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The Difference Between CBD Isolate and Full-Spectrum CBD

Some CBD products laid out on a table with a vine or something.

For newcomers and experts of the CBD industry alike, one thing is for certain: there is A LOT of terminology. What is full-spectrum CBD? What are CBD isolates? Today, we’ll learn more about these two common types of CBD. In the end, we hope that you’ll have the knowledge necessary to decide which one of these CBD products is right for you.

Let’s get started with full-spectrum CBD!

What is Full-Spectrum CBD?

Full-spectrum CBD, also referred to as full-spectrum CBD oil, is one of the most common types of CBD on the market. Like all CBD products, it derives from all-natural hemp plants. However, it has some remarkable properties.

For starters, full-spectrum CBD products contain a variety of natural, wellness-inducing compounds, not just CBD molecules. In any given full-spectrum product, you’ll find:

  • A variety of cannabinoids (like CBD, CBG, CBN, and others)
  • Terpenes
  • Flavonoids
  • Amino acids
  • Essential fatty acid

Every one of these compounds is found naturally in the hemp plant. These are not additives but rather naturally occurring chemicals. They may also improve your overall CBD experience through a phenomenon known as the Entourage Effect, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

The Full-Spectrum Extraction Process

When comparing full-spectrum CBD oil to CBD isolates, one of the biggest differences you’ll find is in the extraction process. Full-spectrum products typically derive from a supercritical CO2 extraction process. The process looks something like this:

  1. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is exposed to extremely high pressure and extremely low temperature. CO2 is naturally a gas at room temperature, but under these conditions, it becomes liquified.
  2. Liquid CO2 is put into a “supercritical” state through a reheating process under increased pressure. Supercritical CO2 exhibits properties of both liquid and gaseous CO2. Pretty neat, huh?
  3. Supercritical CO2 is exposed to raw hemp plants, separating the cannabinoids and other chemical compounds from the undesirable plant materials.
  4. The desired chemical compounds are then processed into your favorite full-spectrum CBD products.

And now that we know how to make full-spectrum CBD oil, let’s learn more about those chemical compounds found inside!

Full-Spectrum Chemical Compounds: Terpenes and Beyond

The key ingredient to any CBD product is, obviously, CBD! However, as we mentioned earlier, full-spectrum products contain a variety of additional, natural compounds. Let’s take a look at each of these compounds.

  • Cannabinoids: this term refers to a class of unique chemical compounds found primarily in hemp and marijuana, both collectively known as just “cannabis.” CBD and THC are the most famous cannabinoids. In addition, hemp plants contain trace amounts of CBG, CBN, and over 100 other cannabinoids.
  • Terpenes: aromatic compounds responsible for the scent-flavor profile of hemp plants. Terpenes have many uses. In fact, it’s theorized that they possess anti-inflammatory properties and help CBD topicals better penetrate your skin barrier.
  • Flavonoids: a diverse class of nutrients found in almost all fruits and vegetables, as well as cannabis! They give these plants their unique colors. Plus, flavonoids are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects and immune system benefits.
  • Amino acids: organic acids that are vital for proper muscle development. These natural compounds are often taken as pre-workout or post-workout supplements, as they balance the atrophy and growth of your muscles. They may also increase your body’s supply of nitrogen!
  • Essential fatty acids: these are – you guessed it – fatty acids, but they do so much more than meets the eye. For starters, these fatty acids are considered “essential” because they improve our health exponentially. They’re also known to increase mental and physical performance overall!

Do Full-Spectrum CBD Products Contain THC?

Yes, full-spectrum CBD products contain trace amounts of THC. You may already know that CBD products are only considered legal if they have no more than 0.3% THC. And there’s a very good reason for this: hemp plants naturally contain 0.3% THC by dry weight!

But remember: 0.3% THC IS NOT ENOUGH TO INDUCE INTOXICATING SIDE EFFECTS. CBD products containing the legal amount of THC will not get you high. Only the high-THC levels found in marijuana products will get you high.

