Full Spectrum CBD oil vs. CBD Isolate


If you have never heard of CBD oil being classified this as full spectrum or isolate, don’t worry. We are going to break down the characteristics of both oils and explain which one may be more beneficial as per research.

What is full spectrum CBD oil, and why is it important?

The term “full spectrum” is used when CBD oil contains more than just the cannabinoid CBD. A full spectrum CBD oil will also include dozens of additional cannabinoids like CBG, CBN and CBC and tiny amounts of THC, as well as all of the terpenes and flavonoids. The idea of THC existing within full-spectrum oils may be concerning, but it is important to note that in the majority of cases, its presence will be in trace amounts (less than 0.03%). The exact ratios of the remaining cannabinoids may vary, and that is why it is essential that you choose a reputable CBD oil producer—one who can provide you with a detailed breakdown.

When the hemp plant is put through the extraction process, it is possible to remove or retain certain compounds based on what you want the end product to contain. In the case of CO₂ extraction, the chemical structure of the hemp plant can be carefully manipulated to only include compounds that are wanted (CBD, and other cannabinoids) and remove the elements that are not desired (plant matter, waxes, etc.) Moreover, by including other cannabinoids, it is possible that the oil produced may have additional benefits. Although research is still in its earliest stages, many of the other non-psychotropic cannabinoids (CBC, CBN, CBG) have shown therapeutic potential of their own.

You may be wondering, why, if other cannabinoids are yet to be better understood, does CBD need their assistance? The answer to that question is in the phenomenon known as the entourage effect. The entourage effect is used to describe how cannabinoids and terpenes become more effective when they are around each other. Full spectrum CBD oils take complete advantage of the entourage effect, and this phenomenon is one of the significant benefits of this type of oil. For an in-depth explanation of the entourage effect, you can head to our blog here.

Understanding CBD isolate

If full spectrum oils contain a range of cannabinoids alongside CBD, then you may have already guessed that CBD isolate only contains CBD. Cannabidiol has a growing catalogue of research that supports its use in a variety of scenarios, and for many, these potential benefits will be more than desirable. CBD isolate also has the advantage of being devoid of compounds like THC.

Legal concentrations of THC (less than 0.03%), have no noticeable impact on the body. However, if even the tiniest risk is something you want to avoid, then CBD isolate oils would be the preferred option for you. CBD used in CBD isolate undergoes different extraction and filtration processes to leave nothing but CBD. Both types of oil are most commonly sourced from the hemp plant.

Comparing CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD

The most immediate difference between the two types of oil is one benefits from the entourage effect, while the other does not. CBD isolates do not have the advantage proposed by the entourage effect; they do not feature any additional cannabinoids or compounds. In the majority of cases, the lack of the entourage effect will be significant to most users. Not only do you miss out on the potential individual benefits of the additional compounds, but research shows that the effects of CBD itself can be boosted by them. Full spectrum CBD oil also continues to provide relief as the dose of oil increases, the effectiveness of CBD isolate peaks quite quickly.

Which one does the research support?

A study conducted by researchers at the Lautenberg Center for General Tumour Immunology and Department of Medicinal and Natural Products compared both full spectrum and CBD isolates, measuring their efficacy as the dose of both oils increased.

Earlier studies into the topic had shown that CBD in isolation had a bell-shaped response when the dose was increased. This means that up to a certain point CBD remained effective, before dropping off (to form a bell-shaped graph). This peak in performance may be high enough to provide some benefit in general scenarios, but where CBD is being used to treat specific conditions, a higher dose may be needed.

When compared to “cannabis extract enriched in cannabidiol”, the study showed that it was “more potent or efficacious than pure CBD”. The researchers were able to overcome the bell-shaped response when using a whole plant extract to treat tumour cells. They went on to conclude that “The therapeutic synergy observed with plant extracts results in the requirement for the lower amount of active components, with consequent reduced adverse effects.”

Full spectrum CBD oil is created with the same principle in mind. For that reason, full spectrum CBD oil is often seen as the superior choice, even as you increase the daily dosage.

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