cannabinoids. If the product is sourced from the hemp plant it contains less than 0.3% of THC. This product needs to be cooled and additionally purified to get various CBD products.

The Difference Between Various CBD Products

As you may already know, CBD is one of the most abundant chemical compounds in the cannabis plant. This cannabinoid is responsible for the relaxing effects users experience when consuming the cannabis plant and the main reason why so many are incorporating it into their wellness routine. But did you know that there are major differences between different types of CBD products and the array of cannabinoids they contain? 

Even though some manufacturers use the terms for the different types of CBD products interchangeably, there’s a huge difference between them, which is why they’re grouped into three main categories:

full broad spectrum isolate CBD differences
Image Credit: SōRSE Technology

  • Full-spectrum CBD. Contains terpenes, other cannabinoids, and essential oils.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD. Contains cannabis plant compounds, but no THC.
  • CBD isolate. Contains CBD alone.

We’ll go into more detail on the various types of CBD products in the paragraphs below.

Full-Spectrum CBD

This product contains all the cannabinoids and plant compounds found in the hemp plant, which includes both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), as well as other minor cannabinoids. Since these products contain all the compounds of the cannabis plant, they may provide more benefits upon consumption compared to pure CBD.

The difference between regular marijuana that provides intoxicating effects and the full-spectrum CBD products that come from the hemp plant is the levels of THC in the products. Usually, the THC content of a full-spectrum CBD product is lower than 0.3% in order to comply with the regulations of the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized the use of hemp on a federal level. Therefore, consuming full-spectrum CBD products isn’t likely to cause intoxicating effects on users.

The main reason why a lot of people choose full-spectrum CBD over other types of CBD products isn’t simply because of the cannabinoid content, but rather because these products also contain essential terpenes found in the hemp plant. When paired with the cannabinoids in the product, they produce the entourage effect, a mechanism unique to cannabis which may increase the health and wellness benefits that CBD products may have. Moreover, they’re responsible for the aroma of the hemp plants, which is an additional benefit for people who enjoy these products.

Keep in mind that not all CBD products are third-party tested, so the levels of THC in a product may be higher than what’s advertised on the label, so doing your own research before you purchase the product is essential by ensuring the product you are purchasing has a Certificate of Analysis showing you how much, and of what, is in your product. 

Full-Spectrum CBD Pros

Outside of all of the typical benefits one may get from CBD, taking full-spectrum CBD products gives you the benefits of the “whole plant” which, outside of CBD, also contains phytonutrients, terpenes, other cannabinoids outside of CBD, and other beneficial plant nutrients. 

A great example of this would be eating an orange vs taking a vitamin C supplement. Eating an orange offers vitamin C, but also many other beneficial nutrients, while taking a vitamin C supplement only offers vitamin C. 

Cons of Full-Spectrum CBD

The main con on full-spectrum CBD products is typically for people who need to be mindful around THC intake due to their job or other reasons. While it’s not likely one will fail a drug test when taking a full-spectrum CBD product, for many, they still want the peace of mind and thus will choose broad spectrum or isolate over full-spectrum products. 

Another con of full spectrum products is the taste. These products, being whole plant, contain many various elements of the hemp plant, and thus they taste very “earthy” much like eating grass or dirt. Many people like the earthy taste, while others prefer products with a better flavor profile. 

Broad-Spectrum CBD

The difference between broad-spectrum CBD and full-spectrum CBD is that most of the broad-spectrum CBD products don’t contain any amount of THC. But apart from the lack of THC, it still contains all the other cannabinoids, and chemical compounds such as cannabinol, cannabichromene, and essential terpenes which may contribute to the entourage effect upon use.

Pros of Broad-Spectrum CBD

Similar to full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD may have similar health benefits as it contains mostly the same cannabinoids, terpenes, and chemical compounds that broad-spectrum CBD has.

Remember that most broad-spectrum CBD products don’t contain THC, though some may have trace amounts.

Cons of Broad-Spectrum CBD

The potential downside to using broad-spectrum CBD compared to full-spectrum CBD is that the product doesn’t contain any amount of THC, nor does it have phytonutrients or terpenes found in the full spectrum products that are commonly used among medical marijuana patients. Some like even just a small amount of THC in their products as they feel it helps “activate” the other compounds.

CBD Isolate

The final product on our list is CBD isolate which is the purest form of CBD found on the market. This product is perfect for consumers who want to try CBD and learn more about the effects of CBD alone without the interference of the additional cannabis compounds. Compared to other CBD products, the isolate doesn’t have a specific odor or taste. 

Pros of CBD Isolate

CBD is mostly used by people who want to avoid THC in their CBD products because they may be sensitive to the substance or want to avoid it altogether. These products may also be beneficial for people who want to use just CBD as a potential treatment option without the presence of additional active compounds which may alter the effects of CBD. CBD isolate may be used as a health or wellness supplement in the same way that the other CBD products mentioned above are used.

Cons of CBD Isolate

Since the only compound found in CBD isolates is CBD, it may not provide users with the same effects as broad-spectrum or full-spectrum CBD does, which may be a drawback for some consumers. Consuming higher doses of CBD isolate may also result in the same side effects experienced when using other CBD products that we mentioned in the previous paragraphs.

Final Thoughts

After the passing of the Farm Bill in 2018 and the federal legalization of CBD, the interest of people in CBD products has increased significantly. Nowadays, you can find full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate products from a number of CBD e-commerce stores on the market which is expanding by the minute. 

Whether you’d like to try a full-spectrum CBD product that contains all the cannabis plant compounds, a broad-spectrum CBD product that contains all the cannabis plant compounds apart from THC, or a CBD isolate which contains just the isolated compound cannabidiol, there are a number of options to choose from.

Finally, it’s also important to consult your healthcare practitioner and discuss incorporating CBD into your wellness routine. This step is even more important if you’re thinking about consuming CBD as a treatment option. Being informed is essential to making a good decision about which product to choose when searching through the plethora of CBD products online.

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