Exploring the Cannabinoid Spectrum: CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum

Exploring the Cannabinoid Spectrum: CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum

The cannabinoid spectrum range contained within an active ingredient is what determines if a product is full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate.

This can be somewhat confusing, so let’s examine what each distinction really means.

To manufacture a CBD product, the cannabinoid content is extracted from the cannabis plant, typically using a method called CO2 extraction.

During this process, other constituents of the plant are also extracted, including terpenes, flavonoids, oils and other cannabinoids.

Depending on the raw material used for extraction, the composition and cannabinoid profile will vary.

Depending on the format of the finished good, companies will choose to extract from a strain of hemp that best suits their finished good requirements.  Not all forms of CBD will be able to achieve the desired results for a particular product. 

Once extracted, processors make the determination as to the level of refinement. This determines the profile of the final extract and exactly what part of the plant the final extract contains.

The content of the refined extract is what determines if the CBD extract is classified as full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate.

Let’s take a look at what makes each CBD type distinct…


CBD Isolate

What is CBD Isolate?

An isolate is the purest form of a compound, and is what it sounds like: a single isolated compound separated from all others in its environment.

All other compounds found in the plant (including flavonoids terpenes, plant oils, and other cannabinoids) are removed.  This process results in a 99% pure CBD crystal.

Read more in our CBD Buyer's Guide.



What is Full Spectrum CBD?

Full spectrum CBD is the opposite of a CBD isolate.  Full spectrum CBD will contain all naturally-occurring parts of the hemp plant.  These compounds will include oils, flavonoids, terpenes, and of course cannabinoids. 

Full spectrum CBD offers a synergistic benefit called the “entourage effect”. This term refers to cannabinoids, terpenes, and oils working together to magnify the health benefits of each individual cannabinoid.

The most important point you must be aware of is that full spectrum CBD products will contain very small amounts of THC -   THC being the psychoactive component of cannabis and the cannabinoid associated with the euphoric feeling cannabis can cause.  All legally sold CBD products must contain less than .03% THC, which is considered a trace amount and will in most cases not cause any psychoactive effects.    

What is Broad Spectrum CBD?

Broad spectrum falls somewhere in between full spectrum CBD and CBD isolate.

Like Full Spectrum CBD, the other compounds found within the plant are present in the extract; however, like CBD Isolate, THC is completely removed.

The benefit of using a broad spectrum product is being able to take advantage of the therapeutic benefit of the “entourage effect”, while avoiding THC completely. 

Which CBD is Best for You?

Every individual is different and has a unique reason for taking CBD. To help point you in the right direction, we’ve put together some thoughts on each type, and situations each type of CBD would typically be best for.

CBD Isolate

CBD Isolate is the purest form of CBD and contains 99% pure CBD crystal with no other hemp constituents. 

Best for those who:

  • Have been recommended to take a high dose of CBD.
  • Have a sensitivity to THC or other cannabinoids.
  • Take drug tests on a regular basis.
  • Prefer flavored products or do not like natural hemp flavoring.
  • New users who may be hesitant about THC.

Full Spectrum CBD

Full spectrum CBD is the extract from the cannabis plant that includes all the other compounds and cannabinoids, including THC.

Best for those who:

  • Were advised by a healthcare adviser to take a certain THC-to-CBD ratio.
  • Have severe conditions or conditions that CBD isolate and Broad Spectrum could not alleviate.
  • Are not concerned about ingesting THC.

Broad Spectrum CBD

Broad spectrum CBD is the extract from the cannabis plant that includes all other beneficial compounds and cannabinoids, except THC.

Best for those who:

  • Have conditions that CBD isolate alone could not alleviate.
  • Have a THC sensitivity.
  • Are concerned about state laws governing THC.
  • Are hesitant about THC and drug testing.