You probably know that CBD is available in a ton of different forms—oil, gummies, capsules, vaporizers, and even suppositories. But what many don’t know is that the base hemp extract which goes into all of these products comes in multiple forms as well. The two most common types of CBD hemp extract are called full spectrum and isolate.
These CBD varieties have different cannabinoid profiles, and thus can have different effects on the body.
If you’re using CBD for pain, stress, inflammation, sleep or any other reason, you need to know what type of CBD you’re putting in your body and how it will affect you. Let’s take a look at the key differences between CBD isolate and full spectrum. We’ll cover the basic differences, health benefits, and legal concerns. Then we’ll let you know some of the best ways to take CBD isolate and full spectrum.
Quick Look: What is the Difference Between CBD Isolate and Full Spectrum?
What is CBD Isolate?
CBD isolate products contain only one cannabinoid, called cannabidiol (CBD). Most CBD products are made with a hemp extract that contains a range of different cannabinoids. CBD isolate, as its name suggests, is made with a hemp extract in which the CBD has been “isolated” from the other cannabinoids.
CBD isolate might be the purest form of CBD you can take, as it is undiluted by other cannabinoids or ingredients. But, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better than full spectrum.
CBD isolate offers all of the purported benefits that CBD is known for, including relief from pain, insomnia, nausea, anxiety, inflammation, and more. It can’t be said at the moment if CBD isolate is better or worse at relieving any condition in particular, as more research needs to be done. Although, it’s worth noting that studies have shown that taking a combination of cannabinoids might be more beneficial. This is known as the entourage effect.
You can get CBD isolate products in many of the forms you probably recognize already, such as oil, capsules, gummies, and more. There are some types of products that can only be made with CBD isolate. These are called CBD isolate concentrates, and we’ll talk more about them in a few minutes. CBD isolate products are not as popular or easy to find, so you might have to do some searching to find a shop that sells them or opt for an online source.
What is Full Spectrum CBD?
Full spectrum CBD is a hemp extract that contains a diverse range, or “full spectrum,” of cannabinoids. Other compounds from hemp found inside too, like terpenes and phenolics.
You may not have realized just how much stuff you were getting from your full spectrum CBD, so let’s break it down a bit more.
Full spectrum CBD contains:
Full spectrum CBD is the most popular type of CBD you can buy. This is because research suggests that the entourage effect makes it the most beneficial and cost-effective. The entourage effect theory states that CBD, and cannabinoids in general, are more effective when taken together.
Full spectrum CBD is commonly taken to relieve pain, inflammation, nausea, insomnia, anxiety, and more. And most of the CBD you see in stores and online is likely made with full spectrum extract.
Full spectrum CBD products are also the most diverse. You can find full spectrum CBD in many, many different types of products, like oil, edibles, vape pens, teas, shakes, topical creams, suppositories, lubricants—the list goes on. You can buy full spectrum products at your local shopping center, supermarket, or online.
What’s the Difference Between Full Spectrum and Isolate CBD?
As we mentioned before, CBD isolate contains only CBD, and full spectrum CBD contains many different chemical compounds found in hemp.
But the ingredients are not the only difference between these two extracts. Let’s take a closer look at how the two can affect your body, your wallet, and your choice of CBD brand, as well as some legal differences you need to be aware of.
Is the CBD Content of CBD Isolate and Full Spectrum Different?
Make sure to pay attention to the label on your CBD product to understand how much CBD you’re actually getting.
If you buy a CBD isolate product and it states that you get 500mg of CBD, it means that you are getting 500mg of CBD. This must be the case (assuming the company is honest), as CBD isolate contains only CBD.
Some producers of full spectrum products don’t indicate their actual CBD content and instead list their products as containing “500mg of full spectrum CBD” or “500mg of hemp extract.” This doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting 500mg of CBD. It might mean that you’re getting a total of 500mg of compounds including CBD.
