Understanding the difference between the three major types of CBD products is one of the most important first steps on your CBD journey. Once you understand the difference between them, you’ll be better equipped to make an educated decision on which CBD oil product to buy for your needs.
The three most popular types of CBD oil used today are: Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum and Isolate. You may also come across products labeled as “Whole Plant” or “Pure CBD.” This article will explain the differences and similarities among these.
Full spectrum (or “whole plant”) products contain CBD as well as terpenes and other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN and trace amounts of THC. Usually these will be in ratios that were naturally-occurring and extracted from the plant and specific strain. Terpenes and cannabinoids are occasionally added back into products as an isolated form to raise the potency of the product.
Full spectrum products are by far the most popular. With full spectrum CBD oil products, you have the advantage of something called the “entourage effect.” This is where all the cannabinoids and terpenes are working together in synergy, something that broad spectrum and isolate products will lack.
Those subject to drug testing should be cautious when it comes to full spectrum products. The THC found in full spectrum hemp oil products is minimal (less than 0.3%), but can still trigger a positive drug test.
Broad spectrum products contain an array of cannabinoids and terpenes but zero THC based on the manufacturer’s lab testing. Third party lab reports that are readily available from reputable companies can tell you which cannabinoids and terpenes are in the product and at what levels.
These products have often gone through additional processing to try to isolate and remove as much THC as possible while still maintaining the other cannabinoids and terpenes. In other cases, they are isolate-based with additional cannabinoids and terpenes added in.
Isolates are typically the CBD oil product of choice for those who get drug tested or are sensitive to other cannabinoids such as THC. Products labeled as isolates will generally be highlighted as being 99+% “pure CBD.” Usually, these products will have nothing but CBD in them because the CBD has literally been isolated from everything else. You can find pre-made isolate oils that typically consist of a carrier oil, such as MCT oil, infused with the crystalline isolate powder. You can also find the “raw” CBD crystalline powder or slabs (a form of concentrate) on its own.
When looking at isolate, it is important to verify the purity. While many are in the 99.9+% range with no identifiable amounts of THC, there are lower purity ones (such as 99.5% or lower) that may still have trace amounts that show up on the labs. This small amount is typically negligible, and is nowhere near the amount usually found in full spectrum products. But it’s still something to be aware of for those seeking the purest they can find.
There are also products out there called terpsolates, which is the crystalline isolate infused with terpenes. These products can give you a bit of an enhanced effect over just CBD isolate on its own depending on the terpenes that have been used.
Which is Better – Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum or Isolate?
While there is much debate on which form is better, this 2015 study leans in favor of full spectrum CBD oil products. There are many that believe that other cannabinoids, THC especially, are necessary to take full advantage of what cannabis has to offer. Ultimately, however, we are all different and it comes down to the individual user and their needs. If drug testing is a concern, you’re encouraged to seek out CBD isolate products (or terpsolates) or broad spectrum products instead of full spectrum.