CBD Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum and Isolate: What's the difference?

Posted by CherMark Botanicals on

Cannabidiol (CBD) use is skyrocketing in the US. Between 2014 and 2018, the sales of CBD increased by 474%. If you think that kind of growth can’t continue, sales are projected to increase another 353% by 2022. Clearly, people all over are discovering that this all-natural, cannabis-derived supplement is a great way to support their health.

When shopping for CBD, you’ve probably come across products labeled as full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate. With so many different CBD products on the market it’s sometimes hard to tell which is which. To put it simply, they are terms used to define which type of CBD is used in a product. CBD is only one of 113 compounds that have been identified in the Cannabis sativa L plant. Each type presents important factors to consider, and understanding the difference is essential for every CBD user.

The difference between full spectrum, broad spectrum and isolate

A CBD isolate is exactly what it sounds like; pure, isolated CBD compound, all by itself. CBD isolate products often come as a white powder or a mix with a carrier oil such as MCT oil for improved absorption. CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, which is produced by removing all other compounds found in the plant including terpenes, flavonoids, plant parts, and other cannabinoids.

Full spectrum CBD oil includes a wide range of cannabinoids present in the cannabis or hemp plant. The full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils extracted from the plant work together to magnify the therapeutic benefits of each individual cannabinoid. This is what is know as the entourage effect. (discussed later in this article) Depending on the condition and the outcome you want to achieve, full spectrum CBD can provide a greater effect than CBD alone because all the cannabinoids work together.

Broad spectrum CBD is a mix between Full Spectrum CBD and CBD Isolate. Like Full Spectrum CBD, the other compounds found within the plant are preserved in the extract; however, like CBD Isolate, THC is completely removed. Because Broad spectrum CBD contains multiple cannabinoids, it can deliver the enhanced benefits of the entourage effect, without the risk of psychoactive effects of THC.

The Entourage Effect

The entourage effect is the main reason behind the efficacy of whole plant extracts. There are over 113 ‘identified’ compounds in the cannabis plant. While most of these compounds have their own therapeutic benefit, they combine synergistically to provide a far better performance than any single compound, including CBD. Here are a couple of examples of conditions that benefit from the entourage effect:

  • Gastrointestinal Disorders: While THC improves your appetite, adding CBD to the mix can help with issues such as anorexia and nausea.
  • Anxiety Disorders: THC alone can make matters worse, but CBD counteracts the effects of THC to alleviate the symptoms of stress, PTSD, and more.
  • Neurological Disorders: Although THC can help patients with Tourette’s, the addition of several other cannabinoids can ease the symptoms of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and more.
Why is the Entourage Effect Important?

Your body relies on the endocannabinoid system. It is the network of messengers (neurotransmitters) and receptors that form the communication system between your brain and your body. Your body makes its own messengers, known as endogenous cannabinoids because they come from within.

The cannabinoids from cannabis plants are exogenous, meaning they come from an outside source. The exogenous cannabinoids from the cannabis plants mimic the effects of the endocannabinoids produced by your body. Exogenous cannabinoids can help support the functions regulated by your endocannabinoid system. When cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils extracted from the plant work together they magnify the therapeutic benefits of each individual cannabinoid. Endocannabinoid supplements work much in the same way that dietary supplements, like multivitamins, can fortify a less-than-perfect diet to promote good health.

The endocannabinoid system is an important discovery. Your endocannabinoid system regulates almost every important bodily function. Some of those functions include:

  • Cardiovascular and circulatory systems
  • Inflammation and immune system responses
  • Pain perception and pain management
  • Neuroprotection and muscle function
  • Reproductive processes
  • Digestive processes
  • Learning and memory
  • Metabolism and thermal regulation
  • Management of moods and emotional responses
How to know which type of CBD to use?

Now that you have a basic understanding of the different types of CBD and the entourage effect you’re probably wondering which type you should choose.

It's important to understand that any one type is not better than the others. Everyone has different needs, and this determines which type of CBD is best-suited for their unique conditions.

To help you decide, I've listed some pros and cons for each type along with situations each would typically be best used for.


The purest form of CBD, in which all other plant compounds and cannabinoids have been completely removed.

  • Purest form of CBD
  • No risk of psychoactive effects
  • Generally considered safe
  • Tasteless and Odorless
  • Will not test positive for THC
  • Does not deliver the enhanced benefits of the entire Cannabis plant
Best Used If You:
  • were recommended to specifically take high doses of CBD
  • are sensitive to THC or other cannabinoids
  • regularly undergo drug screening tests
  • prefer light flavors to no flavor
  • live in a state that has strict THC-laws
  • are a first-time user that is hesitant about other cannabinoids

CBD that has been extracted from the cannabis plant along with all the other compounds and cannabinoids.

  • Offers the full benefits of the Cannabis plant (Entourage Effect)
  • Less processing
  • May have psychoactive, sedative or possibly other unwanted side effects
  • May show up on drug tests
  • THC content if over .3% could cause legal issues
  • May have strong natural flavor and odor
Best Used If You:
  • were instructed to use a certain THC to CBD ratio
  • have more severe conditions or conditions that CBD isolate and Broad Spectrum could not alleviate
  • live in states where Cannabis is legal

CBD that has been extracted from the cannabis plant along with all other compounds and cannabinoids, except THC.

  • Offers the full benefits of the Cannabis plant (Entourage Effect)
  • No risk of psychoactive effects
  • Less research and availability
  • May have strong natural flavor and odor
Best Used If You:
  • have conditions that CBD isolate alone could not alleviate
  • are sensitive to THC
  • live in states that have strict THC-laws
  • are a first-time user that is hesitant about THC
It’s hard to know which one is best for you without trying them to see how you react. Different conditions could react differently to a full spectrum CBD than to a CBD isolate. Trying a variety of products will help you assess how you feel. If you’re finding your condition is not reacting significantly to a full spectrum oil then trying an isolate or broad spectrum oil may be the way to go, and vice versa. The best CBD oil is the one that meets your needs. Each kind has different things to offer, and no single product will suit every person.

We invite you to visit our website CherMark Botanicals ~ Helping You Restore Health and Balance with Natural Alternatives. Join our support group at Celestial Herbalism ~ Herbs, Oils and more... and visit our Facebook page at CherMark Botanicals/Facebook.

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