Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, is the most common cannabinoid in the cannabis plant that has become hugely popular in recent years due to the numerous medical benefits that can theoretically be elicited without any of the psychoactive effects associated with other cannabinoids (like THC).
And while CBD’s popularity has undeniably soared as of late, many people remain confused about what different types of CBD products are available and what the differences between them are.
In this article, we break down the difference between two different types of CBD oil: CBD isolates and full-spectrum CBD.
CBD isolate is, put simply, practically pure CBD (often 99.9% pure) that’s separated through extraction from the rest of the cannabis plant’s constituents like terpenes, flavonoids and other cannabinoids.
While CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD you can get, with it being made up almost entirely of CBD alone, it may sometimes contain extremely small amounts of other cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes found in the cannabis plant.
CBD isolate may often come in a solid, crystallised form which is then usually ground into a fine powdery consistency which is easier to consume. However, again with the exponential interest in CBD expanding the market hugely, it is now quite common to find CBD isolate in edible, oil or capsular forms.
Reasons people may choose to use CBD isolate over full-spectrum CBD is because they are either trying to avoid the high associated with full spectrum oil that’s associated with its THC content, or because they may be fearful about the supposed psychoactive risks associated with THC. Through choosing a product with very little to no THC, the consumer completely removes or considerably lessens these risks.
Full-spectrum CBD on the other hand contains CBD as well as a number of other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids found naturally in the cannabis plant. This may, in some cases, include THC.
However, full-spectrum CBD oils still tend to contain very little THC and a comparatively high level of CBD and other cannabinoids in general, meaning the risk of psychoactive side effects are very low, particularly as CBD is thought to counteract the psychoactive effects of THC to some extent.
While many may choose not to take this form of CBD oil due to the risks presented by THC, many others may actively choose this full-spectrum product with health benefits in mind. This is because of the supposed ‘entourage effect’ experienced when using whole plant products. This theory, put forward in 1999 by scientist Raphael Mechoulam, suggests that cannabis may in fact be more effective when it’s in its natural state than when specific cannabinoids are singled out and used alone. With this in mind, many people choose to use this class of product as they believe that full-spectrum CBD will give them greater health benefits than isolated CBD possibly could.
For more information on CBD, THC and other cannabinoids and constituents of the cannabis plant, take a look at our evidence base, a ground-breaking systematic review of the history of research in this area and a global first-of-its-kind searchable database for clinical referencing.
The rest of our comprehensive resources on medical cannabis are available on our website. We urge anyone considering the use of medical cannabis products to consult with a trained medical professional prior to beginning use.