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Full-Spectrum vs. Broad-Spectrum CBD: What’s the Difference?
Royal Earth
Full-Spectrum vs. Broad-Spectrum CBD: What’s the Difference?

Since the federal government has legalized CBD, hundreds of companies have rushed to develop their own CBD products and market them to consumers. Thousands of products are made in a variety of forms and can be found in supermarkets, drug stores, and convenience stores throughout the country. You are probably intrigued by CBD products, curious about what they do, and how they could provide you with therapeutic benefits. But the sheer number of products available can be overwhelming, and it isn’t easy to know which companies can be trusted to deliver the results they claim. To determine which products would work best for you, you must first understand what CBD is, how the extraction process works, and the characteristics of the three main types of CBD products.

 

What You Need to Know About CBD

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid. This chemical compound binds with and either activates or inhibits the release of neurotransmitters at specific cannabinoid receptor points in the brain and other areas of the body. Cannabinoids occur naturally in the body (endocannabinoids) and are produced by plants (phytocannabinoids), primarily cannabis and hemp. Cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors work together to form what is called the endocannabinoid system. This intricate biological system regulates numerous processes within the body, including the central nervous system and the immune system. While the cannabinoid THC results in psychoactive effects, CBD provides therapeutic benefits without psychoactive effects.

In addition to CBD and THC, cannabis and hemp also contain compounds called flavonoids and terpenes. Flavonoids are chemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that assist in the regulation of cellular activity. They are also found in green tea, soy, and certain fruits and vegetables. When eaten regularly, foods containing flavonoids have been indicated in lowering blood pressure, decreasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, and reducing the chances of a stroke or heart attack. Terpenes are aromatic chemicals that provide cannabis strains with distinctive flavors. Over one hundred types have been identified, and different terpenes can result in different effects on the consumer. The most common terpenes are myrcene, pinene, caryophyllene, limonene, and terpinolene.

  • Myrcene—The most common terpene found in modern commercial cannabis, myrcene has an earthy, herbal aroma and promotes relaxation and sedation. It is also found in thyme, hops, lemongrass, and mangoes.
  • Pinene—The most prevalent terpene in nature, pinene has a pine aroma and alleviates pain, anxiety, and inflammation. This compound is found in pine needles, rosemary, parsley, basil, and dill.
  • Caryophyllene—The only terpene that also functions as a cannabinoid, caryophyllene has a peppery aroma and provides anti-inflammatory effects and stress relief. It is also found in black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves.
  • Limonene—This terpene has a lemon aroma and provides stress relief and mood enhancement. This compound also occurs in lemon and orange rind, juniper, peppermint, and rosemary.
  • Terpinolene—Dominant in around one in 10 strains, terpinolene has a fruity, floral aroma, and has uplifting effects. It is also found in conifers, apples, cumin, nutmeg, and lilacs.

 

The CBD Extraction Process

CBD extraction is the process of purifying the hemp or cannabis plant to draw out the cannabinoids, usually through CO2 extraction. This extract is then winterized, a process that removes unnecessary substances and further purifies it. Finally, the extract goes through decarboxylation, a process that removes a carboxyl group from the molecular structure to transform acid cannabinoids (CBDA, THCA) into their active forms (CBD, THC). The result of this is full-spectrum CBD. Broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate follow the same process, but each adds one additional step. To create broad-spectrum CBD, the THC is removed. To create CBD isolate, the extract is distilled in a process like alcohol distillation.

 

What Is Full-Spectrum CBD?

Full-spectrum CBD is a form of CBD that has gone through the least amount of processing and retains all its original terpenes, flavonoids, essential oils, and cannabinoids, including THC. This “whole-plant” form is considered the most natural form of CBD oil. Generally, full-spectrum CBD contains less than 0.3% THC, which is not usually enough to prompt psychoactive effects, but it can show up on drug tests. The organic compounds in full-spectrum CBD work together to produce what is called the entourage effect, in which the therapeutic effects of CBD are enhanced when combined with other compounds, compared to being consumed alone. It provides a multiplying effect in which the compounds magnify the effectiveness of one another, improving the experience.

 

What Is Broad-Spectrum CBD?

Broad-spectrum CBD is CBD extract that is further refined by removing THC cannabinoids via chromatography. Broad-spectrum CBD does still contain beneficial flavonoids, terpenes, and other cannabinoids that allows consumers to experience the entourage effect, though at a lesser degree than is produced by full-spectrum CBD.

