Full Spectrum vs Isolate

Kelly Douglas

Posted on October 18 2018

Full Spectrum vs Isolate

CBD comes in several derivatives and mediums, which vary in form (gummies, topicals, and oils – just to name a few) and effectiveness. There are two main types of CBD formulas available today: full spectrum and isolate.

Cannabidiol Origins

The hemp plant (Cannabis sativa) is a fibrous crop used historically in folk medicine and textile creation.  It is rich in phytochemicals (biologically active chemicals found in plants), including a long list of cannabinoids, such as Cannabinol (CBN), Cannabicyclol (CBL), Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and Cannabichromevarinic Acid (CBCVA).  There are thousands of specific molecules that can be isolated from this plant, including CBD, which is one of the most abundantly found in the hemp plant.  

Another common compound in hemp is psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).  To minimize unwanted cerebral side effects, the government regulates concentration levels of THC in hemp.  Legal "industrial hemp" products contain no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight.  

Full Spectrum vs Isolate

Full Spectrum CBD

Full Spectrum CBD generally refers to CBD oil products that not only contain CBD, but also other cannabinoids found in the hemp plant it comes from, such as CBG, and CBN. Usually, these will be in ratios that are naturally occurring and extracted from the plant and specific strain. They are also occasionally added back into products as an isolated form to raise the potency.  For those that get drug tested, Full Spectrum CBD is something to be cautious about. There are trace amounts of THC found in full spectrum formulations (less than the legal limit of 0.3%), and the chance of a positive drug test cannot be ruled out. If your employer requires routine drug testing, it is typically best practice to discuss with them your use of this product. 

CBD Isolate

Products labeled as CBD Isolate have undergone specific synthesis to extract pure CBD from the plant. They are highlighted as being more than 99% pure cannabidiol (CBD), and by design to not contain the other cannabinoids found in hemp, including THC. CBD Isolate is typically the CBD oil product of choice for those who get drug tested or are sensitive to other cannabinoids such as THC. Reputable products will come with a Certificate of Analysis confirming appropriately isolated formulations, and it is always best practice to obtain CBD from responsible vendors. 


Which One is Right for Me?

Hemp oil is an extremely potent source of CBD (responsible for a large bulk of the oil’s cannabinoid profile). While both products are primarily CBD, Full Spectrum contains the other hemp-derived cannabinoids while CBD Isolate is purely CBD.  Full Spectrum has been reported as having a higher potency due to the synergistic effects of the cannabinoids it contains.  Another consideration is THC concentration.  Both products meet legal requirements and will not produce the psychotropic high associated with THC.  From a sensitivity standpoint (drug testing or otherwise), CBD Isolate may be preferred.  


To fully reap CBD oil benefits, explore the different mediums of the compound available on the market today!




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