Currently, in the CBD world, there is an ongoing debate regarding the different types of CBD products available on the market. There is some debate about whether full-spectrum CBD products or CBD isolates are best. To make matters even more complex, there are also broad-spectrum products, and people have their opinions about those products also.
We’ve touched upon this subject several times in previous blog posts. In this installment, we’ll have a closer look at these different designations. This debate started out pretty simply, but it turns out that there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing your CBD products.
Let’s have a look at these different terms and what they mean for CBD users across the country.
CBD Isolates and Spectrums
What is a CBD isolate? And what are full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD products? Here’s the rundown on each in a nutshell:
- CBD Isolates: These are products that consist only of cannabidiol (CBD) molecule as the active ingredient. There are no other cannabinoids present such as THC, and no flavor terpenes, etc. This is a straight-forward, clinical extraction of the CBD molecule.
- Full-Spectrum CBD Products: These are products that utilize the full-range present in cannabis or hemp plants. This includes the different flavonoids, terpenes, and other constituents that are preserved during the extraction process. In most cases, this also includes THC.
- Broad-Spectrum CBD Products: These products extract CBD from the cannabis or hemp plant, and remove various parts of the plant as well. Later on in the process, cannabinoids and other chemical compounds are reintroduced into the hemp extract oil. This is often done purposefully for a specific goal, such as recreating the flavor of a particular strain.
Which is Better? Isolate, Full-, or Broad- Spectrum?
Earlier research in this area initially identified full-spectrum CBD products as being superior. The idea was that the various compounds in the plant can combine to create a more powerful experience that “hits” more neurons and receptors in your brain and nervous system.
Full-spectrum products were associated with what is called the “entourage effect”(link to entourage blog) — i.e., the notion that the individual chemicals of the cannabis and hemp plant work “better” in concert and create effects that are better together, compared with individual isolate extracts.
But is this entirely accurate? And even if it is, is this really desirable? Full-spectrum products can contain THC, so this is one aspect to consider. Many CBD users don’t necessarily want to consume THC, so this is alone is a major concern when it comes to full-spectrum CBD products. Apart from this issue, there are several other issues to consider.
Unpredictability: A “Cocktail” of Cannabis Compounds
One of the unique features of the cannabis plant is that it comes in a variety of “strains”, or breeds. You may be familiar with this idea; different strains of cannabis contain different chemicals and affect the user differently.
The problem that we run into here is that each strain can be vastly different from the next, chemically speaking. Not only that, each plant can even be different, even from the same strain.
So, when full-spectrum products are made, it can be very, very difficult to identify exactly what chemicals and cannabinoids are in that product. Even if the product identifies which strain the extract is sourced from, that doesn’t guarantee that each batch will be exactly the same as the next.
In a word, the problem with full-spectrum CBD products is consistency. Cannabinoid content is not the same for every plant. Consumers of full-spectrum products may discover that their product does not yield the same results every time.
More Consistency and Control: CBD Isolates and Broad-Spectrum Products
In contrast, users of CBD isolates might not run into this sort of issue. CBD isolates will chemically be very consistent from batch to batch since you’re working with only one cannabinoid compound (CBD).
So, while you might not exactly get the same experience as a full-spectrum product, the benefit is that you’re generally going to get the same experience every time, with little variation. That’s good news for someone looking to target specific conditions or symptoms, as Black Rain Warrior Yvonne did with her approach to breast cancer treatment.
Similarly, broad-spectrum products can be a bit more controllable; labs are now beginning to isolate more and more compounds, which is the “science” part of the equation. The “art” part of the equation now involves determining which compounds to re-introduce into a broad spectrum product. A newer focus in this area is combining cannabis and hemp products with other compounds such as curcumin or melatonin to achieve even more specific effects.
Here are some of the main points of each type of CBD product:
Full-Spectrum CBD Products
- More cannabinoids may lead to a more holistic experience
- May have a broader range of benefits due to more compounds being present
- Products can be unpredictable in terms of the desired effect
- Batches from the same strain or even the same plant may be different
Broad Spectrum CBD Products
- A bit more controllable than full-spectrum, though still not as consistent as isolates
- Can be “tailored” to achieve desired effects
- Science in this area is still being developed
- Need more “recipes” for different combinations based on desired effects
- Focuses only on one compound, so batches and effects are consistent
- Can also be combined with other compounds for more specific effects
- Effects are only limited to the isolated compound (CBD)
- Experience is very different from consuming the full cannabis plant
Thus, when it comes to choosing a CBD product, it really all depends on what your needs are. As research progresses in this area, consumers can make decisions about their CBD products that are even more educated and supported well by scientific research.
This article is not intended to be medical advice. Our products are not cures for any of the ailments listed in this article. We highly recommend everyone speak with their physician and understand the limitations and use of hemp-derived products.