What’s the Difference? CBD Isolate vs. Full-Spectrum CBD Oil
CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD oil each have their own pros and cons. The better option for you will depend on the benefits you’re looking for.
There are two main types of cannabidiol (CBD) extract utilized by vendors – purified, crystalline isolate, often labeled as ‘CBD isolate,’ and full-spectrum CBD oil. But what’s the difference between the two and how can you know which is right for you?
Both CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD oil will provide you with all the potential benefits that come with taking CBD but the one you choose will depend on a range of factors, including what you are using it for and what you are hoping to achieve.
There is a lot of misinformation out there, so it’s important to understand what you are taking. Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of both CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD oil so you can make the best, most informed decision.
What Is CBD Isolate?
CBD isolate almost always originates from agricultural hemp and is most often extracted through supercritical CO2 extraction technology. CBD isolate is nearly 100% cannabidiol—nothing else.
One of the most important things to consider before purchasing a CBD isolate is the transparency of its brand. Always look for Certificates of Analysis before purchasing. It will help you determine the potency and purity of the product, ensuring you are not ingesting any contaminants like pesticides, heavy metals, or mold.
Pros of CBD Isolate:
- Versatility: CBD isolate when purchased as a stand-alone product, often comes in a powdered form. This powder makes it easy to ingest CBD in a form that works for you. You can place the powder directly on the tongue or add it to homemade edibles. Using a water-soluble CBD isolate will allow you to mix it into a glass of water or your morning cup of coffee. It is also possible to purchase CBD isolate in premade capsules and edibles, which is handy for on-the-go use.
- Simplicity: With CBD isolate, there is no guesswork. You know exactly what you’re getting: cannabidiol and nothing else. Some brands will add terpenes back into the mix to provide natural hemp flavor but for the most part, isolates are made with CBD alone. For that reason, CBD isolate can make it easier to achieve the exact dosage that works for you without having to guess if there are other ingredients diluting your dose.
- Confidence: With CBD isolate, there should be zero tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) present. The vast majority of CBD oil products on the market already contain less than 0.3% THC, but if you’re concerned about THC or are highly sensitive to its effects, an isolate may be the best product for your needs
Cons of CBD Isolate:
- No Entourage Effect: The entourage effect is a term first coined by the discoverer of THC and CBD, Ralph Mechoulam. The terms refer to the way whole plant compounds work together to produce greater effects in the body. The cannabis plant contains over 100 cannabinoids (THC and CBD included) each with their own impact on the human body. As CBD isolate is pure cannabidiol, the therapeutic benefits often yielded by the entourage effect are lost. Furthermore, precise and typically high doses of isolate are required to start to feel the benefits of the cannabis plant.
What Is Full-Spectrum CBD Oil?
Full-spectrum CBD oil refers to a diverse profile of cannabinoids (such as CBD, CBG, CBN, CBDa, THC, and THCa), terpenes, and other phytonutrients from the hemp plant. This type of CBD can be extracted through various methods, like ethanol extraction, supercritical CO2 extraction, or other techniques.
Generally speaking, a full-spectrum CBD oil has a cannabinoid profile nearly identical to that of the hemp plant.
Pros of Full-Spectrum CBD Oil:
- Entourage Effect: The diverse array of cannabinoids and terpenes in full-spectrum CBD oil work together, or synergize, to allow for a broader range of whole plant benefits.
- Taste: Not all full-spectrum CBD oil comes from the hemp plant. Sometimes it originates from high-CBD cannabis, which typically has a high terpene content when compared to agricultural hemp. Terpenes are found in almost every plant, fruit, and vegetable and in addition to providing health benefits, can produce pleasant flavor profiles and aromas. Because of this, full-spectrum CBD oils often contain all the earthy and tasty flavors of natural hemp.
- Avoids the Bell-Shaped Dose-Response Curve: The bell-shaped dose-response curve is a visual representation of how certain stimuli—in this case pure CBD—are least effective when taken in very small and very high doses. Because of this effect, CBD isolate requires precise dosages to achieve the maximum therapeutic benefits, whereas full-spectrum CBD extracts offer health benefits even at very low doses.
Cons of Full-Spectrum CBD Oil:
- Integrity: Some unscrupulous vendors will claim that their products contain full-spectrum CBD oil but an analysis of their product does not back up this claim. Always check the Certificates of Analysis to verify anything a CBD company is claiming about their product. If CBD is the only cannabinoid appearing on the laboratory test results, it is not a full-spectrum product.
- THC Content: If you'd like to avoid having THC in your CBD product, whether for personal or professional reasons, a full-spectrum product is not the way to go. Even though there likely won't be enough THC to make you feel “high,” it could still show up on a drug test. There's good news though: If you're looking to experience the benefits of a full-spectrum product as outlined above without the THC, broad-spectrum CBD oils are your answer.
CBD Isolate vs. Full-Spectrum CBD Oil
This is a debate without a clear winner. The choice between a CBD isolate and a full-spectrum CBD oil will depend on you. A full-spectrum product can provide a wider range of potential benefits but some people may prefer the dosage control and versatility of a CBD isolate.
If THC content is a serious consideration for you, but you still would like to reap the benefits of the whole hemp plant, look for broad-spectrum products. Broad-spectrum CBD products contain everything (cannabinoids, terpenes, fatty acids) a full-spectrum product contains except THC.
No two people are the same and no two people will respond to CBD oil the same way, making it difficult to say one product is definitely better than another.
Before you begin using CBD oil, it is best to discuss your options with your physician. They can help you better understand the symptoms you are experiencing, which will help you choose the CBD product that may be most effective for quelling your symptoms. You might also consider speaking with a cannabis doctor whose specialty is in using CBD and other natural remedies to treat medical conditions.
Again, it is important to have a conversation with your primary physician because while generally well tolerated, CBD oil can interact with popular medications like certain antidepressants and antibiotics.
Once you know you can use CBD without conflict, you may have to try a few delivery methods before you find what works best. Give yourself some time to experiment with CBD isolate products and full-spectrum products to determine which is best for your needs. Whether you’re going with a CBD isolate or a full-spectrum CBD oil, deciding to use CBD oil for the first time can be exciting and a little overwhelming, so if you’re looking for a place to start, make sure you read up on which brands produce the highest-quality, top-ranking CBD products.
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