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The Difference Between Full-Spectrum CBD, Broad-Spectrum CBD, and Pure Isolate

March 2, 2023

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Taking a Closer Look at Full-Spectrum CBD (.3% or less THC) and Broad-Spectrum CBD (non-detected THC) and Pure CBD Isolate

The high-level description of these three forms of CDB (or CBD products) can be explained by bullets:

  • Full-spectrum, .3% or less THC: contains CBD, some terpenes, other minor cannabinoids, and plant-based essential oils
  • Broad-spectrum ND THC: contains CBD, and other minor cannabinoids
  • CBD isolate: contains CBD alone

For a broader understanding, we’ll go into more detail on the various types of CBD products below.

Full-Spectrum, .3% or less, THC CBD

This product contains the majority cannabinoids found in the whole hemp plant, which includes both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at legal limit, unless it is crude-based, and cannabidiol (CBD), as well as other minor cannabinoids. Since full-spectrum CBD products contain all the compounds of the cannabis plant, it may carry more benefits when taken, compared to pure CBD isolate.

The difference between regular marijuana (that provides intoxicating effects) and what comes from the whole hemp plant is the levels of THC in the material or products. Usually, the THC content of a full-spectrum CBD product is lower than 0.3% in order to comply with the regulations of the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized the use of hemp on a federal level. Therefore, consuming full-spectrum CBD products isn’t likely to cause intoxicating effects on users.

The reason many people choose full-spectrum CBD over other types of CBD products isn’t because of the cannabinoid content, but rather because these products contain almost everything that is found in the whole hemp plant—in an extract. When all the cannabinoids remain in the final product, they produce a unique mechanism (known as the entourage effect), which may increase the health and wellness benefits.

According to an article by Medical News Today, there are a range of reported health benefits for full-spectrum CBD that include treatment for psychotic disorders, relief for muscle spasm and pain, and help with reduction in seizures and inflammation.

Not all CBD bulk extracts or finished products are the same; it is important to ensure that they are third-party tested, so the level of THC is less than .3% in a product. Be sure to read all your labels and know that what’s advertised on the label is what is in the product. Doing some of your own research before you purchase the product is key to ensuring the product you are purchasing has a true certificate of analysis (COA). 

Be aware that full-spectrum CBD products do contain a small amount of THC. Some people are wary of this, due to their employment or for other reasons. While it’s not likely one will fail a drug test when taking a full-spectrum CBD product, for many, they still want the peace of mind and, thus, will choose broad-spectrum or isolate over full-spectrum products. 

Broad-Spectrum, Non-Detectable THC, CBD

The difference between broad-spectrum, ND THC, CBD and full-spectrum, .3% THC, CBD is that most of the broad-spectrum CBD products contain zero amount of THC. But apart from the non-detected THC, it still contains all the other minor cannabinoids, along with some terpenes, which give the effect of the original characteristics that come from the whole hemp plant.

Like full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD may have some of the similar health benefits, as it contains most everything but the small amount of THC. The Medical New Today article noted above links to this study published in the National Library of Medicine in stating a similar point. Keep in mind that most broad-spectrum CBD extracts and finished products should not contain THC, or if they do, it is only trace amounts.

CBD Isolate

The final product listed is CBD isolate, which is the purest form of CBD found in the market. Some say this might be the perfect CBD for consumers who want to try CBD and learn more about the effects of CBD alone, without the issue of THC and the other minors. Compared to other CBD full- or broad-spectrum products, the isolate should have no odor or taste.

CBD isolate is used by ones who do not wish to have any THC at all in their CBD products, beneficial for people who want to use just CBD as a possible treatment without the any additional actives, which may (or may not) cause effects for some.

Since the only compound is CBD in the isolate, it may not provide the same effects as broad-spectrum or full-spectrum CBD, which may be a downside for some consumers. Consuming high dose of CBD isolate may also result in some side effects when using the CBD products. It is recommended to use CBD that is extracted cleanly—as in our proprietary supercritical CO2 fluid method—from whole plant hemp.

CBD products in various forms are used by people for a vast spectrum of physical and mental health condition, such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. As well, Forbes Health writes about CBD oil’s use in treating opioid addiction, which shows promise for people struggling with sobriety.

Whatever your reason may be to incorporate CBD products into your wellness routine, anyone curious about trying whole plant hemp extracts or finished products should consult your healthcare practitioner to discuss incorporating CBD into your regimen.

CBD Shopping Savvy

When shopping for CBD product, remember to ask about the product’s origins. Inquire about the product’s certificate of analysis (COA). If organic is important to you—be sure to look for an end-product that was extracted from organic whole plant hemp. You might want to also know what process of extraction was used—some are “cleaner” than others.

PHCO2 uses a proprietary supercritical CO2 fluid extraction process to expertly extract, remediate, and purify hemp biomass all the way through to a non-detectable or full-spectrum whole plant hemp extract. (Learn more about this clean extraction process from our parent company, Phasex.) We offer a line of PHCO2 brand 100% USDA-Certified Organic ingredients—first in the industry to do so—offering broad- and full-spectrum ingredients for companies that require non-detectable or compliant THC purification. PHCO2 is GMP third-party certified for operation in compliance with 21 CFR 111 and 21 CFR 117 regulations and is known for our reputation of employing scientific, proven methodology for our superior CO2 extraction and purification process. We disclose our COA to all of our customers. PHCO2 ingredients are grown, processed, and packaged in the U.S.A.

If you are a retailer or supplier looking for superior ingredients in purity, potency, and price, and are interested in learning more, take a look at the services we offer, including biomass extraction, purification, small-scale sampling, and more. Contact us now to explore your ingredient needs.

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