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You’ve likely come across a few different options when looking at various CBD products. Full spectrum CBD oil, broad spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate are three common choices consumers come across when shopping for CBD. If you’re new to CBD, you might be wondering what these terms actually mean. Basically, they’re used It’s important to learn about the different types of CBD and the various forms in which you can consume CBD before you start shopping. Find out more about the three different types of CBD and their benefits. Read our blog post to learn which cbd oil is best for you and your lifestyle.

Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum vs. Isolate CBD Oil: What’s the Difference?

You’ve likely come across a few different options when looking at various CBD products. Full spectrum CBD oil, broad spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate are three common choices consumers come across when shopping for CBD. If you’re new to CBD, you might be wondering what these terms actually mean.

Basically, they’re used to describe what kind of CBD oil is used to produce a product. Each contains CBD and has an array of potential benefits, yet each has a slightly different chemical composition. As a result, you may have an experience with one product that you might not necessarily have with another.

What is the difference between full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD, and what is CBD isolate?

Here we’ll take a deeper look at the different types of CBD—full spectrum vs. broad spectrum vs. isolate—to make it easier to determine which option might be best for you.

What’s the Difference Between Broad and Full Spectrum CBD Oil?

Cannabis is an extremely complex plant, composed of hundreds of different chemical compounds. Over 100 of these compounds have been identified as cannabinoids. The most popular, of course, are CBD and THC—but they’re only a small fraction of the cannabinoid content and chemical profile of cannabis. Other important compounds include terpenes, flavonoids, and essential fatty acids.

We mention these cannabis compounds because they determine the difference between a full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate oil.

All these compounds are believed to work harmoniously together to provide what’s known as the “entourage effect.”

What exactly is the entourage effect, and what does it have to do with full spectrum vs. broad spectrum CBD oil?

Let’s take a look.

The Entourage Effect Explained

We’ve mentioned the complexity of cannabis and the harmonious way its contained compounds work together to create the entourage effect.

The entourage effect is commonly defined as “the combined effect of different compounds found in cannabis that work together as a whole to produce a greater effect than if working separately to produce separate effects.”

The three major cannabis compounds that lend to the entourage effect are cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. The idea of the entourage effect is that whole plant extracts often have greater benefits than their isolated counterparts. This is exactly why CBD isolate is considered the “least” beneficial CBD option.

As their names imply, full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD oil both contain a wide range of cannabinoids and other cannabis compounds that could potentially lend to the entourage effect. However, to understand the difference between them and the benefits they might contain, it’s best to understand them individually.

What Is Full Spectrum CBD Oil?

Before CBD oil becomes CBD oil, it must first be extracted from the cannabis plant. Hands down, one of the most popular extraction methods that has quickly become an industry leader is CO2 extraction. It’s safe, sustainable, and results in the cleanest and purest CBD products.

Full spectrum CBD oil is the result of CO2 extraction. The words “full spectrum” refer to the full spectrum of cannabinoids and other compounds found in cannabis associated with the entourage effect.

Full spectrum CBD oil has had zero cannabinoids removed, including intoxicating compounds like THC. The reason for this goes back to the entourage effect. All of the cannabinoids work in unison for the betterment of the whole—THC included.

If you see “full spectrum” on the label, be sure to check out the company’s lab reports. Although the industry has not regulated the terms, a full spectrum CBD oil will most likely have THC in the formula.

That being said, most full spectrum CBD products generally contain less than 0.3% THC, which typically isn’t enough to elicit any psychoactive effects.

There are, however, individuals that can’t tolerate THC or have any THC in their system but might still want to benefit from the entourage effect.

Here’s where broad spectrum CBD might be beneficial. Broad spectrum CBD is very similar to full spectrum CBD except that THC has been removed. This means they still get all the benefits of the entourage effect, minus the THC.

What Is Broad Spectrum CBD Oil?

After initial extraction, some CBD companies opt to remove THC from their products. They will, however, keep the other cannabinoids in the formula. Companies that remove THC from the final product tend to market their products as broad spectrum CBD oil.

The refining process is critical for crafting broad spectrum oil. During this step of the process, unwanted cannabinoids are removed from the formula. Companies are given an option of which cannabinoids are eliminated.

Understanding that many consumers aren’t keen on THC but still want to benefit from the entourage effect, most remove only THC to create broad spectrum CBD oil. Broad spectrum CBD still offers the synergy of the other cannabinoids. The only one missing from the party is THC.

Because the THC has been removed from broad spectrum CBD oil, it’s commonly assumed that it doesn’t lend to the entourage effect.