Check the independent lab results of your CBD product of choice to confirm the amount of CBD present. The lab results should break down the cannabinoid profile of your full spectrum CBD in a way that’s easy to read and understand. In this way, you can read how many milligrams of actual CBD you’re getting compared to other cannabinoids and ingredients.
If lab results are not available or if they are difficult to understand or find, you should not purchase CBD from that company. This is a sign of dishonest practices.
Which is More Effective?
Most sources claim that full spectrum CBD is more effective than CBD isolate due to the entourage effect, which we discussed previously. But, while there is some scientific evidence in support of the entourage effect, it is still a theory.
At this point, we can say that full spectrum CBD and CBD isolate may both be effective at relieving a variety of ailments.
Though, because full spectrum CBD is more popular, there is more anecdotal evidence for its effectiveness.
So, Why Take CBD Isolate?
If full spectrum is more popular, more widely available, and has the research behind it that supports the entourage effect, then it begs the question: Why use CBD isolate?
There are a few good reasons why you may want to use CBD isolate:
NOTE: Some full spectrum CBD brands are made with 0% THC. These are often referred to as “broad spectrum” CBD products.
Are CBD Isolate and Full Spectrum Both Legal?
CBD isolate that is sourced from hemp is 100% legal at a federal level in the USA.
Full spectrum CBD is a different story. In order for full spectrum CBD to be legal at a federal level, it must conform to the following guidelines:
CBD sourced from marijuana (hemp’s THC-heavy sister) is not legal regardless of the THC content, because marijuana is illegal.
Similarly, CBD sourced from hemp that goes over the 0.3% THC limit is also illegal.
Luckily, all of the popular CBD brands that are commercially available are made in accordance with federal law.
If you’re feeling cautious, you can opt for CBD isolate to guarantee a 0% THC profile.
If you live in one of the 11 states where recreational marijuana is legal, make sure to be extra careful when buying CBD products from your local dispensary or online. Many CBD products in these states contain higher levels of THC. And, if you do choose a CBD product with a higher level of THC, make sure not to travel out of state with it.
Some states, such as Utah and Texas, are still struggling with their CBD laws. This means that you could find yourself in trouble with the law for possessing CBD isolate or full spectrum, even if your product conforms to federal guidelines. Hopefully, these states will figure out their hemp and CBD policies soon.
Are the Benefits of CBD Isolate and Full Spectrum Different?
Research suggests that the purported benefits of CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD are the same. This is because those studies have been done on the CBD compound, and both extracts contain that compound.
Again, some studies have found that taking full spectrum CBD might be more beneficial due to the entourage effect. But, there are not enough studies to show conclusively that the entourage effect applies to all of the possible benefits of CBD, nor is there enough evidence to prove conclusively that the entourage effect boosts the efficacy of CBD. More studies are being conducted every year, so hopefully, we’ll get some conclusive answers soon.
For now, we can say that no adverse effects have resulted from taking either type of hemp extract. Both offer relief from the same ailments, have no serious side effects, and have shown no risk of being dependency forming.
CBD Isolate Vs. Full Spectrum: Important Information About Hemp Sourcing
It’s important to understand that these are two different hemp extracts.
This means that if your CBD company of choice doesn’t grow their own hemp, they may be sourcing their isolate and full spectrum extracts from different suppliers in different locations and using different strains. Make sure you check the source of your hemp before making a purchase.
The Verdict: Which is Better, CBD Isolate or Full Spectrum?
The best type of CBD hemp extract, full spectrum or isolate, is up to the user.
CBD affects different people in different ways. The fact that people take CBD for a wide variety of ailments shows just how versatile this cannabinoid is.
For some, CBD isolate might bring better results. For others, full spectrum might do the trick.
The best way to find out is to give them both a try and pick the one you like the most. (Remember to always buy from a reputable CBD company. If you try low-quality CBD products, you won’t really know which type of extract is best for you.)
If you’re looking for concrete answers, you can check the following guide to help you pick between full spectrum or CBD isolate.
