You may have heard about the different forms of CBD: full spectrum, isolate, and broad spectrum. But, which is the best? Full spectrum, isolate, and broad spectrum all have unique qualities and beneficial effects for health and wellness. This article will help us to understand the differences of these different types of CBD (cannabidiol) to help you choose the best one for you.
- What is full spectrum CBD?
- How is full spectrum different than isolate?
- The entourage effect: How full spectrum is greater than the sum of its parts
- Is full spectrum CBD oil better than CBD isolate?
- What about broad spectrum?
- Final thoughts on CBD full spectrum vs. isolate vs. broad spectrum
- New published research for cannabinoid combinations
What Is Full Spectrum?
Full spectrum CBD can also be called whole-plant hemp extract, because it includes all of the compounds from the hemp plant, including cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, proteins, and vitamins.
The health and wellness benefits of full spectrum are largely attributed to the 85+ cannabinoids. CBD is the highest concentrated cannabinoid in hemp and is being extensively studied for its medicinal potential. Full spectrum CBD products are designed to have this high amount of CBD plus all the other naturally occurring cannabinoids from the hemp plant.
That means when extracting full spectrum hemp, the product is going to contain trace amounts of all the plant’s cannabinoids, including THC. This provides the full benefit of cannabis, a plant that has been used medicinally for thousands of years.
Note: Hemp is a type of cannabis plant. It is distinct from marijuana because of the different amounts of cannabinoids, specifically the ratio of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the psychoactive part of marijuana that causes the ‘high’ and intoxicating effects. CBD is not psychoactive and has no ‘high’. In order for a plant to be considered hemp, it must contain less than 0.3% THC (recreational marijuana typically contains 15-35% THC). Hemp and products made from hemp with less than 0.3% THC are fully legal to buy and use in the United States.
How Is Full Spectrum Different Than Isolate?
As scientists have started to identify the benefits of cannabis, they want to understand why. They want to know what chemicals from the plant cause the human body to react in specific ways. In order to do this, they have isolated, or singled out specific cannabinoids to study. CBD isolate and THC isolate have received the most research as they are the highest concentration in hemp and marijuana plants.
By isolating CBD, scientists are able to test the effects of the single chemical without other chemicals from the plant affecting the results. With 11,800+ studies published (1), CBD is showing promising effects for over 100 conditions. The evidence shows that CBD has the potential to help with seizures, mood, pain, anxiety, inflammation, skin, sleep, and more.
CBD and THC are the clear cannabinoid celebrities, but they aren’t the only cannabinoids. There are other important ones with various health benefits including:
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabinol (CBN)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA)
- Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
Given that CBD and THC have both shown to have great medicinal value, scientists have expanded their research to start study the other cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, CBDA, and more. These are showing early results as isolates. See the illustration below to see the health and wellness benefits attributed to some of the different cannabinoids in full spectrum CBD.
The entourage effect: How full spectrum is greater than the sum of its parts
An interesting thing happens when all the cannabinoids are combined, called the entourage effect. The main idea of the entourage effect is that the combination of cannabinoids in full spectrum is more effective than the individual cannabinoids.
Teamwork is the key to the overall entourage effect. When we combine the cannabinoids, we get a multiplying effect rather than the sum of each part. When addressing complex health conditions there are often multiple ways to get to the best outcome.
An easy way to think of the entourage effect is to imagine that CBD is a rock star, and the other components are the band members. Despite the talent of the rock star, the entourage effect of a band can increase the full range and potential options.
Another benefit of full spectrum hemp extracts is that some of the other nutritional parts like terpenes and proteins can help improve how the body absorbs the cannabinoids. According to research (2), some of the terpenes in cannabis extracts are so effective at absorbing into the skin that they are used to improve the delivery of some medicinal topical creams.
Is Full Spectrum CBD Oil Better Than CBD Isolate?
Yes and no, it depends on the desired effects of CBD. Cannabinoids impact receptors throughout the whole body and brain causing many beneficial effects. In fact, humans have a natural endocannabinoid system which creates and responds to cannabinoids.
