Difference Between Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum & CBD Isolate

If you’ve ever searched for any CBD products or CBD oil in general, then you’ve most likely come across different types of cannabinoid spectrum choices. There are three main types: full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate.

Understanding these labels is important when recognizing the cannabinoid ingredients inside your choice of CBD oil. Each type has unique benefits, depending on your preferences.

CBD oil doesn’t necessarily solely contain cannabidiol compounds. Cannabis sativa synthesizes over 100 phytocannabinoids, with CBD and THC being two of the most well-recognized cannabinoids in the scientific community.

Each spectrum identifies the various other components that work alongside the CBD molecules, enhancing the wholesome CBD benefits.

When raw hemp goes through the extraction process, cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes become stripped from the material and then infused into a carrier oil; however, the cannabinoid profile of your CBD oil may be different based on the strain of cannabis used during the process.


Hemp-based extracts, for example, will usually contain less than 0.3 percent THC – making them non-psychoactive and retaining high amounts of CBD. Other times, cannabis extracts are pulled from strains that have an equal CBD-to-THC ratio.

What CBD manufacturers do with the extracted cannabinoids will determine whether the final product is labeled full spectrum or broad spectrum – and in some cases, just a CBD isolate. Here’s what each cannabis spectrum means:


What is Full Spectrum CBD?

Full spectrum CBD means that it uses all of the phytochemicals found in Cannabis sativa; this includes cannabidiol along with terpenes, essential oils, and other cannabinoids, which means THC. However, the THC content can still be under 0.3 percent.

Even though the THC content of the full spectrum CBD oil for sale is negligible, full-spectrum CBD can trigger a false positive drug test reading if you’re consuming high doses of it regularly. But you may never feel the psychoactive effects from the trace amounts of THC.

The active compounds extracted from hemp and placed inside of full spectrum CBD work together to enhance the benefits expressed by the individual cannabinoids. When these compounds and cannabinoids work synergically like this, they produce what’s called the entourage effect.



What is the Entourage Effect?

The entourage effect refers to cannabis components working together to boost or intensify the benefits of hemp. Other than CBD, full spectrum extracts will contain additional cannabinoids, including:

  • Cannabinol (CBN) – a cannabinoid made from oxidized THC. The longer raw cannabis matures, the more CBN it will create from THC.

  • Cannabigerol (CBG) – a non-intoxicating cannabinoid produced from cannabigerolic acid during decarboxylation.

  • Cannabidivarin (CBDV) – a minor cannabinoid with a molecular structure similar to that of CBD; its beneficial properties are widely unknown due lack of research.

  • Cannabidiol acid (CBDA) – the 2-carboxylic acid form of CBD and an essential ingredient found in raw cannabis.

  • Cannabichromene (CBC) – a cannabinoid that particularly comes from tropical-region cannabis; it is useful for a variety of beneficial effects.

With full spectrum CBD, the added terpenes and cannabinoids can affect cannabinoid receptors – either blocking or allowing other cannabinoid molecules to bind or communicate with the connectors.

In a 2015 study, scientists concluded that full spectrum CBD provides better effects at higher doses because it uses compounds from the entire hemp plant rather than isolated CBD.

What is a CBD Isolate?


A CBD isolate means pure CBD; it contains no other cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids. And even though pure CBD oil uses cannabidiol isolates exclusively, its extraction requires a great deal of additional work.

Earlier, it was briefly mentioned that the extracting process of raw hemp materials pulls out all of the active ingredients inside hemp, along with its terpenes and flavonoids. The extraction to isolate CBD from all the other cannabinoid compounds goes further than usual to ensure safe human consumption.

CBD isolates are the most concentrated form of CBD; a single isolate typically is up to 90 percent CBD – making it potent in CBD content but not necessarily having better or more beneficial attributes.

There’s no substantial risk of contracting an intoxicating high or euphoria with pure CBD oil, and it's unlikely to register a positive drug test reading in comparison to full spectrum CBD. CBD isolates are also ideal for cooking or mixing with food and beverages.

But because CBD oil containing only CBD isolates doesn’t utilize the full hemp plant, it can’t offer the more extensive benefits created from the entourage effect.


Why Should I Use Full Spectrum CBD?

Full spectrum CBD allows you the benefits of the entourage effect because it contains additional cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. It’s best suited for people who live in states with a legal cannabis market and don’t mind trace amounts of THC in their CBD oil.

However, heavy use of full spectrum CBD may cause a positive drug screening, and the THC content may be illegal based on local laws set forth by state governments. Some people also might not enjoy the strong natural taste and smell of hemp associated with full spectrum CBD.

And it may also deliver greater benefits than CBD isolates. But if your main concerns are THC levels and drug tests, then your best choice might be broad spectrum CBD instead.


What is Broad Spectrum CBD?

Like full spectrum, CBD oil labeled broad spectrum also uses cannabidiol with all the other compounds found in hemp. However, there’s one active ingredient that gets removed after the extraction process – THC.

Broad spectrum CBD retains several of the different cannabinoids, such as CBN and CBG. And because broad spectrum also uses additional terpenes and flavonoids, it can generate the entourage effect without THC.

From a straightforward perspective, you could think of broad spectrum CBD as a combination of CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD. It uses compounds from the whole hemp plant minus the THC, so it's also less likely to cause any false positive drug readings.

Without THC content, broad spectrum CBD is particularly useful for people who want the benefits of full spectrum CBD with fewer worries about random drug tests or THC accumulating within their system from daily use.

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