CBD Full Spectrum vs Isolate: What You Should Know
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CBD has been accepted by more and more of the medical community, and with CBD’s wide range of potential applications, as well as the increased availability of the product, it’s no wonder so many people want to learn more.
Of course, not all CBD products are created equal, and certainly no two CBD products are exactly the same. If you’ve been shopping through different CBD products at all, you’ve probably noticed that some are labeled ‘Full Spectrum’, while other products are ‘Isolate’.
Don’t worry if you don’t know what those tags mean. You’re in the right place, and this article will help you understand the differences, and how those labels can impact the product you’re buying.
What Is CBD?
The first thing you need to know are the basics of CBD itself. While most people know that CBD is a cannabis product (or think it is), however few know what it actually is.
In the United States, and most of the rest of the world, CBD is not actually a cannabis product. CBD is a cannabinoid, one of the groups of chemicals found in cannabis and related plants, such as hemp. However, because all CBD products are required to have a very low total percentage of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component of cannabis), CBD can’t be refined from cannabis.
Instead, CBD comes from hemp plants, a close cousin of cannabis. Unlike cannabis, hemp plants have such a low percentage of THC that they are typically not considered psychoactive.
CBD is only one of over 100 cannabinoids naturally found in hemp and cannabis plants. While we don’t entirely know what each of those cannabinoids does, we do know that the presence of additional cannabinoids seems to have a positive health effect.
The Difference Between Isolate and Full Spectrum (and What is Broad Spectrum?)
There are three basic types of CBD available. Some are better for certain formulations of CBD, which is one reason all three are manufactured.
Full Spectrum CBD is generally the most common of the three. Full Spectrum CBD contains all of the cannabinoids found in the hemp it’s made from (including a relatively small fraction of a percent of THC).
Full Spectrum also contains terpenes and flavonoids that are naturally occurring in the hemp. These can also have a positive effect on the body since terpenes are known to have some anti-inflammatory benefits. Though, the exact benefits, and how pronounced those benefits are, varies from hemp to hemp.
Full Spectrum CBD can have a strong flavor, which you may or may not like, thanks to the inclusion of those terpenes and flavonoids. There are some alternatives that get around the flavor, like Montkush’s Mint CBD oil, which uses mint flavors to make the product more palatable.
Full Spectrum CBD has also been shown to have increased effect as you increase the dose of the CBD. Not all types of CBD work this way, so Full Spectrum is believed to have stronger impact for users. It’s can also be helpful for individuals who are noticing increased tolerance to their normal CBD dose.
Full Spectrum CBD oil is also a fantastic source of trace minerals and important vitamins, adding mild nutritional support to your normal diet.
Broad Spectrum is similar to Full Spectrum. It indicates that there are fewer terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids than true Full Spectrum CBD. But it does still contain some of those terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids, unlike isolate.
The biggest consideration is that broad spectrum CBD can have absolutely no THC content, while full-spectrum CBD can have a very small percentage of THC still included.
Isolate is a form of CBD that does not contain the flavonoids, terpenes, and other cannabinoids found in the hemp plant.
Isolate is as close to pure CBD as you can get. It has a milder flavor but doesn’t offer all the same benefits of a full spectrum CBD. However, you can vape isolate, which is one of the main forces behind manufacturing it.
Isolate also seems to absorb faster, letting users experience the benefits much faster. It's popular for uses like fighting certain seizure disorders because of how fast-acting it can be. (this additional source discusses some of the problems with CBD studies, including a relatively low number of double-blind studies, but talks about the evidence for use of CBD in treatment-resistant epilepsy before the three double-blind studies discussed in our primary source.)
CBD isolate is much harder to create than full spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD. It must live up to very high purity standards and is tightly regulated.
In addition to losing the flavonoids, terpenes, and cannabinoids that you get from full-spectrum CBD you also lose the healthy fatty acids that are usually contained in full-spectrum CBD. Isolate also has a fairly narrow effective dose. That means it isn’t effective if the dose is too low and increasing your dose doesn’t necessarily increase the effectiveness of the treatment.
Which type of CBD you choose is a matter of personal preference, as well as what dosage and purity your medical professionals may advise to treat certain conditions.
Of course, the differences between Full Spectrum CBD and Isolate CBD are only part of the equation. You also have to consider different methods of preparation and consumption, and what kinds of symptoms you want to relieve.
The available preparations can also have a huge impact on which type of CBD you buy. For instance, vaping CBD has some of the fastest possible absorption but isn't available for Full Spectrum CBD, so even if you prefer Full Spectrum CBD, you may end up needing Isolate.
Common CBD Preparations:
There are several different preparations for CBD oil, and each has its own benefits and uses. Combined with the differences between Full Spectrum CBD and Isolate, the combination gives you a wide range of different benefits and effectiveness.
Straight CBD oil is one of the most common preparations because it’s less complicated to make, easy to use, and offers relatively quick absorption. CBD oil can be made as a Full Spectrum oil, a Broad-Spectrum oil, or an Isolate. The purity of the CBD Oil highly depends on the extraction method. For example, MONTKUSH uses a hemp flower press to extract pure CBD rosin oil.
CBD oils also come in a range of potencies, so you have much greater control over your final dose. Your dose is a combination of the potency of the oil, and how much you take. Typically, the cost of CBD oil increases with higher dosages or volumes, so a higher concentration is typically more expensive than a smaller amount.
CBD oil can be taken orally, holding the oil under your tongue for a few seconds before swallowing, or it can be added to a drink or some foods if you want to hide the taste.
Oils can also be used to make CBD edibles by infusing certain foods with a few drops of CBD.
Pills and Lozenges:
Pills and lozenges are another common way to take CBD. Like oils, they can be made with all three types of CBD, and offer a very precise dosage.
However, pills and lozenges don’t have quite the dose flexibility of oil. You’re limited to how much CBD is contained in the pill or lozenge, and if you need more you need to down another pill.
Pills and lozenges are a popular way to take full spectrum CBD because they aren’t as flavorful. However, they do have a limitation in absorption. Pills and lozenges are some of the slowest methods for absorbing CBD into your bloodstream.
We're also going to include other edibles here. Less common than cannabis edibles, you can also buy a variety of sweets and chocolates as CBD edibles.
Vaping or Dabbing:
CBD can also be vaporized and inhaled for a much faster rate of absorption. Of course, this isn’t a recommended method for children, who are commonly treated with CBD for a variety of disorders. (additional source) But for adults who have a condition where speed matters, vaping is an excellent choice.
This type of CBD is available as both a vape cartridge and dabs. Dabs are a kind of waxy substance you heat with a specific dabbing tool. Like vaping, they are very fast.
Both of these types are primarily available with isolate CBD. It’s also relatively difficult to control your dose, beyond how many puffs of the vape you inhale and how long you hold each breath.
Choosing the Right CBD for You:
Ultimately, your experience with CBD depends a lot on your personal preferences and willingness to experiment. It’s a good idea to try a variety of different preparations before you decide which one is right for you, and you may want to keep a couple of different preparations on hand for different situations.
If you have a friend or family member who uses CBD, it’s a good idea to contact them for recommendations on what you should try. Of course, if you’re looking for CBD oil, you can also look at our Mint or Natural CBD to see if either fits the bill.