Here’s the thing, though: Broad spectrum CBD still contains all the other cannabis compounds, including other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, meaning it still allows consumers to experience the entourage effect.

Consider this: The only compound that has been removed from a broad spectrum CBD product is THC. All the other beneficial compounds that lend to the entourage effect are still in there—cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, and CBC; terpenes like myrcene, linalool, pinene and limonene; various flavonoids known to support homeostasis and overall wellness—working harmoniously together to create the widely accepted concept of the entourage effect.

Broad spectrum CBD gives consumers all the benefits of the entourage effect without having to consume THC. It’s an excellent choice for those people that can’t or don’t want THC in their system, whether for legal, professional, or personal reasons.

The entourage effect is real. Those that are interested in its benefits but aren’t interested in THC will find that broad spectrum CBD products offer exactly what they’re looking for, including the peace of mind that they’re consuming a 0.0% THC product.

What Is CBD Isolate?

CBD isolate is what it sounds like: Isolated CBD.

To create CBD isolate, the refinement process is taken a step further to remove all other cannabis compounds. This includes other cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and all other plant compounds. The result is a product that is 99%+ CBD. By definition, CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD there is.

Typically, those who choose CBD isolate are sensitive to other cannabinoids. CBD by itself does have its benefits. However, the results may not be as promising as a broad spectrum or full spectrum CBD oil.

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When you are purchasing a CBD isolate, make sure it is 99+% pure. Otherwise, there will be traces of other cannabinoids in the formula. Although these numbers are most likely negligible, it does defeat the purpose of seeking out a pure CBD product.

Choosing CBD: Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum vs. CBD Isolate

Wondering what type of CBD might be best for you?

Now that you’ve got an understanding of the difference between full spectrum vs. broad spectrum vs. CBD isolate, it can be easier to determine which form of CBD will fit your personal needs.

When it comes to taking CBD, everyone has different needs. These needs will reflect which type of CBD might be best suited for someone personally, despite the daily serving.

Keep in mind that activation time (how long it will take to feel the effects) and bioavailability (how much CBD is absorbed by the bloodstream) of full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate both depend on the type of product being used, not the type of CBD oil one is consuming.

Let’s quickly recap each to see how each might fit the needs of different individuals.

Why Choose Full Spectrum CBD?

This is CBD that contains all cannabinoids and chemical compounds naturally present in cannabis. Full spectrum CBD is believed to best lend to the entourage effect and has gone through the least amount of processing and refinement.

Full spectrum CBD does contain trace amounts of THC. While typically less than 0.3%, THC found in full spectrum CBD oil might still show up on a drug test. Those with acute sensitivities to THC might also find that a full spectrum oil comes with some undesirable effects.

Why Choose Broad Spectrum CBD?

Broad spectrum CBD is CBD oil that has gone through further refinement after extraction to remove THC. Although THC has been removed, broad spectrum CBD oil still lends to the entourage effect. The only thing usually missing from the vast array of cannabinoids and other cannabis compounds is THC.

Because broad spectrum CBD is 0.0% THC, it’s excellent for those with sensitivities to THC or who can’t have THC in their system for whatever reason. Broad spectrum CBD products are a great introduction to the world of CBD for those who might be uncertain about trying a product that contains THC. Broad spectrum CBD products are also beneficial to individuals living in states that still have strict laws concerning the use of THC.

Why Choose CBD Isolate?

CBD isolate is 99%+ pure CBD. It has gone through several refinement processes to remove all other cannabinoids and various plant compounds. This odorless, tasteless form of CBD is considered the purest form of CBD that exists and contains zero probability of any intoxicating effects.

Because all other compounds have been removed to create CBD isolate, this type of CBD does not lend to the entourage effect like a full or broad spectrum product. CBD isolate is typically best for those with extreme sensitivities to THC or other cannabinoids, people living in states with strict THC laws, or CBD newbies who are tentative to use cannabis-based products.

Final Thoughts: CBD Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum vs. Isolate

Staying educated about CBD is key for the best experience possible. If you’re new to CBD, understanding all the different terminology and plethora of products can be really confusing!

We’re here to ease this confusion by offering consumers the information they need to choose the best CBD products to fit their personal wellness needs.

Whether you’re looking at purchasing CBD online or at a local retail location, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is the type of oil you buy. Knowing the difference between full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate is key.

While the effects of each might be similar, you’re now equipped with the knowledge of what makes them different, which is paramount in making an educated buying decision. Still have questions about the difference between full spectrum vs. broad spectrum CBD? Feel free to contact us anytime. We’re always here to help!

