The CBD world holds more options than ever. Gone are the days when a single crude hemp extract was the consumer’s only option. Today three different types of CBD are available – so which CBD is right for you?
And while it used to require some trial and error to figure out which of these 3 was best for you…we’re here to make that process easier. In this article, we’ll be going over the 3 main types of CBD:
- CBD Isolate
- Broad Spectrum CBD
- Full Spectrum CBD
We’ll take a look at their pros, cons, and what the research says…before getting into dosing and how to make each type of CBD work best. This is important information whether you prefer CBD oils, pills, gummies or topicals. It’s going to be an info-packed ride!
What is CBD Isolate?
CBD isolate is the simplest type of CBD there is. As its name implies, CBD isolate is pure CBD.
Unlike other types of CBD, CBD isolate has been ‘stripped’ of hemp’s natural oils. For that reason it’s no longer an oil at all — instead, CBD isolate takes the form of fine white powder/crystals.
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Which Type of CBD is Right For You: The Benefits of CBD Isolate
On the plus side, CBD isolate has been extensively studied. Most pharmaceutical companies favor single-compound substances over more complex ones, meaning CBD isolate has been a favorite tool of cannabis and hemp researchers.
The Downsides of CBD Isolate
One of CBD isolate’s biggest downsides is all of the things it’s missing. This type of CBD is entirely free from hemp’s other active ingredients, including:
- Other cannabinoids (including the trace THC hemp naturally contains)
- And more
- And more
- Cannflavin A
- Cannflavin B
When it comes to hemp, there’s a lot going on — that much is clear. But because CBD isolate misses out on most of these plant compounds, it isn’t able to harness the full force of hemp’s power.
In other words, CBD isolate may not harness the entourage effect that comes when hemp’s most important compounds work together (more on this effect later). And that means CBD isolate isn’t quite as potent per milligram as other forms of CBD. It may not be ideal for those with chronic pain or sleep problems as some of CBD’s other forms. So is isolate CBD right for you?
So…who does CBD isolate work best for? New CBD users who wish to avoid the stigmas of THC, for one. Users with anxiety also love CBD isolate. Many of them find that microdosing with just a few milligrams of CBD isolate throughout the day is enough to feel noticeably calmer and more peaceful.
Which Type of CBD is Right For You: What is Broad Spectrum CBD?
If CBD isolate can be thought of as containing none of hemp’s major plant compounds, except for one…
…then broad spectrum CBD can be thought of as containing all of hemp’s plant major plant compounds, except for one: THC
Simple enough, right? Broad spectrum CBD contains all 3 categories of compounds listed above — cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. It just doesn’t contain any THC.
The Benefits of Broad Spectrum CBD
Broad spectrum CBD gets pretty close to being the best of both worlds. Because it doesn’t contain any THC, there’s very little risk of users testing positive on a drug test. The stigma that’s stuck to THC in some areas of the country also ceases to be a problem here.
And broad spectrum CBD is still very effective. It seems to harness most of hemp’s entourage effect, even without containing any THC. Some users have reported relief from inflammatory conditions, aches and pains, sleep problems, and more.
Finally, broad spectrum CBD products are highly refined. Because the process of removing their THC component is complex, these products may be subject to more lab testing and higher quality standards than other CBD products. All in all, broad spectrum CBD is great for both physical health and peace of mind.
The Downsides of Broad Spectrum CBD
There aren’t many drawbacks to broad spectrum CBD. If anything, it hasn’t been as well studied as other types of hemp extracts. We think it engages the entourage effect, and customers seem to experience this, too…but we simply don’t know. Expect more scientific research to bring clarity in the future.
Which Type of CBD is Right For You: What is Full Spectrum CBD?
Full spectrum CBD is a type of CBD oil/extract that contains the fullness of hemp’s most active ingredients. It’s common for full spectrum CBD to contain dozens of special plant compounds, including the following:
- Cannabinoids (including the trace THC hemp naturally contains)
- And more
- And more
- Cannflavin A
- Cannflavin B
What does all this plant goodness mean for you? Let’s find out!
The Benefits of Full Spectrum CBD
To put it simply, full spectrum CBD is effective. A 2015 study out of Israel estimated it to be four times more effective per milligram than CBD isolate, for example. It seems to harness the full power of hemp’s entourage effect, in turn helping cannabinoids like CBD and THC work better. Is Full Spectrum CBD right for you? Let’s find out.
Because all of the compounds in full spectrum CBD seem to balance each other out, this type of hemp extract is also easier to dose. There’s little downside to taking more full spectrum CBD than your body actually needs; there are virtually no ‘diminishing returns.’ The Israeli research team put it this way:
“[The extract] provided a clear correlation between the anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive responses and the dose, with increasing responses upon increasing doses, which makes this plant medicine ideal for clinical uses.”
That’s not the case with CBD isolate, where “healing was only observed when CBD was given within a very limited dose range, whereas no beneficial effect was achieved at either lower or higher doses,” according to the above studies authors.
The Downsides of Full Spectrum CBD
Full spectrum CBD products may not actually contain every cannabinoid, terpene, and flavonoid hemp does. That’s simply because extraction technology isn’t advanced enough to capture everything yet.
And because full spectrum CBD does contain a trace amount of THC (.3% or less), it may not be ideal for some groups. Those who undergo frequent drug test may prefer a THC-free option.
Still, keep in mind that .3% is not nearly enough to get anyone ‘high’! Most people who take full spectrum CBD find it subtly uplifting — nothing more, nothing less.
Hopefully this breakdown helps you figure out which type of CBD is right for you.
Joseph has been writing and editing for a wide variety of publications over the last decade. His most notable roles were at Playboy, where he helped relaunch the iconic brand’s digital arm and Civilized — where he has written extensively about all aspects of CBD.