While you might now be aware of the difference between CBD and THC, hemp and marijuana, you might not know that not all CBD is the same. CBD is generally found as full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD (a more recently available option or as CBD isolate. So what are the differences between the three, and which one is best for you?
An introduction to cannabinoids and the extraction process
To understand the difference between types of CBD, you first need to know about cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemical compounds that are found withing the cannabis plant, with CBD and the psychoactive THC being the most well-known and the most plentiful. Cannabis plants also contain a number of other beneficial compounds known as terpenes and flavonoids.
To get from the raw plant to the finished product, the cannabis needs to go through a number of different processes. In the case of the most gentle extraction, it is only the plant matter that is removed, and all of the chemical compounds are left – providing full spectrum CBD. However, this product can then be further refined, resulting in broad spectrum CBD or CBD isolate. If you want to know more, head over to our guide to How CBD Oil is Made.
The entourage effect
One thing to take in to account when choosing a CBD product is whether you want or need the benefits of the entourage effect. While the CBD itself is obviously the most important ingredient in any CBD product, research has shown that the other parts of the plant have their role too. Simply put, the terpenes, flavonoids and other cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant have the effect of amplifying the benefits of CBD, as well as providing their own additional health benefits.
Full spectrum CBD
As the name suggests, full spectrum CBD is the most pure and unrefined extract from the hemp plant, and as such contains all of the natural cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. While this does also mean that full spectrum CBD contains some THC, the hemp has been specifically bred to ensure that this amount is minimal and meets legal requirements. The benefit of full spectrum CBD is that it makes use of the entourage effect, however this small amount of THC may still have an impact on drug test results.
Full spectrum CBD is suitable for people who are suffering from more severe symptoms that board spectrum or isolate have failed to assist with.
Full spectrum CBD pros and cons
- Offers the full benefits of the entourage effect
- The most natural (less processed) form of CBD
- May interact with some drug tests
- May have a strong hemp flavour
Broad spectrum CBD
Broad spectrum CBD can be seen as bridging the gap between full spectrum CBD and CBD isolate. Broad spectrum CBD starts out at as full spectrum – with all of the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids that that entails – but is then further refined to remove all traces of THC. It still takes advantage of the entourage effect, but it is a more processed and less natural product than full spectrum CBD.
Broad spectrum CBD is suitable for people who have not had any success with CBD isolate, have a sensitivity to THC, or who live in regions with very strict laws regarding THC.
Broad spectrum CBD pros and cons
- No risk of psychoactive effects or interaction with drug tests
- Offers the benefits of the entourage effect
- Less processed than CBD isolate
- Not as well researched as full spectrum or isolate
- May have a strong hemp flavour
- Lack of THC may detract from the entourage effect
In one way you could say this is the most pure form of CBD, but it’s also the least natural product available. CBD isolate goes through a resides of extraction and refinement processes to ensure that no other chemical compound remains besides CBD. Isolate can still offer all of the benefits of CBD and in fact has a much higher potency of CBD, but it does lack the potential for the added benefits that are provided by the entourage effect.
CBD isolate is often used by people who may be sensitive to THC or some of the other compounds found naturally in cannabis, or by those who have been recommended to take very high doses of CBD.
CBD isolate pros and cons
- Contains a higher concentration of CBD
- Odourless and flavourless
- Will not affect a drug test
- Highly processed
- Does not offer the entourage effect