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Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and CBD Isolate: What Is the Difference?



It is likely that at some point in your CBD travels you have come across the terms: full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD Isolate. If you’re in any way unsure about what these terms mean and how they differ from one another, we are here to shed some light on the subject.

Fishing through the sea of CBD products out there is already hard enough, so let’s outline what these terms mean, and what it means for the final product, so you can be empowered to make an educated choice on what type is right for you.

In a nutshell, the “spectrum” refers to the presence of various types of cannabinoids in the oil. Cannabinoids are one of the many therapeutic compounds found in the hemp plant that bind to receptors in our body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS). Let’s start by taking a brief look at this system and how they work together:


Table of Contents

The Endocannabinoid System & Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids Working Together / The Entourage Effect

Types of Cannabinoid Spectrums

Full Spectrum

Broad Spectrum


In Summary


The Endocannabinoid System & Cannabinoids

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is a complex biological system consisting of neurotransmitters, receptors, and enzymes. The neurotransmitters, called “endocannabinoids,” bind to cannabinoid receptors located throughout the brain, central nervous system, immune system, and peripheral nervous system.

The role of the ECS is to maintain homeostasis of the body by controlling many biological functions such as: inflammation, mood, sleep, pain, memory, temperature, digestion, and immune function.

Our bodies naturally create endocannabinoids (“endo” means made within), whereas cannabinoids that come from plants are referred to as “phyto-cannabinoids”.

Over 100 unique cannabinoids have been discovered in the cannabis plant – each with their own relationship to our endocannabinoid system. The two most well-known phyto-cannabinoids are THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), and CBD (Cannabidiol).

THC has many potential therapeutic benefits, but also comes with an intoxicating effect leaving one feeling “high.” Contrastingly, CBD is not intoxicating. In addition to many of its own therapeutic benefits, CBD is known to temper some of the intoxicating effects of THC by blocking some of the receptors that THC would otherwise bind to. Other up-and-coming cannabinoids that are beginning to see research are CBG, CBN, and CBC.



Cannabinoids Working Together / The Entourage Effect

When deciding which mix of cannabinoids you want in your products, we have to look at how they work together.

The “Entourage Effect” is a term used to describe the synergistic interplay of cannabinoids and other plant constituents working together to produce therapeutic benefit – where the sum is greater than the individual parts alone.



Types of Cannabinoid Spectrums:

Now that we have some background, let’s talk about how the three types of spectrums: Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and Isolate:

Full Spectrum


Full Spectrum means the oil is closest to its truest form, and includes the most compounds found in the natural hemp plant. Because of this, there is the most potential for the Entourage Effect with this spectrum, as it contains the widest range of cannabinoids. Trace amounts of THC are present in Full Spectrum oil, but add to the overall Entourage Effect.

Any amount of THC applied topically will not produce a psychoactive effect, as topical application to the skin does not reach the blood supply, nor should it appear in a drug test.

For ingestible products like tinctures and gummies, as long as they are consumed at the recommended doses, the trace amounts of THC should only produce deeper synergistic therapeutic benefits and not a noticeable psychoactive effect.

Because Full Spectrum includes the most plant constituents found in the original hemp plant, we choose to use it as the main component in our products.

The main reason one might want to avoid full spectrum for ingestible products is that there could be a chance that something would show up on a drug screening if the product was ingested at heavy and consistent levels, but this would only apply to ingesting or smoking (not via topicals).

Broad Spectrum


Broad Spectrum oil is created when Full Spectrum oil undergoes an additional process to remove the trace amounts of THC, while keeping CBD and other cannabinoids intact. This oil would have a medium-level Entourage Effect, but is attractive to users who are concerned about drug screenings.



CBD Isolate is the result of taking full hemp oil and refining it down to its granulated form of CBD crystals. While it is the purest form it does not necessarily mean it is the best – Isolate removes all remaining plant constituents, and would not include any additional plant and cannabinoid synergies. The plus side is that there is also zero level of THC present and is the safest form if concerned about drug testing.



In Summary

The difference in the spectrums is just the cannabinoids present in the oil, and the processing involved to reach each form. The basic considerations are: 1.) Potential for synergistic benefits, and 2.) Trace THC content.

While the small amounts of THC won’t get someone high in a full spectrum product, some people still may have reasons to avoid any amounts of THC in their products, due to occupation or just their body’s unique preferences.

While we see the value of using oil that is as close to the whole plant as possible by using Full Spectrum oil in our products, we wholeheartedly recognize that each individual is different in terms of their goals and preferences. We encourage everyone to explore and decide for themselves what path suits their needs best. If you are interested in learning more about our full-spectrum offerings, Click Here.



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