You may have already heard of CBD, also known as cannabidiol. But, if you’re relatively new to the world of CBD some of the terms can be a little overwhelming. Broad-spectrum, full-spectrum, CBD isolate, THC, the entourage effect, cannabinoids, the list goes on. If you’ve been wondering what these terms mean, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to break down the difference between broad-spectrum, full-spectrum, and CBD isolate to help make shopping for CBD products a little bit easier for you.
To help us break these different types of CBD, let’s first have a little refresher on what cannabinoids actually are.
What are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are a type of chemical compound which are found in the cannabis plant, which also goes by the name of Cannabis Sativa. A lot of us may already have heard of two of the most famous cannabinoids: CBD and THC.
What are CBD and THC?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, sometimes called marijuana. It is used in CBD products such as CBD oil and is used by people to help induce a feeling of calm and relaxation. Regular users of CBD products include them in their daily routines for a number of health benefits they claim they have. Some find that CBD may help them sleep better thanks to its purported relaxing effects, while others take CBD products to ease symptoms of joint discomfort. A recent study conducted in 2018 suggested that the use of CBD for both general wellness reasons as well as for specific health concerns is actually fairly widespread in the US. And it's no wonder, CBD products have become more and more popular in the last couple of years.
You may have also heard about CBD's cousin, THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. This is its psychoactive counterpart and the main active component of marijuana. In CBD products these compounds have been separated so that the final result contains zero to a maximum of 0.3% THC. Interested in learning more? Check out our complete guide to CBD to learn more about CBD, THC, hemp oil, and hemp-derived CBD products.
Flavonoids and Terpenes Explained
The cannabis plant actually contains a whole host of other compounds as well. These include flavonoids, terpenes, and essential fatty acids.
Flavonoids are phytonutrients, or plant chemicals, that are found in many fruits and vegetables as well as other plant-based products like wine, tea, and chocolate. Foods and products such as these that contain flavonoids are often touted for their antioxidant effects.
Terpenes are another type of compound found in plants such as the cannabis plant. They are also known as “aromatic compounds” because they are responsible for creating the aromatic scent behind many plants. While terpenes are most commonly associated with cannabis, due to the plant’s high concentration of them, they are also found in other plants including lavender and pine trees.
These different cannabinoids are what help to distinguish between the three different types of CBD available: broad- and full-spectrum, and CBD isolate. It is believed all these different compounds work together to produce what’s called the “entourage effect”.
What is the entourage effect?
The “entourage effect” basically means that the different compounds in CBD complement each other so they can work together in harmony. Some believe that the compounds are able to produce a greater effect when they are working together than when they are isolated. If they are isolated, they essentially would be working separately and producing separate results. Many proponents of CBD believe that whole plant extracts are more effective than ones that are isolated. This is why some people think that CBD isolate is less effective than broad- or full-spectrum CBD.
What is broad- vs full-spectrum CBD?
Full-spectrum CBD Oil:
To produce CBD oil, it has to first be extracted from the cannabis plant. Full-spectrum CBD is usually produced by using a method of extraction called CO2 extraction. The “full” part of full-spectrum refers to the fact that this type of CBD is left fairly untouched in terms of its other chemical compounds. Full-spectrum CBD oil has had no other cannabinoids or compounds removed from the final product. This means that full-spectrum CBD contains the entire range of cannabinoids found in the hemp plant.
Although this may have benefits by promoting the “entourage effect”, it may not be the best option for everyone. This is because amongst the cannabinoids that haven’t been removed is THC. However, many CBD oil products cannot be sold if they contain CBD which is why most full-spectrum CBD oils contain less than 0.3% THC. Nevertheless, it’s important to check the brand’s lab reports if they are selling full-spectrum CBD oil to ensure that the amount is as advertised as some products may be inaccurately labeled. If you are particularly sensitive to THC, or just wish to avoid it altogether, it may be beneficial to look at other options. Which brings us to broad-spectrum CBD.
Broad-spectrum CBD oil is fairly similar to full-spectrum CBD oil except that the THC has been removed. During the extraction process, the THC is removed but most of the other cannabinoids and compounds are left behind. This includes the terpenes and flavonoids that we mentioned earlier. Many of those who believe in the “entourage effect” suggest that CBD oil, or other CBD products, containing this type of CBD are a great option for people who want to reap the benefits of this effect but who aren’t into the idea of having THC in their CBD product.
What is the difference between CBD isolate and broad-spectrum CBD?
CBD isolate, as the name suggests, is basically just isolated CBD. To produce CBD isolate, all the cannabinoids and other compounds are removed from the CBD oil. This means that CBD isolate is formulated without THC, but also other cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, or other plant compounds. CBD isolate might be a good form of CBD for people who are sensitive to other cannabinoids, but some argue that it might not be as effective as some broad-spectrum CBD products, although it's not without its benefits. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, then one thing to keep in mind when buying CBD isolate is to check that it’s guaranteed to be 99+% pure CBD to ensure that you are in fact taking the purest form of CBD and that it's THC-free.
What is broad-spectrum good for?
This type of CBD is has been put through an additional refinement process after extraction to remove the THC. Because of this, they offer a great alternative for those who are just starting to discover the world of CBD. Or, even if you're already a long-term user, CBD products containing this type of CBD can also be a good option if you are specifically on the hunt for a product where the THC has been extracted.
CBD isolate vs full-spectrum CBD vs broad-spectrum CBD: which one is the best option?
Like with natural supplements, we all have individual needs. When taking CBD, the most important thing you should factor in is what is the best option for your own body. If you're looking to try CBD products, one of the most important steps to take is to do your research. If you've read this far, then that's at least one step you've already got covered! Let's recap on the main difference between these main types of CBD:
CBD isolate: In these CBD oils or tinctures, the cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), has been isolated from the CBD oil. CBB products advertised as being made with CBD isolate should not contain THC.
Full-spectrum CBD: This contains CBD along with other cannabinoids such as flavonoids and terpenes. Full-spectrum products also contain THC (although they must have less than 0.3% THC in order to be legally sold).
Broad-spectrum CBD: Like full-spectrum CBD, this form of CBD contains other plant compounds and cannabinoids. The key difference is that the THC has been removed. These types of products may still contain trace amounts of THC (but no more than 0.3%).
Learning as much as possible about the different forms of CBD can help you choose the best type of CBD product for your own health and wellness needs. When in doubt, however, it's also always advisable to consult with health and wellness professionals for advice if you have any specific concerns in mind.
Some other important things to keep in mind are to only buy from trustworthy brands to ensure that you consume high-quality and safe products. Because CBD products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you should always check that their products have been third-party lab tested. It's also a good idea to go for brands that contain CBD derived from hemp grown in the US and that don't make any unsubstantiated health claims. Many products also contain additional ingredients, such as essential oils for flavour or ingredients like turmeric, so it's always a good idea to double-check the label to make sure that all the ingredients are suitable for you.
If you would like to learn more about CBD, read our other blog posts on how to choose the right CBD product, information about dosage and methods of taking CBD, and what to know before buying a CBD product.
All the best,