Because the removal of THC, while preserving other chemical compounds is a challenging task, some companies use a CBD isolate rather than CBD extract and add in other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes.

 

What Is CBD Isolate?

CBD isolate follows the same extraction process as full-spectrum CBD but includes the additional step of distillation in which all cannabis compounds besides CBD are removed. This results in a flavorless, odorless white powder containing over 99% CBD and is considered the purest form. It can be made into a crystalline form or used in the creation of tinctures or vape juices. The entourage effect is absent in CBD isolate, and the therapeutic results are typically not as promising as full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD.

 

How to Choose Between Full-Spectrum or Broad-Spectrum CBD or CBD Isolate

When determining which CBD product is right for you, there are several factors to consider based on your personal preferences or therapeutic needs. The following list details the advantages and disadvantages of three types to help you decide.

 

Full-Spectrum CBD

Advantages:

  • It provides the entourage effect for maximum therapeutic results.
  • The amount of THC is so small that it likely will not elicit psychoactive effects.
  • It undergoes the least amount of processing, making it the most natural product available.
  • It is best for individuals with severe conditions.

Disadvantages:

  • A small amount of THC can have undesirable side effects.
  • It may result in a positive drug test.
  • THC is illegal in some states.

 

Broad-Spectrum CBD

Advantages:

  • It also provides the entourage effect.
  • THC removal eliminates the risk of psychoactive effects.
  • It is best for individuals who are sensitive to THC, cannot fail a drug test, or reside in states where THC is illegal.

Disadvantages:

  • Additional processing reduces or alters the remaining compounds.
  • Less research has been performed on this type as opposed to full-spectrum CBD.

 

CBD Isolate

Advantages:

  • It is the purest form of CBD.
  • No terpenes or flavonoids means you get a clean flavor.
  • There is zero chance of psychoactive effects.
  • Specific dosages make it easier to calculate how much you should take.
  • Best for individuals who are extremely sensitive, have never tried CBD products, or reside in states where THC is illegal.

Disadvantages:

  • Removal of terpenes and flavonoids leaves you with no aroma or flavor.
  • You will not experience the entourage effect.

 

Choosing a Quality CBD Product

Whether you choose full-spectrum CBD oil, broad-spectrum CBD oil, or CBD isolate, you must do your research and select a reputable product that has been tested for safety and efficacy. This means checking for potency and traceability test results. A potency test utilizes either liquid chromatography or gas chromatography to identify the cannabinoids present in a sample and measure their strength. Because different cannabinoids cause different effects, you should know what to expect before purchasing or using any CBD products. Potency testing quantifies the components of each product, ensuring proper documentation of the cannabinoid profile and giving consumers the information that they need to choose the best strain and the appropriate dosage.

Traceability refers to the ability to trace a product from its source through cultivation and harvesting to manufacture. Companies should be transparent in terms of a plant’s origin, an extract’s production process, and the results of quality control testing. They should be closely involved in every step of the operation, knowing where the seeds come from, where the plant is grown, and when the crop was harvested. Products should adhere to standards set by good manufacturing practices and obtain approval by trusted regulatory boards. Their labels should feature results from third-party lab analysis so consumers can be confident that the company’s claims are free from bias or skewed results, and the product does not contain any dangerous substances. A company that cannot guarantee every step in the process from seed to product has likely cut corners in other areas and cannot be trusted to sell a high-quality product.

Ensure your CBD products are safe, effective, and therapeutically beneficial by choosing a reliable company like Royal Earth. We are here to answer any questions you may have and would be happy to assist you in finding the perfect CBD product for you.

 

This post is meant to be informational and should not be taken as medical advice. 

Resources:

  • https://www.healthline.com/health/what-are-flavonoids-everything-you-need-to-know
  • https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/terpenes-the-flavors-of-cannabis-aromatherapy
  • https://joyorganics.com/full-spectrum-vs-broad-spectrum-cbd-oil-whats-the-difference/
  • https://vaping360.com/learn/cbd-isolate-vs-full-spectrum-vs-broad-spectrum/
  • https://essentialhealth.com/cbd-hemp/broad-vs-full-spectrum-cbd/
  • https://www.theveritasfarms.com/blog/full-spectrum-hemp-oil/