Isolate CBD primarily regulates receptors instead of binding to them,. This allows it to play a role in 65+ chemical and signaling pathways. When you combine that with the effects of all of the other cannabinoids you have hundreds of different ways of getting to a beneficial outcome. (Even if the research into how the other cannabinoids impact the body is lagging behind)
While the sum of the full spectrum is often beneficial, the effects of cannabinoids in combinations are less studied than isolates. But, research (3) is starting to show that the effects of an isolate can be changed by other cannabinoids. The entourage effect can enhance some effects of CBD but also potentially limit or counteract the effects of CBD and other cannabinoids.
Research (4) shows that THC can cause some individuals to feel anxious, but when paired with CBD the individuals’ overall anxiety is reduced. Another example is nausea. According to one preclinical animal study (5), CBG can actually prevent CBD’s nausea reducing effect. Therefore, if you are using CBD for a specific desired effect (like reducing anxiety or reducing nausea) then CBD isolate may be a better option.
Note: One thing that should be factored into your decision is your viewpoint on THC and whether you are drug tested regularly. Most drug tests will test for THC , not CBD. In which case, isolate CBD is the best way to go.
What about broad spectrum?
THC is a psychoactive chemical, meaning that it causes intoxication or a ‘high’ when used in higher doses. Some people want to avoid this chemical or have personal reservations about THC. As a result, people began developing broad spectrum CBD options which are supposed to have all the benefits of full spectrum without any THC. (It is important to note that even in full spectrum products the 0.3% THC is not enough to make your feel high)
I say supposed to, because, well… most broad spectrum products still contain THC when tested by independent labs. This is because a true broad-spectrum product is difficult to make and process. When making an isolate, you are extracting a single chemical and the process can leave some excess CBD from the initial pre-extracted solution (because you don’t need the post-extracted solution, only the isolated CBD). With broad-spectrum the opposite is true, you need to extract all of the THC from the pre-extracted solution (because you only need the post-extracted solution and not the THC). If you don’t have exact processing techniques you can leave some THC still in the post-extraction solution. This means you actually have just a bad full-spectrum product rather than a true broad-spectrum product.
The US Hemp Authority is an independent certification for the hemp industry that verifies product quality and manufacturing safety and they have not certified any broad spectrum products. Daddy Burt Hemp Co. is one of 22 companies certified by the US Hemp Authrity. We do not offer any broad spectrum products, but we do have high-quality isolate and full spectrum CBD products.
Final Thoughts on CBD Full Spectrum vs. Isolate vs. Broad Spectrum
In conclusion, modern medicine’s isolation of specific cannabinoids has led to a better understanding of the many effects of cannabinoids. Full spectrum CBD contains other cannabinoids, not just CBD. CBD isolate, on the other hand, is a pure form of CBD and is considered to be THC free. Broad-spectrum is supposed to be like full spectrum, just without the THC.
Generally, full spectrum CBD provides a wider range of benefits for health and wellness due to all of the unique cannabinoids and the entourage effect. When using CBD for a specific benefit, an isolate can be more effective because the isolate is not blocked by the potentially limiting effects of the other cannabinoids.Regardless of which type you choose, the evidence shows that CBD has the potential to provide support and relief to people with over 100+ health conditions.
Full Spectrum Products
New Research for cannabinoid combinations
Research has shown that full spectrum cannabinoids can provide relief to numerous health conditions. As stated above, existing research has demonstrated that CBD has the potential to help with seizures, pain, mood, anxiety, inflammation, appetite, sleep and more. But the research continues to grow and expand. Below are some studies on the benefits of cannabinoids combinations that have been featured in new 2019 research and are subjects for additional research:
- Bones and Joints: The Effects of Cannabinoids on the Skeleton (6) published August 2019
- Cannabidiol and the Remainder of the Plant Extract Modulate the Effects of Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol on Fear Memory Reconsolidation (7) published August 2019
- Cannabidiol, cannabinol and their combinations act as peripheral analgesics in a rat model of myofascial pain (8) published August 2019
- Combination of cannabinoids, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), mitigates experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) by altering the gut microbiome (9) published July 2019