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CBD products are available in several different formulations, each containing various compounds that produce varying effects. None of the CBD formulations–full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or CBD isolate–is better than the other. The choice boils down to what consumers are familiar with and what they’re looking for (or not looking for) in a CBD product. 

Full-spectrum CBD

Just as the name suggests, full-spectrum CBD contains the full array of the hemp plant’s naturally-existing phytochemicals. This includes terpenes, flavonoids, essential oils, and all of the cannabinoids found in the plant, including no more than 0.3 percent of the cannabinoid THC (<0.3). This amount of THC is the legal limit allowed in full-spectrum CBD. Anything above this percentage and the product is classified as marijuana. Despite this trace amount of THC, full-spectrum CBD will not produce a “high”; however, the consumer ingests negligible amounts of THC when using full-spectrum CBD. This formulation produces for the user what’s referred to as the “entourage effect,” which occurs when the full spectrum of active compounds works in concert to intensify the benefits of the individual cannabinoids. The entourage effect is further explained below. 

Many doctors recommend full-spectrum CBD for medicinal purposes.

Full-Spectrum CBD is a good choice for those living in states where recreational marijuana is legal. (Where has recreational marijuana been legalized? Read U.S. CBD Laws: Find Out if CBD is Legal in Your State.) The <0.3% THC found in full-spectrum CBD legally classifies this product as being derived from the hemp plant, not the marijuana plant. However, full-spectrum CBD can leave trace amounts of THC in the body if ingested often. So, for those living in states where recreational marijuana is legal, testing positive for a minute amount of THC should not cause a problem, but may yield a positive drug test. 

Broad-spectrum CBD

Like full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD includes terpenes, flavonoids, essential oils, and all of the cannabinoids found in the hemp plant, except for THC, which is completely remediated from the product during processing. Other than that, broad-spectrum CBD is identical to full-spectrum and includes all the same benefits, including the “entourage effect.”

Broad-spectrum CBD is a good choice for those who live in a state where recreational marijuana is not legal, who may have a sensitivity to THC, or who simply object to ANY percentage of THC in their product.

CBD isolate

CBD isolate is 99% pure and contains only the cannabinoid CBD without any of the other cannabinoids or compounds, like terpenes, flavonoids, or essential oils. CBD isolate is also the most labor-intensive of all the CBD products, as processing is necessary to not only isolate CBD from the plant but also to remove all of the other compounds. Because the other compounds are not present in the end product, CBD isolate does not produce the “entourage effect”; but delivers the full benefit of CBD which includes relief from stress, anxiety, sore muscles, and achy joints, along with a calm, relaxed, content feeling. Some argue that the effects will not be maximized due to the absence of the entourage effect.  

While CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, it is no stronger or more effective than its two counterparts. Like broad-spectrum CBD, CBD isolate is a good choice for those who live in a state where recreational marijuana is not legal or who may have a sensitivity to THC or any of the other cannabinoids or compounds found in the hemp plant.

What is the entourage effect?

Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD produce something called the “entourage effect.” This refers to the collective interaction between all of the compounds working together to intensify the benefits. Hence, the entourage effect may induce a more relaxed experience and increase the health benefits of CBD, including pain relief, stress relief, and feelings of relaxation and contentment. CBD isolate, on the other hand, while providing all of the CBD benefits, cannot magnify the experience through the entourage effect because the only cannabinoid it contains is CBD. CBD isolate contains no other cannabinoids or compounds with which to interact.  

What are terpenes?

Attention is paid to the inclusion of terpenes in CBD products. Terpenes play a very important role in achieving the entourage effect. While you may not have heard much about terpenes before, they are not unique to cannabis. Terpenes are present in all plants and are what give plants their scents and flavors. Terpenes found in full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD help in easing pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, and bringing about that relaxed feeling, which the entourage effect amplifies. Other plants’ terpenes, like those found in black pepper, hops, tea, and citrus also provide medicinal benefits, some similar to those found in the cannabis plant. 

Both hemp and marijuana plants contain more than 200 terpenes and form a relationship with both brain and central nervous system receptors when we ingest them to achieve a healthy equilibrium within our own body systems. 

Final Thoughts

Knowing the difference between full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate allows you to make an educated decision about which formula is right for you and your consumers. But whichever formula you choose, CBD is replete will remarkable pain and stress relieving benefits.