Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum vs. Isolates - What's the Difference?

May 07, 2019 4 min read

When shopping for your favorite CBD products, you've probably come across products labeled Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and CBD Isolate.  Even when we were studying up on the molecular structure of the now-famous cannabinoid, we were amazed at the different terms out there.  While the three terms may sound similar, they are far from the same.

So what are the differences between Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and CBD Isolate?

To put simply, these terms are used to define HOWthe CBD is used in the finished product.  This article will shed some light on the differences and particular advantages of each.

Revisiting Cannabinoids

We've touched on Cannabinoids quite a bit at this point.  If you need to catch up, we suggest doing so before continuing on.  In either case, here's a refresher on it:

Within both the Cannabis and Hemp plants are a classification of compounds known as cannabinoids.  Among the 100 or so cannabinoids, the most popular are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); all of which react to most living organisms on this planet thanks to the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

Back in 1995, researchers discovered that as cannabinoids interact with the Endocannabinoid System, each compound delivers a particular experience to the body; and as such, CBD has shown positive benefits towards its user.

For example, while THC delivers psychoactive effects associated with the "high" feeling, CBD does not.  In fact, one of CBD's benefits in its interaction with other cannabinoids is that the compound has the ability to counteract the psychoactive effects of THC.  With various ranges of effects delivered by other cannabinoids like Cannabigerol (CBG) and Cannabinol (CBN), the full collection of cannabinoids forms the Cannabinoid Spectrum.

Cannabinoid Spectrum

The Cannabinoid Spectrum is defined as a range contained within a product that ultimately determines its spectrum type.  During the extraction process, the plant matter such as cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes can either remain or be removed.  The way in which the CBD is extracted defines its placement within the spectrum.

CBD Isolate

CBD Isolate is defined as the purest form of the CBD compound.  It is produced by singularly extracting this particular cannabinoid from other cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and plant parts.

With CBD ranking as one of the most therapeutic substances found in both cannabis and hemp, and its chemical properties of the compound already being non-psychoactive, Isolates are a popular option for users that have been prescribed to consume large amounts of it.

  • PROS
    • Purest form of CBD
    • No risk of psychoactive effects
    • Tasteless and Odorless
  • CONS
    • Does not deliver the enhanced therapeutic benefits the way Full Spectrum does
    • Generally more expensive to obtain due to more extensive extraction procedures

Full Spectrum CBD

Full Spectrum CBD is an extract that contains all compounds found naturally occurring in the plant.  Unlike CBD Isolates that only target the CBD compound, Full Spectrum, as you'd imagine, contains all terpenes, flavonoids, essential oils, and cannabinoids from the plant.  The Entourage Effect was discussed in previous articles dictates that the naturally-occurring compounds in hemp and cannabis plants work in synergy to drastically improve the therapeutic benefits of each cannabinoid versus each behaving on their own.  As a result, Full Spectrum CBD surges in popularity as now more people are using Full Spectrum CBD products to help manage a variety of different ailments, both physical and psychological.

Due to Full Spectrum containing all compounds of the plant, generally, the taste is that of hemp, unless the finished product is altered.  For example, our Double Apple Tincture is a Full Spectrum CBD Oil; but to effectively mask the taste of hemp, we've added green and red apple flavoring.

  • PROS
    • Offers the full benefits of the hemp or cannabis plant (Entourage Effect)
    • Generally less expensive than CBD Isolate due to less extensive extraction procedures
  • CONS (Cons have more of a risk if the CBD is extracted from Cannabis plants versus Hemp)
    • May have psychoactive properties
    • May test positive on drug tests (if taken in large quantities)

Honorable Mention: Broad Spectrum CBD

If CBD Isolate is the purest form of CBD extracted from the hemp or cannabis plant, and Full Spectrum is retaining all compounds of it, think of Broad Spectrum as the middle of the two.  Broad Spectrum CBD is Full Spectrum CBD without ANY THC.  If you recall, even hemp-derived Full Spectrum CBD can contain a minimum of 0.3% THC only because the hemp plant itself contains trace amounts.  Broad Spectrum CBD is an excellent choice for individuals that cannot have any traces of the psychoactive compound in their system, whether it be for legal purposes, passing a drug test, or anything else.

  • PROS
    • Offers almost the full benefits of the other cannabinoids (minus THC) due to the Entourage Effect
    • Zero psychoactive properties
  • CONS
    • Less availability

Which Is Better?

As much as we'd want to say Full Spectrum CBD is better, only because we can offer up all of our products, we also see the value in having you consider all points.  If you feel that we missed some points, reach out to us to discuss!

Envy CBD

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