Full-Spectrum, Broad-Spectrum, and CBD Isolate: What’s Best for Me?

Rising Popularity of CBD

If you are living in North America, you have heard a lot of buzz around cannabidiol, the molecule that is more commonly referred to as “CBD”. This cannabinoid, which is derived from the hemp plant, has achieved newfound fame in recent years as more cannabis experts and wellness practitioners publically promote the healing benefits of this component of the cannabis plant.

And the CBD movement is becoming more mainstream every day; with increasing regularity, consumers across the country are able to source CBD-based products from their local pharmacy.

For many consumers, the availability of CBD has brought upon a change in how they perceive cannabis medicine. CBD is an accessible way to “dip their toe” into cannabis medicine without opting into a strange and potentially uncomfortable cannabis experience that many have conjured in their minds based on anti-cannabis propaganda or exaggerated Hollywood portrayals.

The appeal and growing popularity of CBD is simple: CBD products provide consumers with the healing, pain-relieving, and anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis without mimicking the “psychoactive” feeling associated with eating or smoking pure cannabis flower. Essentially, then, someone can consume beneficial segments of the cannabis plant without getting “high”.

The cannabinoid in cannabis responsible for the consciousness-altering effects often attributed to cannabis is called tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly referred to as THC. In today’s CBD marketplace, consumers are able to select the amount of THC they wish to consume with their CBD product, if any at all.

How Do I Know What CBD Product is Best for Me?

In the CBD marketplace, you will find that different products are marketed as either full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or CBD isolate. Continue reading for context on what makes up the distinction between each of these categories. Essentially, it all comes down to how much THC is contained within the product.

    • Full-Spectrum: A cannabis product that contains not only CBD, but also terpenes, flavonoids, and small amounts of THC.

Why full-spectrum?

Many people who work in the cannabis industry advocate for “full-plant” or “full-spectrum” cannabis medicine, meaning they advocate for the consumption of all of the cannabinoids and other molecules found within cannabis. The benefit of consuming full-spectrum forms of cannabis is that you are able to experience all of the various components of cannabis, including cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids, each with health benefits of their own. So far, researchers have identified 113 cannabinoid molecules that are found within the cannabis plant.

When our endocannabinoid systems (ECS) interacts with the full array of components contained within cannabis, we experience what is referred to as the “entourage effect”. The entourage effect refers to the synergistic interaction of all of the cannabis molecules, which produces a deeper physiological response than if any single cannabis component was consumed on its own.

A quick note about full-spectrum CBD:

Even among full-spectrum CBD products, there is a spectrum of how much THC you could expect to find within. The difference depends on whether the CBD was derived from “marijuana” or “hemp”. As of the 2018 Farm Bill, the US government distinguishes between “marijuana” and “hemp” based on the amount of THC found within the Cannabis Sativa plant. If it has more than 0.3%, it is considered marijuana. If it has less than 0.3% THC, then it is considered hemp. Due to these differences between marijuana and hemp, CBD products derived from marijuana have a higher THC content than their hemp-based counterparts. The majority of products available in the CBD marketplace are hemp-based as hemp is federally legal, while marijuana is still federally illegal.

      • Broad-Spectrum: A cannabis product that contains not only CBD, but also terpenes, flavonoids, and zero THC.

    Why broad-spectrum?

    Opting for a broad-spectrum CBD product allows a consumer to experience their own entourage effect (the synergistic combination of the various cannabinoid molecules found within cannabis) of all cannabis compounds with the exception of THC.

    This may be the right approach for someone who is not permitted to consume THC for legal or occupational reasons. For instance, federal workers in the United States are not permitted to consume cannabis products containing THC.

        • CBD Isolate: A cannabis product that only contains CBD.

      Why CBD isolate?

      The option to consume the cannabidiol molecule (CBD) in “pure” form may be the most appealing option to consumers who are worried about the health and legal implications associated with consuming a greater array of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. For example, some pregnant women are opting to solely use CBD isolate products; in an excess of caution, they feel more comfortable consuming the sole molecule that has been deemed to be “safe” by many cannabis researchers, at least until more research is completed on other cannabinoids and components of the cannabis plant.

      I hope this information helps you to navigate your next CBD purchase! Personally, I would recommend a well-sourced broad-spectrum or full-spectrum CBD product, depending on the laws in your state. The cannabis plant is natural medicine, so why not try all that it has to offer?

      Heather Dagley | Cannabis Writer

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