CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the most talked-about wellness products to hit the market in recent history.
Used to help treat pain, inflammation, seizures, anxiety, and more, CBD can be found in any number of potencies and formulations. CBD topicals, oils and tinctures, tablets, bath products, CBD gummies, and even pet products made with hemp are widely available both online and in stores.
However, when consumers find themselves ready to make their first CBD purchase, they are often faced with choosing between a mind-bending array of products. There is a lot of confusion about the differences between broad-spectrum CBD, full-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate products, which can lead to a frustrating shopping experience.
In this post, we discuss the differences between these three products and go into a little more detail about the benefits of full-spectrum CBD.
One Compound — Three Formulations
If you’ve decided to use CBD, you obviously want to choose a product that is the most effective and provides relief in the shortest amount of time. If you’ve done any shopping around, you’ve likely run into many different labels for CBD oil. Hemp oil, hemp extract, CBD tincture, and others, are a few of the names given to cannabidiol that has been sourced from the hemp plant. Most of these names are interchangeable, but the formulations can be very different. Let’s take a look at the three main CBD oil products available to consumers.
Full-Spectrum CBD Oil
In the Cannabis sativa plant, there exist more than 100 natural compounds, including cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, amino and fatty acids, and vitamins. CBD is the main active ingredient in full-spectrum CBD oils, but the inclusion of these beneficial complementary chemicals is what makes a product full-spectrum.
During the extraction process, cannabidiol, plant matter, and the accompanying components of the plant are extricated from hemp to make a whole-plant CBD oil. Many researchers believe that whole-plant CBD has more therapeutic benefits than other formulations, and we will discuss that in more detail later in this article.
CBD isolate is just what it sounds like—during extraction, the CBD is “isolated” from the rest of the other naturally occurring chemicals. Through a technique called high-performance liquid chromatography, everything else is removed from the substance—including all water and plant matter—until all that remains is a tasteless and odorless crystalline powder. The powder is combined with various carrier oils and (sometimes) flavoring to create a CBD isolate oil that is THC-free.
Broad-Spectrum CBD Oil
Broad Spectrum CBD oils are becoming more popular than ever. They are a hybrid between full-spectrum and isolate oils. Made using the same technique as CBD isolate, all of the other compounds are removed, but an additional step is taken. They are then added back in one by one—except for the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the compound in CBD that produces a high). The purpose of this is to offer consumers a product that acts as a full-spectrum oil with zero trace amounts of THC.
The Advantages of Full-Spectrum CBD Oil
The other compounds in hemp are packed with some powerful therapeutic benefits as well. Although CBD is the shining star, cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, and others have been found to have pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties, to name a few. The terpenes that are present in the plant have also been shown in numerous studies to have a wide range of therapeutic benefits.
While hemp contains only trace amounts of THC, this cannabinoid also has proven to have some medicinal benefits. Many researchers believe that even these small amounts can help encourage the entourage effect. The entourage effect is a term scientists use to explain how all of the various compounds present in the hemp plant work synergistically to create better results than each chemical standing on its own. This is essentially the idea behind whole-plant medicine.
The Disadvantage of Full-Spectrum CBD Oil
Full-spectrum CBD products naturally contain trace amounts of THC. To be classified as legal, this amount must be less than 0.3%. While that is not enough to have any mind-altering effects on the user, it can potentially trigger a positive result on a drug test.
For those whose livelihoods depend upon clean drug screening, an isolate or broad-spectrum CBD product is a more practical choice. Additionally, although hemp must have less than 0.3% THC to be federally legal, in some states, no amount of THC is permissible, so it is vital to know the laws in your area.
Another advantage that isolates have over their full-spectrum counterparts is that they generally taste better. Full-spectrum CBD has a strong and pungent flavor that can be off-putting for people with taste sensitivities. Some isolates and broad-spectrum formulations are colorless and tasteless, while others are available in flavors that make taking them more pleasurable.
No matter which formulation you choose, whether it be an isolate, broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum CBD, you should feel comfortable with the product. Everyone is different, and what works for you may not work for your neighbor. In the end, CBD in any form is an ideal addition to a healthy lifestyle.
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