You may have found yourself confused with the labels you see in CBD bottles. What on earth is a full spectrum CBD? What does broad spectrum hemp extract mean? And why is there another one called CBD isolate?
All of these are types of CBD and they come with different pros and cons. But what makes one different from the other? Here’s everything you need to know about them to help you better understand and decide which one is best for you.
First, let’s talk about hemp-derived extracts, which can come in the form of powder, liquids, or oils. The hemp plant is part of the Cannabis plant species. Cannabis has three distinct species, namely Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis. Hemp solely belongs to the Sativa species, but it’s also important to mention that marijuana, which is also part of the genus Cannabis, is a member of both the Sativa and Indica family.
Hemp and marijuana can both produce tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) but at very different levels. THC is the chemical cannabinoid associated with the plant's psychoactive effect. Marijuana's THC levels can reach up to 30%, while hemp’s THC levels are less than 0.3%. Therefore, unlike marijuana-derived CBD, hemp-derived CBD does not exude any psychoactive effects while still bringing the benefits from the powerful compounds of the plant. This is what makes hemp the best source for the extraction of your CBD supplements.
The law dictates that a cannabis plant containing 0.3% THC or less is considered “hemp” and therefore federally legal to grow. Anything over that percentage is classified as “marijuana.”
The Entourage Effect
Before we delve into the three types of CBD, it’s important to understand the “Entourage Effects”. The entourage effect refers to the increased effectiveness achieved by all the components in cannabis working synergistically. This phenomenon suggests that when all of the cannabinoids are present, they work best together rather than when they are apart.
Considered to be the perfect synergy of 100% of the hemp plant’s compounds, the entourage effect means having this kind of synergy can generate the maximum number of benefits possible for a powerful and amazingly effective result. These compounds include:
- Cannabinoids, CBG, CBGA, CBDA + more
- Vitamins C, K, & E
- Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids
- 300+ Compounds
The Types of Extracts
There are three main types of hemp-derived extracts products that are currently being manufactured. Below is a breakdown of each one.
When CBD is derived from the whole hemp plant matter, it’s called a full-spectrum CBD product. It contains all the naturally occurring cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, vitamins, and minerals contained in the hemp plant, including less than 0.3% of THC which is non-psychoactive.
The process includes taking the roots, stems, flowers, and leaves and pressing, pulverizing, or power washing them to extract the oils from the plant. This will leave us with a full spectrum of cannabinoids (CBD, CBG, CBN, THC, etc.), terpenes (limonene, myrcene, etc.) and phytochemicals such as chlorophyll and other organic plant matter.
CBG, CBN, CBC, and CBDV are other commonly found cannabinoids. These and upwards of 200 or more are currently being studied for their own unique benefits. All of these cannabinoids—including THC—work symbiotically together to create an entourage effect.
Therefore, with all cannabinoids left in place, the full spectrum extract is known to have maximum effects.
Things to consider when it comes to Full Spectrum Extract:
- If you want to experience the entourage effect.
- May show on a drug screening, although it will not cause any “high”.
- As a whole-plant extract, it tends to have the strongest “hempy” taste and may be dark in color.
- Avoid this if you are sensitive to THC.
Broad Spectrum Extract
Created from the same process as the full spectrum extract products, broad spectrum extract is also produced by taking the roots, stems, flower, and leaves. The difference is, after extraction, the THC compound is separated and removed entirely, leaving a great range of cannabinoids. So basically broad spectrum extracts contain all the compounds within the plant, except for THC.
This is ideal for people who may find themselves in a situation where they cannot have any THC in their system. A genuine broad spectrum will have no trace amounts of THC but will give you an otherwise full cannabinoid profile which will include CBD, CBG, CBN, CBDV, and other potential cannabinoids, allowing you to maintain the entourage effect.
If you are one of those who may need to go through drug screening, broad spectrum is a great choice, but you have to be vigilant. Make sure you are purchasing from a company that supplies third party lab testing or a COA (certificate of analysis) to verify there is no detectable THC within the product. Complete Hemp undergoes third-party laboratory testing and is transparent with the results, which you can find here for each product.
Things to consider when it comes to Broad Spectrum CBD:
- Experience the entourage effect without THC.
- No risk of psychoactive effects.
- Because it’s without THC, it might taste slightly different than full-spectrum extract.
Isolates are exactly how they sound, a single isolated compound from the plant. This is typically achieved through a supercritical CO2 extraction. Through this process, the oils, chlorophyll, plant material, and all other compounds are removed. This leaves behind a 99% pure CBD product. Isolate doesn't deliver all the benefits from the full plant or the entourage effect.
A new discovery about isolates is that you can now find other cannabinoids isolated such as CBG and CBN. As more research is conducted on the hundreds of known cannabinoids, we will be able to specifically target their interactions with the body and all health benefits associated with them. This may make it possible to customize cannabinoid profiles by combining isolated cannabinoids to form something based on one’s health and wellness needs.
Things to consider when it comes to CBD Isolate:
- No risk of psychoactive effects.
- Will not show on a drug test.
- No entourage effect.
- Doesn't have an earthy taste.
Which Type Should You Consider?
What you opt for depends on what your body needs and what it can handle. As a beginner, it is recommended to start with CBD isolate products as it allows you to enjoy just pure CBD and its benefits without any THC.
As you get more comfortable with CBD, you can transition to broad spectrum extracts. It will bring you the famous entourage effect, but still without any risk of psychoactive effects because it does not contain THC.
If you want to achieve the maximum benefit or if you feel like you need more than what the other types can offer, go for products with full spectrum hemp extract.
As well, keep in mind to pay special attention to the CBD brand’s transparency. The process and ingredients should be laid out clearly to help you make an informed decision.