CBD Isolate, Full Spectrum, or Broad Spectrum?

January 11, 2021

You’ve done your research; you’ve decided that CBD is the way to go for your needs. But then you find out there are more options. Do you choose a CBD Isolate or a Full Spectrum? What about a Broad Spectrum? That depends on a few things.

In this Article:

First, a bit about CBD

CBD stands for cannabidiol. It comes from the cannabis plant and is the second most prevalent active ingredient in the plant after THC. CBD is usually derived from the hemp plant, a cousin of the marijuana plant, and while it is a component in marijuana, it is not a factor in causing the munchies or getting you high. It is THC that causes the appetite stimulation and sensation of euphoria.


CBD is one of greater than one hundred naturally occurring cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant and is a different chemical to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – the main psychoactive compound in cannabis. (They are chemically related coming from a common precursor compound).


Also unlike TCH – which can be potentially addictive –  CBD has not be found to cause addiction or dependency. This is true both in the practical experience witnessed that CBD does not have withdrawal symptoms and the fact that even in experimental models (such as intracranial self-stimulation).


According to a report of the World Health Organization, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”

Is CBD Legal?

CBD derived from Hemp Flower that contains less that 0.3% THC is legal in the US. That’s important to remember when choosing a CBD product. You need to ensure that it is from the Hemp Flower. Even CBD that contains no or less than 0.3% THC that is derived from the cannabis flower is not legal, according to the US Federal Government, although states may have individual laws.


Cannabis derived CBD is not THC free. It may contain a small or trace amount, een 0.3% or less, but it will always contain at least traces of THC. Therefore cannabis-derived CBD cannot truly be categorized as an isolate.

CBD – What’s In It?

CBD represent only one of the chemicals found in the plant it’s extracted from, whether it’s hemp or cannabis flowers, including multiple cannabinoids, of which CBD and THC are only two. You can read more about others, here (link to internal article) including their effects. In addition, there are other chemicals, such as terpenes, which we’ve covered at length on this site, that also add flavor and have their own effects individually.


These are the core chemical building blocks of cannabis plants and strains. They are what make up the effects (good and bad) and often take the brunt of the positive and negative perceptions of marijuana use.

  1. THC: Yep, you’ve most likely already heard of this one, it’s the part known for the psychoactive results, and the main issue with legalization. But THC is also a catalyst for the other chemicals, so it’s an important part of the effectiveness of many strains.But did you know there are two types of THC? Delta 8 and Delta 9. Delta 9 is the one we know (and love), Delta 8 is becoming more and more popular because while it gives all (and sometimes more) of the catalyst effects, along with effects of it’s own, it is not psychoactive. Delta 8 is quickly becoming an extremely popular component, not just for users, but for researchers as well, to improve the positive effects while reducing the negative side effects. (And it’s really confusing the government regulating agencies!)
  2. CBD: No doubt you’ve heard about CBD, which is a non-psychoactive, meaning it does not make you high, and it has been showing promise in alleviating many health and medical conditions such as pain, stress, migraines, insomnia and more.CBD, when extracted from the hemp flower, and when it contains less than 0.3% THC, is legal in the United States.
  3. CBN: (Cannabinol) is another component that is often associated with easing medical and health conditions and symptoms, most notably in the cases of neurological conditions that include seizures and muscle cramps, stiffness.
  4. THCA: Wait, what? Another THC? Tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA) is similar to THC, and like Delta 8, it doesn’t cause psychoactive effects. It has shown promise in helping with inflammation and associated pain, which makes it popular and interesting for those suffering from arthritis and autoimmune disorders. It’s being researched for it’s affects on other neurological conditions, specifically Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and ALS.
  5. CBG: Cannabigerol (CBG) is a similar extract to CBD and is often a focus when chosen by medical marijuana users seeking relief from anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and depression.


So you can see by the variation of these chemicals, combined with the strains, that you can find a wealth of choices in relief through combining the contents of the strain with the type of strain.


But in the almighty words of Mona Lisa Vito, “But Wait, there’s more!”


Terpenes are a natural part of cannabis plants that were previously assumed to only affect the smell and taste.


