CBD Broad spectrum vs Isolate vs Full Spectrum

CBD Broad spectrum vs Isolate vs Full Spectrum

Author: Monique Burkes

Are you confused about the different types of CBD tinctures available?  Well, you’re not alone.

Terms like full spectrum, THC free, isolate and even broad spectrum can certainly be confusing, especially if you’re new to the industry.


CBD has dramatically increased in popularity since the 2014 Farm Bill was signed, although only a small portion of the Farm Bill was devoted to regulations surrounding this new marijuana product. The Farm Bill legalized state pilot programs to grow and cultivate industrial hemp – the cousin to the marijuana plant. The 2018 Farm Bill did what the 2014 Farm Bill didn’t do – descheduled the industrial hemp plant from Schedule I. CBD is now federally legal, although states still have to set up their rules surrounding growing, testing, processing and selling the products.

The industrial hemp plant, or Cannabis Sativa L., by definition, contains less than .3% Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is the most famous part of the plant – the part that gets you high. While the THC content is higher in what we traditionally think of as the marijuana plant, it is the opposite in the industrial hemp plant. There is just enough that you might fail a drug test, but certainly not enough for you to feel high. Some people describe the miniscule amount of THC as non-psychoactive because it doesn’t alter your mind at such low levels.

But THC isn’t the only constituent of the cannabis plant. There are over 100 other Cannabinoids, including the 2nd most well known one, cannabidiol, or CBD, for short.

As you learn about CBD, one of the first things you might hear is that, unlike its cousin, it provides “the health without the high.”  While that statement is not entirely accurate, because it implies the marijuana plant only has recreational uses, it is true that CBD has been proven to have tremendous medical benefits, such as helping to ease pain, anxiety, inflammation and even depression. For those living with chronic forms of these conditions, it can be a lifesaver. And if testimonials are to be believed, it just may be that for many people.

As more and more people turn away from pharmaceuticals to treat their symptoms and ailments, CBD offers a viable, if expensive, solution. If you can think of a way to get the CBD in to your body, there is likely a real-life option that matches your imagination, from tinctures and vaping and soft gels to pre-rolled cigarettes and hard candy and coffee. Even with the dizzying array of choices, there are still 3 main types of CBD to choose from.

Full spectrum

Full spectrum, also referred to as whole plant, CBD, is the most complete version of the plant. The plant is harvested and the compounds are extracted. In whole plant extraction, the entire plant is processed into usable parts, with nothing removed.

Since all Cannabinoids remain, including THC, many people call this the “entourage effect”, because every bit of goodness remains in the final product and it all works together to help heal your ailments.

But there’s a percentage of the people population who don’t want even the smallest amount of THC in their CBD.

For many it’s because they are subject to drug testing for work or their pain management clinic. Others are simply sensitive to THC. Or, it could just be the stigma. Those folks associate THC with illegal drug use and they want no parts of it. Regardless of their reason, a full spectrum CBD is not something this group purposely avoids.

CBD Isolate

Isolate is the purest form of CBD. CBD is the only part of the plant purposely left after extraction. Again, pay attention to the advertising. You will see companies advertise their CBD as the purest, but they don’t mean isolate. They’re attempting to establish their company as a quality leader who only uses the highest grade products, but they are inadvertently leading the consumer to believe they are purchasing an isolate-only product, which isn’t the case.

Isolate products are generally more preferred than broad spectrum products for people who are drug tested. Although a person, especially if you’re overweight, can fail a drug test with any CBD product, you are most likely to fail with a full spectrum product and more likely to pass using an isolate product.

Isolate products are also used in topical applications, like salves and balms and lotions. Contrary to popular belief, a full spectrum product is overkill for skin applications.

Now we’ve described the types of CBD, but, at this point, both the full and broad products are thick, tar-like substances and would be difficult to consume. At this point in the process, the CBD is generally combined with a carrier oil, like MCT oil made from coconut oil or hemp seed oil. These carrier oils dilute the CBD and turn them into a form more easily consumed.

While isolate is in powder form, most people don’t consume it that way, but use it to make another product, like a tincture or a salve or an edible.

An isolate product is also likely to be the least expensive of the 3 forms, when you purchase it as a powder. It is likely comparable to the others in price when you purchase it as a tincture or tablet (soft gel or capsule).

There are dozens, if not hundreds of companies to choose from, and with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, there will be hundreds more. Hopefully we’ve given you a better understanding of your options when it comes to selecting a CBD product, and you can use this information to select a high-quality CBD product that meets your needs.

CBD oil BenefitsBroad spectrum

Broad spectrum is a type of CBD in which the Cannabinoids have been separated from one another during the extraction process, and all except THC is added back to the final product. In lab tests, the THC content is so low that it cannot be detected.

The benefit of a broad spectrum is that the user can receive the health benefits of most of the Cannabinoids, but also remove the concern over THC.

In comparison to full spectrum CBD, the user may have to take a stronger dose in order to feel the same benefits as one would feel from a lower dose, but full spectrum product. It has to work a little harder than a full spectrum product does.

Be careful when trying to determine which type of CBD is right for you because many companies advertise a product full spectrum, but will also indicate it as THC-free. A full-spectrum product has no Cannabinoids removed, not even THC. What they’re really advertising is a broad-spectrum product. You’re less likely to hear about this type of CBD, although, it’s the one companies are advertising when they state both THC-free and full spectrum.

If you’ve heard of a powdered CBD, then you’ve heard of CBD isolate. With this product, all other Cannabinoids have been removed, including THC. This product is usually advertised as over 99% pure. That other 1% isn’t THC, though. Just like with broad spectrum, the lab tests are unable to detect THC in the sample. That other 1% are the other Cannabinoids the extraction process wasn’t able to remove completely.

Jacob Daniels

Chief Editor at Popular CBD Brands
Jacob Daniels

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