All the Spectrums, What Does it Mean?

by Brittney Graham

Full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate are all phrases that have been plastered on labels that seem to hit me in that face when shopping for CBD. I have to admit, I may have smiled and nodded at first glance, but I had no idea what any of those terms actually meant. If I am being honest, it all sounded to much like a science test I didn’t pass. Thus, after my first CBD shopping experience, I got my butt home and started researching what those terms actually meant to better prepare myself for my next trip. So, let’s talk about what I found shall we?

Before I discuss exactly what they mean, lets start with why they matter. The very short answer is cannabinoids. We have discussed cannabinoids in length on the Divine Independence Blog on the website so be sure to check it out to brush up on them. From the series, we learned that different cannabinoids effect the endocannabinoid system within our bodies in their own unique ways.  For example, THC delivers the psychoactive effects referred to as “getting high”, while CBD does not. The full collection of cannabinoid forms and their effects is called the “cannabinoid spectrum”.

The cannabinoid range within the products I saw on those shelves is what determines whether it is full, broad, or CBD isolate. Knowing how the process works will help with the definitions. The creation of a CBD product is done by extracting the cannabinoid content from the Cannabis plant.  Terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids are also extracted during this process.  Of course, the strain and classification of the Cannabis plant will determine the makeup of their cannabinoid profile and depending on the end product, companies will choose the plant based on their needs. Once the extraction process is complete, the company can choose to refine the extract to contain only specific cannabinoids plant materials. The resulting product is what determines if the CBD extract is full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate.

Time for terms.

Full Spectrum CBD

Full spectrum CBD is an extract that contains all compounds naturally occurring in the plant, including terpenes, essential oils, and other cannabinoids.  This is where the famous “entourage effect” comes in. This effect occurs when the full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils extracted from the plant work together to magnify the therapeutic benefits of each individual cannabinoid. At first, I thought this couldn’t be labeled on CBD products that boast no THC in them however, I found that it is based on the plant it is extracted from. For example, a hemp plant or strain like charlotte’s web carries miniscule amounts of THC if any depending.

CBD Isolate

An Isolate by definition is the purest form of a compound, which is produced by singularly extracting that compound from its environment and isolating it from all other compounds. With that in mind, CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD because it is produced by removing all other components found native to the plant which includes terpenes, flavonoids, plant parts, and other cannabinoids. It is also important to note that due to its low to non-existent THC content, CBD isolate is usually extracted from Hemp plants.

Broad Spectrum CBD

Like Full spectrum CBD, the other compounds found within the plant are preserved; but, more on the CBD isolate side, the THC is completely removed. Broad spectrum CBD contains multiple cannabinoids which means it can deliver the enhanced benefits of the entourage effects without the risk of the “high” effects of THC.

So, which one should we choose? It is important to note, that not one form is better than the other. That being said, here is a short list of each form and what they are best known for therapeutically helping to help make the best decision for you and your body.

CBD Isolate is best for:

  • People who were recommended to specifically take high doses of CBD
  • People with sensitivity to THC or other cannabinoids
  • People who prefer light flavors or no flavor

Broad Spectrum CBD is best for:

  • People with sensitivity to THC
  • People with conditions that CBD isolate alone cannot alleviate
  • First time users hesitant of THC

Full Spectrum CBD is best for:

  • People who were recommended a certain THC to CBD ratio
  • People with more sever conditions or conditions that CBD isolate and Broad Spectrum cannot alleviate.

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