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Decoding CBD Extracts: Navigating the Differences Between Isolate, Full Spectrum, and Broad Spectrum

Decoding CBD Extracts: Navigating the Differences Between Isolate, Full Spectrum, and Broad Spectrum

Tatum Blakeney

If you have ever shopped for CBD products, you have probably seen words like ‘whole plant,’ ‘distillate,’ ‘broad-spectrum,’ or simply ‘CBD extracts’ on product labels.  You may be wondering if the difference really matters.  The answer is yes; the difference does matter.  

CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum and Broad Spectrum are terms used for different types of cannabis extract found in products. These different CBD extracts correlate with the cannabinoids present in the final product and may contribute to having different effects overall.  Understanding the difference between CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum can help you decide about purchasing CBD products and other hemp plant products..

Cannabinoids and What They Do

Before diving into CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum, first, we must understand what cannabinoids are and how you might be able to benefit from them. 

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in cannabis plants.  There are upwards of 150+ known cannabinoids from this plant, with CBD and THC being the most well-known.  CBG, CBC, CBN, and Delta 8 THC are a few minor cannabinoids that have also become increasingly popular over the past year.   Cannabinoids have made a huge impact on the natural wellness industry as more research comes to the surface on the amazing health benefits of these cannabinoids. 

CBD, and all cannabinoids, work within our bodies by supplementing the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).  The ECS is a complex physiological system that is responsible for keeping our body in a state of homeostasis.  This means that when we supplement with CBD, we are helping our body stay balanced.  Many studies have shown the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids, like anxiety relief, pain and inflammation reduction, better sleep, and much more. 

The difference between CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum

Now that you know what cannabinoids are, let us look further at CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum.  These are all terms to describe different types of CBD Extracts.  Each of these types of CBD extracts has its own specific benefits as well as some negatives, and it’s important to know CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum to make the best purchase for yourself. 

CBD Isolate:   CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD. It is singularly extracted from the rest of the plant, isolating CBD from all other cannabinoids, plant compounds, waxes, chlorophyll, terpenes, and flavonoids. What is left is a white powder, pure CBD.  Much research has shown that CBD isolate may not deliver the full benefits of this cannabinoid, but it may be good for those who need to take a very high dose of CBD or want to stay away from THC strictly. 

Pros of CBD isolate:

  • The purest form of CBD.
  • There is no risk of psychoactive effects.
  • No THC, which means you won’t fail a drug test

Cons of CBD isolate

  • It does not deliver the enhanced benefits of the entire cannabis plant.

Full Spectrum CBD oil:  Full Spectrum CBD is an extract that contains all plant compounds, including Cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.  The full spectrum of cannabinoids work synergistically together to magnify their therapeutic benefits; this is known as the entourage effect.  Full Spectrum extracts contain high traces of CBD as well as traces of THC (0.3% or less) and may help people with more severe conditions.   

Pros of Full Spectrum CBD Products:

  • Offers the full benefits of the cannabis plant
  • Undergoes fewer processes

Cons of Full Spectrum CBD:

  • May have sedative, psychoactive, or unwanted side effects.
  • May show up on a drug test or have other legal complications.
  • It tends to have a strong natural flavor and odor.

Broad Spectrum CBD Oil: Similar to Full Spectrum CBD, Broad Spectrum CBD starts as a full-plant extract, but it also goes through a refinement process to have the THC reduced or removed. The spectrum of cannabinoids present can, too, work together to magnify the therapeutic benefits and deliver the enhanced benefits of the entourage effect.  

Broad Spectrum is best for those who want the full benefits of the cannabis plant without any THC. We also recommend it to those who may have stricter laws regarding THC or even first-time users who are hesitant about using cannabinoids. 

Pros of Broad Spectrum CBD Products:

  • Offers the full benefits of the cannabis plant.
  • No risk of psychoactive effects.

Cons of Broad Spectrum CBD :

  • It has gone through more processes.

What is the Entourage Effect?

The entourage effect is a theory on how cannabinoids work together.  The idea is that CBD is more effective when it is used in combination with other cannabinoids. The theory suggests that using a whole plant extract like a Spectrum or a Broad Spectrum Extract will have better effects and perform better than a CBD-isolated product.   

While there is little research on the entourage effect theory, there are some that do suggest this theory to be accurate. A 2018 study found that pure CBD extracts (isolates) were less effective than extracts that include a mixture of other cannabinoids.  While more studies need to be conducted, there seems to be ample anecdotal evidence from users who now prefer whole plant extracts. 

CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum:  Which is better?

Is CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum better?  This is a topic that has been up for debate. There is much evidence that a Full Spectrum CBD or a Broad Spectrum CBD extract is far superior to isolates.  Our philosophy is that Broad Spectrum is a great choice because it has the benefits of being a full-plant extract while leaving the worries of THC behind.   However, each CBD user is different and has their own opinions.  Understand the difference between each extract and find the one that works best for you. 


  • CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum is important to understand when buying CBD Products
  • CBD Isolate is CBD in its purest form
  • Full Spectrum offers CBD and a spectrum of other cannabinoids
  • Broad Spectrum is a full spectrum extract with the THC removed
  • The entourage effect is a theory that suggests whole plant extracts perform better than isolated CBD products

Tatum Blakeney

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