Joy Smith is Joy Organics Co-founder and visionary. After her own life-changing experience with CBD, Joy started Joy Organics to create a line of sustainable and premium CBD products consumers could trust. Before founding Joy Organics, Joy worked as an itinerant speaker, traveling to over four continents to empower women across the globe.

What To Know About The Types Of CBD

Dr. Myles Spar is a double board-certified medical expert in performance medicine, men’s health, advanced testing and integrative medicine.

Commissions we earn from partner links on this page do not affect our opinions or evaluations. Our editorial content is based on thorough research and guidance from the Forbes Health Advisory Board.

Table of Contents

  • 3 Types of CBD
  • How to Consume CBD
  • How to Use CBD Safely

A recent Forbes Health Survey survey of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by OnePoll found 60% of respondents have tried a cannabidiol (CBD) product and believe CBD has health and wellness benefits, including the potential to improve sleep, reduce anxiety and/or relieve pain.

Yet one-third of respondents said they don’t fully understand the differences between full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate.

It may be tempting to buy the first bottle of CBD oil you find, but to make an informed CBD product purchase, it helps to understand the different types of CBD and the various forms in which you can consume CBD.

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3 Types of CBD

CBD is largely derived from hemp, a type of cannabis sativa plant. CBD products can contain detectable amounts (no more than 0.3% by dry weight) of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound in cannabis plants known for causing intoxicatingly psychoactive effects.

However, consuming CBD won’t get you “high.” Instead, CBD interacts with receptors in your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which includes the brain and spinal cord, potentially calming the central nervous system, alleviating anxiety, improving sleep quality and/or reducing inflammation and chronic pain symptoms.

Understanding the differences between the three types of CBD—full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate—can help you choose the best type for your specific needs and preferences.

Full-Spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum CBD refers to a hemp extract that contains CBD and other compounds naturally present in the hemp plant, such as terpenes (compounds responsible for the way a plant smells) and minor amounts of THC, says Jeff Chen, M.D. co-founder and CEO of Radicle Science, a wellness clinical research organization in San Diego, and founder and former executive director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative, one of the first multidisciplinary academic programs dedicated to the study of cannabis and cannabinoids.

CBD, terpenes, flavonoids, essential oils and other cannabinoids contained in full-spectrum CBD products can work synergistically to create what’s known as the “entourage effect,” which some research indicates may increase therapeutic benefits of CBD compared to when it’s used alone.

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Broad-Spectrum CBD

Broad-spectrum CBD is a hemp extract similar to full-spectrum CBD, with the exception that it typically undergoes an additional extraction process to remove all THC while leaving the remaining compounds naturally present in the hemp plant intact. With that said, testing reveals that some broad-spectrum CBD products retain minimal traces of THC, so it’s safest to refer to them as “nearly THC-free.”

CBD Isolate

As the name suggests, CBD isolate, or pure CBD, doesn’t contain any THC or other compounds from the hemp plant, says Dr. Chen. Unlike full-spectrum CBD and broad-spectrum CBD, CBD isolate cannot create the entourage effect because the extraction method isolates CBD from all other terpenes, cannabinoids and plant compounds naturally occurring in hemp.

How to Consume CBD

There are four main ways to consume CBD:

  • Sublingually (with an oil or tincture absorbed under the tongue)
  • Oral ingestion via edibles like gummies, candies, snacks and beverages, as well as capsules
  • Vaping or smoke inhalation
  • Topical application of a CBD ointment, salve, lotion or cream

“Each way absorbs a different amount, has [a] different time to [the] onset of effects and different side effects,” says Dr. Chen.

Oils and Tinctures

CBD oils and tinctures typically come in bottle sizes ranging from 1 ounce to 4 ounces. The bottle may have a dropper labeled with dose amounts as well, typically at .25-milliliter intervals. When applying CBD oil drops under the tongue, a consumer may feel the effects more quickly than with other forms of CBD. Also, more CBD may be absorbed into the bloodstream via sublingual consumption than with other administration methods.

“Tinctures and oils may be less convenient to take compared to edibles, gummies and capsules since you could spill tincture fluid and you need to look at the amount of tincture in the dropper to determine your dose,” says Dr. Chen. “On the other hand, tinctures may afford a more flexible way to dose.”

Gummies and Other Edibles

CBD-infused gummies and other edibles, such as candies, cookies, brownies and other foods or beverages, don’t typically kick in as quickly as oils and tinctures.

When you eat gummies and edibles, they must first be processed by the digestive system, which means there is a delay in the onset of effects—and less CBD ultimately enters your bloodstream— says Dr. Chen.

