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Full-Spectrum CBD vs. CBD Isolate: What’s the Difference?

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Cannabidiol—or CBD—is a compound derived from the cannabis plant, known to have numerous therapeutic benefits, including reducing anxiety, chronic pain, and inflammation. However, not all CBD products are equal.

You might have seen the terms full-spectrum and isolate when browsing CBD products. These terms refer to the difference between CBD extracted from the cannabis plant and isolated from other naturally occurring compounds, compared to CBD which includes additional components like terpenes, essential oils, and minimal levels of THC, which is the psychoactive compound responsible for the “high” feeling.

Full-spectrum CBD products are widely believed to be more holistic than isolates. This is due to the entourage effect, where the different compounds combine to provide users with the full range of benefits for which CBD is known.

What is the Difference Between Full-Spectrum CBD and CBD Isolate

Full-spectrum CBD contains all the naturally occurring compounds present in the cannabis plant, including cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and essential oils. These compounds work together to produce what is known as an “entourage effect,” which enhances the therapeutic benefits of CBD. Full-spectrum CBD also contains very low levels of THC, usually less than 0.3%, which is not enough to produce any psychoactive effects.

On the other hand, CBD isolate is a pure form of CBD that is isolated from other compounds found in the cannabis plant. CBD isolate does not contain any additional cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids meaning it does not produce an entourage effect. Because of this, some users may find it less effective than full-spectrum CBD. CBD isolate is also free of THC, making it a good choice for individuals who do not want to consume any THC.

What is Broad-Spectrum CBD?

Broad-spectrum CBD is another alternative that sits somewhere between full-spectrum and CBD isolate. For some, it can be seen as the best of both worlds because it retains the other broad range of cannabinoids found in full-spectrum CBD, minus THC that is removed in the extraction process. Because it still contains the additional terpenes and flavonoids, it can still generate the entourage effect even without THC.

It is best suited to those looking for whole-plant benefits without any THC content. Equally, if you live in a US state or international country with strict cannabis laws, it is a viable option. 

Understanding the “Entourage Effect” and Why It’s Important

The cannabis plant is something we are still learning the full benefits of, but what we can be sure of is that it contains an enormous range of compounds used to treat various illnesses over millennia. These compounds include terpenes, essential oils, flavonoids, fatty acids, and over 120 more. 

You’re likely very aware of the two primary compounds Cannabinoid (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but there is more to it. Combining THC, CBD, and other compounds present in cannabis, we create a more holistic benefit for our endocannabinoid system. It is where the notion of “getting the most out of CBD” comes in. 

The endocannabinoid system regulates our sleep, mood, appetite, muscle inflammation, memory, and even fertility. Full-spectrum CBD exposes our endocannabinoid system to all the cannabis compounds more naturally and holistically. This is otherwise known as the entourage effect.

The concept behind the entourage effect is to use the full range of compounds as they are naturally available for the best overall effect. It respects why there are so many phytocannabinoids present in nature – they are designed to work with each other in a complementary way. 

With particular consideration for CBD and THCs application for mood disorders, a 1998 study of the entourage effect suggested that the “inactive” biological products that accompany the primary cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, and CBC) increase their activity in the body. A 2019 study even claims the entourage effect—as a botanical synergy concept—achieves maximal pharmacological effect as a whole plant extract over a purified cannabinoid – like CBD isolate.

Can you “Get High” on Full-Spectrum CBD?

For some people, consuming full-spectrum CBD can be intimidating because it includes THC – the psychoactive component of cannabis that gives the “high” feeling. It is often why some opt for broad-spectrum CBD or even CBD isolate. 

The good news is that you can’t get high on full-spectrum CBD because the level of THC is minimal, usually no more than 0.3%. To put that into perspective, you would need to take a very high dose of between 1000 and 2000mg of CBD for THC to show up in a standard drug test. Considering that a normal dose is around 10-50mg for a CBD tincture and around 20mg for a gummy, meaning the quantity of THC you consume won’t be noticeable.

If you consume CBD products, we highly recommend you read up on how long CBD stays in your system, especially if you may be required to provide a drug test for work, travel, or personal reasons. 

What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Full-Spectrum CBD?

While further research is needed into the entourage effect, current studies show that full-spectrum CBD can help to mitigate the risk of certain types of cancer, and neurological disorders, among other benefits.

