Deciphering the differences between CBD products.
CBD is everywhere these days, in health food stores, gas stations, grocery stores, spas, and even in your neighborhood coffee shop. It seems as though there are new brands and companies popping up every day, eager to get involved with this new and exciting industry. While the government is still determining the rules and regulations for CBD products, there remains much grey area and little enforcement or oversight around proper labeling. This can lead to confusion, indecision, and lack of clarity for CBD consumers.
With a new industry comes a new taxonomy, so that both the industry and its consumers agree on a common language to describe different kinds of products. However, many brands are rushing into the market without making sure that the information on their label is accurate and easily understood. So, how do you know what to look for? This article will demystify three terms used to classify the cannabinoid spectrum of a product: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate.
Full Spectrum: a full spectrum product contains the same profile of plant compounds that the whole plant contains. This includes terpenes, flavonoids, and of course, cannabinoids – including trace amounts of THC. Federal law states that a ‘hemp-derived’ CBD plant or product may contain no more than 0.3% THC, otherwise it’s ‘marijuana’. THC is the compound in cannabis that produces a ‘high’ or an intoxicating effect, but in such minute quantities, a hemp-derived CBD product wouldn’t ever make someone feel high.
Broad Spectrum: this means that a product contains mostly the same profile as the whole plant but without the THC. Through an extraction/remediation process, the THC is targeted and removed. The result is an extract that contains CBD and other minor compounds, (some of which may be lost in the THC-removal process), but no THC.
Isolate: CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD. It contains no other minor cannabinoids, terpenes, or other plant compounds, and consists of only single-molecule cannabidiol in the form of a white, crystalline powder.
There is a variety of pros and cons that would lead a consumer to choose one of these types of products over another. People who are sensitive to THC, or people who get drug tested regularly, would want to choose a broad-spectrum or isolate-based product to avoid the risk of a positive test. If a drug test is looking for just the presence of THC, it is unlikely, but possible, that even the trace amounts present in a full spectrum product could result in a positive drug test.
Dosing consistency is easier to achieve with an isolate-based product since it is only one type of molecule. With a broad or full-spectrum product, there will be slight variances in composition due to mother nature. With a single isolated molecule, this is more easily controlled. Also, isolate-based products typically have no taste or odor associated with the CBD itself. Broad and full-spectrum products will have a natural hemp taste and odor described as earthy, nutty, grassy, etc. Many people find this pleasant, but some prefer no taste.
The most important factor when choosing between these product categories, however, is the way that they function in the body. The ‘entourage effect’ is a term used to describe the synergistic effect of full and broad-spectrum compounds – they work better together in synergy than they do in isolation. CBD works better in the body when it is accompanied by trace THC and other minor cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, etc. The broader the profile of compounds, the greater the entourage effect. This effect is absent with CBD isolate, which some studies show has a narrow dosing window – too much or too little and it won’t be as effective. With a single molecule substance, like a pharmaceutical drug, there is a greater propensity for side effects and tolerance – which are mitigated and modulated by the entourage effect in a broader spectrum product.
It’s important to understand not only the differences between these classifications but also the pros and cons of each. We hope that after reading this article, you feel educated and empowered to choose the right type of CBD extract for your body or your business.