Full Spectrum CBD vs CBD Isolate: What’s the difference?

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Cannabidiol, or CBD, is growing in popularity among the health-conscious community.  There are abundant products available on the market, but not all CBD is created equal. If you’ve done any looking around yourself, you’ve likely seen the term “full spectrum” applied to CBD products. But you may have also seen products labeled “THC-free” or “CBD Isolate”.
What do these terms mean, and how does full spectrum CBD differ from CBD isolate?  Let’s discuss the key differences between each of these, as well as their main benefits.

Full Spectrum CBD:  The Original CBD Extract

Full spectrum is the term applied to hemp extracts that contain the complete cannabinoid, terpene, and flavonoid profile of the original plant material. It means that the product offers a “full spectrum” of cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, CBG, CBC, and others, along with beneficial molecules like terpenes and flavonoids that may amplify the effects of CBD. To get full spectrum CBD, manufacturers need to extract cannabidiol from the hemp plant.

The method of CBD extraction is very important since it affects the quality of the end product (the product can be high-quality or low-quality depending on the way CBD is derived from hemp). 

Manufacturers often choose CO2 extraction, since it is believed to be the safest and cleanest method. This method increases the shelf life of the product and ensures that the product (in this case, full spectrum CBD) retains all important compounds.

Full Spectrum CBD and the Entourage Effect

The theory that whole cannabis extracts provide more benefits than isolates because of their complete cannabinoid and terpene profiles is called the Entourage Effect. That’s one of the main reasons why full spectrum-CBD extracts are popular among many consumers, especially those looking to maximize the beneficial effects of cannabinoids.  

While the Entourage Effect is mentioned a lot all over the web, we still need more research to understand if there may be synergistic effects between cannabinoids and terpenes.

How Does the Entourage Effect Work?

Think about human connections: we each possess different traits, skills, and abilities that influence the paths we take in life. At some stage, we get lucky and meet people with different abilities that complement our own and decide to form an alliance. As we form these relationships, our individual abilities combine and amplify one another, making us capable of feats together that we could never accomplish individually.
This concept could work similarly with cannabinoids. If you follow this logic, combining them would multiply their effects and benefits, making a more powerful product. The different cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and plant compounds would then become complementary.
In simple terms: the Entourage Effect is the benefit you get from consuming various ingredients of the cannabis plant together instead of consuming one ingredient at-a-time.

CBD Isolate:  Just the Goods

Isolate is a more refined form of CBD that contains 99.9% pure CBD only, without any other cannabinoids, terpenes, or THC.

Benefits of CBD Isolate Product

While isolates don’t deliver the same varied composition that full spectrum extracts offer, they do pack a powerful punch of unadulterated CBD on their own and can be used to create products that retain the effectiveness of CBD without containing any other cannabinoids.

CBD isolate is made by subjecting a full spectrum hemp extract to a process called chromatography, which allows chemists to separate all of the secondary cannabinoids, plant molecules, and oils to leave only pure CBD crystals. Many people enjoy using the isolate because it is odorless, tasteless, and dissolves easily in oils, foods, and beverages. Hemp-derived CBD is also clearly defined as legal by the 2014 Farm Bill at the federal level and is no longer a controlled substance under federal law as a consequence of the 2018 Farm Bill.

As using CBD becomes more popular in sport, competing athletes have to be careful about the products they are taking, especially when it comes to considering the testing policies of the sport and level they are competing in. Some athletes will prefer using isolate over full spectrum CBD as it’s THC-free, but the fact is that a  full spectrum CBD with a 0.03% THC level would unlikely show up on a drug test anyway.
While many users will prefer the effects and benefits of Full spectrum CBD, CBD Isolate can also be a great alternative for anyone who doesn’t want the full profile of Full Spectrum CBD products.

Conclusion: Which one should you take?

All batch-tested CBD products contain CBD molecules, but whether they’re labeled full spectrum or THC-free will indicate the type of extract used in the formula. As mentioned above, there are many reasons a person might want to use full spectrum products, but some people may choose to use products made from CBD isolate if they don’t want any additional cannabinoids or terpenes other than CBD n their product.
Whichever product is right for your situation, you will still feel the effects of CBD. Always make sure that the products you are looking at have been third party tested by an accredited laboratory.