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Capsules

CBD is also available in oral capsule form. As with gummies and other edibles, when you take CBD capsules, there is typically more of a delay in the onset of effects since they must be processed through the digestive system first, says Dr. Chen.

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Lotions, Creams and Other Topicals

Many people seeking potential relief for chronic pain and various skin conditions apply lotions, salves, ointments and other CBD-infused topicals to the affected area.

“With topical forms of CBD, such as lotions or creams, only minimal amounts reach the bloodstream and thus may avoid some of the potential side effects of CBD that does reach the bloodstream, such as diarrhea and lethargy,” says Dr. Chen. However, consumers seeking relief for non-skin conditions like pain, insomnia or anxiety tend to benefit more from CBD when it reaches the bloodstream and should use a non-topical product instead, adds Dr. Chen.

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Vapes and Smoking Flower

CBD vapes come in slim, pre-filled or refillable cartridges, or “pens,” where CBD oil is administered via inhalation. You can also smoke dried flowers from the hemp plant to consume CBD.

Consuming CBD via vaping or smoke inhalation typically results in a faster onset of effects and increased absorption of CBD in the bloodstream. “However, inhalation of CBD by vape or smoking flower has a theoretical risk of damage to the lungs, makes it harder to control dose and has not been well studied,” says Dr. Chen.

There are other risks to vaping, too. Vaping can cause inhalation of vitamin E acetate, heavy metals or other compounds present in the oil or solvents used to make the CBD oil vapable, such as propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin. These additional compounds can cause pulmonary or systemic negative health effects.

How to Use CBD Safely

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved any over-the-counter (OTC) or consumer CBD products and has only approved one prescription drug called Epidiolex, which is used to treat seizures associated with certain forms of epilepsy and tuberous sclerosis complex, a rare genetic disease.

In fact, the FDA has issued warning letters to several CBD manufacturers, finding that many products don’t contain the levels of CBD listed on their labels. The letters also addressed companies’ illegal claims that their CBD products can prevent, diagnose, alleviate, treat or cure certain diseases, as well as their marketing of CBD products as dietary supplements.

With those FDA warnings in mind, consumers can take certain steps to ensure they’re using CBD as safely as possible. Most potential CBD benefits are based primarily on anecdotal reports because human clinical data is limited, says Dr. Chen, who stresses the importance of CBD dose.

“Most consumers are taking well under 100 milligrams of CBD a day, and although the effectiveness of CBD in this dose range hasn’t been well studied, CBD appears to be safe at the serving sizes recommended by most consumer product manufacturers,” he says. The risk is low, but possible side effects of CBD at these lower doses may include diarrhea and lethargy, he adds.

“In general, my advice on dosing any product is to find the lowest dose that is effective and doesn’t cause any intolerable side effects,” says Dr. Chen. “Consumers should start at a low dose and gradually increase, paying close attention to possible effectiveness and side effects.”

CBD may also interact with certain drugs, including antidepressants, antipsychotics and opioid medications, potentially causing adverse or side effects.

“Consumers should avoid taking CBD with medications that carry a grapefruit warning, such as certain blood thinners and anti-seizure medications, since CBD and grapefruit interact with similar medications,” says Dr. Chen. “CBD should also be avoided by anyone with liver disease or during pregnancy.”

Consumers can go one step further to investigate individual CBD products by checking the certificate of analysis (COA) for the lot number of that particular CBD product. If the manufacturer offers access to the product’s COA, it may be posted on its website.

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The COA lists what’s contained in a CBD product based on an analysis performed by a third-party laboratory. Generally, the COA includes hemp extract concentration, percentage of THC and other cannabinoids, and whether the product contains yeasts, molds, bacteria, pesticides or residual solvents.

Because the FDA has approved only one prescription product containing CBD, most health care providers have minimal formal education on CBD, says Dr. Chen. However, many holistic health practitioners, such as naturopathic doctors, are experienced in CBD and its effects on their clients.

“There are ‘cannabis clinicians’ in states that have legalized cannabis who have undergone additional training and/or have significant experience overseeing cannabis use in their patients, including the use of CBD,” he says. “You can find such clinicians through organizations like the Society of Cannabis Clinicians.”

Forbes Health covers CBD and cannabis products in accordance with FTC guidelines. Learn more about Forbes Health’s practices and policies regarding how we cover CBD and cannabis as a publisher.

Types of CBD: What are the different types of CBD?

With a number of unfamiliar words surrounding CBD oils, it is easy to get confused. You might have come across different CBD oil designations, such as: full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD, or CBD isolate.

