Contrary to some popular beliefs, the composition of CBD products on the market vary widely and no two are rarely the same. By doing a quick Google search you will quickly notice that there are thousands of different products on the CBD market. This can easily be an overwhelming experience for those looking to purchase CBD - “How am I supposed to choose?” There is great importance in identifying the right product for you as your body may react differently depending on the specific contents.
One of the biggest differences between products is the type of CBD spectrum: Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate. This blog will explain the important differences between each spectrum option to help you make better informed purchasing decisions. Let’s dive in.
The CBD Extraction Process
CBD spectrum largely depends on the way the compound is extracted from the hemp variety of the Cannabis plant and processed. Typically, CBD is extracted from the harvested flower of plant varieties with high CBD and low THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) concentrations, though variations exist among different strains. Other cannabinoids and terpenes, the organic compounds responsible for giving cannabis its unique aroma and bind with endocannabinoid receptors to induce therapeutic effects, are also extracted. The extract is then processed to remove unwanted compounds.
Extract containing a full cannabinoid and terpene profile is classified as full-spectrum CBD. It contains the highest amount of active cannabinoid strains and offers the full range of benefits associated with the hemp plant. Among these cannabinoids are trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive chemical substance which produces a ‘high’ when consumed, which interacts with CBD and other cannabinoids and terpenes to maximize benefits. This is known as the entourage effect.
Under the 2018 Farm Bill, which federally legalized hemp cultivation and removed hemp from the list of Schedule 1 controlled substances, hemp products like CBD are allowed to contain traces of THC below 0.3% by weight. Because the THC is only present at such a small amount, full-spectrum CBD oil is not psychoactive and won’t make you feel any intoxicating effects. However, while CBD alone is not detected on drug tests, keep in mind even minimal traces of THC in the body may trigger a false positive.
Broad-spectrum extract mirrors that of full-spectrum products, containing (mostly) the same major cannabinoids and terpenes. What sets broad-spectrum products apart is the fact that they contain absolutely zero THC. Despite the absence of THC, broad-spectrum CBD is generally considered just as effective as full-spectrum counterparts with only a negligible difference in benefits associated with the entourage effect. Broad-spectrum CBD oil products are suitable for just about everyone, especially those who want to avoid consuming THC for personal reasons and anyone subjected to drug tests.
CBD at its purest form. Often appearing as a powdery or crystalline substance, CBD isolate contains around 99% pure CBD after the extraction process. Unlike full- and broad-spectrum CBD, isolate does not produce an entourage effect because there is only one active cannabinoid in the substance. It is considered the least effective of the major three spectrums for this reason. However, those who wish to increase their tolerance to CBD while acquiring the wide range of therapeutic and health benefits may prefer this isolated form. In powdered form, CBD isolate can easily be incorporated into your daily routine as it can be sprinkled over food or added to other cannabinoids like THC to enhance the entourage effect.
Each unique product is beneficial in its own way, so there’s no way of saying which one is “best.” Both full- and broad-spectrum CBD oil are characterized by a variety of cannabinoids interacting together to boost the health benefits of a healthy endocannabinoid system - the entourage effect. While traces of active THC in full-spectrum CBD may strengthen this effect, the removal of THC makes broad-spectrum CBD products much more accessible while remaining nearly just as effective. CBD isolate powder lacks the cannabinoid and terpene profile necessary for an entourage effect but may be preferable for certain uses. Finding the right spectrum is an important part of your CBD journey, so keep in mind that cannabinoids affect no two people the same. Always talk to your physician before altering or beginning a new CBD routine to figure out what works best for you.