The hemp industry is still relatively new, and the increasing demand is bringing more companies into the field daily. However, there is no single official regulator of the CBD market to set the guidelines for all manufacturers to follow.
This leads to a rather loose throwing of words around the products; broad and full spectrum, isolate, nano, etc. Some companies have taken advantage of the lack of clearly defined specifics for each product, and it can get very confusing for the regular user.
To help explain the difference between broad and full spectrum CBD, and to help you decide which product is the best for you, we will discuss how the hemp plant is used to make your favorite products and how to make an informed decision about which product suits you best.
What are Cannabinoids
To explain the difference between broad spectrum and full spectrum CBD, it’s important to start with an explanation of cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids are a classification of compounds within the cannabis plant. There are over one hundred cannabinoids that are naturally occurring in the plant. These include the most popular: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and about a hundred more. Each compound provides different effects. For example, THC is psychoactive (the one that’s causing the “high”), while CBD is not.
Scientists have recently been conducting multiple studies concerning the interaction between the cannabinoids in the hemp plant and the human endocannabinoid system (ECS). These studies aim to confirm or deny the multiple health benefits associated with the usage of CBD products.
And if you haven’t heard of the ECS before, don’t worry. Experts are still looking into it too. The human endocannabinoid system is a cell-signaling system identified in the early ‘90s while researchers were studying the effects of THC. However, it’s now known that the system is active in your body regardless of whether you are taking any cannabinoids or not.
Just like the impact of CBD, the endocannabinoid system is still a subject of multiple studies. Researchers have determined that the ECS helps to regulate some basic body functions including:
How Are Cannabinoids Extracted?
The compounds within the cannabis plant work together in a synergistic fashion. Therefore, experts want to extract the complete set of cannabinoids including terpenes, flavonoids, essential oils, and other cannabinoids. Together they are believed to bring the so-called “entourage effect”.
Not every cannabis strain, however, is suitable for the CBD industry. Some strains contain high levels of THC and are therefore not appropriate for the needs of the manufacturers. The most used strain is hemp, or cannabis sativa. It is the preferred strain of choice because of its high CBD and low THC levels.
To extract the full blend, companies use a process involving pressurized carbon dioxide. The pressure from the CO2 causes the hairs on the plant to open. These hairs, also known as trichomes, are where the cannabinoids are stored.
Full Spectrum CBD Oil
The name “full spectrum CBD” pretty much says it all. The CBD oil contains the full spectrum of cannabinoids extracted from the plant. In other words, no cannabinoids were purposely removed in the process.
Some studies suggest that full spectrum CBD oils could bring stronger effects to the users because of the entourage effect of the complete compounds set.
It is important to note, however, that this complete set also includes THC. Trustworthy companies manufacture their products with THC levels kept below the legal limit. Still, if you plan on traveling across state borders and bringing your favorite full spectrum CBD product with you, you are obliged to check the legal THC percentage for the states you will be visiting.
For most US states, the legal THC content limit is 0.3%. However, this percentage may differ in states where marijuana is deemed legal. In these states, the CBD oil may even be extracted from the marijuana plant and respectively to contain significantly higher levels of THC.
If you intend to travel internationally things may be a bit more complicated. In the UK, as well as across much of the remainder of Europe, the legal THC limit is even lower at 0.2%.
To avoid any complications, remember to always check the product label for:
- the strain of cannabis, preferably hemp (might also be listed with its scientific name cannabis sativa)
- THC content percentage
Aside from the complete compound of cannabinoids, there is another advantage for those who enjoy using all-natural products. Creating a full spectrum CBD product involves fewer processes from the extraction to the bottling. Because no cannabinoids are removed, there are fewer refinement processes necessary, other than limiting the THC when necessary.
There are some downsides to the full spectrum line of products.
The THC content in the product, even if within the legal limit, may still cause side effects in more sensitive people. There is a possibility that full spectrum CBD products may cause a psychoactive or sedative side effect when consumed orally.
If you haven’t used CBD products before and you believe you may be sensitive to THC, you should consult your healthcare practitioner beforehand.
Even if you don’t feel “high”, you should keep one thing in mind. Although CBD oil may not affect the way you feel, small levels of THC may still show up if a drug test is performed. Full spectrum CBD products are therefore not suitable for those who may be asked to undergo a drug screening test.
Lastly, full spectrum products may have a strong flavor or odor. While this is also the case for broad spectrum products, if you want to avoid flavors or odors you may consider optioning for CBD isolate instead.
Broad Spectrum CBD Oil
Broad spectrum CBD oils are extracted using the same technology used for full spectrum oils. The one major difference between the two, however, is that broad spectrum products undergo further refinement processes after the CO2 extraction.
The goal of these additional refinements is to remove unwanted cannabinoids from the final product. According to the standard that most companies are following, the only compound removed should be THC. While some manufacturers may decide to remove other compounds as well, a broad spectrum CBD oil is considered one without any traces of THC. With the rest of the cannabinoids still intact, broad spectrum products are still believed to bring the benefits of the entourage effect.
One of the major benefits of broad spectrum CBD is that there is no risk of psychoactive effect. This makes it especially suitable for those who suffer from THC sensibility or for first-time users who are not exactly sure how they feel about THC.
Still, no THC does not mean that a broad spectrum doesn’t come with some disadvantages as well. As mentioned earlier, broad spectrum also brings a strong flavor and odor that may be unpleasant to some users.
This line of products is also less popular as many people consider the 0.3% in the full spectrum to be a negligible amount of THC. This doesn’t mean that the full spectrum products are better than broad spectrum alternatives, only that the lower demand results in lower availability so broad spectrum products may be a bit harder to find.
The lower popularity also means that researchers are focusing on the products that attract more consumers. There are fewer studies conducted specifically on broad spectrum CBD oils when compared to full spectrum oils.
Since we already mentioned it, and to clear the confusing topic of CBD types once and for all, it’s only fair to explain how full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD products differ from CBD isolate.
CBD isolate is exactly what it sounds like. The cannabidiol is isolated from all other compounds from the hemp plant, leaving only concentrated CBD. No THC, terpenes, flavonoids, essential oils, or other cannabinoids.
CBD isolate is suitable for individuals who were prescribed high doses of CBD, as well as for anyone sensitive to any of the other cannabinoids in the spectrum. As mentioned earlier, CBD isolate is also missing the odor and flavor of the broad and full spectrum products.
The isolate usually comes in the form of crystalline solid or powder. High-quality products contain 99.9% CBD, although the CBD is considered to be an isolate is the CBD level is over 99.5%.
Which One is Better For You?
When it comes to full spectrum or broad spectrum CBD, no one product is better than the other. It all depends on your personal needs.
Those who favor the full spectrum line of products are usually attracted by the maximum entourage effect brought by the complete blend. On the other hand, broad spectrum products are perfect for those who want to use quality CBD but need to avoid THC for medical, personal, or legal reasons.
There is no simple answer as to which is the better option. Hopefully, studies will answer this question by defining the exact benefits of each cannabinoid composite.
Are you ready to test the effects of CBD for yourself? Be sure that the CBD products you purchase are from a trusted source. At buyCBDproducts.com, every product we offer is GMO-free, organic, and tested in a third-party laboratory.