Whether you’re new to the CBD movement or if it’s already part of your healthy lifestyle routine, you may be running into terms like full spectrum hemp extract, broad spectrum hemp extract and CBD isolate. You can get CBD in various forms including topical lotions, capsules, tinctures, gummies, and vape products. You can even find CBD cookies, lollipops, coffee, and beer! Typically, you’ll find a reference to full or broad spectrum or CBD isolate in the product’s marketing materials. Here’s what makes the distinction between these types of extracts so important.
Full Spectrum Hemp Extract
Full spectrum hemp extract is pure oil that is extracted from the hemp plant and contains the dozens of cannabinoids and hundreds of compounds found in the original hemp plant. Sometimes full spectrum is also referred to as “Whole Plant” or “Full Plant” extract. These products have all the vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, proteins, flavonoids, and terpenes you find in a hemp plant with CBD being one of the most abundant cannabinoids. Other cannabinoids found in full spectrum include cannabigerol (CBG), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and cannabinol (CBN). All of these cannabinoids work with the terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids to create what’s called the entourage effect where all the ingredients work together to deliver a combined benefit. Full spectrum works from the idea that the whole plant is greater than the sum of its parts and it works directly with the human body’s endocannabinoid system.
Most full spectrum hemp extracts are extracted from low-THC industrial hemp and only contain .3% THC. Products containing levels this low will not produce a high.
Isolate products use an extraction method to isolate just the CBD molecule from the hemp plant matter, THC, oils, terpenes, and more. This results in a product that is 99.9% ultra pure CBD. Isolates are usually in the form of a white powder and are mixed with other ingredients to create products such as balms, topicals, and other skin-care related items.
Broad Spectrum Hemp Extract
Broad spectrum hemp extracts are very similar to full spectrum extracts except they typically have the THC molecule removed. This is an excellent fit for people who can benefit from CBD but have to take drug tests or cannot use full spectrum products for other reasons.
Broad spectrum is typically made in two ways. When made from full spectrum hemp the THC is removed with a CO2 extraction process to acquire crude oil. Then the oil goes through an HPLC (High Proprietary Liquid Chromatography) extraction process which removes THC while keeping all other essential components in place. This transforms the oil from full spectrum extract to broad spectrum extract. Broad spectrum can also be made from CBD isolate with the other compounds added back in.
Which hemp extract should you choose?
It depends on what you need. Research shows full spectrum hemp is more effective than isolates for treating inflammatory-related conditions thanks to the entourage effect. But, products containing THC are not a good fit for everyone. Broad spectrum products contain all of the benefits of full spectrum hemp extracts without the THC and are a better fit if you need to pass a drug test. Isolates are a great option if you want to mix CBD into other products such as bath bombs, topical lotions, and with other oils.
Gallily, R., Yekhtin, Z., Hanus, L.O. (2015). Overcoming the Bell-Shaped Dose-Response of Cannabidiol by Using Cannabis Extract Enriched in Cannabidiol. Pharmacology & Pharmacy. Retrieved from http://file.scirp.org/pdf/PP_2015021016351567.pdf