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CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum

There is a huge debate surrounding the CBD vs. full spectrum issue which has portrayed the subject as complex and difficult to understand. However, this should not be the case. The subject is quite simple to grasp. CBD is one of the fastest growing industries which necessitates an understanding of what the medication is, how it works and how it is made. Cannabidiol has become a go-to natural alternative treatment for many patients. Full spectrum CBD oil and CBD isolate are the two popular types of CBD oil used.

Let us begin by simply defining the terms.


CBDCannabinoid or CBD is a chemical compound contained in plants of the cannabis species. Its popularity arises from the fact that unlike other cannabis compounds such as THC, CBD does not make you high. Medical studies have shown that CBD has a number of benefits, but these benefits do not surpass the love people are showing towards CBD for its lack of producing any mind-altering psychoactive effects.

There is also a need to distinguish between hemp, cannabis, and marijuana. Cannabis is the umbrella term that includes both hemp and marijuana. The scientific name of the cannabis plant is cannabis sativa, where hemp and marijuana are varieties. Both hemp and marijuana plants could be referred to as cannabis but it would be impractical to refer to marijuana as a hemp plant. The difference between hemp plant and marijuana is that the former has close to no THC content, making it legal to buy and sell hemp products.

The spike in industry popularity is attributed to the fact that CBD oils and Hemp oil come from the hemp plant.

The basics about CBD and marijuana can be summarized as:

  • Marijuana contains THC which gets you high
  • Hemp contains minor amounts of THC
  • Hemp contains other cannabinoids which include CBD
  • Both hemp and marijuana are cannabis plants

The General Comparison: CBD Isolate vs. Full Spectrum

A CBD isolate is a pure CBD compound by itself. It is a whitish powder. Another property is that it contains no other active compounds. The pure CBD was often used as the ‘gold standard’ for non-psychoactive cannabis therapy in the recent past. This perception has changed with time. Recent studies show that CBD functions along with other cannabis plant compounds rather than by itself, a condition referred to as the ‘entourage effect”. Furthermore, CBD was more effective when used along with other cannabis plant compounds.

Full-spectrum oil can then be easily deduced as oil that contains other active plant compounds besides CBD. The other compounds inferred here are other cannabinoids such as CBN, CBL, CBCVA and cannabis terpenes (aromatic compounds) like pinene and limonene.

There is more to be said about the difference of CBD isolate and full spectrum besides the presence of cannabis compounds.

1) Composition

CBD isolate contains purified CBD while full spectrum CBD contains CBD an all other cannabinoids found in marijuana plants which are cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG) and THCV  (Tetrahydrocannabivarin) just to mention a few. CBN and CBG have been found to contain anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and pain relieving properties. Full spectrum CBD also contains trace amounts of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). This minimal amount accounts for a very minimal psychoactive stimulation.

2) Uses

As mentioned earlier, CBD isolate was viewed as the most potent punch in cannabis therapy because of its purity. However, CBD is more effective when acting along with other cannabis plant compounds. This implies that full-spectrum CBD oil is more effective in treating a majority of medical conditions compared to CBD isolate. This has been proven from sufferers of anxiety, depression and chronic pain who have had to use CBD for treatment.

The ‘entourage effect’ is expected to render CBD isolate useless for medical treatment. On the contrary, CBD isolate is still very relevant in the cannabis market. The powder has been concocted in people’s daily remedies by mixing it with oil and adding it to their coffee or use it to make edibles. It is important to mention that CBD isolate comes in an easily-measurable powder which is perfect for people trying to calculate exact personal dosages of CBD.

Full spectrum CBD is oil still remains to the preferred choice for most users. It is the efficient method of treatment. Concentrated and high-quality full-spectrum CBD oils have been used to treat a variety of ailments from anxiety to diabetes to chronic pain and continue to effectively do so. There is still more research to be done to make the quality of full spectrum products better and better.

However, the efficiency of full spectrum CBD has a challenge because the other cannabinoids it contains may cause negative reactions where CBD isolate would not.

3) Consumption method

Vaping (the act of inhaling vapor produced by the burning of a substance through an electronic cigarette) of CBD isolate is seen as the most preferred way of consuming it. Vaping is viewed as efficient and quick-acting. Full spectrum CBD is consumed by applying it sublingually, topically or taking it as capsules.

CBD isolate vs Full Spectrum

4) Products

CBD isolate products will generally be indicated as 99% + pure CBD. It can be found as either raw crystalline powder or slabs on its own or infused with pre-made isolate oils which typically contain a carrier oil such as MCT oil. CBD isolate products as important for people who are sensitive to other cannabinoids like THC. It is important to verify the purity levels of the CBD isolate products.

Today, there exists a crystalline isolate infused with terpenes (terpsolates) which give an enhanced feeling above that of CBD isolate.

Full spectrum CBD products have the advantage of the entourage effect from the combined effort of cannabinoids and terpenes which is something CBD isolate products lack. There are full spectrum products which are marked as ‘broad spectrum’, implying 0% THC levels. Such products need to be lab tested to verify the claims.

It goes without mention that Full spectrum CBD is preferred to CBD isolate because the former has a variety of cannabinoid compounds which have more health benefits to offer than the CBD isolate. However, just like any other medication, the use of CBD as an isolate or full spectrum is dependent on the individual user and their needs. Everyone is different and one person’s efficient treatment may not be similar to another’s.

The conclusion would be a simple inference that CBD isolate is pure CBD while full spectrum CBD is ‘impure’ CBD. They are both used for medical purposes, but the latter is more efficient than the former. It all comes down to personal preference.

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