The cannabis plant contains 483 known compounds, with over 113 identified cannabinoids. CBD is merely one of those. A lot of research has gone into understanding cannabinoids like CBD and THC, but there’s a lot we don’t know about the cannabis plant and how it affects the human body. When it comes to CBD, full spectrum CBD and CBD isolate are the two most common form of CBD. These terms are often used in various articles, discussions and product descriptions, but what do they actually mean and how do they affect what you should use?
What is full spectrum CBD?
As we already know, CBD is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant and does not have any intoxicating effects. When people get high from cannabis, this is caused by the THC in it. It’s important to note that CBD on its own will not provide this same effect. And this distinction is important, as this is where the difference lies between full spectrum CBD and CBD isolate.
Most people are aware that cannabis contains both CBD and THC, but the cannabis plant also contains a number of other cannabinoids. Full spectrum CBD products are made with an extract that contains a number of these different cannabinoids. Again, they do not deliver any intoxicating effects but they do contain a variety of different cannabinoids, terpenes and other compounds. Basically, this means that the ratios and amounts of all these various elements are as they would be found naturally, without human interference. The general feeling is that the different cannabinoids and compounds can work together and make the possible health benefits more potent.
Full spectrum CBD contains all the cannabinoids and other useful properties of the hemp plant. In full spectrum CBD, there is nothing held back or left out, it includes all the terpenes, cannabinoids, flavonoids, and fatty acids found in hemp, each of which are said to have therapeutic value of their own and help create “the entourage effect”, whereby the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The entourage effect is particularly interesting as it can be seen as a multiplying effect where each of the different elements works in tandem with the other to provide more effective and wide-ranging benefits. To put it another way, the different compounds can amplify each other, making the CBD more effective.
What is CBD isolate?
As the name suggests, CBD isolate is pure CBD and it does not contain any of the other cannabinoids or compounds from the hemp plant. CBD is the most high-profile cannabinoid and has received the most attention, and continues to be the subject of more research than the other parts of the cannabis plant. This is because it appears to have the widest therapeutic value and benefits a vast range of people.
To create CBD isolate, purified CBD is extracted from the hemp plant and isolated from other naturally occurring cannabinoids. During this extraction process, CBD, other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids that are found within the plant are initially extracted. Then to create a CBD isolate, the solution is refined further, taking out other cannabinoids and plant parts, leaving only pure CBD.
As such, CBD isolate is the most potent CBD product available on the market, extracted down to 99.9% purity. CBD isolate can be bought as a white powder, which can be mixed with a substance such as MCT oil for improved absorption, or with PG and VG to create e-juice for vaping. Most high-quality CBD e-liquids are made with isolate as full spectrum CBD contains elements such as fatty oils which aren’t suitable for vaping. Plus the terpenes from full spectrum CBD can mean e-liquids have an intense herbal taste which can be unpleasant for the user.
What about broad spectrum CBD?
To make things a little more complicated, there’s even a third type of CBD you should be aware of. Broad spectrum CBD contains CBD and all the other compounds within the plant, apart from THC, which is completely removed after the initial extraction. A broad-spectrum extract is suited for users who want to take advantage of the various cannabinoids without consuming THC according to their reasoning. This type of CBD is less common at the moment, but this may change in the future as people become more specific about their requirements.
Which should you choose?
Both full spectrum CBD and CBD isolate products have their pros and cons. Deciding between full spectrum CBD or CBD isolate is down to you and what you need from CBD. CBD affects the body by working with the CB1 and CB2 receptors that are found throughout your body and brain. Cannabinoids like CBD attach to these receptors of your endocannabinoid system in a similar way as naturally produced ones do, to impact on a variety of functions in the body.
Full spectrum CBD products have the advantage of containing many different cannabinoids and terpenes, which can combine to have more powerful effects – the entourage effect. Terpenes have demonstrated the potential for wellness and balance and should not be disregarded. One important thing to be aware of is that the cannabinoids (and their amounts) in full-spectrum CBD oil can differ from brand to brand. You can only know for sure by looking at the lab results after the oil has been tested. Most reputable brands will have a link to their lab results on their website – you can see the lab reports with each product on our store.
However, CBD isolate products allow the users to easily ingest large amounts of CBD with the added benefit of knowing how much they’re getting. Out of all the cannabinoids CBD has attracted the most attention, so you might find CBD (Cannabidiol) alone is the ideal product for you. Plus, some people may not be comfortable with the inclusion of THC in their CBD. And opting for a full spectrum product does essentially dilute the actual CBD content, meaning that by getting more of the other cannabinoids and compounds you actually get less CBD.
Some scientists previously believed that because CBD isolate is more potent and concentrated, that meant they had greater potential. However, this has become a matter of debate, with some people claiming the entourage effect is more important when it comes to tackling issues. Also, some people find the taste of hemp extract unpleasant, meaning CBD isolate products are preferable. This lack of flavour means isolate is often a better choice for food-based products, as well as e-liquids.
It’s worth noting that CBD isolate can often be more expensive than full spectrum CBD as they undergo more extensive refinement and require more plant matter in order to get the necessary high levels of isolated CBD. There has been research which shows that full spectrum CBD products tend to offer better relief from some symptoms than isolates.
Broad spectrum CBD is much less common, but if the inclusion of THC is a cause for concern, it might be worth trying to source this form. In reality, the levels of THC in most full spectrum CBD is minimal and will have zero psychoactive effects when taken at normal dosage levels – particularly in the UK, where the maximum legal THC content is 0.2%, or less than 1mg per container.
Ultimately, it’s best if you try both full spectrum and isolate and see how your system responds. Each of our bodies are unique and can respon differently to a full spectrum CBD vs CBD isolate. We recommend trying a variety of products and assessing how you feel.