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What is the difference between full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate CBD extracts?

We get this question all the time, and it is honestly a pretty confusing topic people throw these phrases around without really knowing what they mean, but today we are going to explain you the exact difference between the three.

First, let’s just talk about what this spectrum really is in full-spectrum a broad spectrum. The spectrum refers to the different compounds that are in the natural extract. So when you think of a CBD oil, it’s not just CBD that’s in that oil – there are different fats, different terpenes, potentially different cannabinoids, and other components that create the full picture.

In that sense, a full-spectrum product would be just that: it has the entire full spectrum of naturally occurring compounds that are found in that extract.

CBD products

On the other side of the spectrum would be an isolate. It’s the CBD that’s been stripped away and isolated from all the other naturally occurring compounds in that extract.

Then, in the middle between an isolate and a full spectrum extract, you have the whole range of broad-spectrum. As that sounds, it doesn’t necessarily have the full set of compounds, but it has a lot of them or most of them.

For example, lots of manufacturers remove the THC from their products, so that is technically part of the spectrum, which is why they don’t call it a full spectrum extract. Instead, it’s a broad-spectrum extract. It has the CBD, it has the terpenes, the flavonoids, and all those other naturally occurring compounds in the extract.

A common misconception that people have is that you need THC in order for CBD to work properly. There is some truth in that because THC and CBD work synergistically together, but you don’t need the THC for the CBD to work.

An isolate would work too, but it just doesn’t work necessarily as well as a full spectrum product.

So, full-spectrum is going to have apps everything in it. As such, if you remove any part of that spectrum, whether you’re removing the THC or even if you’re distilling down and concentrating what’s in the extract, you’re getting into the territory of broad-spectrum.

Most of what’s out there in the market is going to be a broad spectrum and not a full-spectrum because full is just an absolute phrase.

As a natural result of the processing and extraction and refinement into that final product form, you do lose certain parts of that spectrum.

Another important thing to understand is that the spectrum (full spectrum or broad spectrum) directly relates to what’s known as the entourage effect. And the entourage effect basically says that when you have CBD in conjunction with the other naturally occurring compounds that it’s usually found with, it has a greater amplified effect.

An isolate, which is just CBD, has no entourage, has no other components of the spectrum, and is less effective than a full or broad-spectrum product. So you can think of it like there’s more entourage effect happening the more full the spectrum is.

As you start taking things away, you’re removing naturally-occurring compounds from that spectrum, you’re losing members of the entourage, and over time you go all the way to an isolate format, which has no entourage effects happening whatsoever.

The nice thing about a broad spectrum extract is that you can do something like THC removal and that’s great for people that may have to get drug tested or just don’t want any trace THC in their system, or maybe they want to give it to their kids, or a pet or they’re a pilot. They can still enjoy the benefits of the entourage effect and of a broad spectrum CBD extract without having any residual THC.

Because the legal limit for hemp products is 0.3% THC so a full spectrum product could have at most 0.3%, but you could easily remove that making a broad spectrum or end up removing everything for an isolate.

For most people, the best option for a CBD product is going to be a full or broad-spectrum extract. Isolates are kind of the pharmaceutical reduction of CBD.

It strips it away from everything else, reducing its holistic nature and making it more controllable as such isolates are the cheapest form of CBD available. Many times, people will actually just throw isolate into a product to make it a really high milligram count and then end up charging you more even though you’re getting a lesser quality product.

So when you’re out there trying to figure out which CBD product is best for you, it’s fair to either ask the company or look for where it says it on the label to see is it isolate broad-spectrum or full spectrum.

That should help you decide exactly what you’re looking for.

In summary, on one end, you have an absolutely full-spectrum product that’s going to have the most other compounds besides CBD, and it’s going to have the most entourage effect.

On the other end, you have an isolate where the CBD is stripped away from all the other naturally occurring compounds, there are no extra compounds in the extract, and there’s going to be no entourage effect.

Then in the middle, you would have the range of broad-spectrum extracts that don’t have all the naturally occurring compounds but have most of them, and you’re still getting the benefits of the entourage effect because of the terpenes, the flavonoids the polyphenols and all of the other array of compounds that are naturally present in a CBD hemp extract.

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