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CBD Isolate vs Full-Spectrum CBD: What's The Difference?

Hundreds of thousands of Americans use CBD every day. They do so for a myriad of reasons. To fight pain, anxiety, depression, cancer and epilepsy are just a few. 

Lots of these claims are backed up with scientific evidence. Many more are not. However, while you can find an increasing amount of writing on the supposed overall health benefits of CBD, there is little on how certain types of CBD can have specific benefits. This is the topic of this article. 

50 Shades of CBD

There are numerous different types of cannabidiol (CBD). First is CBD isolates, which are a pure form of CBD. Then there is full spectrum CBD which is packed full of over cannabis compounds, like additional cannabinoids and terpenes. Plus there is a third type too. But we will come to this later. For now, what does this all actually mean? 

Medical marijuana flower buds. Recreational marijuana strain. Cannabis strain. Weed bud in the glass jar.

Across this article, you will be taught the main differences between full spectrum and CBD isolates. This will entail understanding what CBD isolates and full-spectrum CBD are and then which ones are more beneficial. 

CBD Isolate vs Full-Spectrum

right now, I suppose there is one burning question on your mind: how can I work out the difference between CBD isolate and its full spectrum sister. 

The main difference between the two variants is what substances they contain. This largely depends on the manufacturing process employed to create the CBD. Manufacturers can extract CBD oil in various ways. Depending on how the CBD is extracted, the extract may or may not contain additional elements. These extra elements determine the variant. 

How Are They Made? 

This begs the question: how is CBD isolate oil and full-spectrum CBD oil made? Before CBD becomes a finished product ready for consumption, it is known as industrial hemp. Distinct from the cannabis plant, hemp is non-intoxicating. This is because it legally cannot contain more than 0.3 percent THC content - as per US federal law. 

Side note: crucially such an amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) ensures that the CBD produced from hemp plants is not psychoactive. That is, it does not get you high. Although, again, this can differ with CBD products derived from marijuana plants. 

In their raw form, hemp plants contain several beneficial compounds, such as terpenes and phytocannabinoids, alongside CBD. 

CBD manufacturers mostly create their products from industrial hemp plants. They do so by extracting the oil from the flowers and leaves of the plant, which results in a crude extract, containing various types of cannabinoids, fatty acids, terpenes and other plant material. Think of it as unrefined hemp oil.  

What Next? 

From this crude, CBD oil still needs to be extracted. There are several ways to do this, however the most commonly used methods are carbon dioxide extraction and solvent extraction. The latter uses highly-pressured CO2 to extract cannabinoids. It is important to note that this method pulls the other essential oils, cannabinoids and terpenes from the hemp. 

On the other hand, solvent extraction uses liquids, such as ethanol, alcohol, butane or isopropyl to remove the cannabinoids and other valuable elements from the hemp plant. In contrast to CO2 extraction, the solvent method does not provide a clean extraction, as it also strips out chlorophyll and other unwanted plant matter. 

Why is All This Relevant? 

The CBD extraction process removes several elements from the crude extraction (or not). The most relevant of these are chlorophyll and other hazardous components. Why this is relevant is that this is also the point at which CBD oils begin to branch into its different forms: isolate and full-spectrum. 

To spell it out clearly, full spectrum CBD still contains various cannabinoids, terpenes and other helpful components after processing. Whereas CBD isolates only have cannabidiol inside them. Said otherwise, it is pure CBD. 

Full-Spectrum CBD

THC-free, but not quite. Let us unpack this further. As noted above, full spectrum CBD contains many extracts from the whole plant of the hemp. This includes other cannabinoids, terpenes and essential oils. Importantly, it also contains trace amounts of THC. At present, there are numerous full spectrum cbd products out there. Each one is geared towards promoting wellness, but not all are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Full spectrum Cannabidiol CBD oils, capsules and crystals isolate with small blackboard with CBD word and chemical structure on wooden backdrop

This brings us to the topic of legality. It is permissible for broad-spectrum CBD products to have up to 0.3 THC content. This is because any more THC than this and it would have psychoactive properties. However, at a rate of 0.3 per cent, there is such a tiny amount of THC that it is almost impossible to get high and it will have next to no psychoactive effects. 

So is it legal? Despite this low amount of THC, full spectrum CBD is still subjected to federal regulations. If derived or extracted from industrial hemp - which has 0.3% - it is legal. This is in accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill.

However and this is a big however, across many parts of the UNited States cannabis is fully legalized for adult use. What this means is that in these states full spectrum CBD may contain a higher THC level than elsewhere. Such full-spectrum oil will still offer users the complete package of plant extracts that create the so-called entourage effect. 

The Entourage Effect

Now there is one thing to bear in mind. Since full spectrum CBD has all those different cannabis compounds, they work together to offer additional benefits that would not be available if you just took CBD by itself. The combined benefits of these extra cannabis elements are good. It is called the entourage effect. 

The implicit assumption behind the entourage effect is that CBD is more beneficial and efficacious when more cannabis compounds are working within it. These include cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabichromene (CBC).

Taken together, these cannabinoids create a heavier impact on your endocannabinoid system (more on this later) than a single cannabis could exert by itself. Indeed, it is possible to bring about the entourage effect by consuming extra CBD or THC products on top of your original dosages. But be aware of side effects. 

There are a few additional compounds that can influence the entourage effect. In cannabis plants, these compounds are known as terpenoids and terpenes, although they are found in other plants than cannabis plants. Plus they won't have the same effects of CBD.

