CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum CBD
Cannabidiol (CBD) is sold to consumers in three main categories: Full-spectrum, Broad-spectrum, and isolate. CBD is used by many people to treat a wide range of conditions. Though more research is needed to test and verify these effects, many users report positive results in using it to treat several conditions.
Below we will discuss tow of the three main types: CBD isolate, and Full-spectrum CBD.
Main Differences between Isolate and Full Spectrum CBD
The difference between these two comes down to the amount of processing, resulting in the purity of the final product.
Full-spectrum CBD products contain all of the compounds of the cannabis plant, including small amount of THC (up to 0.3%), the compound that produces the high of marijuana use, and can trigger drug tests. Though the amount of THC in these products is too low to produce a high, and usually too low to trigger a drug test, it is still present, and some conjecture that it may build up over regular, prolonged use, to the point that it could trigger a positive THC test.
By comparison, CBD isolate is just what the name suggests: an isolated form of cannabidiol, without any of the other compounds extracted from the plant – that also means 0% THC. This product usually comes from hemp plants, which do not contain high amounts of THC to begin with. CBD isolate is a crystal (sometimes called CBD crystals for this reason) but is often ground up and sold as a powder.
Regardless of which type of CBD you purchase, the extraction methods are the same. Producers may use carbon dioxide extraction, steam distillation, solvent extraction or lipid extraction. The difference comes in with the degree of processing after the extraction. CBD isolate is the most processed form of CBD.
Benefits of Isolate
CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, but some claim it is not as effective as other forms which contain the additional compounds. However, many first-time CBD users prefer to start with CBD isolate, as it is reported by many users to relieve symptoms of several conditions and comes without the risk of THC presence triggering drug tests. It also has none of the typical odour or taste of the other CBD products.
Though more research needs to be done, a 2015 study using animals concluded that CBD isolate use may result in certain health benefits, to a slightly lesser degree than full-spectrum CBD use. The study suggested that these benefits may only occur at a specific dose level, whereas full-spectrum CBD effects seemed to increase with increased dosage.
Benefits of Full Spectrum
It is thought that full-spectrum CBD products are more effective than other CBD types. It is perhaps the presence of other compounds, perhaps working in combination with each other, that results in these reported benefits. This is called the ‘entourage effect.’
Because full-spectrum products do contain some THC, usually at very low quantities, below 0.3%, the processing steps may increase the concentration, so a third-party test report is recommended, to make sure you know what you are buying. A reputable seller will provide these reports.
The health benefits reported by many users include:
- muscle spasm relief
- pain relief
- treatment for psychotic disorders
A 2018 study even found that some CBD products may have neurotropic effects. Yet another 2018 study found that CBD compounds may be more effective than the isolate, perhaps due to the combined effects of CBD and THC. Some users also prefer full-spectrum CBD products because they are more natural than isolates, due to less processing.
Related: How long does CBD take to work?
Best Alternative: Broad-Spectrum CBD
There is not a lot of difference between broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD products, other than the fact that the THC level should be lower in broad-spectrum products – often 0%.
These are best for those who want to take care to avoid THC build-up or detection, and yet want the reported additional benefits of the additional compounds – the entourage effect.
Learn more about broad spectrum CBD benefits here.
Also read: Broad spectrum vs full spectrum CBD guide
Early research suggests that full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD products may have greater efficacy than CBD isolates, due to the ‘entourage effect,’ the cumulative effect of a greater number of compounds in the product. More research is needed to verify and detail this claim.
Despite this, CBD isolate may be effective for many people, and does not carry the risk of THC detection – so it won’t trigger drug tests. It is also tasteless and odourless, unlike the others.
Always discuss your desire to try these products with a doctor, as they may interact with other medications or conditions.
Read next: Does CBD show on a UK drugs test?