Broad-spectrum vs Full-spectrum CBD – What’s the difference?

CBD oil is one of the most popular CBD products on the market. However, there are a variety of CBD ranges, the most common being CBD isolates, broad-spectrum CBD and full-spectrum CBD.

Whereas CBD isolates contain 99% of pure CBD, broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD are often confused and users seem to be uncertain which of these products will suit their needs. The differences in the chemical composition of these CBD ranges cause the products to have different effects, so you will need to know the difference between broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD products.

The manufacture and composition of CBD oils

Cannabis plants go through various different processes in order to create specific ranges of CBD. The main differences between these ranges come down to the compounds of the original cannabis plant that is used within each range. Products can exist of mainly CBD, or other compounds can be left within the products to enhance its effectiveness.

CBD isolates

CBD isolates are crystalline powders that are made up of 99% CBD. All the other compounds found within the hemp plant are removed to create the final product. This includes the removal of:

  • Waxes
  • Phytocannabinoids (such as THC)
  • Natural oils
  • Chlorophyll

Broad-spectrum CBD

Broad-spectrum CBD products also contain many compounds found in the cannabis plant. This includes:

  • Cannabinol
  • Cannabichromene
  • Terpenes (such as limonene, myrcene, and pinene)

Broad-spectrum CBD does not contain THC, but some of these products may contain trace quantities of this phytocannabinoid.

Full-spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum CBD products utilise the entirety of the cannabis plant to create an entourage effect between the ingredients, which ultimately enhances its effectivity. Full-spectrum CBD products often contain:

  • Essential oils
  • Terpenes
  • Cannabinol
  • Up to 0.3% THC

With less than 0.3% of THC, full-spectrum CBD simply has enhanced effects since the ingredients of the cannabis plant work together to increase efficacy.

Extraction/manufacturing of CBD

There are three predominant methods used to extract CBD from cannabis plants:

  • Carbon Dioxide extraction – This process involves using CO2 to separate CBD oil found within the cannabis plant. This method of extraction is able to successfully produce a high concentration of CBD.
  • Steam distillation – Using steam to separate CBD oil from plant materials is a popular extraction method, but it is not as effective as the use of CO2.
  • Solvent extraction – Using solvents to extract CBD is highly effect ive, but can leave behind a residue of the solvent used. This can be a potential health risk and have an effect on the flavour of the extract.

After extraction, the product undergoes a cooling and purification process to create the desired CBD range.

What is broad-spectrum CBD?

One of the most popular CBD ranges is broad-spectrum CBD. This range contains many of the naturally occurring compounds found within the cannabis plant, excluding tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Broad-spectrum CBD also has a higher concentration of CBD than full-spectrum ranges. The cannabinoids in broad-spectrum CBD work together to relieve stress and anxiety. The compounds within broad-spectrum CBD can also help to relieve pain, improve skin health, and assist in sleeping.

Will broad-spectrum CBD show up on drug tests?

Broad-spectrum CBD should not contain THC and should not show up on drug tests. It is, however, possible for trace amounts of THC to get into the final product. If there is enough THC present within the product, it could lead to a positive drug test. Note that cases of this are very rare and most broad-spectrum CBD products should not cause any worry.

What is full-spectrum CBD?

Full-spectrum CBD products contain various extracts of the cannabis plant, such as terpenes, essential oils, cannabinol, and up to 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). 

The properties of full-spectrum CBD oil allows the product to be effective in treating depression and anxiety, migraines, muscle pain, and a number of other medical conditions. The health benefits of CBD oil are more prominent when products contain multiple compounds of the cannabis plant, so full-spectrum CBD is generally more effective than other ranges.

How do they differ?

CBD is the most abundant compound in the cannabis plant, second to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The absence of THC is essentially what differentiates broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD products. 

Products that contain naturally occurring extracts from the cannabis plant, such as terpenes, as well as up to 0.3% of THC, are listed as full-spectrum CBD products.

Broad-spectrum CBD products also contain some natural cannabis compounds, but there should be no trace of THC within these tinctures.

As there is not much regulation regarding different CBD-related terms, some manufacturers may label their products wrongly or misuse terms. This is why it is important to check the list of ingredients before buying the product.

Structure and composition
Whole plant excluding THCComponents are isolated and brought back together in a specific ratioWhole plant including THCContains terpenes, essential oils, and traces of THC below 0.3%
Absorption time and lasting effects
Takes 5-20 minutes for full absorptionEffects last 4-6 hoursTakes 30-90 minutes for full absorptionEffects last 6-8 hours
How the effects are achieved
Relief brought without THCGood option for those seeking relief without having THC in the system (for personal, legal, or medical reasons)Relief brought by the entourage effectCannabinoids and terpenes work in sync to produce a strong effect of both THC and CBD for maximum relief
Benefits of the creation process
No risk of psychoactive effectsUndergoes fewer processes and leaves less room for error
Cons of the compound
Less research and availabilityUsually has a strong flavour and odourCould have psychoactive and sedative-like side-effectsHas the small chance to show up on drug testsStrong flavour and odour
Who should use the compound
CBD on its own may not be enough to alleviate severe issuesUsers that are sensitive to THCFirst-time users who are hesitant to use a product containing THCIndividuals who have been recommended to use a low THC level in combination with CBDThose who have severe conditions that cannot be alleviated by CBD alone

Choosing between CBD isolates, broad-spectrum CBD, and full-spectrum CBD completely depends on which product will suit your needs best. Each CBD range has its own benefits and effects, so having a clear understanding about the different ranges is essential in choosing the best option for you.

You can have a look at the variety of CBD products available at Vaperite and Cannarite to start off and improve upon your CBD experience.

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