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

Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate are the three main types of CBD.
Written by the Theralogix team of Registered Dietitians
Full-spectrum cbd, broad-spectrum cbd, and cbd isolate are the three main types of CBD. Here’s how they’re different and how you can choose the right cbd for you.

Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, has risen in popularity over the past few years. And now, with so many CBD products on the shelves touting terms like “full-spectrum CBD,” “broad-spectrum CBD,” and “CBD isolate,” it can be hard to figure out what it all means.  

Let’s break it down.  

Most CBD products are derived from hemp plants. Although hemp is a type of cannabis plant, it contains primarily CBD and very little tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for making you feel “high.” In fact, federal law requires that hemp plants contain no more than 0.3% THC.  

Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate are the three main types of CBD. Here’s how they’re different:  

Full-spectrum Hemp Oil 

In addition to CBD and low levels of THC, hemp contains several other compounds, including other cannabinoids and terpenes. Some researchers believe that multiple components of cannabis may work together and offer more benefits than taking each individually. This is known as the “entourage effect,” but it’s still just a theory.  

Full-spectrum CBD products contain all components of the hemp plant – nothing is removed. This means that full-spectrum CBD contains some THC, but usually a very small amount.  

You may find some full-spectrum CBD products derived from marijuana in certain states. Beware – these products will typically contain higher amounts of THC than hemp-derived CBD.  

Broad-spectrum Hemp Oil 

Broad-spectrum CBD is similar to full-spectrum CBD, but there’s one important difference. Broad-spectrum CBD usually does not contain any THC. It still provides all the other cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant, so it may still offer benefits associated with the “entourage effect.” Most broad-spectrum CBD products claim non-detectable THC content, which means that taking the product shouldn’t result in a positive drug test. But it’s always best to play it safe – make sure the broad-spectrum CBD product you choose has been tested and certified to ensure it doesn’t contain a detectable level of THC.  

CBD isolate 

CBD isolate is also known as “pure CBD.” Unlike full- and broad-spectrum hemp, this form does not contain any other compounds found in the cannabis plant. It contains only CBD – no THC, terpenes, or other cannabinoids.  

How do you choose the right CBD for you?  

If you’re thinking about trying a CBD product, be sure to let your healthcare provider know. While taking a CBD hemp oil product is generally safe, don’t use it to replace any of your current medications without your healthcare provider’s approval.   

Your choice of product mainly comes down to THC content. If you want all the compounds found in cannabis (including THC), full-spectrum hemp oil may be a good choice – just make sure this is legal where you live. If you want to stay away from THC, broad-spectrum hemp oil is likely your best option for the benefits of CBD plus other compounds naturally found in cannabis. Although high-dose CBD isolates have certain medical benefits, they do not provide the “entourage effect” that may occur with the less processed broad-spectrum products. 

Last but certainly not least, be sure to choose a product that has been independently certified for content accuracy and purity, especially if you’re looking for a product without THC. One study found that many CBD products are mislabeled, and THC was detected in about 21% of CBD products tested.  

More and more CBD products are hitting the shelves every day – it can be difficult to keep up. Seek information from trusted resources, such as your healthcare provider, to ensure you make well-informed, safe decisions when it comes to CBD. 

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