Try full spectrum CBD if you:
Try CBD isolate if you:
How to take CBD Isolate and Full Spectrum
There’s no shortage of CBD products made from CBD isolate and full spectrum, but there are some differences that are good to know when shopping.
The most important difference is variety. There are many more full spectrum CBD options than isolate options, because full spectrum is the most popular form of CBD extract.
Another factor concerns the products that can be produced with each type of extract. Some types of CBD can only be produced with CBD isolate. These are called concentrates, and we’ll take a look at them below. Full spectrum CBD, by its very nature, is not a form of concentrated CBD; it is a mix of CBD and other compounds from hemp. Therefore, full spectrum concentrates cannot exist. This gives CBD isolate a category of products all its own.
The differences between the extracts and the CBD products produced with them has influenced customer choice, which in turn has influenced production. For this reason, the most popular products made from each extract are a bit different.
We’re going to take look at some of the most popular types of CBD in each category to make your shopping experience easier.
CBD Isolate Concentrates
CBD isolate concentrates are the purest form of CBD you can get. They are normally between 95%-99% pure CBD. Because they are completely undiluted, they are normally in a solid form (as opposed to a liquid, oil form).
CBD isolate concentrates are often flavorless and odorless and come in the form of powder, crystals, or a very thick paste or wax. The most popular ways to take isolate concentrates is by dabbing (a form of inhalation by smoking) or eating them. Typically, you would eat this type of CBD after mixing it into food or drink (because of its purity and lack of flavor, CBD isolate concentrates are popular for food and drink preparation).
These are the most popular types of CBD isolate concentrates you can buy now:
Conventional CBD Isolate Products
These CBD isolate products are ones that you’re probably more familiar with—oils, gummies, capsules, etc. There are a number of different products that offer a variety of ways to take CBD isolate. But there are far fewer isolate products than full spectrum products.
Here are some of the most popular CBD isolate products:
Full Spectrum Products
The vast majority of CBD products offered online and in stores are made with full spectrum CBD. This allows you to enjoy an exceptional variety of delivery methods, flavors, specialized products, and more.
Let’s look at some of the most popular full spectrum CBD offerings:
Where to Buy Isolate and Full Spectrum CBD
CBD products are now widely available in stores and online in the US. But, you often can’t find CBD isolate and full spectrum products in the same places.
Buying Full Spectrum CBD
You can find full spectrum CBD products at your local supermarket, health store, pharmacy, or even gas station (we wouldn’t recommend the last one). You can also find them easily online, as basically every CBD company sells full spectrum products.
This makes shopping easy, but it also opens you up to some risk. CBD is currently unregulated by the FDA, which means there are a lot of scammers out there selling low-quality or fake products.
Make sure to research your CBD brand of choice before making a purchase. Look for 3rd-party lab results, hemp sourcing information, and customer reviews to be sure you’re getting a good product. If you don’t have time to do the research, we’ve vetted and reviewed the best CBD companies in the country for you
Buying CBD Isolate
CBD isolate is harder to find than full spectrum, but not much. You’ll likely have to go online to find isolate and to find a company that provides it. Many CBD companies only sell full spectrum products.
Companies that sell both full spectrum and isolate products may boast a lot about their hemp sources, but make sure to check that your CBD isolate extract is coming from the same source as the full spectrum extract. Or, make sure both sources are trustworthy. The best way to be sure is to give the company a call. If the customer service representative doesn’t know, then you should look for a different company.
Buying CBD isolate concentrates will take a bit less legwork, as they are essentially pure CBD. Just make sure to check the lab results to confirm the concentration of CBD (it should be above 95%).
Choosing the Right CBD Extract
Whichever CBD hemp extract you choose, full spectrum or isolate, you’ll be on your way to healthier living. Studies have shown CBD to be safe and non-dependency forming, but it’s always best to consult your doctor before starting any new supplement.
For more information on the very best CBD products, check the comprehensive reviews on this site. We wish you the very best in finding the right CBD for your body and lifestyle.