Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum vs CBD Isolate: Which is right for you?

Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum vs CBD Isolate: Which is right for you?

When shopping for CBD products, there are three terms you’re bound to come across: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate.

In short, these three terms define the kind of CBD extract a product contains. While these products are similar, there are a few important differences between them to be aware of, especially depending on what you intend to use CBD for.

What is a cannabinoid?

Simply put, a “cannabinoid” is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. While there are over a hundred cannabinoids that naturally occur in various cannabis strains, the most commonly known are CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). Each cannabinoid can have a different effect on the body. THC, for example, is a psychoactive compound that makes people feel “high,” while CBD is not.

As a variety of Cannabis sativa, the hemp plant (from which most CBD products are derived) contains this wide range of chemical compounds. Along with CBD and THC, other cannabinoids such as “terpenes” and “flavonoids” (discussed below) are often referred to when discussing cannabis-based products.

What is the cannabinoid 'spectrum'? 

If we imagine all of the cannabinoids in a cannabis plant laid out end-to-end, this would form our “spectrum.” The spectrums between cannabis plants vary—as different strains have distinct potencies, flavors, and aromas, their collections of cannabinoids are unique to them.

Where CBD products differ is in how much of a plant’s spectrum they contain. Some might contain only CBD, some capture a section of this spectrum, and others capture the entire thing. A product’s “profile” refers to what parts of the spectrum it contains.

What are terpenes and flavonoids?

Terpenes are what gives cannabis its unique smell. An oil secreted naturally from the plant, terpenes have a wide range of aromas, such as citrus, pine, mint, and even skunk. Combinations of different terpenes are what makes different cannabis strains identifiable by scent alone—plants with “Diesel” strain genetics, for example, often share its pungent aroma of gas.

Flavonoids, however, are not as easy to define. They’re a compound also found in fruits, vegetables, and flowers, and are mainly responsible for giving cannabis plants their various colors. As an understudied compound of the cannabis plant, research so far suggests that like CBD, flavonoids provide some therapeutic benefits, but this remains to be seen.

What is the “entourage effect”?

The “entourage effect” suggests that rather than compounds like CBD or THC acting alone, the entire spectrum of cannabinoids works together to enhance cannabis’s potential benefits. Compounds such as terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds such as CBG and CBC, may either amplify or mitigate each other’s effects, creating a potentially different experience than with a single compound alone.

It’s important to note, though, that while the entourage effect has been suggested since the 1980s, more research is required before we can know what its possible effects and benefits are.

What is CBD isolate?

This is the purest form of CBD “isolating” it from the rest of a plant’s cannabinoids like THC, terpenes, or flavonoids.

As the other compounds on the spectrum have been removed, CBD isolate is odorless and flavorless, making it ideal for those who aren’t a fan of cannabis’s taste and smell. However, because CBD isolate does not contain any other cannabinoids, it will also not have any of the potential benefits of the “entourage effect.”

As the most concentrated form of CBD, isolate has been separated from any trace of THC, and so carries absolutely no risk of getting high. This also means that no THC will show up on any potential drug test. Curious? 

What is full spectrum extract?

As the name suggests, full spectrum CBD oil contains the entirety of a cannabis plant’s cannabinoid range, as well as its essential oils. While this does mean that hemp-extracted, full spectrum CBD does contain THC, it contains only up to 0.3%. This low THC percentage is not psychoactive. As with all CBD products on our site, our full spectrum products will never get you “high.”

In products made using this type of extract, the natural taste and aroma of a cannabis plant is maintained. Depending on the hemp strain used, you’ll taste and smell slight differences in each product. Some may be earthy, some fruity, and others might carry a hint of pine.

Because full spectrum CBD contains trace amounts of THC, it may be possible for THC to appear on a drug test. If that is a concern for you, then it’s safest to choose a product with broad spectrum CBD or CBD isolate instead.

In our assortment we have several brands such as CBDistillery and Moon Mother that produce full spectrum CBD. 

What is broad spectrum extract?

Somewhere between isolates and full spectrum extract lies broad spectrum. These products, like full spectrum ones, maintain the natural oils and cannabinoids of the plant, and therefore have cannabis’s distinct taste and smell.

Broad spectrum extracts, however, do not have the entirety of the spectrum. Like CBD isolates, broad spectrum extracts have their THC completely removed. This means that they can reap the potential benefits of the “entourage effect,” while carrying no risk of THC appearing on a drug test.

Brands in our assortment such as Canna River and Green Roads, produce broad spectrum CBD. 

So, which one should you choose?

Choosing a type of CBD extract is all about personal preference. Whatever your lifestyle, any of these extracts will allow you to enjoy your daily dose of CBD—your way.

CBD isolate is best if:

• You do not like cannabis’s natural taste or smell
• You are concerned with THC appearing on a drug test
• You want a discreet product without any cannabis aroma

Full spectrum extract is best if:

• You like cannabis’s natural flavors and aromas
• You want to enjoy the potential benefits of the “entourage effect”
• You enjoy trying new strains
• You are not concerned about your product’s discretion
• You are not concerned about drug testing

Broad spectrum extract is best if:

• You like cannabis’s natural flavors and aromas
• You want to enjoy the potential benefits of the “entourage effect”
• You enjoy trying new strains
• You are not concerned about your product’s discretion
• You are concerned about drug testing

To sum it all up:

While no type of CBD extract is necessarily better than the other, they’re each best suited for different lifestyles. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. The best part about CBD, though, is how varied it really is! With a whole host of products and formats to try, there’s always an enjoyable way to get your dose.

We’d recommend trying out a few different formats and extract types to find your true CBD soulmate. At CBDcity, we believe there’s a match for everyone—what’s yours?