CBD can come in various forms depending on purity. On one end, there is Full Spectrum CBD oil containing CBD as well as all other cannabinoids and terpenes originating from the hemp plant. On the other end is CBD Isolate which is the purest form of CBD coming in white-ish powder form or small crystals. Then there is Broad Spectrum CBD oil which sits somewhere in the middle. It contains all cannabinoids and terpenes but THC (not even trace amounts). So which one should you use?
The extraction method determines if the product will become a Full Spectrum CBD oil or a CBD isolate. Extracting CBD can happen in three different ways:
- CO2 extraction
- Ethanol extraction
- Oil extraction
CO2 extraction is the most effective method to extract CBD. The resulting product is free from chlorophyll, of pure form and of high quality. The equipment needed for this method is very expensive though. Hence any business idea using this extraction method comes with high upfront costs.
Ethanol extraction (or any other liquid solvent like butane) is a less expensive extraction form. But it involves high risk due to its flammable contents. Extracting CBD with olive oil is the oldest extraction form known. It’s safe, simple to execute but yields low quantities of CBD.
Many premium CBD brands decided to us the CO2 extraction method as it yields the highest quality product for consumers. After hemp has gone through the CO2 extraction process it needs to be further refined.
A process called “Winterization” turns it into Full Spectrum CBD oil. At this stage, the oil will contain trace amounts of THC. To remove those trace amounts it needs to go through another process called liquid chromatography. Following this last process, the product becomes Broad Spectrum CBD oil as it will contain no THC.
At this point, the oil will still include other cannabinoids and terpenes. To end up at CBD Isolate the product needs to continue its purification process through Short Path Distillation.
Full Spectrum (Whole Plant) CBD oil
Research shows due to its content of other cannabinoids and terpenes Full Spectrum CBD oil has potential for wider health reach. A study conducted in 2007 described the positive properties of terpenes on the human body hence they should not be disregarded.
There is also growing evidence of CBD working better in combination with other hemp plant components. Those components include cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavanoids. Researchers have coined this the “Entourage effect”.
The different components seem to work in synergy and magnify each others effect compared to their stand-alone effects. To put it in a different way, when adding different components into a mix each component does not total up with the others. Instead, components multiply with each other resulting in a greater output.
In an important study on mice published in 2015, it emerged that Full Spectrum CBD oil had a greater effect than CBD in purified form. This shows that if we keep things as nature designed it we get more benefits out of it.
The study also pointed out that the bell-shaped dose-response did not arise. Instead, positive responses increased with increasing doses. More on the bell-shaped response curve below when we discuss CBD isolates.
Broad Spectrum CBD oil
This form of CBD oil also contains all other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavanoids with one exception: THC. Broad Spectrum CBD oil has been stripped of all its THC, even trace amounts, making it an attractive product in countries where THC is illegal.
This means you can still enjoy the “entourage effect” without having to think about any psychoactive effects of THC. If the THC content worries you, regardless of legality, Broad Spectrum CBD oil should be your first stop.
CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD being up to 99% pure. It is very easy to handle and measure as you know what you get. CBD isolate is the preferred choice when larger amounts of CBD are needed. It has good mix-ability and is ideal for cooking or when you intend to make your own CBD products.
CBD binds to fat and does not mix well with water though. When using it for juices and drinks it is better to add an emulsifier to avoid the CBD accumulating at the bottom of the liquid. CBD isolate is light in taste making it an ideal recipe ingredient.
It requires more plants to produce CBD isolate meaning it is an extensively refined product. The nature of this also means it is more expensive compared to Full or Broad Spectrum CBD oils.
CBD isolate is the preferred choice for people who regularly have to undergo drug screening tests. Its lack of other cannabinoids and terpenes means a negative drug test as a result. A big quality factor is purity. When buying CBD isolate always pay attention to purity standards.
As mentioned before, the most important downside to CBD isolate is that more is not better. A simulated public speaking test showed that the effect of CBD isolate peaks at some point but decreases with higher doses.
When plotting this on a graph it looks like an inverted U. Science is referring to it as the bell-shaped response curve. If you’re using CBD isolate and your dose is too high you are probably wasting your CBD.
Know where it comes from
Before you buy any CBD product visit the brand’s website and check out their product description. If they haven’t published 3rd party lab tests contact them and ask them for it. You want to know the manufacturing process of the product.
Most importantly you want to know what it contains, verified by an independent lab. Such lab report will tell you if the CBD product you’re looking at is Full Spectrum, i.e. contains trace amounts of THC or Broad Spectrum, i.e. without THC.
The more transparent the brand you are looking at is, the better. If you get the impression that they are not quite upfront and trying to hide information stay away.
When you buy Full Spectrum CBD oil take special care when buying from an overseas shop or supplier. As a consequence of its THC content, the product could be rendered illegal here in the UK if the THC content is above 0.2%.
Knowing the source of your CBD is only one of the few things you need to consider when buying CBD oil. In fact, there are 7 more things you should think about before buying.
After all, a good CBD product is expensive and you don’t want to waste your money, do you? You want to get the best results for your hard earned cash. To save you some time I’ve written a useful guide to help you with your purchase decision. Go and check it out here.
We can conclude that if you’re looking for a well-rounded experience go for a Full or Broad spectrum CBD oil. If other cannabinoids (especially THC) concern you or you intend to use CBD as a cooking ingredient CBD isolate might be the better choice for you.
In which form are you taking your CBD? Isolate, Full or Broad Spectrum? If you’ve tried more than one share your experience below in the comment section.