When searching for CBD, you’ve most likely seen there are many different options to choose from. You may have seen products quoting phrases like ‘full-spectrum’ CBD, ‘broad-spectrum’ CBD, or ‘CBD isolates’. This range of choice can be somewhat confusing to new users, leaving them effectively paralysed with choice. The purpose of this article is to explain the differences between these product types and hopefully remove some of the confusion that comes with purchasing CBD for first time users.
Cannabinoids and Our Bodies
The word cannabinoid refers to every chemical substance produced by the cannabis plant that binds to the cannabinoid receptors in our body/brains.
The cannabis plant produces over 100 different cannabinoids, the two most well-known cannabinoids are THC and CBD. The actual number of known cannabinoids seems to be increasing all the time as research into cannabis continues around the globe.
The main difference between the two main cannabinoids is that THC has a strong psychoactive effect, giving the user a ‘high’, whereas CBD is thought to have an anti-psychoactive effect that moderates the ‘high’ caused by the THC. CBD is also thought to reduce some of the other negative effects that people can experience from THC, such as anxiety.
All cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in one way or another, which is a complex network of cannabinoid receptors and neurotransmitters located in the brain, central nervous system and immune system.
The ECS plays a role in a wide range of biological functions, such as memory, cognitive performance, pain perception, stress management, mood regulation, and immune response on top of many others.
Hemp Extracts: What’s the difference?
All CBD products are extracted from the cannabis/hemp plant, using solvents like CO2. C02 extraction is an extremely common extraction process, not just in the CBD industry, but also in the food industry for isolating all kinds of compounds.
During the extraction process, all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are stripped from the plant, depending on which strain of cannabis is used for this process, it will determine the cannabinoid profile of your CBD product.
1. What is Full Spectrum CBD?
If a product is described as full-spectrum, this means it contains all phytochemicals naturally found in the plant, including CBD, trace cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils. The UK law currently states that the legal limit for THC in a CBD product is 0.2% THC – which is very low indeed, far too low to experience any kind of ‘high’ – well, unless you fancy drinking a pint of CBD oil all in one go?.. No, we don’t fancy it either!
The full spectrum of compounds extracted from hemp work together to amplify the benefits of each individual cannabinoid. This phenomenon is referred to as the entourage effect. In a nutshell, the wider the range of cannabinoids found in the product, increases the effectiveness of the CBD, in comparison to taking CBD alone (isolate).
Although non-psychoactive and very low in THC, full-spectrum CBD can give you a false positive with a drug test, especially if you consume high doses of CBD oil daily. So this is definitely something to be mindful of if you’re drug tested for work.
2. What is Broad Spectrum CBD?
Broad-spectrum is currently a bit of a loose term in the CBD industry it would seem. While some companies claim that broad spectrum CBD contains cannabidiol and ALL the other compounds within the plant, except for the THC. There are others selling CBD isolates mixed with terpenes as broad spectrum, we find this to be quite misleading.
So just to clear things up, as far as we’re concerned here at Honest CBD Co, if a product is produced by mixing a CBD isolate with a terpene profile, this is NOT broad spectrum, this is merely CBD isolate with terpenes. If you’re unsure about this or any product claiming to be broad spectrum. We advise to check the lab reports and see the cannabinoid breakdown yourself, if the only cannabinoid listed in a notable quantity is CBD – this is not a broad spectrum product, this is a cheap marketing trick.
A broad spectrum CBD product should contain a wide range of cannabinoids much like the full spectrum, but just without the THC part – we don’t actually believe there are many truly broad spectrum products on the market today.
3. What is CBD Isolate?
CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD available, anything over 99% CBD is considered to be a CBD isolate. However we would recommend only using a CBD isolate that is lab tested to be 99.9% or higher due to contamination concerns.
The main benefit of using CBD isolate over other types is the price in terms of milligrams of CBD per pound (£). Due to the long shelf life and ease of transport, the price of CBD isolate can be much cheaper than the equivalent full spectrum product.
But there’s no entourage effect? That is correct, however that is not to say that many people benefit solely from the effects of cannabidiol alone, hence the abundance of isolate based products currently on the market.
We at Honest CBD Co have been importing CBD isolate into the UK for around 4 years now, in that time have had our share of bad experiences from unscrupulous wholesalers. We are rightly so, very selective where we import from, not only for safety concerns, but also for ethical reasons too.
Over the past few years we have come across some very questionable products coming out of China and making their way through Europe. So be careful folks, only buy from companies you trust to put your safety first.
Which Should You Choose?
Now we’ve had a brief look at the various types of products available, you might still be no clearer on which type of product is right for you? So lets have a look in more detail.
Firstly, you should abandon the thought that either type is inherently better than the others. Everyone reacts differently to CBD and has different needs depending on what they’re looking to take it for, so this is what you should base your judgement on, which CBD spectrum will work best for you.
Full Spectrum CBD: Pros & Cons
- Benefit from the entourage effect, increasing CBD’s effectiveness.
- The most raw form of extract (less processed).
- Contains terpenes and flavonoids for additional benefits
- May show up on a drug screening
- THC content may cause problems with the local law
- Has the natural flavour and aroma of hemp, which many people do not like.
- Shelf life can be much shorter than isolate based products
Broad Spectrum CBD: Pros & Cons
- Benefit from the entourage effect, increasing CBD’s effectiveness.
- Contains a range of cannabinoids, not just CBD.
- No risk of psychoactive effects
- Less researched
- Lots of marketing ploys – is the product actually broad spectrum?
- Less available than full-spectrum or isolates
- May carry a strong, natural hemp flavour
CBD Isolate: Pros & Cons
- The most concentrated form of CBD
- No risk of getting high or failing drug tests
- Highly versatile for many different applications
- Safe for all types of CBD users
- Odourless and flavourless
- Tends to be much more affordable than a comparable full spectrum product
- Users don’t benefit from the entourage effect
There are many different reasons that could be the deciding factor of which product is right for you; and in all honesty, there is no real right or wrong answer to that question – and nobody can answer it for you.
Everybody’s body is unique in terms of chemistry, weight, lifestyle, etc — all of these factors can influence the way you react to different products and cannabinoid profiles.
There’s still much research to be carried out before we get any definitive answer to understand the effectiveness of each spectrum in comparison to one another, so unfortunately there may be a little bit trial and error on the users part to figure out which works best for you.
The best advice we can give to new users is to start your dosage low and work up from there! – using CBD can be expensive depending on the product you choose and also the dosage you’re taking. Why take 200mg CBD per day if you could reap the same benefits from say 50mg?
We usually tend to advise people to start by trying a CBD isolate based product first, purely from a cost standpoint alone this makes sense. Why take an expensive full spectrum product for something, if you could potentially get the same benefits from a much cheaper isolate based one?