Full Spectrum CBD Oil vs Isolate

What is the difference between Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum and Isolate? This is often one of the first questions asked by those diving into the world of CBD for the first time. Once you understand the difference between these, 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 CBD Oil

Full Spectrum generally refers to CBD oil products that not only contain CBD, but also contain some terpenes and other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN and even some THC. Usually these will be in ratios that were naturally occurring and extracted from the plant and specific strain. But they are also occasionally added back into products as an isolated form to raise the potency of the product. For those that get drug tested, Full Spectrum is something to be cautious about. The THC found in full spectrum hemp products is minimal (less than 0.3%), but can still trigger positive drug tests.

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 Isolate products will lack.

Broad Spectrum CBD Oil

Broad Spectrum refers to CBD oil products that typically 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. Or in other cases, they are isolate based with additional cannabinoids and terpenes added in.

CBD Isolate

Isolate is 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 Isolate 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” 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.

It is important to note that 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 (http://file.scirp.org/pdf/PP_2015021016351567.pdf) leans in favor of Full Spectrum 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 instead of Full Spectrum.

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Sarah Jorczyk is an advocate for CBD products and one of the Administrators of the CBD Oil Users Group on Facebook. She strives to educate the public, and promotes the use of safe products while helping others throughout their CBD journey. You can also find a variety of her content, including reviews and educational videos, on the group's youtube page.

  1. Wow!! This is great info xx

  2. Well written. Thank you.

  3. This is a great link! It really helped me realize I’m using an oil that isn’t the best for me! I made the mistake because I didnt understand the difference between full spectrum & reg cbd!
    Also, your recommendations helped a lot! Thank You!

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