It depends on who you ask and why they are using CBD. Isolate is best for avoiding any possible trace of THC while full-spectrum may confer the additional benefits of other cannabinoids and terpenes via the entourage effect.
It’s incredibly easy to measure CBD isolate dosages, as there’s nothing else to account for aside from the pure CBD crystals.
For topicals, mix the CBD isolate with moisturizing oils or lotions and apply it to the area of your skin you’d like to treat. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Which is better, CBD isolate or full-spectrum CBD?
CBD is cannabidiol, a phytocannabinoid found in cannabis plants. CBD isolate is CBD that has been isolated from all other plant material through a process of extraction and refining. CBD isolate is available in crystal or powder form.
CBD crystalline can be measured and put into capsules or pills, allowing you to ingest an accurate dose. You can also mix CBD isolate with a variety of ingredients to create CBD-infused food and drinks. However, because CBD is not absorbed very well by the gastrointestinal tract, it has a low oral bioavailability. In order to increase bioavailability, CBD isolate can be added to carrier oils, such as MCT oil, to increase its chances of permeating the gastrointestinal system and reaching the bloodstream.
Apply the CBD powder directly under your tongue and hold it there for about 60 seconds. With this method, the CBD is absorbed by the mucous membranes and delivered directly to the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system to provide more immediate and effective relief.
If someone is testing for CBD isolate, yes. But common drug tests look for THC and its metabolites. And part of the point of CBD isolate is that it doesn’t contain any THC, unlike full-spectrum CBD products, which are legally permitted to contain up to 0.3% THC. Generally, worries about CBD oil and drug testing are unwarranted but it’s even less of an issue with CBD isolate.
Many people prefer CBD isolate due to its neutral flavor and taste, which makes it easy to add to food, drinks, and topicals. Extraction methods remove every other compound including THC. Individuals who don’t want to risk consuming THC or failing a drug test will often look for CBD isolates.
Full-spectrum oil retains its complementary and medically applicable compounds. Researchers have found that the cannabis plant’s minor cannabinoids have therapeutic value, and that terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids support the entire endocannabinoid system.
Hemp extraction is the most popular form of CBD extraction for a variety of reasons; it has rich CBD content, low THC levels, and the added benefit of coming from a less-aggressively regulated source. Every strain of cannabis and hemp has its own unique chemical profile, meaning that each product will contain different amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes that were purposely bred by cannabis farmers.
Why CBD Isolate?
State-of-the-art chromatography processes remove all of the THC from a full-spectrum extract. This method of extraction keeps the hemp strain’s intended compounds. Adding cannabinoids and terpenes back into a CBD isolate would not be considered broad or full-spectrum.
Just as important as where the oil is extracted is how it is extracted, and there are multiple ways to target chemical compounds found in cannabis. Hemp producers employ a variety of extraction methods, including alcohol, supercritical CO2, and butane extraction to remove the therapeutic compounds found in hemp plants. Each method caters to a varying yield, quality, and purity of hemp-derived CBD.
Broad-spectrum CBD products fall somewhere between CBD isolates and full-spectrum extracts. Essentially, broad-spectrum contains much of the hemp’s cannabinoids and terpenes, minus the THC.
Hemp oil, or CBD oil extracted from hemp plants, is different than cannabis extract, but both can be called CBD oil. The main difference is that while CBD can be extracted from cannabis plants, it can also extract trace THC along with it. Typically, any residual THC in CBD oil is intentional, as cannabis consumers demand more CBD presence in their extracts.
Given the results of this study, it would seem to confirm that full-spectrum extract is preferable over CBD isolate for most CBD users, but CBD isolate is still frequently used and believed by some to be more effective than full-plant extract. This belief is led by the idea that CBD is the only medically sought after cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, aside from THC. Many CBD isolate users are under the impression that by consuming only the CBD cannabinoid and no terpenes or any other “unnecessary” components of the plant, they are getting a more powerful or effective dose of CBD. When vaping a CBD extract, which as stated previously, is considered to be the most efficient and quick-acting method of administering CBD, isolate users may feel that they are taking the most efficient route to CBD consumption. While this method might be efficient, the lack of entourage effect means the benefits are reduced when compared to full-spectrum CBD consumption.
THC is one of the cannabinoids involved in the “entourage effect” stated earlier so it is ideal for inclusion in CBD supplementation. A recent article on full-spectrum CBD demonstrates the importance of THC inclusion by stating, “In hemp THC is a minor constituent and appears only in trace amounts under 0.3% by dry weight, as required by the U.S. government for hemp products. THC mimics the action of anandamide, a neurotransmitter naturally produced in the human body, and binds to CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system found mostly in the brain. The extremely low levels of THC in hemp make hemp oil non-psychoactive and safe for all ages to use.”
Ian Jones is a journalist based in Manchester, England. He specialises in technology and food, with a heavy focus on vaping, CBD and medicinal drugs. He began writing professionally over 15 years ago and is a regular contributor to New Scientist, Vice and the Daily Mirror. He is also the resident CBD expert at the respected vaping website Spinfuel. He began looking at CBD in detail after discovering that it cured his mother’s arthritis, and has since become a leading figure in the UK when it comes to educating people about the CBD extraction process and exploring its curative properties.
However, CBD isolate does have something to offer CBD users that full-spectrum extracts does not. The fact that full-spectrum extracts invariably contain low levels of THC means that some users prefer to play it safe and stick to pure CBD by itself, out of fear of failing a drug test or experiencing a form of “high”, although both of these occurrences have been found to be fairly unlikely.
This has left some users concerned not just with which form of extracted CBD is most effective or what the proper dosage for them may be, but also with which method of supplementation gives the user the most relief in the right amount of time. Some of the most common methods include applying it sublingually, topically, or taking it in capsules. Vaping cbd is regarded by many to be the most bio-available way to administer, and as such, this has led to an increase in the demand for CBD isolate. This form of CBD is different from full-spectrum CBD extract in that it only contains CBD and none of the other cannabinoids, terpenes, or healthy fatty acids that commonly result from the whole-plant extraction process.
A study published by the Lautenberg Center for Immunology and Cancer Research, which aimed its focus on the effectiveness of CBD isolate compared to full-plant extract, supported this concept, stating in its summary that “in all of the tests, the isolated CBD was ineffective both before and after a certain dosage, while the effectiveness of the full-spectrum solution continued to increase as higher doses were administered. The results all indicate that CBD is only effective against swelling and pain at a certain dose, and that cannabis solutions containing a full range of cannabinoids will continue to provide corresponding effects as the dosage is increased.”
The increased popularity of CBD has led many users to raise questions about the methods of extracting and administering CBD. The main question is which form provides the most effective range of medical benefits for the user. The two most common forms of extracted CBD found in stores are full-spectrum (whole-plant extract) and pure CBD isolate. Most users prefer the full-spectrum option. As CBD’s usefulness for medical purposes has become more accepted over the years, new methods of administering it have continued to evolve.