Whether it’s in the form of oil capsules, tinctures or edibles, CBD products are finally getting the recognition they deserve for the many health benefits they offer. And while it’s become a popular option for people seeking a natural alternative to a variety of ailments, parsing through the data can get challenging. If you’ve done any type of research at all you’ve probably come across terms like CBD isolate and Full Spectrum –and perhaps are unsure what it all means or more importantly how it relates to your individual buying options and decisions. The good news is that these concepts are fairly simple to grasp and once you do, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision on which products to buy.
To start with, what do terms like “Isolate”, “Full Spectrum”, “Pure CBD” or “Whole Plant” mean? Good question!
As the name suggests, a CBD isolate (also labeled “Pure CBD” or “CBD oil”) is a purified extract that has been separated from other cannabinoids, acids and chemicals found in the hemp plant. In this pure and isolated form it is extremely well tolerated and effective in helping with pain, inflammation, mood and general health.
There are several extraction methods but generally the CBD is extracted using some type of solvent (this can be a liquid solvent, CO2, or an oil solvent), then filtered, heated and then isolated and processed into a powder. Isolate products such as these are usually 99% CBD and deliver the most amount of CBD to your system at once.
Initially it was thought that CBD isolates were more potent and effective on the whole but recent discoveries have shown that this may not be the case. While CBD isolate packs a potent punch and remains the preferred treatment for many patients, many now believe that the pairing of the cannabinoids and terpenes (Full Spectrum) offers the most benefits of all.
Unlike the CBD isolate that’s been stripped of everything, a full-spectrum product contains all the therapeutic compounds cannabis has to offer; this include terpenes and other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN and even some THC. Usually these will be in naturally occurring ratios and extracted from the plant and specific strain. This is where a multitude of flavonoids and polyphenols, which are vital micro nutrients, work together in synergy—the advantage of something called the entourage effect. For a large majority of average users, this high quality spectrum CBD oil will be the better and more efficient option.
In a 2015 study done at the Lautenberg Center for General Tumor Immunology in Jerusalem, research showed that in mice, CBD was much more effective when used along other compounds of the cannabis plant. Although they haven’t figured out exactly why, a full-spectrum CBD oil proved more effective at treating a majority of medical conditions than its isolated counterpart. The study concluded that CBD isolate becomes less effective over time, while the Full Spectrum continues its effectiveness. It was also concluded that a CBD isolate is only as effective as its dose, while the Full Spectrum extract continues its effectiveness as the dosage increases.
So why isolate molecules from this incredible plant in the first place? Great question. The answer is that CBD isolate is not only very effective on its own but also offers some convenient benefits. For instance, CBD isolate is easily measured so it lends itself well to mixing with oils or baking into edibles. Since it offers a high degree of control and is usually tasteless, it’s the preferred choice for flavored products. Another advantage to products labeled as isolate is the fact that since nothing but CBD is in them, those who may be drug tested need not worry. When looking at an isolate product, one thing to keep in mind is the purity standard. While many products are in the 99.9% range with no identifiable amounts of THC, there are lower purity ones that may still have trace amounts that can show up in lab tests. This small amount is typically negligible and is nowhere near the amounts found in Full Spectrum products, but it is still something to be aware of for those seeking the purest form.
While some people find they respond better to an isolate—others appreciate the benefits of full-spectrum products– with over 100+ Cannabinoids and 100+ Terpenes, the possible combinations and blends are potentially endless! Still others prefer to use both the full plant extracts and isolates concurrently. Figuring out the best option for you will take a little time so be patient. Since everyone is different, trying out both will give you an idea of how each feels for you as an individual.