Whole-plant extracts typically contain a carefully measured amount of the cannabis plant’s most prominent cannabinoid, THC, although usually not in a large enough amount to have any psychological effects. In many countries, a certain percentage of THC is illegal, so it is vital to know the amount of this cannabinoid when manufacturing products that contain full-spectrum CBD. When present together, CBD and its cannabinoid colleagues, as well as terpenes, produce what is known as an entourage effect. The synergistic relationship between cannabinoids and terpenes has been shown to increase the healing properties of each.
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.
The public profile of CBD has soared in recent years, with users using it to treat all manner of ailments and conditions. It can be consumed in a variety of ways, ranging from simple oral consumption to topical use and even vaping. There are two main forms of CBD on the market. These are ‘full spectrum’ CBD and CBD isolate. There are a number of key differences between the two, which we will look at in this article. We will also look at methods of consumption, as this can have dramatic impact on the efficacy of CBD. As we will see, full-spectrum CBD is more popular, and for good reason, but isolate has certain benefits that might appeal to different CBD users.
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.
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.
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.
The wide range of benefits contained in full-spectrum CBD extracts means some CBD merchants have either ceased to sell, or scale down the promotion of CBD isolate, in comparison to the whole-plant extract variety. Companies and individuals who extract CBD themselves are realising that cannabis has more to offer medicinally than just CBD or THC, and that there is little to no reason to not include all that this “super-plant” has to offer in the extraction process.
The term full-spectrum is used when the CBD oil contains more than just the cannabinoid CBD – cue dozens of those hidden extras we spoke about earlier – and sometimes including small traces of THC (usually less than 0.03%), essential oils, flavonoids, terpenes, and other additional cannabinoids. Research suggests that with some of these additional cannabinoids comes the opportunity for wider health benefits.
This one-man band stands out from the crowd for having what seems to be the widest therapeutic value. CBD isolate has been stripped of all other active ingredients and cannabinoids – what remains is a pure CBD molecule. Think of it as peeling a fruit and only eating the inside bit. But don’t be fooled by the word ‘isolate’: there’s a whole host of health and wellness benefits to CBD isolate products.
Full-spectrum CBD oil is minimally refined and usually contains traces of THC, which could give you a sensation of feeling high and could show up on a drug test (so it’s best not to get the two confused). In the UK, THC is only legal in products that contain no more than 1mg of the stuff and aren’t advertised as providing a medicinal benefit – a single milligram over and you’re looking at spending the rest of your days in an orange jumpsuit (ok, that’s an exaggeration, but the point is: it won’t be legal). Make sure to do your research before purchasing.
Full-Spectrum CBD: The Drawbacks
If you’ve done your research and understand the effects that full-spectrum CBD oil can have in comparison to CBD isolate, you might decide it’s a good option for you.
Here at Good Hemp, we’ve been championing hemp and CBD for over 20 years – and we like to think that our carefully crafted range of CBD oil is pretty much the best out there! Scheduling in small acts of self-care can be tough when you’re juggling daily obstacles such as work, yoga classes and binging Bridgerton on Netflix, but a few drops of CBD oil can make a big difference at any time of day. Add them to your post-Zoom HIIT smoothie, stir them into your porridge or drop them into your coffee – it’s the perfect antidote for a busy lifestyle. Plus, we’ve recently re-launched our citrus and peppermint CBD oils – they add a bit of flavour to anything you’re whisking up.
All good things must come to an end and CBD is no exception. The crystalline form of CBD basically won’t expire – a bit like salt and sugar – but the CBD oil base might. Good Hemp’s CBD oil is based on hemp oil, which has a shelf life of one to two years. Once it’s expired, you’ll notice a change in smell and colour. Hemp oil will not last as long as CBD crystals alone, as it’s made of plant material that will eventually break down unless prevented by added preservatives (which you won’t be able to find in ours).
Just like CBD isolate, full-spectrum CBD oil is available in the form of edibles, creams, lotions and potions. You can take it orally with capsules, tinctures and edibles or apply it onto your skin so it can work its magic on the targeted area.
In talking with clients, we find people can react in vastly different ways to the same product. Generally spectrum advice helps, but ultimately finding the product that aligns best with your life is key.
The processing performed on an extract removes various components from the crude extract along the way. Some processes remove some generally unwanted components like chlorophyll from an extract, while others remove significant cannabis compounds like terpenes and cannabinoids.
Full-spectrum CBD oil products have the advantage of containing many different cannabinoids and terpenes and the potential for a wider health reach. A recent study indicated the synergistic effects of a full spectrum CBD oil were superior to an isolate in the effective treatment of inflammatory conditions. Terpenes alone have shown incredible potential for human health and should not be disregarded.
4. Find your preferred CBD spectrum
Some people find the taste of hemp extract unpleasant, which may mean they should try a CBD isolate (or another method of taking CBD such as CBD capsules or gummies). The lack of flavor might also make isolate a better choice for cooking with CBD or mixing into some CBD cocktails. CBD isolate powder can also be an appealing option for making CBD products for personal use, such as homemade CBD massage oil.
Using the above definitions, look to the labs and ingredients lists for verification on your product contents. If the company doesn’t provide labs, or you can’t easily verify the cannabinoid and terpene content, we suggest you look elsewhere. It’s essential to ensure you know what is in the products you’re taking, and providing these lab reports is expected of quality hemp brands today.
Cooking with CBD isolate may be one of the few other exceptions, but a well-made broad or full spectrum CBD product will have a very mild taste and avoid much of the grassy bitterness that can sometimes be bothersome in inferior CBD products.
If you’re OK with THC exposure, the full spectrum is still in. If you can’t then full-spectrum is out for you and if you want to get a little buzz you can get Delta-8 gummies or Delta-8 THC carts.