I opened a CBD Pop Up Store 3 weeks and have had hundreds of customers walk through the door looking to either try CBD for the first time or to move from gummies to CBD tinctures or CBD oils. On average there has only been one out of a hundred who has said that they know the difference between Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum and Isolate CBD Oil.
So, clearly there is a gap in information and this article hopes to shed some light on the differences, what are the pros and cons and educate the increasing number of CBD users. Hopefully, once you understand the difference between them, you’ll be better equipped to make an educated decision on which CBD oil product to buy for your needs.
What is CBD?
Within the Cannabis plant, there is a classification of compounds known as cannabinoids. Among these are CBD and THC, along with over a hundred others which scientists have discovered naturally occurring within different Cannabis strains.
Last year, a federal farm bill legalized hemp, unlike cannabis, which is legal only in some states and is more heavily regulated. Since then CBD products, everything from oils and gummy snacks that contain cannabidiol, which is found in hemp have taken off. Unlike marijuana, hemp contains minimal amounts of THC, the chemical that provides a high.
So, what is the CBD Spectrum?
To create a CBD product, the cannabinoid content is extracted from the Cannabis or Hemp plant, using methods such as CO2 extraction. During this process, other compounds found within the plant are also extracted, including terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids.
Depending on the purpose of the end-product, companies will choose to extract from a strain of Cannabis or Hemp plant that best suits their needs. Once extracted, the company can then choose to refine the extract to contain only specific cannabinoids and plant parts.
The contents of the refined extract are what determines if the CBD extract is full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate.
Full spectrum (or “whole plant”) products contain CBD as well as terpenes and other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN and trace amounts of THC. Usually these will be in ratios that were naturally-occurring and extracted from the plant and specific strain. Terpenes and cannabinoids are occasionally added back into products as an isolated form to raise the potency of the product.
Full spectrum products are by far the most popular. With full spectrum CBD oil products, you have the advantage of something called the “entourage effect.” This is where all the cannabinoids and terpenes are working together in synergy.
Those subject to drug testing should be cautious when it comes to full spectrum products. The THC found in full spectrum hemp oil products is minimal (less than 0.3%) but could still trigger a positive drug test.
Broad spectrum products contain an array of cannabinoids and terpenes, but zero THC based on the manufacturer’s lab testing. It is important to request and view all third-party lab reports to ensure what is stated on the package is in fact what is contained in the product. Look specifically for what cannabinoids and terpenes are in the product and at what levels.
These products have often gone through additional processing to try to isolate and remove as much THC as possible while still maintaining the other cannabinoids and terpenes. In other cases, they are isolate-based with additional cannabinoids and terpenes added in.
Isolates are typically the CBD oil product of choice for those who get drug tested or are sensitive to other cannabinoids such as THC. As the name suggests, these products tend to have nothing but CBD in them because the CBD has been isolated from everything else.
With that being said, CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, which is produced by removing all other compounds found in the plant including terpenes, flavonoids, plant parts, and other cannabinoids.
CBD Isolate is typically extracted from Hemp, due to its low to non-existent THC-content. It is always important to verify the purity and standards of the brand to ensure that they have removed all identifiable amounts of THC possible (typically 99.9+% range).
Which is Better – Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum or Isolate?
Unfortunately, there isn’t one type that is better than all others.
There are many that believe that other cannabinoids, THC especially, are necessary to take full advantage of what cannabis has to offer. However, a good rule of thumb is if drug testing is a concern, you’re encouraged to seek out CBD isolate products (or terpsolates) or broad spectrum products instead of full spectrum.
Every individual has different needs, and this determines which type of CBD is best-suited for their unique conditions.