CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum CBD Explained


When shopping for CBD, you’ve probably come across products labeled as full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate.

While the three terms may sound similar, they are far from the same.

So, what do they mean, and how are they different?

In a nutshell, they are used to define which type of CBD is used in a product. Each class presents essential factors to consider, and understanding the difference is critical for every CBD user.

In this article, we’re going to shed some light on this critical subject by explaining that difference and discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each.


CBD Isolate is a pure form of CBD with no other cannabinoids present. It’s often used to make Delta 8 products and CBD tinctures or edibles.

Full Spectrum CBD is CBD with 0.3% THC or less left in the tincture.

Broad Spectrum CBD is CBD that has had the THC wholly removed.

What Are Cannabinoids, and Why Do They Matter

Within the Cannabis plant, there is a classification of compounds known as cannabinoids.

Among these are CBD and THC, along with over a hundred others that scientists have discovered naturally occurring within different Cannabis strains.

Cannabinoids Spectrums of CBD

Now, Here’s Why These are Super Important

In 1995, researchers discovered that, by interacting with receptors in the human.

Endocannabinoid System (ECS), cannabinoids like CBD could deliver unique health benefits to the body.

Later, they discovered that each cannabinoid could affect the body differently.

For example, while THC delivers the psychoactive effects of “getting high,” CBD does not. In fact, CBD can actually counteract the psychoactive effects of THC.

With various ranges of effects delivered by other cannabinoids like Cannabigerol (CBG) and Cannabinol (CBN), the complete collection of cannabinoids forms what is referred to as the “cannabinoid spectrum.

Exploring the Cannabinoid Spectrum

As you’ve probably figured out, the cannabinoid spectrum range within a product determines whether the product is full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate.

So, how does that work exactly?

To create a CBD product, the cannabinoid content is extracted from the Cannabis plant using methods such as CO2 extraction.

Other compounds found within the plant are also extracted during this process, including terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids.

Depending on the strain and classification used for extraction, the composition and cannabinoid profile will differ.

For instance: Hemp, which is a classification of Cannabis Sativa, contains little to no THC, compared to the Cannabis Indica strain, Pennywise, which includes a 1:1 CBD to THC content ratio.

Depending on the purpose of the end-product, companies will choose to extract from a strain of Cannabis that best suits their needs.

Once extracted, the company can refine the extract to contain only specific cannabinoids and plant pants.

The refined extract’s contents determine if the CBD extract is full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate.

Now let’s discuss what each term means and help point you in the best direction for you.

What is CBD Isolate?

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In scientific terms, an isolate is the purest form of a compound produced by singularly extracting that compound from its environment and isolating it from all other combinations.

With that being said, CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD. Its produced by removing all other compounds found in the plant, including terpenes, flavonoids, plant parts, and other cannabinoids.

CBD Isolate is typically extracted from Hemp due to its low to non-existent THC content.

What is Full Spectrum CBD?

Full spectrum CBD is an extract that contains all compounds found naturally occurring in the plant, including terpenes, essential oils, and other cannabinoids.

The full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils extracted from the plant work together to magnify the therapeutic benefits of each individual cannabinoid. This is commonly referred to as the “entourage effect”.

It was previously believed that CBD was more potent and concentrated than full spectrum CBD in its isolated form. However, in 2015, the theory was debunked by a study from the Lautenberg Center for General Tumor Immunology in Jerusalem.

In the study:

Researchers administered full spectrum CBD and CBD isolate to two different groups of mice. When comparing the data of the two groups, the results proved that the group administered with full spectrum CBD was provided with higher levels of relief. Furthermore, the study demonstrated that full spectrum CBD provided relief as the dose increased, while CBD

Isolate did not provide the same effect when there was an increase in dosage.

While there is definitely a more comprehensive range of full spectrum CBD benefits than CBD isolate benefits, it does not discredit the effectiveness of CBD Isolate. There are many situations when CBD isolate would be preferred over Full Spectrum CBD.

What is Broad Spectrum CBD?

Broad spectrum CBD is a mix between Full Spectrum CBD and CBD Isolate.

