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What is “CBD isolate” and what is CBD “full spectrum?”

Which CBD product is right for me?

Simply put, CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD that’s pulled from the plant and devoid of all other ingredients. Full spectrum CBD, contains all the natural chemicals found in the whole plant, which include various other cannabinoids, essential oils, and terpenes.

So it boils down to the extraction method used for each, and how using that extraction method makes them different from one another. Let’s take a closer look at CBD isolate vs. full spectrum CBD to understand the differences.

Cannabinoids, Terpenes and Hemp Oh My!

Cannabinoids are plant compounds found in the hemp plant.  Cannabinoids interact with your body by targeting specific receptor sites that accept cannabinoids. Once a cannabinoid has reached a receptor site, the idea is that it can then work with your body to influence appetite, pain sensation, memory, mood, and more.

CBD/cannabidiol, is known for its calming and sedative effects. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, has psychoactive effects linked to the well-documented high. Other organic compounds called terpenes and terpenoids are found in many kinds of plants and are primary components in essential oils. They are also responsible for the smell of cannabis plants. Like cannabinoids, each individual terpene is associated with a unique effect. Types of terpenes commonly found in the hemp plant include limonene, humulene, myrcene, and ocimene.

What About Hemp Extract ?

It’s important that we make the distinction between hemp extracts and cannabis extracts  which is marijuana. Hemp extracts containing CBD are sourced from the hemp plant and may contain trace amounts of THC or be THC free. Cannabis extracts, meanwhile, will contain some level of THC content and therefore aren’t THC free. Any CBD product derived from hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC or it will instead be classified as a cannabis product under law.

What Are The Types Of CBD Extracts?

Though we’re primarily focusing on isolate CBD vs. full spectrum CBD, there’s a third option to consider: broad-spectrum form. We’ve broken down all three primary extraction methods below in greater detail.

​Full spectrum CBD

Full spectrum products contain all the natural chemicals found in the hemp plant, including the many types of cannabinoids and terpenes. This can result in the your body better absorbing and using CBD.

All compounds found in hemp are in full spectrum CBD.

Ingredients contained within full spectrum CBD may include essential vitamins and minerals, plant-based protein fiber, beneficial fatty acids, chlorophyll, terpenes, and flavonoids. These ingredients may simply be labeled as “hemp oil extract,” but its important to know how much CBD you’re really getting. For this reason, it’s important that you ensure your full spectrum CBD oil is tested by a lab to help you understand what’s in it.

If you’re subject to a zero-tolerance drug policy at work, please know that some of the more sensitive drug tests can come back positive for cannabinoids. If you’re unsure about where your company stands, better ask your HR department before you buy.

CBD isolate

Isolated CBD is basically 99% pure CBD. CBD isolate is made by pulling CBD from the plant and removing all other ingredients. So, its “safer” but it doesn’t contain any of the beneficial terpenes or flavonoids. This is why CBD isolates tend to cost less than full spectrum CBD or broad-spectrum CBD products. Another way of saying it is: the CBD in the hemp plant is isolated, hence “CBD isolate.”

Broad-spectrum CBD

Broad-spectrum CBD contains cannabidiol and the other natural compounds found within the plant, except for THC, which is completely removed after the extraction process has taken place. Because broad-spectrum CBD contains other cannabinoids besides THC, it has more wide ranging benefits.

Which CBD Should I Use?

To find the CBD product that suits your needs, start by taking a look at the many options available on the market today. While CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD are available as pure oils, there are other many options available to consume CBD.


CBD edibles are one popular choice, though research suggests eating CBD requires the liver and digestive track to break down the CBD before it can be fully absorbed so you may not get the full effect. 


CBD topicals are any product that contains CBD and is applied to the skin: lotions, creams, balms, salves, and the like. Keep in mind that your skin isn’t as good at absorbing CBD, so you may want to choose a product that’s high in CBD content. 

Ingestible Oils:

Sublingual CBD products, sometimes referred to as “sublinguals,” are absorbed under your tongue. These products include tinctures, sprays, oils, or lozenges that require you to keep the CBD product in your mouth rather than swallowing it. This method will avoid CBD breakdown by the liver and digestive tract, and your body will absorb more CBD as a result.

Start Small:

After you find which CBD method you prefer start with small doses to measure the effect it has on you. While consuming high doses of CBD is safe, it may be best to experiment and test out your ideal dosage before going big. Choose the product that suits your needs after assessing your current state of health. Your fitness levels, weight, body chemistry, and lifestyle will each play an important role in the decision process

What Are The Benefits of CBD?

One 2011 review in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that taking a combination of terpenes and cannabinoids may help with:

The same review also concludes that CBD may help lessen unwanted THC effects, like hunger, anxiety, and sedation.

Research from 2018 found that some of the terpenes and flavonoids found in cannabis may reduce inflammation and offer neuroprotective effects.

However, as with lots of other aspects of CBD, research into the entourage effect is ongoing — and not all of it agrees.

For example, a 2019 study in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research found no change in CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, a part of your endocannabinoid system, when terpenes were added to THC.

More research is needed to be able to say for sure how the entourage effect works. Find out more about CBD and where to get CBD in Colorado here.