Similar to cannabinoids, terpenes have individual unique characteristics - coincidentally, they are also the reason why cannabis has that distinctive smell. Terpenes that are found in hemp plants include limonene, myrcene, ocimene and humulene. 

CBD Isolate

As aforementioned, CBD isolates are created by extracting CBD from industrial hemp and then processing it to remove all other cannabinoid components, notably THC. What this means is that isolated CBD is 99% percent pure CBD because it lacks any terpenes or flavonoids. 

Macro detail of Cannabidiol crystal aka CBD, a pure isolated medical cannabis compound

On its own, CBD isolate is a white, powdery substance. However, it seldom remains this way. People usually infuse it with a carrier oil to create tinctures, capsules, topical creams, gels, essential oils, creams and even edibles, like gummies. CBD tinctures are particularly adored by CBD users. Indeed, the universe of isolated products is vast. 

Yet is it safe? And why would someone prefer the purest form of CBD over something more natural, that contained different cannabinoids. This is where the CBD isolate vs full spectrum cbd debate gets complicated. 

Truth is, there is no such thing as the best CBD. The CBD vs debate is largely subjective. In fact, much depends on your personal preferences, including your specific needs for using CBD and your lifestyle. Here's how you can see whether hemp extract or cannabis extract is right for you. 

Are CBD Isolates Safe? 

Much like full spectrum CBD, oils with isolated CBDare also subjected to federal law. That is, they must have less than 0.3% THC content. Otherwise they are illegal, well at least in certain states. However, as we now know, the CBDextraction process removes these elements, ensuring that there are no other cannabis compounds inside. 

This means that CBD isolates are ideal for those who do not want to consume any THC. Although they do not have any of the beneficial flavonoids or terpenes that create the entourage effect, CBD isolates are without THC, CBG, CBC and CBN. In short, they are perfect for anyone who is worried about how their body might respond to THC. 

But why use CBD isolate oil - especially if it is missing a lot of the good stuff. Those of you who want to take large amounts of CBD ought to choose CBD isolates. This is because if you were to take large amounts of full spectrum CBD oils, you would also be consuming large amounts of THC. This could potentially disrupt your daily life and leave you feeling high - most of the time. 

Yes it does prevent you from receiving the benefits of the entourage effect, but isolates can still be helpful for people who do not need to experience the whole impact of the plant. This is perhaps most pertinent for those who experience mild symptoms or are very sensitive to the drug. 

One very important thing is drug tests. If you are given a random screening, say by the traffic police, CBD isolates will allow you to get away scott free. However, if you have been consuming full spectrum CBD oils, you run the risk of having THC show up on a drug test. This, of course, could land you in trouble with the law. Nevertheless, you should still be cautious when taking CBD isolates as there is still no guarantee that they are 0% THC free. 

If your employer has a zero tolerance drug policy (as many do), extra sensitive drug tests might detect cannabinoids in your system, whether it is THC or not. You should always check with your HR department to know and understand their policies before you purchase any form of CBD product. 

Which One Is Best?

By now it should be pretty clear that each CBD form has their own negatives and pluses. Rather than trying to decisively prove which one is best, it is better to first work out your needs and then see which one better suits you. Both have real, concrete benefits that the other does not have. Once you understand what each one has to offer you can better compare them vis-a-vis your needs. 

Full-spectrum CBD Benefits

Full spectrum CBD has more of a powerful effect on the body than CBD isolates because it contains multiple cannabis compounds. This is enhanced by the entourage effect, wherein many cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids work together to nourish the body with whole plant benefits. 

Depending on your state, full spectrum CBD might also have some THC in it. Indeed, there are occasions when THC amounts can spontaneously increase in the product during its manufacture. 

Dependable producers of CBD should have a certificate of analysis on their products. This displays what ingredients and compounds were used and how much is present in each batch. This must include THC. Use this information to your advantage. Read the labels carefully. 

CBD Isolate Benefits

They are the most pure form of CBD. Since it is free from other cannabis elements, isolates should be used by first-time cannabis users or those who know that THC does not agree with them. Additionally, if you are taking medicines or over the counter drugs CBD isolates are preferable, as they will allow you to avoid these drugs interacting with THC. This can be dangerous. 

Another benefit is that CBD isolates are highly processed. What this means is that there are no distinctive odors or tastes that might put you off. Besides you should also consider using CBD isolates if your employer has a particularly sensitive drug policy. 

The Right Choice for You

Across this article we have provided you with the knowledge and understanding surrounding CBD isolate oil and full spectrum CBD oil. The fundamental difference was that one has more cannabis elements than the other, which is pure CBD. 

Full spectrum CBD is less processed. As a result, it still has CBN, CBC, CBG, terpenes and flavonoids. They all work together to enhance the power of CBD. At the same time, it contains some THC. 

CBD isolates are highly processed. This means they do not have any other cannabis compounds from the hemp plant in them. There are no other cannabinoids or terpenes included, leaving a tasteless and odorless sustbacne, which can be influenced with oils and other different products. 

Both forms of CBD have a unique set of benefits as per your individual needs and personal preferences. Full spectrum CBD may work more substantially with the endocannabinoid system because all the cannabinoids are interacting synergistically.

Whereas CBD isolates may allow for much larger servicing without any THC consumption, which can be detected in drug tests. Now it is the time for you to decide which one best suits you. We wish you every success.

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