If you’ve been shopping around for CBD, you’ve probably noticed some products marketed as full-spectrum, and others as CBD isolate. In this article, we’ll take a look at the differences between full-spectrum and isolate CBD, and what this means for end consumers like you.

UNDERSTANDING THE CHEMISTRY OF CANNABIS

The cannabis plant contains 483 known compounds, around 60 or more of which are cannabinoids. CBD is just one of those compounds. And while a lot of research has gone into understanding cannabinoids like CBD and THC, there is still a lot we do not know about the cannabis plant and how it affects the human body.

FULL-SPECTRUM CBD VS. ISOLATE

Full-spectrum CBD is made with an extract that contains all or nearly all of the compounds naturally present in the cannabis plant. This obviously includes CBD, as well as other cannabinoids (CBN, CBC, and CBG to name just a few), terpenes, flavonoids, and much more.

CBD isolate, on the other hand, contains only CBD. CBD companies can achieve this either by isolating CBD from cannabis extract, or by making it artificially in a lab. One company, for example, is planning to produce cannabinoids from sugar.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES/DISADVANTAGES OF FULL-SPECTRUM AND ISOLATE CBD?

Both full-spectrum CBD and isolates have their pros and cons.

CBD isolate is especially popular among people who take large doses of CBD on a regular basis and are subject to random drug tests. Now, let’s be clear; most full-spectrum CBD products (including our entire CBD line) are made with hemp extract, which typically has extremely low THC concentrations (below 0.3%).

Now, these concentrations are very low and obviously can’t produce a psychoactive high. Unfortunately, these trace amounts of THC may show up on drug tests, more so in people who take large doses of CBD on a daily basis. CBD isolates, on the other hand, can be made completely THC-free, which can be reassuring to users who might be subject to drug tests.

So, where does that leave full-spectrum CBD? Well, because it contains all of the compounds found in cannabis, full-spectrum CBD is believed to have greater therapeutic potential than isolates. This has to do with the entourage effect.

Full Spectrum CBD Isolate

THE ENTOURAGE EFFECT: HOW CANNABINOIDS AND TERPENES INTERACT IN THE BODY

The entourage effect is a theory that claims that the compounds in cannabis can synergise in the body, producing unique effects. Now, some sources debate the validity of the entourage effect; however, there is solid research to suggest that cannabis’ distinct effects don’t simply come from the individual compounds it contains, but the way those compounds interact in the body.

Studies have shown, for example, that the CBD in cannabis can counteract some of the negative side effects of THC, such as anxiety. It’s believed that CBD can block some cannabinoid receptors, therefore blocking the effects of THC, which binds directly to these receptors.

Ethan Russo, a well-known cannabinoid researcher, has documented the entourage effect in the past. In an interview with Scientific American, Russo mentioned that as little as 5mg of pure THC is enough to cause psychosis-like symptoms in some people. When taken together with CBD, however, patients can take much higher doses (up to 48mg) of THC without these negative side effects.

Research also shows that full-spectrum CBD products tend to offer better relief from some symptoms than isolates. A study from the Lautenberg Center for General Tumor Immunology in Jerusalem compared full-spectrum CBD with isolates in the treatment of pain and inflammation. In all aspects of the study, full-spectrum CBD always came out on top.

For more evidence of the entourage effect, we can look to Marinol, a synthetic, FDA-approved version of THC prescribed for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. For a long time, cancer patients have found that THC-rich cannabis can help reduce the nausea and vomiting that often accompanies chemotherapy. Marinol, on the other hand, is much less effective than its natural counterpart, sometimes even causing nausea rather than reducing it.

It’s important to realise, however, that the entourage effect doesn’t just extend to THC and CBD. All of the components in cannabis can interact with each other and create unique effects, including terpenes. Some sources suggest, for example, that pinene can help reduce some of the cognitive impairment caused by THC. Meanwhile, pinene, myrcene, and caryophyllene have also been shown to reduce anxiety, which could enhance the anxiolytic effects of CBD.

Unfortunately, most of the research into cannabis has focussed heavily on the effects of THC and CBD. However, as more research starts to look into the many other compounds present in the cannabis plant, we’ll soon learn more about its endless potential.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR END CONSUMERS LIKE YOU?

If you’re looking to buy CBD and want to harness the full health potential of the cannabis plant, we highly recommend full-spectrum products. At RQS, our entire CBD line is made with full-spectrum CBD extract derived from organically grown European hemp. Plus, the extract is harnessed via CO₂ extraction, offering a clean, top-shelf final product.

Broad Spectrum

WHERE DOES BROAD-SPECTRUM CBD ENTER THE EQUATION?

So, we know that full-spectrum CBD extracts contain many different molecules from the cannabis plant including CBD, minor levels of THC, terpenes, chlorophyll, and waxes. We also know that CBD isolate is a much more refined type of extract that contains around 99% CBD in the form of crystals, alongside minor levels of terpenes. Although CBD isolate offers little in regards to the entourage effect, it offers higher doses of CBD and zero presence of THC.

But where do broad-spectrum extracts enter the equation? Broad spectrum extracts are similar to full-spectrum extracts in that they contain a variety of different molecules, offering users the benefits of the entourage effect. However, what sets broad-spectrum extracts apart is that they contain zero THC. This type of CBD extract is ideal for those looking for some significant terpene content whilst avoiding trace levels of THC that might be detectable in drug tests.

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