Full-Spectrum vs. Broad-Spectrum CBD - FOCL

Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum CBD

Navigating the world of CBD can be difficult, with all of the names, extraction processes, and types, it can get confusing! One commonly misunderstood aspect of CBD is the differences between full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD. 

From the label of any CBD product, you should be able to clearly identify if the product you are purchasing is full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate. And these monikers are an important distinction for getting you the results you want!

At the most basic level, CBD oil comes from the hemp plant. When it is extracted, it can be heavily purified to ensure only CBD is present, or can be extracted in a way that leaves other cannabinoids that are found naturally in the plant too. 


What is full spectrum CBD?

With full spectrum products, both the leaves and flowers are used in the extraction process to ensure the presence of every compound. So that means full spectrum CBD contains more than just CBD. 

Full spectrum means that the product you are buying contains many naturally occurring cannabinoids, alongside CBD. Full spectrum products have small amounts of THC (up to 0.3%), as well as all of the terpenes, flavonoids, and many cannabinoids found naturally in the plant. 

It’s called full spectrum because it is the fullest and most robust form of the hemp plant in an extract form. 


What is full spectrum CBD oil?

Full spectrum CBD oil is an extract that, like any full spectrum product, has all the naturally ocurring components of the cannabis or hemp plant, CBD being the predominant one. 

These oils are usually mixed in a carrier element like MCT oil.


What is full spectrum CBD used for?

Full spectrum CBD has many medical uses, with most cannabis advocates professing that it is probably the best for supporting stress and anxiety reduction, promoting better sleep, and pain reduction.

The efficacy of full spectrum CBD is linked to the entourage effect when all chemical compounds work together in harmony. 

It is hypothesized that chemical elements like proteins, fatty acids, fiber, and essential vitamins in full spectrum CBD oil enhance the entourage effect. 

Thus far, existing reports—anecdotal and empirical—suggest that full spectrum CBD oil may help with:

  • Pain relief
  • Skin health
  • Sleep disorders
  • High blood pressure 
  • Seizure treatment
  • Addiction treatment


What is broad spectrum CBD?  

Broad spectrum CBD product’s main claim to fame is that while they do indeed have a rich cannabinoid profile, they normally do not contain THC (or only trace amounts).

For some people, having no THC in their CBD product gives them peace of mind that there is no risk of experiencing psychoactive effects or of potentially failing a drug test. 

Another way to think of this is that broad spectrum CBD is basically just full spectrum extract that has had the THC removed. Broad spectrum CBD tends to be the most popular as it is believed to provide most of the intended benefits, without the use of THC. 


What is broad spectrum CBD oil?

Broad spectrum CBD oil is essentially a cannabis extract without THC in a carrier element like MCT oil.

Like full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD has most of the plant's naturally ocurring components like flavonoids, terpenes, and minor cannabinoids, with the exception of THC.

Most of the time, the components of a broad spectrum CBD oil change depending on the type of strain the oil was extacted from and the extraction process itself. 


What is broad spectrum CBD used for?

Since broad spectrum CBD oil contains pretty much all the other components of the hemp or cannabis plant that are not THC, this type of extract has many potential benefits.

Broad spectrum CBD oil can be used to manage anxiety, pain, heart problems, and skin conditions.

Since it does not contain THC, these types of CBD products may also be better for users with neuropathological conditions.


What's the difference between full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD?

Essentially, the key differences between the two types of CBD are the following:

THC content

This is the most well-known difference between them. Essentially, a broad spectrum extract is the same as a full spectrum one but without any THC. 

Some people can't or simply don't want any THC in their systems. For them, broad spectrum products are the perfect alternative as they have most of the beneficial components of the plant, which enhance the entourage effect and deliver more therapeutic properties without any risk of consuming THC.

Cannabis plant compounds

According to a 2012 study, the cannabis plant could have as many as 400+ distinct compounds. These include cannabinoids, lipids, flavonoids, and terpenes. However, the major compounds are cannabinoids or, strictly speaking, phytocannabinoids. 

