One of the toughest decisions every CBD lover has to face is whether to use full-spectrum or isolate CBD products. Both products have CBD as the primary and active ingredient. But, there's more to understand about them and each works differently for various conditions.
For CBD users, choosing between the two forms of CBD is more than a preference. There are various factors to consider while making a choice, so the decision is never easy. If you've just started using CBD, knowing which of the two forms of CBD is best for you will ensure you get the best CBD results in the shortest time possible with the least worry and concern.
What is CBD?
The best place to start when discussing full spectrum CBD and CBD isolate is by understanding what CBD is.
CBD is a cannabinoid found in the hemp plant – the same plant that contains THC. CBD is known for its nutritional value and potential health benefits and has recently risen in popularity worldwide.
One of the reasons why CBD is quickly becoming famous is because it doesn’t have the same psychoactive properties like THC. Everything from the hemp varieties chosen for growing CBD to the extraction and manufacturing of CBD products is closely guarded to ensure the minimal presence of THC, so you don't experience psychoactive effects.
What is Full-Spectrum CBD?
Full-spectrum CBD is a form of CBD that contains all the contents of the hemp plant. These include CBD, THC, other cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes.
Full-spectrum CBD is best known for its strong aroma and taste. It is the most potent form of CBD, offering an extensive range of benefits, including the entourage effect.
Although full-spectrum CBD contains THC, it's vital to note that the concentration of THC is kept at the maximum 0.2%, which is not enough to cause any psychoactive effects. However, users of full-spectrum CBD products have noted that such products provide a profound calming effect.
What is CBD Isolate?
CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD are both extracted from the same hemp plants in the initial stages. However, CBD isolate undergoes further purification to remove THC, terpenes and all the other cannabinoids. This form of CBD is purely CBD.
CBD isolate is designed for people that don't want to ingest any THC and purely want CBD. It's also ideal for users who undergo frequent drug tests and don't want to risk any positive results.
Even without THC, other cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids, CBD isolate still offers an extensive range of benefits.
How are Full Spectrum and CBD Isolate Made?
The process of making full-spectrum and CBD isolate products starts with the growth of EU-approved hemp varieties that have a high CBD yield. At maturity, parts of the plants like the stalk are harvested and taken for extraction, where one of four main methods can be used to extract the CBD from the plants. These methods include:
- Carbon dioxide extraction: This is the most commonly used and the most effective method of extracting CBD. It uses CO2 to separate the CBD oil from the cannabis plant. Using this method, manufacturers can produce high concentration CBD, and the chances of contamination are low.
- Steam distillation: Steam is used to separate the oil from the plant material using this method. This method is commonly used in extracting essential plant oils, but it is not as effective in extracting CBD as CO2.
- Solvent extraction: Solvent extraction is effective if the solvents are left behind. It's one of the rarely used methods of CBD extraction because of the health risks it poses, and it can also affect the flavour of the final extract.
- Lipid extraction – Lipid extraction has not been a mainstream method of extracting CBD. But it is gaining popularity as most companies move on from the expensive CO2 extraction and unreliable solvent extraction.
After CBD is extracted, the resulting extract is considered full-spectrum and has a maximum THC concentration of 0.2%. This can be packaged as it is, or it can undergo further processing to remove the terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids leaving pure CBD behind (CBD isolate).
The making of CBD isolate involves cooling and purifications processes, which leave behind a crystalline substance, which is the CBD isolate.
Differences Between Full-Spectrum and CBD Isolate
Full-Spectrum CBD and CBD isolate have a number of differences despite being extracted from the same plant. Some of the key differences you should take note of include:
The composition of both forms of CBD is the greatest difference between them. On the one hand, full-spectrum CBD contains thousands of cannabinoids, which include THC and CBD, terpenes and flavonoids, while on the other hand, CBD isolate contains 99% CBD. As you would expect, the disparity in content results in different effects and experiences.
Having a wider composition means full-spectrum CBD is far more powerful than CBD isolate. Full-spectrum CBD is able to leverage the benefits of the various terpenes and cannabinoids, including THC, to deliver more potent results and guarantee exceptional benefits.
CBD isolate is not without benefits as well. However, these are only limited to those associated with CBD.
Full-spectrum CBD offers a broader scope of effects, including the entourage effect, resulting from the full profile of cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant. Full-spectrum CBD has also been found to provide more extensive and effective results courtesy of the support and additional benefits of having cannabinoids and terpenes.
While CBD isolate provides an excellent range of benefits as well. They’re not close to those offered by full-spectrum CBD. CBD isolate doesn’t provide the entourage effect and doesn’t carry the effects that come with the different flavonoids, terpenes and other cannabinoids.
Aroma and taste
One of the ways to differentiate between full-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate is by the aroma and taste. Full-spectrum CBD has a strong aroma and taste because of the high concentration of terpenes and flavonoids. CBD isolate, on the other hand, doesn't have any smell or taste.
Full-spectrum CBD is available in a liquid state and is often used to make CBD tinctures. CBD isolate comes in crystal and powder forms. It can be used to make a vast range of CBD products, including making your own CBD treats at home.
Benefits of Full-Spectrum CBD
Choosing either form of CBD as a CBD user has benefits, and as you would expect, there are downsides as well.
For Full-spectrum CBD products, the most apparent benefit is the more potent effects, and these products tend to be more effective than those made from CBD isolate.
Full-spectrum products are common among experienced CBD users who appreciate the flavour and aroma that comes with having terpenes and flavonoids in your CBD products.
Most CBD users prefer to use full-spectrum do so because of the entourage effect. This is as a result of all the cannabinoids found in this type of CBD.
Because full-spectrum CBD is less processed, it is more natural and appeals to CBD lovers who love CBD as a natural product and understand the importance of preserving the cannabinoids through minimal processing.
Downsides of Full-Spectrum CBD
Despite the numerous benefits of full-spectrum CBD, there are some downsides as well. It's essential to be aware of these as well, so you can make an informed decision.
The greatest concern with full-spectrum CBD is that it contains THC. Although the THC is minimal and highly regulated, among experienced users who require high and frequent CBD doses, the build-up of THC could trigger a positive result.
Benefits of CBD Isolate
CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD. It contains 99% pure CBD. New users who are experimenting on CBD and want to experience the effects of CBD and nothing more should try CBD isolate.
Although full-spectrum has more to offer, new CBD users are better off with CBD isolate. It is a more predictable form of CBD that delivers excellent results and gives you an idea of what to expect. CBD isolate is an even better choice if you're not sure about CBD and you're just trying it out.
Some CBD users can't stand the smell or the taste of natural full-spectrum CBD. CBD isolate is refined and has no discernible taste or smell, making it an ideal option for CBD users who have a problem with taking full-spectrum CBD products.
Users who need to take high doses of CBD and are subjected to frequent drug tests can benefit from taking CBD isolate. It doesn't contain THC. Therefore, it drastically reduces the risk of triggering a positive test.
There are multiple ways you can use CBD isolate. You can even use it to make your own CBD treats at home.
The Downsides of CBD Isolate
The greatest downside of CBD isolate is that it doesn’t have the entourage effect because its composition doesn’t include the other cannabinoids or terpenes.
It's also worth noting that while CBD isolate is useful, it's not as potent as full-spectrum CBD. The range of effects is also reduced.
For users that are looking for some middle ground and want to enjoy the entourage effect and other benefits of full-spectrum CBD without the THC, there’s a third form of CBD called broad-spectrum CBD.
Broad-spectrum CBD has all the terpenes and most of the cannabinoids found in the hemp plant but doesn’t have THC, making it a preferable option for CBD users that want to avoid THC.