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Full-spectrum vs broad-spectrum CBD: What’s the difference and which is best?

by | Mar 1, 2022

Choosing the best CBD product for you and your health condition can feel like wandering down the cookie aisle at the supermarket — the number of options are overwhelming.

You’ve got chocolate, caramel, gluten-free, sugar-free, sprinkles, squiggles, crunchy, soft, cream filling, and good-old plain vanilla-flavoured biscuits.

Analysis paralysis is a real thing.

As CBD oil becomes more popular, companies are creating a wider range of varieties and blends, which are often marketed in different ways.

That’s why we want to help simplify things for you.

We started by explaining CBD and THC ratios in this article, which helps you understand how to get the right balance of cannabinoids.

The next thing you need to consider when choosing a CBD product is where it falls on the cannabis spectrum.

As you’re researching the benefits of CBD oil, you’ll probably come across the terms “full-spectrum” and “broad spectrum”.

You’ve probably seen these words used to describe different types of sunscreen, but they’re also important for differentiating between CBD products.

In this article, we’ll cover what each of these terms means and why they’re important for helping you decide which CBD medicine is best for you.


What does full-spectrum CBD mean?

Cannabis is one of the most wonderfully complex plants on the planet, packed with dozens of unique cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and essential fatty acids.

Full-spectrum CBD oil contains CBD and all of these other naturally-occurring compounds in the cannabis plant, including THC.

Full-spectrum CBD is often called whole plant extract.

THC is the cannabinoid that is mostly responsible for the “high” feeling cannabis is known for.

However, full-spectrum CBD must contain less than 0.3% THC, which is not enough to make you feel high or stoned.

This is a major reason why CBD products have become increasingly popular around the world, as they allow people to continue with their everyday activities and responsibilities without feeling impaired.


The benefits of full-spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum CBD oil is often considered the superior form of CBD.

That’s because you get the benefits of CBD along with all of the other therapeutic compounds and cannabinoids.

For example, the various terpenes in cannabis are known to have health benefits of their own.

A 2005 study found that full-spectrum CBD oil had greater medicinal properties than CBD on its own.

The key benefits of full-spectrum CBD are:

Less processed: Full-spectrum CBD undergoes minimal processing, which means it’s a more natural product.

Entourage Effect: Research suggests CBD is more effective when used in conjunction with the many other compounds in the cannabis plant, including THC. This theory is called the Entourage Effect.

No high: Even though broad spectrum contains trace amounts of THC, it won’t make you feel high.

More research: A majority of the cannabis research to-date has focussed on CBD with THC (whole-plant medicinal cannabis).

Even though there’s minimal THC in full-spectrum CBD, some people can be particularly sensitive to THC. It’s also possible that the THC in full-spectrum CBD may be detected in a roadside drug test.

Another downside is full-spectrum CBD is usually more expensive than broad-spectrum or CBD isolate as it’s generally considered a higher-quality product.

Your doctor will be able to advise you as to whether full-spectrum CBD is suitable for you and your health condition.


What is broad-spectrum CBD?

Full-spectrum vs broad-spectrum CBD: What’s the difference and which is best?

Broad-spectrum CBD contains all of the beneficial compounds in the cannabis plant, except for THC.

THC is removed during the extraction process, but there may still be trace amounts present.

This makes broad-spectrum CBD oil a popular choice for people who are sensitive to THC or would prefer not to have THC in their system at all.

You still get most of the benefits of the Entourage Effect, but will miss out on some of the benefits that are unique to THC.


The benefits of broad-spectrum CBD

Minimal processing: Broad-spectrum CBD undergoes more processing than full-spectrum CBD, but it’s still relatively minimal.

Entourage Effect: You still get the benefits of the Entourage Effect with broad-spectrum CBD, as all of the beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes are present with the exception of THC.

No high: Because the THC is removed during the extraction process, there’s no chance of you feeling high with broad-spectrum CBD.

Broad-spectrum is a great option for people who want a product that’s as close to “whole plant” cannabis as it gets, without the THC.


What is CBD isolate?

CBD isolate is pure CBD with none of the other beneficial compounds found in the cannabis plant.

It goes through the same extraction process as full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD. However, once the cannabinoids are extracted, the CBD is filtered out.

The CBD then goes through a chilling process, known as winterisation, which removes all the other chemical compounds.

CBD isolate, sometimes referred to as narrow-spectrum CBD, is usually available as a crystal or powder, but you can sometimes get it as an oil or tincture.


The benefits of CBD isolate

Purity: It’s the only way of getting pure CBD without any other compounds. It’s a good way of seeing how your health condition responds to CBD without the influence of other factors.

Affordability: CBD isolate is the most affordable form of CBD, which may be appealing for some patients.

As mentioned, the main downside of CBD isolate is you don’t get the benefits of all the other compounds in the cannabis plant, such as cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and essential fatty acids.


Where are you on the spectrum?

Full-spectrum vs broad-spectrum CBD: What’s the difference and which is best?

Choosing the best CBD oil for you doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

Through a bit of search and talking with your doctor, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about the most suitable medicinal cannabis product for your health condition.

You can start by deciding which type of CBD is right for you — full-spectrum, broad-spectrum or CBD isolate.

And then you need to consider the CBD:THC ratio or dosage that’s going to be most effective.

Equipping yourself with some basic knowledge of CBD is going to take the stress out of choosing a product and give you greater confidence that you’re making the best decision for your health.

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