With CBD products on every shelf it is easy to get overwhelmed by all the options. It seems there are so many of the same products, not to mention sometimes the labeling can get confusing. There's no doubt that there are a plethora of choices out there but we’re gonna talk about the main differences between Full Spectrum and Broad Spectrum and how to decide which is for you. With any ingestible, always be an informed consumer and do a little research first.
So what’s the difference?
There are some simple yet significant differences between Full Spectrum and Broad Spectrum CBD products. Knowing these differences is key in some situations. CBD can be sourced from what is federally defined as Hemp or it can be extracted from the higher THC cannabis genetic line (which is very rare but possible). Only consider brands that offer third party test results to ensure you’re picking a quality product.
Knowing that your CBD is quality sourced and third party tested is step one of being an aware consumer. CBD products currently available on the market come in a few varieties but often are labeled either as an isolate, distillate, broad spectrum or full spectrum. Let’s discuss the differences.
CBD products that are Broad Spectrum have been slightly processed and the THC cannabinoids are removed. While there is no THC present in the final product, unlike CBD isolate - other minor cannabinoids still remain. In addition, the terpenes and flavonoids are also entact, allowing for a nearly complete entourage effect within the body.
Full Spectrum CBD products contain all the organic elements of the source plant, meaning all naturally occurring cannabinoids and terpenes remain intact. These products can legally (via the 2018 US Agricultural Act aka The Farm Bill) be derived from hemp and contain up to 0.3% THC. While that isn’t enough THC to cause any type of psychological response or get you “high”... surprisingly it is still a legal battleground in some states. While these products do have trace amounts of THC, you’d have to consume nearly a month's supply in one day for it to show up on most drug tests.
CBD distillate contains all of the hemp plant’s benefits without THC. This is actually a type of broad-spectrum oil. Despite the further confusion in categorizing, CBD distillate is generally a combination of cannabinoids, vitamins, terpenes, and fatty acids - just like other Broad Spectrum products.
CBD isolate is exactly what it sounds like. Through processing the CBD cannabinoid is separated from the other naturally occurring elements in the cannabis/hemp plant. This means all the terpenes, flavonoids and all other cannabinoids, including all THC are removed. Isolates have a purpose but often the results they bring are not touted like the other options because many beneficial parts of the plant have been stripped out.
How do I choose?
When searching for products that work for you all this science can be overwhelming and confusing but we will go over some of the best ways to sort through them. The degree of relief you get could vary between products but for some consumers, products that contain THC are just not desired. You shouldn’t be afraid of the THC content in Full Spectrum CBD as it is not enough to have an intoxicating effect and it is unlikely to show up in a drug test. Some may argue that the addition of a trace amount of THC within CBD products actually enhances the efficacy, known as the entourage effect. Simply put, the entourage effect is the synergy that takes place when THC, CBD, minor cannabinoids, and terpenes work together to provide health benefits.
However, Broad Spectrum CBD products are the next best choice if Full Spectrum isn’t what you're looking for. These products still have the other beneficial plant compounds like minor cannabinoids and terpenes entact. The anecdotal benefits from a mostly whole product are greater than an isolate. Broad Spectrum includes all the same plant components as Full Spectrum minus the THC.
Although CBD isolates may appeal to some consumers due to being flavorless and odorless, they only offer the health benefits of CBD. This does discourage some consumers as most cannabis experts argue that isolated compounds do not utilize the full potential of the plant unless they contain the naturally occurring cannabinoids and terpenes for the full health benefits (ie: the entourage effect).
Finding quality CBD products that are third party tested ensures that no matter what you choose, you can rest easy knowing that you have a clean and effective experience. Always use discretion and consult a medical professional for further medical guidance.