Broad spectrum vs full spectrum CBD

Broad spectrum vs full spectrum CBD

There was a time when CBD oil became the cure-all for the American consumer. Brands were putting the cannabinoid in everything and making broad claims about what they could accomplish before people were arguing the merits of broad spectrum vs full spectrum CBD. There are pillows with microencapsulated CBD and  toothpaste that claim to lower the risk of gum disease inflammation.

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These claims, and bad actors in the space, have led to distrust about whether any of the claims of CBD products interacting with the endocannabinoid system are true. While there’s no science behind absorbing cannabinoids through a pillow at night, there is some research-based understanding of the possibilities of using CBD therapeutically. Consumers must understand the types of CBD on the market before guzzling the nearest oil to have the best experience.

Full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolates: bottles of oil and hemp leaves
Photo by Anna Efetova for Getty Images

CBD commonly comes labeled in one of three ways: full spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate. Knowing the difference between the three will make it simple to know which brands have the right products for you.

What is full spectrum oil?

Those unconcerned with trace amounts of THC content may be most interested in full-spectrum CBD productsf. In these labels, the term “spectrum” refers to the vast spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds that make up a cured cannabis flower. Full-spectrum products have been extracted using methods that preserve a cannabinoid profile most similar to the cannaibs plant itself.

Every cannabinoid plays a role in the effects of consumption. The entourage effect describes how CBD, THC, CBN, and the whole gang work together. They activate more cannabinoid receptors together than they could alone. When isolated, some benefits of CBD may be lost. Full-spectrum oil will have the most diverse combination of cannabinoids, possibly making it the most effective of the three options.

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Under the Farm Bill, hemp CBD products must have no more than 0.3% THC to be sold nationwide–though a hemp plant might test over and have to be destroyed. People who might be drug tested or have other reasons that THC cannot run through their veins may still not want to risk consuming products including THC. These consumers might be interested in broad-spectrum CBD oil.

Broad spectrum vs full spectrum CBD

Broad-spectrum CBD products will have an array of cannabinoids, but the THC has been removed. To remove the THC, extraction technicians use chromatography to isolate and remove most of the psychoactive cannabinoids from the oil. The result is an oil containing cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, and CBG to maximize the phenomenon called the entourage effect as much as possible without as much risk of a failed drug test.

It’s important to note that though many don’t have intense psychoactive effects from CBD products, it’s possible. Try a new product before taking a dose and driving or watching the kids at the park. A test run with a new cannabinoid product provides a baseline for how it will impact those vital skills like decision-making and coordination.

Full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate: bottles with shadows
Photo by Iryna Veklich for Getty Images Photo: Iryna Veklich / Getty Images

What is isolate?

At this point, it’s probably clear what isolate is. These products are made with CBD fully separated from other compounds. Isolates undergo more extraction processes than broad-spectrum oils. The processes leave behind pure CBD that often looks like a white powder or crystals.

Whether CBD isolate works is up to the consumer, but oodles of Reddit threads on the matter cite these products as ideal for someone with a sensitive system. When choosing CBD oil for a specific person, isolate can sometimes be the ideal option.

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What CBD oil is best?

Knowing which CBD oil is best depends on what effects are desired. Someone who doesn’t mind having some THC and wants the most expansive experience might opt for full-spectrum CBD oil. A person sensitive to THC or employed by a company with a zero-tolerance cannabis policy would probably lean more toward isolate-made products. These products (and a broad spectrum, too) are all valid for myriad consumers in the country.

With the saturated market of companies operating without federal oversight, knowing what comes in those little bottles labeled “CBD” is essential. The most efficient way to find the right oil is to be armed with education. Knowing the difference between full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate-based products is a wise first step towards understanding what makes a CBD product.

Cara Wietstock is Senior Content Producer of GreenState.com and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.