In this article, we will cover the different types of CBD oils and their benefits. While there is no clear answer to which one is the best one, we will talk about the properties of each CBD type so that you can choose which one is right for you and your lifestyle.

How many types of CBD are there?

Though in theory there can be hundreds of different CBD oil types, depending on their cannabinoid content and extraction process, there are three different types of CBD you will likely come across:

  • CBD Isolate
  • Full Spectrum CBD oil
  • Broad Spectrum CBD oil

CBD Isolate

As the name suggests, CBD Isolate is an isolated form of cannabidiol, or CBD. To put it simply, CBD Isolate oil corresponds to the purest form of CBD oil, since it does not contain any other cannabinoids or natural compounds of the cannabis plant. For this to be possible, all of the plant’s compounds are thoroughly removed, except for CBD, through an extensive extraction process.

Depending on the extraction process type, high-quality CBD isolates are usually over 99% pure. This level of purity is the biggest benefit of this type of CBD since you can maintain the potency of CBD even when added to other substances, such as foods, lotions or shampoo.

CBD Isolate can also be a great choice if you want to avoid THC altogether, since Isolates do not contain any other cannabinoids, including the famous psychoactive constituent of cannabis. This CBD type is highly used therefore by people who have to undergo drug testing, though there is always a slight possibility that THC will show up too, since all CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC.

Finally, CBD isolate might be right for you if you’re looking for a flavourless and odourless product. However, you can find CBD isolate oils with added flavouring if you prefer flavoured products.

Our Pro CBD oil with Vitamin D3 has a peppermint flavour and is great for athletes or anyone who wants to support their active lifestyle. It is BSCG tested and approved, so you can trust you’re compliant whether you’re a drug tested sports professional or hard working blue lighter.

Full Spectrum CBD Oil

Full Spectrum CBD oil corresponds to an oil rich in CBD, alongside small amounts of THC (up to 0.2%), terpenes and flavonoids. Some people prefer to take full spectrum CBD oil over CBD isolate due to the entourage effect theory. This theory defends that taking CBD and THC together, along with other cannabis compounds may be more effective than taking cannabidiol alone.

Moreover, most full spectrum CBD oils will contain a wide range of terpenes and flavonoids, which can have their own beneficial effects. Therefore, this type of CBD oil can be right for you if you prefer a less refined product and if you don’t mind its earthy flavour, though you can find flavoured full-spectrum varieties.

It’s worth noting that from the 1st of April 2021, this type of CBD might no longer be available to buy in the UK due to the Novel Foods act. This act basically applies to foods that weren’t consumed in large quantities before 1997, and as such need to be regulated and licensed. Since full spectrum CBD oil contains small amounts of THC and other cannabinoids, it might be challenging for CBD brands to get this CBD oil type licensed. At fourfive, we don’t sell this product but we offer a range of CBD broad spectrum oils made from 100% natural ingredients.

Broad Spectrum CBD Oil

Broad spectrum CBD sits somewhere in the middle between CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD. To put it simply, this CBD oil type contains mostly cannabidiol alongside small amounts of other cannabis compounds, but it doesn’t contain THC. However, some products will contain trace quantities.

Like full-spectrum CBD, this form of CBD may also produce heightened effects because they contain additional components that work together. Some of the usually added compounds include cannabinol (CBC) and terpenes, such as limonene, myrcene and pinene.

People who want to benefit from the entourage effect without having to take THC usually prefer this type of CBD for greater benefits.

What is the best type of CBD oil?

Not enough scientific research has been done to determine which type of CBD produces the best benefits with the least side effects. Therefore, the best type of CBD oil will completely depend on your lifestyle, personal preference and what you use CBD oil for.

Other factors might also influence your decision. For example, if you’re an athlete you will likely want to stick to THC-free products.

For instance, if you prefer a refined product that can be added to a variety of substances without losing its potency, you will likely opt for CBD isolate. On the other hand, if you don’t mind small amounts of THC, you can benefit from full spectrum CBD for greater benefits, though as mentioned above, this type of CBD oil will likely stop being sold in the UK from the 1st of April this year due to the Novel Foods act. Therefore, CBD broad spectrum is probably your best bet if you’re looking for a CBD oil that can produce heightened effects.

Whether you pick broad spectrum or isolates, CBD oil supplements are not an all-size-fits-all sort of thing, so sometimes you might have to do a bit of trial and error and see what works best for you. This also applies to finding your optimal CBD dosage .

If you’d like to get up to date with the latest laws on CBD regulation and legality, make sure to read our CBD legality in the UK article for 2021. You can also find multiple blog posts about all things related to our CBD on our learn articles section .

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