Regardless, some CBD users prefer 0% THC altogether, despite full-spectrum CBD products being non-intoxicating. If you fall into this category, you’ll probably prefer CBD isolates because they do NOT contain THC whatsoever. However, if you still want to take advantage of all of those amazing natural chemicals found in full-spectrum CBD products, you can also opt for broad spectrum CBD. Broad Spectrum CBD oil is identical to full-spectrum CBD oil, without 0.3% THC.

In the CBD space, there’s truly something for everybody!

The Entourage Effect: Why It Matters

Cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, amino acids, and essential fatty acids– when taking full-spectrum CBD oil, you are not just receiving the benefits of these compounds individually. In fact, it is theorized that these compounds work together once they reach your central nervous system. Wow!

This process is known as the Entourage Effect. Further research is required to fully understand this phenomenon. However, studies suggest that CBD products containing all of these compounds (like full-spectrum and broad spectrum CBD oil) offer higher bioavailability.

  • Bioavailability: defined as how much of a substance is able to have an active effect inside the body.

Let’s say you take 100mg of full-spectrum CBD oil. Some of that CBD oil will get broken down by regular digestive processes. Depending on your digestive system, anywhere from 90mg down to only 25mg might make it into your circulatory system. If you choose full-spectrum CBD oil over CBD isolates, the Entourage Effect states that your bioavailability will increase. This is largely due to the additional cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, and other chemical compounds working together with CBD molecules.

What Is CBD Isolate?

Now that we’ve covered full-spectrum CBD products in-depth, let’s take a look at CBD isolates. Also referred to as CBD concentrates, these products are much simpler: they ONLY contain CBD molecules. Get it? CBD isolate– “isolated” CBD. You get it.

The CBD Isolate Extraction Process

When creating CBD isolates, manufacturers simply target the CBD molecules found in hemp plants. They extract only these CBD molecules, leaving all other plant materials behind. Simple as that.

Chemical Compounds Found in CBD Isolates

Saying that CBD isolates contain only CBD is a mischaracterization. In reality, CBD isolates contain 99.99999% CBD and nothing else. However, you will not find high concentrations of the chemical compounds found in full-spectrum products. You will also not receive any of the benefits of those additional compounds. If they’re in your CBD isolates, they only make up approximately 0.00001% of the product, an immeasurable amount.

To break it down:

  • CBD isolates do not contain additional cannabinoids like THC, CBN, or CBG.
  • CBD isolates do not contain terpenes.
  • CBD isolates do not contain flavonoids.
  • CBD isolates do not contain amino acids.
  • CBD isolates do not contain essential fatty acids.

But What About the Entourage Effect?

CBD-only products like isolates and concentrates do NOT give you the benefits of the Entourage Effect. However, some researchers say it doesn’t matter. The Entourage Effect is considered a phenomenon that needs more research to verify its validity. In short: we don’t yet know if the Entourage Effect plays a vital role in your CBD treatment. In theory, it sounds amazing. But until more studies are underway, we won’t know if one type of CBD is better than the other.

Full-Spectrum CBD vs. CBD Isolate: In Conclusion

Now that we’ve learned about both full-spectrum CBD and CBD isolates, what should we make of all this information? Overall, we always suggest that our customers try a variety of CBD products to find the perfect fit for their needs. While some might prefer full-spectrum CBD oil, others might find what they’re looking for in CBD isolates.

And according to available scientific data, choose whatever works best for you! Because the Entourage Effect (and increased CBD bioavailability) are not yet fully proven, we suggest that you choose your CBD products based on personal preference. Furthermore, if you do not wish to ingest any THC, we recommend opting for CBD isolates or broad spectrum CBD products. Full-spectrum CBD goods contain only 0.3% THC, but some may prefer a completely THC-free lifestyle.

As always, the choice is up to you. That’s the CBD Choice promise!

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