Pain Relief

The pain-relieving qualities of full-spectrum CBD are now being further understood with studies exploring relief for chronic pain. It extends to helping with neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis, cancer, or rheumatoid arthritis.

Cognitive Function

Research shows that certain molecules found in the cannabis plant can improve our cognitive function affecting our decision-making, processing speed, attention span, learning, and memory. A 2019 case series from The Permanente Journal also concluded that 25mg CBD capsules helped decrease anxiety levels in 79.2% of patients within the first month and improved sleep scores for 66.7% of patients.

Pro-Cognitive Benefits

The existing literature provides strong evidence supporting the pro-cognitive effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in disease states. These include Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, hypoxic ischemia, stroke, and meningitis. 

Seizure Reduction

Concerning seizure reduction, a 2017 study from The New England Journal of Medicine studied the effects of cannabidiol for the treatment of drug-resistant seizures caused by Dravet syndrome – a complex childhood epilepsy disorder with a high mortality rate. They found that 43% of patients taking CBD experienced at least a 50% reduction in convulsive-seizure frequency.

Less Processed

There is a lot of marketing around CBD isolate being the purest form of CBD. Concerning how our body works, “pure” isn’t necessarily good. Our endocannabinoid systems are immensely complex and the entourage effect helps to increase the range of compounds and their availability. 

One example is the endocannabinoid compound Anandamide, a neurotransmitter derived from arachidonic acid. It is part of a group of N-acylethanolamides, including palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), which is cosynthesised with anandamide to slow down its degradation and increase available levels. 

Anandamide contributes to improved memory, appetite, sleep, and pain relief, and is one of the many endocannabinoids available in full-spectrum CBD. It relies on the entourage effect to improve its effectiveness in the body. 

What CBD Products are Full-Spectrum?

Now that you have a strong understanding of how full-spectrum CBD can help you gain more of the benefits of cannabidiol you are probably considering what products are best for you.  

CBD Oils

CBD oils are extracted from the seeds, flowers, and stalks of the cannabis plant using advanced extraction methods. The oil is blended with a combination of coconut, MCT, vegetable, and olive oil to optimize absorption by the body.

A highly effective way to take CBD oil is by placing a few drops directly under the tongue in the capillary-rich area. After holding the oil there for a few minutes, it is swallowed, allowing the CBD to reach the bloodstream quickly and provide maximum benefits.

CBD Tinctures

CBD tinctures are expertly crafted by blending cannabis plant extracts with a specialized mixture of alcohol, peppermint oil, or glycerin. These can be ingested by dropping them under the tongue and then swallowing them—similar to CBD oils—making them a very convenient and effective delivery method.

 

We have created a range of tinctures with different quantities and combinations of THC and CBD to suit a wider range of patients looking for specific benefits such as severe pain and inflammation relief,  or wanting to avoid THC consumption.

CBD Capsule

CBD capsules are specially formulated, providing a convenient option for daily use with pre-measured dosages contained within each capsule. Although ingestion into the bloodstream may take slightly longer compared to the sublingual method, CBD capsules are a reliable and effective way to incorporate CBD into your daily routine.

CBD Topicals

Topicals are a type of CBD product that is applied directly to the skin. They are infused with CBD and can be found in the form of oils, balms, or lotions. One of the major benefits of topicals is that they can be targeted to a specific area of the body that is experiencing pain, soreness, or inflammation. This makes them a great option for individuals who prefer localized relief rather than a full-body effect. 

CBD Gummies and Edibles

Another practical and effective way to consume full-spectrum CBD is with CBD gummies and edibles. They can vary quite widely in their quantities of THC and CBD but we have created a specific line that aligns with the oil ratios so that users can have a more convenient method to dose during the day. 

Are You Ready to Try Full-Spectrum CBD

For anybody looking to try CBD for the first time, we would generally recommend full-spectrum CBD because it tends to generate a stronger response in users thanks to the entourage effect. It is arguably the best and most natural way for people to get the full-plant benefits and its benefits are becoming more widely understood thanks to ongoing research. 

While some users may prefer the purity and consistency of CBD isolate or merely prefer not to consume THC, we also have a line of low THC products that are still full spectrum. 

Our expert team is available to help you find the best CBD products to suit your specific needs. Contact us for a free consultation to put your mind at ease.