Over 100 of these have been identified, but only a handful have been studied. These are:

  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – this is the most well-known and arguably the most famous cannabis compound. It's responsible for the "high" that results from consuming cannabis but also has pain-killing and analgesic properties.
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) – this is another hugely popular cannabis compound typically derived from hemp. This non-psychoactive compound is believed to have wide-ranging health benefits, most notably pain and anxiety relief. With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD exploded in popularity as its production and sale became legal.
  • Cannabigerol (CBG) – this little-known cannabinoid has been growing in popularity due to its potential health benefits. It's mostly regarded as antibacterial, a sleep aid, a blood pressure regulator, and an anti-inflammatory agent. 
  • Cannabinol (CBN) – another fast-rising cannabinoid, CBN is produced when THC is degraded, so it's primarily found in old cannabis. It's mildly psychoactive and shows potential for being an efficient anti-inflammatory agent. Research is ongoing on CBN's potential to treat diseases like epilepsy, glaucoma, osteoporosis, and nausea.
  • Cannabichromene (CBC) – this is the third-most abundant cannabinoid despite being quite rare. It has been studied as a potential tumor inhibitor, pain killer, and neuroprotectant. It's shown promise in treating irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's syndrome.

Cannabinoid and terpene content

Generally, the terpene content in cannabis extracts is lower than 2%, while the concentrations of cannabinoids are around 20%. 

Terpenes are highly volatile, so storage and processing methods contribute significantly to determining the terpene content in cannabis extract. 

Not much is known about the terpene differences in full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD. However, full spectrum CBD is known to contain all naturally occurring cannabis compounds, including THC.



What is CBD isolate?

CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD oil. It is extracted from hemp flower, with no leaves or other parts of the plant used. Unlike full or broad spectrum CBD oil, CBD isolate does not contain any other cannabinoids, terpenes or flavonoids, and is only CBD. 

However, even though CBD isolate is the “purest” form of CBD on the market, it is not regarded as the most popular option by CBD connoisseurs. And that has to do with something called the entourage effect. 


What is CBD isolate used for?

CBD isolate is an alternative to broad spectrum or full spectrum CBD. It has several health benefits, including relief from inflammation, pain, and anxiety reduction. 

Research on its ability to treat epilepsy is ongoing, and early evidence suggests CBD may improve seizure control in people with epilepsy.

The benefits of CBD isolate are more pronounced when combined with other cannabinoids. This is primarily attributed to the entourage effect. 


What is CBD entourage effect?

The entourage effect is thrown around frequently in the CBD world.

And while it sounds intimidating, the entourage effect is simply the idea that CBD works better when it is kept with other cannabinoids and terpenes that are found naturally in the hemp plant.

This is compared to when CBD is completely isolated from the other natural cannabinoids into its “purest” form. 

Let’s start with the basics. If you think of the word entourage, it refers to a group of people surrounding an important person. So if we translate that idea to CBD: CBD is the star of the show, and the surrounding posse is all the other cannabinoids. Hence, the entourage effect. 

Now you may be wondering – why would I want to buy CBD isolate if CBD works better when it is not isolated?

And to that question, there is some discrepancy, because the entourage effect is a theory. Because the entourage effect has not been widely researched enough to have any definitive proof of its efficacy, it remains an anecdotal idea widely regarded by the CBD community. 

Despite the lack of research, there is certainly validity to the entourage effect, as it is not just visible with cannabis, but also throughout the plant kingdom as a concept known as synergy.

Synergism is the idea that substances, when combined together, can create an effect more powerful than either substance individually. For example, this is why many supplements combine various plants into one capsule.

While valerian root may be a powerful sleep agent on it’s own, it may well have a synergistic effect when combined with something like CBD, which is known to promote relaxation. 

So why is the entourage effect so important (and disputed)? Because the benefit of the entourage effect is that it increases the therapeutic effect of your CBD product. So of course people want to know the best way to increase the likelihood of their CBD working!


How to get the entourage effect?

One way to think about this is like juicing your favorite fruits and vegetables. It’s commonly understood that in the process of juicing produce, some of the nutrients and fiber is lost.

So while the end product of juice is delicious and nutritious, it may be even better to just eat the fruits and vegetables to avoid losing any of those nutrients. 

The same applies to CBD. You can extract the CBD out of the hemp plant and have positive effects, but the more naturally occurring cannabinoids present in the end product may have even more powerful results.

And in the case of CBD, that could mean an even more prevalent sense of calm, relaxation, and pain relief!

Essentially, if you want to experience the entourage effect, try to use full spectrum products. If THC is not your thing, then a broad spectrum product might still experience some of its uplifting and mood enhancing effects.