There are many CBD products on the market and for the uninitiated it can be very confusing when it comes to understanding all the different types. Each manufacturer has their own unique way of creating CBD products and some methods work better than others.
One of the main areas of confusion is knowing the differences between ‘Full Spectrum (aka broad spectrum)’ and ‘Isolate’ CBD products. Both of these extracts can be used in many different end products which come in lots of different forms such as oils, e-liquids, tinctures, capsules, creams, drinks etc. but it’s important to know the differences between the two most popular CBD extracts before you buy.
CBD is just one of many cannabinoids found in the cannabis/hemp plant. Other cannabinoids you may know like THC, CBG, CBN, CBC and of course CBD which is what we’re most interested in!
A FULL SPECTRUM (or broad spectrum) product means it contains a range of cannabinoids, not just CBD. Each different cannabinoid has its own reason for being important, and each will contribute to different needs in their own unique way. Having a full spectrum product with a range of cannabinoids means you take advantage of what is often called the ‘entourage effect’. It’s called this because all the different cannabinoids complement each other and essentially, they do a better job when they work ‘as a team’ rather than individually. A CBD isolate contains the CBD molecule ONLY, which means that CBD without its ‘team’ (or entourage) may not be as effective as a full/broad spectrum product.
This may sound like a silly analogy but you can think of it like this - CBD and the rest of the cannabinoids represent a footballer/soccer player in a team. Now imagine the full spectrum team vs the isolate team; the full spectrum team has 11 players and each player has their own unique role (defence, midfield, attacking and a goal keeper) with CBD being the ‘star player’ of the team. On the other hand, the isolate team only has one player (CBD) and no matter how good that one player is, they’re never going to be good as a full team with a range of different players who specialise in all areas.
A CBD ISOLATE product is usually a lot easier for the manufacturers to extract and add to a product, and are usually cheaper to manufacturer and buy as they are simply extracting the CBD molecule only. Therefore, these types of products are NOT full spectrum products. You can usually tell if a product is made with an isolate because the oil or liquid will be clear, with a few exceptions where some companies may add things like flavourings, colourings and/or another ingredient that can change the colour of the liquid and thus making it look more like a full spectrum product.
When CBD first started to gain popularity, it was widely believed that CBD isolate products were the best and most effective and it’s easy to understand why. Having an almost 100% pure isolate of the CBD molecule alone was believed to be the best because you’re getting almost 100% CBD and CBD is the main reason why people choose to use these products, right? Well, this definitely isn’t the case now, since a study was made in 2015 which concluded that a whole plant (full spectrum) extract which contained a large amount of CBD and traces of other cannabinoids proved far more effective than CBD-only solutions in alleviating inflammation and pain sensation. (See the study here). Using other cannabinoids alongside CBD can greatly improve the quality and effectiveness of the product and thus brings us to the term ‘the entourage effect’.
To sum up
Full spectrum extracts and CBD isolate extracts are both CBD products, there’s no denying that. However, you must be aware that each and every manufacturer uses a different extract and different recipes for many different reasons, so it wouldn’t be fair to say one of them is right or wrong, but it is fair to say that a full spectrum product will most likely work better in the body due to the entourage effect. The large majority of CBD users today are opting for a full spectrum product because of its extra capabilities when compared to CBD isolates. Below is a small list of pros and cons of both CBD isolates and full spectrum CBD that we think you should consider before you buy.
o Gives access to a wider range of cannabinoids
o You don’t usually need to use it constantly and can just use it a few times a day (depending on your reasons for using it)
o Has a wider range of benefits because there are a lot more helpful molecules in the product as well as CBD.
o A lot more time, effort and money goes into making the products to ensure their quality and effectiveness
o The end product is usually more expensive.
o It usually has a natural ‘earthy’ taste that some people don’t enjoy
o On average they’re a lot cheaper to buy than a full spectrum product
o You can buy the isolate on its own, normally in the form of isolate crystals or powder, so you can make your own CBD products at home and personally tailor your own dosage
o It could be a safer option for people who get drug tested because there is no trace of THC.
o It doesn’t have that strong earthy taste like a full spectrum product
o It isn’t believed to be as effective as a full spectrum product
o It ONLY contains the CBD molecule
o Some disreputable manufacturers use CBD isolate and try to pass it off as a full spectrum product.