Full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD, CBD isolate: if you’re an avid cannabidiol (CBD) enthusiast, then you’ve probably seen these terms en masse. Full spectrum CBD oil is perhaps the most popular CBD product on the market. But what is full spectrum CBD? How does it differ from broad spectrum CBD and CBD isolate products?
For starters, full spectrum CBD oil derives from a whole-plant extract of hemp. Whole-plant extracts contain all of the active constituents of the hemp plant, not just the CBD molecules. The hemp plant contains various terpenes, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and other cannabinoids, all of which are found in your full spectrum CBD oil.
However, full spectrum CBD oil also contains trace amounts of THC, the intoxicating cannabinoid commonly associated with marijuana, a cousin of the hemp plant. The trace amounts of THC has worried some in the CBD community, particularly when it comes to taking a drug test. This is largely a misconception, as full spectrum CBD can only legally contain 0.3% THC by dry weight, not nearly enough to trigger a failed drug test.
Because of this, some users prefer broad spectrum CBD: it also derives from a whole-plant extract of the hemp plant – meaning it contains all of the terpenes, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and other cannabinoids shared by full spectrum CBD products – but possesses 0% THC.
It’s important to examine the similarities and differences between CBD products in order to fully understand and answer the question, what is full spectrum CBD? Let’s take a look at these products side-by-side to learn more.
The Differences Between Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, & Isolate CBD
In layman’s terms, the similarities and differences between types of CBD products are as follows:
- Full Spectrum CBD Oil: derives from a whole-plant extract of the hemp plant; contains all the active constituents of the hemp plant; retains up to 0.3% THC by dry weight.
- Broad Spectrum CBD Oil: derives from a whole-plant extract of the hemp plant; contains all the active constituents of the hemp plant except for the THC, which has been completely removed.
- CBD Isolates: contain only CBD, extracted directly from the hemp plant; all of the other active constituents of hemp cannot be found in CBD isolate products.
For a long time, users chose which CBD variety to consume based solely on personal preference. Studies had yet to conclude if full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD, or CBD isolates were best for health and wellness. Here’s what we’ve learned about user preferences:
- Users preferred full spectrum CBD oil if they desired all the active constituents of the hemp plant.
- Users preferred broad spectrum CBD oil if they desired all the active constituents of the hemp plant but had worries about consuming trace amounts of THC.
- Users preferred CBD isolates if they desired a strong dose of CBD but did not care about the potential benefits of consuming the other active compounds found in hemp.
However, recent investigations have shown why full spectrum CBD products may offer more benefits to your overall CBD treatment. According to a 2018 study by Ethan Russo of Frontiers in Plant Science, ingesting all of the active constituents of hemp has a more significant therapeutic effect than ingesting just one active compound. This occurs through a phenomenon known in the cannabis community as the “Entourage Effect.”
Why Does Full Spectrum CBD Work Better than CBD Isolates?
Because of the Entourage Effect, consuming full spectrum CBD oil may work better than consuming a CBD isolate. Here’s how the Entourage Effect works:
- The active cannabinoids, terpenes, amino acids, and essential fatty acids found in hemp are consumed.
- When entering the bloodstream, these compounds work together to increase the overall bioavailability (how much of a compound can enter the bloodstream) and efficacy of therapeutic CBD treatment.
The Entourage Effect has yet to be proven, but according to Russo: “The case for Cannabis synergy via the ‘entourage effect’ is currently sufficiently strong as to suggest that one molecule is unlikely to match the therapeutic and even industrial potential of Cannabis itself as a phytochemical factory.”
In short, a single cannabis compound (CBD, for example) cannot match the effectiveness of many cannabis compounds (CBD combined with terpenes, amino acids, and essential fatty acids).
When consuming a full spectrum CBD oil, you are receiving this combination of cannabis compounds. Alternatively, when consuming a CBD isolate, you are only receiving CBD. Taking CBD isolates still offers therapeutic benefits, but doesn’t possess the same potential as taking a whole-plant extract like full or broad spectrum CBD products.
The Case for Full Spectrum CBD
Cannabis studies are relatively young: CBD was only legalized at the federal level in 2018. Until now, clinical trials of cannabis compounds such as CBD have been limited to studies in animals, but with more acceptance and regulation comes more research.
The research shows that full spectrum CBD elucidates more potential therapeutic value than other varieties of CBD. When consuming all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, amino acids, and essential fatty acids naturally found in the hemp plant, you are likely increasing the efficacy of your overall CBD treatment, making full spectrum CBD oil the most advantageous CBD product available on the market.
So what is full spectrum CBD? Perhaps the future of the CBD industry.