Hemp seed, oil and a leaf are pictured with text. What is the difference between isolate CBD, broad-spectrum CBD and full-spectrum CBD?

Full-Spectrum CBD vs Broad Spectrum CBD

By now I'm sure you've heard of the Cannabis Alphabet, various letter combinations that represent the different cannabinoids present. Mostly three letters, but sometimes 4, they often begin with C, but not always!

THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, THC-a, CBD-a... Yeah, it can get confusing. 

If you're already lost and want to learn about cannabinoids and what the heck I'm even talking about, you can check out the beginning of my post here. For today, we're talking about three related terms to cannabinoids: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolates.

Where are these terms used

You will see these terms used when describing hemp CBD products, from edibles to topicals. If your topical salve, gummies, or oil tincture doesn't give a distinction on what type of CBD infusion or extract was used, this is a lack of information that shouldn't be tolerated. If you want to make sure you're getting your moneys worth, you can check out my blog post on how to ensure the quality of your CBD product.

Simple Apothecary explains the difference between full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate.

Isolates

Isolates are the individual cannabinoids and terpenes, extracted individually from the original broad spectrum oil. This allows only the CBD or other individual cannabinoid or terpene to be used individually. An isolate can also be added to a full or broad-spectrum oil to increase levels of a particular cannabinoid. 

Broad-Spectrum

Broad-spectrum hemp CBD oil or extract includes some available cannabinoids and terpenes. This often means that specific cannabinoid isolates have been added into a hemp oil base. The other means is to take a broad spectrum oil and then refine or process it until most of the THC has been removed.

As you can imagine, this eliminates any need to be concerned about levels of THC in a product. It does still give you the majority of other cannabinoids and terpenes.

Full-Spectrum

Full-spectrum hemp CBD oil or extract includes all available cannabinoids and terpenes. Much of, if not the entire plant, is generally used during the extraction process. This can include flower, stems, seeds, leaves and even roots. While the flower contains the highest percentage of the active compounds, the other parts of the plant contribute as well and sometimes in different percentages.

This means full-spectrum also includes trace amounts of THC, but to be federally legal it has to be under 0.3% per dry weight. Test results of a product would show exactly how much THC you can expect. To be abundantly clear, there will NOT be enough THC to get you high.

This is the most natural or pure form of hemp CBD available. It is also by default, the least processed form.

So CBD is the best cannabinoid, right?

Not necessarily. While CBD is a remarkable cannabinoid that helps with a wide variety of issues from anxiety, to pain and inflammation, to treating seizures, its not the only one. THC is actually phenomenal for helping with pain and is probably even better at doing so. CBG is another great cannabinoid for treating pain and inflammation, and is even being studied for its effectiveness at stopping cancer growth. And CBN is a cannabinoid responsible for making you sleepy, so that can be really helpful at the right time.

Amazing, right? But wait, there's more!

While some cannabinoids are better at treating particular problems than others, it is the actual presence of a wide variety of cannabinoids that give cannabis and hemp such a broad scope of abilities. Especially when you factor in another chemical compound, terpenes, that help give cannabis or hemp its distinctive scent profiles.

These different chemical compounds all create an entourage effect, which means the chemicals work differently when all together, oftentimes even better than if present alone.

I am firmly in the camp of, “they work even better together”. When I was first attempting to transform my Minty-Hot Cannabis Salve with full THC into a hemp CBD version, I tried using an isolate. The resulting salve was lackluster and didn't do much for pain. Once I began making it with a full-spectrum hemp extract was when relEASE 250 Hemp CBD Salve came to be.

What if I get drug tested?

That's a tough place to be, I get it! You may know and believe all the virtues of THC, but are still worried. Here is some basic information for you to think about.

  • Used topically, the THC is only interacting with localized receptors. It's not getting into the blood stream itself, which is where a drug test would detect any cannabinoids present (urine draws the cannabinoids as waste from the blood stream). As hemp CBD contains so little THC to begin with, this means virtually no THC is reaching your blood stream.
  • Used internally, you would have to ingest upwards of 2,000 mg of full-spectrum hemp CBD to get detectable levels of THC in your blood-stream. Most dosages are 100 mg or less.
  • Whatever you decide, make sure the product you choose uses a third-party independent lab to ensure the levels.

I absolutely understand if you still are not comfortable using any THC at all. In that case, I would recommend finding a broad-spectrum version to use instead. This gives you the majority of the hemp benefits without any risk of THC. You can even find some labeled, THC-free. I would not recommend getting an isolate if at all possible however, as it completely eliminates the beneficial entourage effect.

Which version is best for you?

I hope this information helps you make an educated decision on what type of CBD is best for you. If you still have questions and would like to have a free 15 minute consultation with me, you can find that information here. What type do you use and why? Please let me know in the comments what you think about all this. 



Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

  • Hemp seed, oil and a leaf are pictured with text. What is the difference between isolate CBD, broad-spectrum CBD and full-spectrum CBD?

    Full-Spectrum CBD vs Broad Spectrum CBD

    By now I'm sure you've heard of the Cannabis Alphabet, various letter combinations that represent the different cannabinoids present. Mostly three letters, but sometimes 4, they often begin with C,...

    Full-Spectrum CBD vs Broad Spectrum CBD

    By now I'm sure you've heard of the Cannabis Alphabet, various letter combinations that represent the different cannabinoids present. Mostly three letters, but sometimes 4, they often begin with C,...

  • My Covid Home Remedy Kit

    My Covid Home Remedy Kit

    After two years of being ever so careful with social distancing, masking, and quarantining, I finally started to ease up. I’m double-vaccinated and boosted, so with Covid restrictions easing up...

    My Covid Home Remedy Kit

    After two years of being ever so careful with social distancing, masking, and quarantining, I finally started to ease up. I’m double-vaccinated and boosted, so with Covid restrictions easing up...

  • Product Spotlight: Funk Off!

    Product Spotlight: Funk Off!

    I think Funk Off! is perhaps my least understood product. Unlike relEASE 250 Hemp CBD Salve, or Kink Away Magnesium Cream, the name Funk Off lacks the self-explanatory aspect in...

    Product Spotlight: Funk Off!

    I think Funk Off! is perhaps my least understood product. Unlike relEASE 250 Hemp CBD Salve, or Kink Away Magnesium Cream, the name Funk Off lacks the self-explanatory aspect in...

1 of 3