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CBD Isolate vs. Full-Spectrum vs. Broad-Spectrum CBD

Janet Miller

Janet Miller

Last updated: October 29, 2019


The terms CBD isolate, CBD full-spectrum, and CBD broad-spectrum are used to differentiate which type of cannabinoid products they are. CBD is a cannabinoid, but it is only one in over a hundred different versions. Understanding the difference in these terms will help to find the right product. Finding the right CBD product is essential for treating a particular ailment.
Each one has a use that it is ideally suited to do, so they should not be used interchangeably. This article aims to inform people about the best CBD products for their particular needs. All in an easy to understand way.

Exploring the Cannabinoid Spectrum

Cannabis is full of different cannabinoids. How these cannabinoids present themselves in each CBD product is called the cannabinoid. Some cannabinoids come from hemp plants and others from the marijuana plant. Though both are cannabis.

The most recognized of these are CBD and THC. Both products have different results on the body. For example, THC is psychoactive. CBD is not and will not get a person high.

THC and CBD are not the only cannabinoids present in cannabis. Other types of cannabinoids include cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN). These other cannabinoids all have a different role to play and produce different effects.

Why are all these conditions important to know?

Knowing the difference between CBD products makes it easier to pinpoint the type of cannabinoid that is best suited to every situation.

There is not one that is better than others. Whatever the desired outcome, there is one that will perform better than others.

People with anxiety may find that the CBD isolate and broad-spectrum CBD offer excellent results. Full-Spectrum CBD may accentuate the anxiety in some people because of the trace amounts of THC.

What is CBD Isolate?

CBD isolate is the purest form of cannabis (plant). It is called isolate because the CBD is taken out of the cannabis. CBD was then isolated from the rest of the cannabinoids as well as terpenes and flavonoids.

All that remains after processing is an extract in the form of a crystalline powder of 99.9% pure cannabinoid.

There is no trace of any Tetrahydrocannabinol, terpenes or other cannabinoids. As a result, there are no psychoactive properties.
The lack of it means that this plant extract will cause nobody to fail a drug test. There is very little in hemp plants, to begin with, and even less since it is isolated.

CBD isolate can be taken orally by putting the dose under the tongue to let it dissolve. Or, added to edibles like smoothies. It is also prevalent in baked goods. Higher temperatures will diminish the results. It should not be baked at temperatures higher than 350°F.

Dosing the CBD isolate is very easy. Generally, one milligram of powder will contain one milligram of CBD.

What is Full-Spectrum CBD?

When referring to the Full Spectrum CBD, it means that the CBD oil is an extract from the plant with the full range of other cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils. Tetrahydrocannabinol is also contained, but usually under 0.2%.

All the cannabinoids present have properties in which they specialize. Having a concentration of different CBDs makes this CBD very effective at treating many various ailments.

Each of the CBDs taken in isolation would have a minimal reaction. Taken all together, they become more significant than the sum of their parts. In other words, the results are more potent when they are all combined.

This phenomenon is known as the “entourage effect” — more details on that to follow.

It can be taken as a topical product for relief from arthritis, or other chronic pain. When the pain is close to the surface of the skin, the CBD oil can penetrate to the cannabinoid receptors easily to relieve the pain.

For other conditions like anxiety or insomnia, CBD can be taken by vaping or orally.
It can be intense for some so finding the proper dose is essential. It is recommended to start with a low dose and gradually increase it.

What is Broad-Spectrum CBD?

This CBD is similar in a way to CBD isolate. In this case, many cannabinoids are removed with many still being left.

THC is usually isolated and removed. This process leaves the rest of the range of CBDs. Even without the THC, the “entourage effect” benefits are still present.
Since this CBD is hemp-derived, there is no issue with the legalities of possessing or using it. Hemp plant products were made legal at the federal level in 2018.

Since it does not contain THC, it is excellent for people that have a sensitivity to it or cannot risk failing a drug test.

Since THC is metabolized first by the liver, it can affect people differently. Anybody that does not want to feel intoxicated can use the broad-spectrum and still get more or less the same results as with full-spectrum.

Taken orally or by vaping CBD can relieve symptoms from anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, or epilepsy. It can also be used topically in a cream or lotion form to sooth pain as a local anesthetic.

Why Full and Broad Spectrum CBD Works Better than CBD Isolate

Though CBD isolate has its place, the other two cannabis product types will work much more effectively. The lack of terpenes and flavonoids results in a flavorless product.

CBD isolate contains anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and anti-anxiety benefits, but its focus is very narrow.

Full CBD oil vs broad-spectrum CBD oil derives their benefits from having a host of other cannabinoids besides just the CBD. Called the “entourage effect,” it is what makes full-spectrum CBD so effective as a therapy.

CBD has dozens of different targets in the body. Each cannabinoid will trigger specific targets, while others will not. With only pure CBD oil present, many of those targets remain untriggered.