We’re beginning to find out that there’s much more that it contributes to different strains than just flavor, although, let’s be honest, that’s also a big part of the experience!


There are quite literally HUNDREDS (if not more) types of terpenes, and they actually exist in other plants as well. But for the most common ones featured and studied when it comes to cannabis strains are outlined below.




Therapeutic Potential


·     Chamomile

·     Tea tree oil

·     Reduce inflammation

·     Reduce irritation

·     Pain-reducing effects


·     Peppery

·     Spicy

·     Reduce anxiety,

·     Ease symptoms of depression

·     Improve ulcers


·     Floral

·     Improve relaxation

·     Boost mood


·     Earthy

·     Herbal

·     Reduce anxiety

·     Help ease insomnia 


·     Basil

·     Mango

·     Parsley

·     Ease congestion

·     Ward off viruses

·     Ward off bacteria


·     Pine

·     Boost memory

·     Reduce pain

·     Ease nausea

·     Improve coordination problems


·     Apples

·     Cumin

·     Conifers

·     Sedative

·     Antibacterial

·     Antifungal


·     Citrus

·     Improve mood

Reduce stress


·     Earthy

·     Woody

·     Hops

·     Cloves

·     Reduce inflammation


·     Eucalyptus

·     Tea tree oil

·     Invigorating

·     Reduce inflammation

·     Fight bacteria


So now you know what COULD be included in your CBD, now to understand WHY that matters.

The Entourage Effect

So why are these options out there? Well, quite simply, there’s a need, a demand for the different options. Needs and effects, and sensitivities dictate what is the right option for your specific circumstance. You can see above that there are different effects of these different chemicals, each on their own. But then there’s more.


The benefit of non-isolates is the entourage effect, which basically means that the total is more than the sum of it’s parts. The ingredients interact with each other and the body, specifically the endocannabinoid system, to create an effect that is a combination, often more intense or widespread than the individual ingredients would on their own.


(Think of it like a peanut butter cup. Chocolate is awesome. Peanut butter is delicious. But when combined, it’s a taste that’s more than just the two individual flavors. It creates a new flavor, while still having it’s two distinct ones as well.)


So which is right for you? That depends on you.

CBD Isolate

As you may expect from the name, a CBD isolate is pure, it contains no other ingredients, including THC. This is important if you are actively concerned about THC, be it for personal or professional reasons. Even a 0.3% THC may show up on a drug test, so it’s important to assess your full circumstance in making the choices. Its also important to check the ingredients to ensure that there is ZERO THC, as in some instances there may be trace amounts, below 0.3%, but may still be detectable.


With a Hemp Flower based CBD lsolate you are getting a product that has no other cannabinoids included from the hemp plant extraction. No CBG, no CBN, no terpenes, or flavinoids.


When using this formulation of CBD, you are only getting the CBD, and not any of the other elements that could be part of a larger interaction and effect.

Full Spectrum CBD

Again, because it’s appropriately named, a full spectrum CBD contains all the chemicals found in the flower, including trace amounts of THC, other cannabinoids, different terpenes, and other minerals, vitamins, and other elements found in plant extracts. While you will get the benefit of the entourage effect, you won’t have a clear indication of the amount of CBD you’re getting.


It’s also important to remind you that a Full Spectrum CBD will have trace amounts of THC, even though it’s legal. If you are subject to possible zero tolerance drug testing, this might show up on the test.

Broad Spectrum CBD

And here’s the middle of the road option. Basically, this is a full spectrum version without the THC. So you benefit from the entourage effect along with the individual ingredients, but you don’t have the risk (or benefit in contributing to the entourage effect) of THC.


It’s really up to your needs, your circumstances, and your preferences. Do you need a specific amount or dosage of CBD for your interest, condition? Do you want more of the nebulous impact of the entourage effect? Is THC content a major concern? There’s an option for you.


The potential benefits of CBD are enormous and continue to expand in scope as more research and acceptance is achieved. Never before have there been so many variations to accommodate the needs and concerns of all to gain benefits from any number of conditions through this wonder product.


So it’s ok, take your concerns and raise them with your doctor, health care provider, or naturopath. It’s good to have concerns, but it’s even better to have solutions for them.