It’s likely that you have encountered the terms “full-spectrum” and “isolate” while shopping for CBD. These two labels basically tell you the kind of cannabinoid content you can expect in your product.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is just one of many cannabinoids. This means that it is one of the active compounds found in the cannabis plant, of which there may be over one hundred. While CBD and its psychoactive counterpart, THC, are found in high quantities and are the most well-known, there are plenty of other cannabinoids worth knowing about.
This includes CBG, the precursor to both CBD and THC, and CBN. Each cannabinoid has different effects on the body, and it is thought that combining the various cannabinoids can lead to a strengthened effect on the body.
Let’s delve a little deeper into the terms “full-spectrum” and “isolate” to find out precisely what they mean with regard to these cannabinoids.
Firstly, What is CBD Isolate?
Probably the most basic form of CBD is an isolate. These contain nothing except pure, isolated CBD. In other words, there are no other cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids – just good old CBD.
Although this might be considered ‘basic’ at first glance, it is actually much harder to glean an isolate from hemp. When hemp undergoes the extraction process to remove its cannabinoids, all of the plant’s compounds are extracted. All the cannabinoids and terpenes come out of the plant. This means that extra steps must be taken in order to isolate the CBD and free it of any other compounds. Because of this, CBD isolate is quite hard to make.
It comes in many forms. The most common CBD isolates you will see are dabs. In case you didn’t know, “dabbing” is the act of vaporizing compounds on a hot nail and inhaling the resulting vapor. It’s kind of like vaping, except you don’t use an e-cigarette or an e-liquid. CBD isolate dabs come in the form of powder, crystals, wax, resin, or shatter, so-called because of its glass-like texture.
However, dabbing is not for everyone, and it is becoming increasingly common to see CBD isolate oils, edibles, and capsules, among other things.
What is Full-Spectrum CBD?
In contrast to isolates, full-spectrum CBD products contain a full range of cannabinoids. When the cannabinoids are extracted from hemp, the entire extract is made into a consumable product, meaning that you are getting a healthy dose of all the cannabinoids that were in the plant.
The primary concern here regards THC. If you live in a state where cannabis is illegal, or if you simply don’t want to consume THC yourself, then you might be concerned about THC content. However, due to federal laws all CBD products must be extracted from hemp and not marijuana. By definition, hemp contains less than 0.3% THC, meaning that the extract will also only contain negligible amounts of THC. These trace amounts will definitely not get you high.
So what are the benefits of a full-spectrum CBD oil? It used to be believed that isolated CBD was more effective than full-spectrum, but now the opposite is the case; most now agree that full-spectrum CBD is the preferred option because of something called the “entourage effect.”
This phenomenon refers to the way in which cannabinoids work together to become more effective. A study in 2005, conducted in Jerusalem, found that test subjects given full-spectrum CBD experienced heightened relief compared to those who received a CBD isolate.
Generally, users prefer to use a full-spectrum CBD in order to improve their general well-being. This does not make CBD isolates redundant, though.
What About Broad-Spectrum CBD?
It’s likely that you have also seen the term “broad-spectrum.” This refers to a CBD product that contains a range of other cannabinoids, but no THC. It allows for most of the benefits of the entourage effect, but with no risk of consuming THC.
This is ideal if you are completely against THC, if you are worried about taking it, or if you are often drug tested at work. Of course, a CBD isolate can also be used, but you won’t experience the full force of the entourage effect at work.
Should I Use Full-Spectrum or a CBD Isolate?
Now that you know what each term means, you might be wondering how you make a decision between the two. There is no way to know for certain what the best type of CBD for you is; it is just a matter of weighing up the pros and cons.
CBD isolate has the advantage of being the purest and most potent form of CBD. It often contains upwards of 90% cannabidiol. There is no risk of psychoactive effects, and minimal risk of flagging a false positive on a drug test. Furthermore, CBD isolate is both tasteless and odorless. This is perfect for those wanting to cook with CBD, as it can be added to recipes without altering the flavor at all. The only real drawback to CBD isolates is that they don’t create the entourage effect.
As for full-spectrum CBD, the glaring advantage is the entourage effect. If you are looking for powerful, efficient CBD, then this is the way to go. Furthermore, it is often considered closer to the original plant, and is therefore the most authentically natural. It undergoes less processing when compared to isolates.
The cons of full-spectrum CBD are that it may flag a positive on a drug test due to the fractional THC content. The negligible amounts will probably be dismissed in a follow-up test, but a positive could cause you unnecessary stress.
Secondly, the terpenes and flavonoids from cannabis can create a strong taste and aroma that some people find to be unpleasant. While there are ways to deal with it, it can be easier to just use an isolate product.
CBD Isolate is Best for…
- People with sensitivity to THC and other cannabinoids.
- People living in states with strict THC laws, or those who regularly undergo drug testing in their place of employment.
- People who wish to cook with CBD and want something with a light flavor.
Full-Spectrum CBD is Best for…
- People who are looking to target a more specific use
- People who live in states where cannabis is fully legal and who have no fear of legal repercussions.
- People who want to get the most out of their CBD experience.
We should stress that no CBD type is better than any other. While full-spectrum products are suited to some individuals, others will find an isolate more to their liking. It’s a matter of deciding what works for you.