Bringing a lot of members to the party ensures that more of the targets are triggered. The result is a more effective therapy, even at low doses of CBD.

Anxiety is an excellent way to show this. There is not one singular target to treat anxiety. Having many entourage members in the products will attack the issue from many angles.

A lower dose of CBD can have some dramatic results and tackle anxiety efficiently.

Another benefit of using full CBD or broad CBD over isolate is how easily absorbed into the tissue they are. Also, since targets are found throughout the body, they may not need to travel as far to find their primary target.

Should I Use Full-Spectrum, Broad-Spectrum, or a CBD Isolate?

There is no wrong cannabis product in these scenarios. Instead, which an extract will be best will depend on specific circumstances and what the desired benefits are.
Both CBD products have their pros and cons. It is crucial to evaluate them individually. Full CBD vs broad-spectrum CBD oil comes down to how much THC one can tolerate.

Pros and Cons of CBD Isolate

Pros Cons

  • Made of 99.9% pure CBD

  • No risk of psychoactive effects, ie, will not get you high

  • Considered being very safe

  • Tasteless and odorless making it suitable for edibles

  • No chance of testing positive for THC

  • Legal on the Federal level

  • CBD Has limited results on some ailments without entourage effect

  • Dosing is tricky as high or low doses can have unwanted responses

CBD Isolate is Best for:

  • People that want to avoid THC because of sensitivity or to avoid failing a drug test.
  • People that live in states where cannabinoids derived from marijuana is not legal. CBD isolate is hemp-derived, which is lawful on the Federal level.
  • People looking to cook or make other edibles since it has no color or taste. It is also easy to measure since it comes in a powder form.

Though the CBD isolate does not have the entourage effect, it stimulates the endocannabinoid system. For a mild experience, CBD isolate can improve sleep and support a general sense of calmness.

Pros and Cons of Full Spectrum CBD

Pros Cons
  • Has most of the cannabinoids intact leading to the "entourage effect."

  • Far less processed for a more natural response

  • Easier to target more specific uses

  • A higher level of relief for symptoms even at low doses
  • Could lead to unwanted side effects like getting high

  • Though low in

  • Tetrahydrocannabinol it may trigger a failure in drug tests

  • Can only be used in states where marijuana is legal

  • Has the flavor of marijuana and also color

Full-Spectrum CBD is Best for:

  • People that are looking to target a particular ailment or have severe conditions.
  • People that do not mind that they may experience some psychoactive effects for the full experience.
  • Use in states where it is legal to consume and possess THC products derived from marijuana.
  • People looking for an alternative to medical marijuana.

Tetrahydrocannabinol can affect people much differently. Some will feel less anxious from using a full CBD oil that contains it. Others think elevated anxiety is due to the presence of THC. Analyzing full CBD vs broad-spectrum CBD becomes very important due to the presence of Tetrahydrocannabinol.

The low dose of THC present (capped at <0.3%) will not likely cause any severe psychoactive experiences. However, it may make people feel woozy and slow.

Pros and Cons of Broad-Spectrum CBD

Pros Cons
  • Offers all the entourage effect as a full-spectrum CBD

  • It contains a maximum of traces of Tetrahydrocannabinol, ie, won't fail a drug taste or cause a psychoactive event.

  • Can target specific ailments, even severe ones.

  • Less processed than isolate.
  • It has the taste, smell, and color of the natural product.

  • Not as available as full-spectrum CBD or CBD isolate.

Broad Spectrum CBD is Best for:

  • People that have severe or particular conditions that isolate would not alleviate.
  • People that live in a state in which marijuana-derived CBD with THC is not allowed.
  • Anybody with sensitivity to THC or would rather not risk any psychoactive effects.
  • People that need to be drug tested and do not want to risk failing one.

How does full spectrum CBD vs. broad-spectrum CBD stack up?

Broad-spectrum CBD is the Holy Grail of cannabidiol extracts. It gives all the benefits of full-spectrum CBD without the Tetrahydrocannabinol. For dosage, it can be used precisely in the same way as any other cannabidiol oil. Including orally, topically, and even as a suppository.

It has a vegetal flavor and smells very similar to marijuana. The taste of the edible with CBD oil may be affected. This is due to the presence of terpenes and flavonoids.

Final Thoughts on Different CBD Spectrums

Finding the right CBD products can be somewhat tricky. Different people react differently to the cannabinoid in each. Adding to the confusion is the fact that different ways to consume the products change how a person will respond.

Hopefully, this article helped take some uncertainty out of the question of CBD isolate vs. full-spectrum CBD benefits.

If there are still questions lingering, or something was not clear about CBD, then leave a comment in the box below.


Janet Miller

Janet Miller

Janet is a medical specialist with 10 years of experience as a physician and writing passion. She aims to help people and expand humans mindset. Chat with Janet on Twitter @Janet_Miller_MD or via our contact page.


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