Like Full Spectrum CBD, the other compounds found within the plant are preserved in the extract; however, like CBD Isolate, THC is completely removed.

Because Broad Spectrum CBD contains multiple cannabinoids, it can deliver the enhanced benefits of the entourage effect without the risk of psychoactive effects of THC.

Spectrums of CBD

What Type of CBD Should You Use?

Now that you have a general understanding of each type of CBD, you’re probably wondering why someone would prefer one over the other. More importantly, which type you should choose.

First of all, either of the types isn’t better than the others.

Every individual has different needs, which determines which type of CBD is best suited for their unique conditions.

To help point you in the right direction, I’ve put together some of the pros and cons of each type, along with situations each would typically be best for.

For example:

You may not necessarily need the full capabilities of Full Spectrum CBD or if you aren’t legally allowed to use THC. It is also important to note that other cannabinoids may cause adverse reactions when isolated CBD wouldn’t (if the condition you are suffering from is critical, we definitely advise you to speak to a medical consultant before trying out any version of CBD).

CBD Isolate

The purest form of CBD, all other plant compounds and cannabinoids have been completely removed.

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  • Purest Form of CBD
  • No Risk of Psychoactive Effects
  • Generally Considered to Be Safe
  • Tasteless and Odorless
  • Will not test positive for THC*


  • Does not deliver the enhanced benefits of the entire Cannabis plant

Best For

  • Individuals who were recommended to specifically take high doses of CBD
  • Individuals with sensitivity to THC or other cannabinoids
  • Individuals who regularly undergo drug screening tests
  • Individuals who prefer light flavors or no flavor
  • Individuals living in states that have strict THC-laws
  • First-time users that may be hesitant about other cannabinoids

Full Spectrum CBD

CBD has been extracted from the cannabis plant and all other compounds and cannabinoids.

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  • Offers the full benefits of the Cannabis plant (Entourage Effect)
  • Undergoes fewer processes


  • May have psychoactive, sedative, and other possibly unwanted side-effects
  • May show up on drug tests
  • THC-content may cause legal complications
  • It May have a strong natural flavor and odor

Best For

  • Individuals who were recommended a specific THC: CBD ratio
  • Individuals with more severe conditions or conditions that CBD isolate and Broad Spectrum could not alleviate
  • Individuals living in states where Cannabis is legal

Broad Spectrum CBD

CBD has been extracted from the cannabis plant and all other compounds and cannabinoids, except THC.

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  • Offers the full benefits of the Cannabis plant (Entourage Effect)
  • No-Risk of Psychoactive Effects


  • Less Research and Availability
  • It May have a strong, natural flavor and odor

Best For

  • Individuals with conditions that CBD isolate alone could not alleviate
  • Individuals with sensitivity to THC
  • Individuals living in states that have strict THC-laws
  • First-time users that are hesitant about THC


Question: What is the Best CBD for me?

Answer: The best type of CBD will depend on your needs. I’m partial to full spectrum CBD because I feel the most benefits. But broad spectrum and isolate also have their places depending on what you need. Broad spectrum is a safe choice for those who have to pass regular drug tests and want to be on the safe side.

Question: What Kind of CBD Products can I Buy?

Answer: There are so many CBD products on the shelf. CBD isolate is typically a powdery substance. While broad spectrum and full spectrum come in forms like edibles, vapes, oil, tinctures, sprays, and even topically as lotions.

Question: Will CBD Show up on a Drug Test?

Answer: That depends, broad spectrum and CBD isolate won’t show up on a drug test because they don’t contain any THC. While full spectrum may or may not show up due to its low amount of THC. If you take full spectrum, it’s best to assume it will.

Final Thoughts on the Different CBD Spectrums

In closing, I want to reiterate that none of these types are better than the other.

Many factors determine how a cannabinoid will impact the body, such as the individual’s chemical makeup, weight, and history with other substances.

For some, Broad Spectrum CBD may be the best choice as it delivers the full benefits of the Cannabis plant without the psychoactive effects of THC. For others, a high dosage of pure CBD isolate may do the trick, and others may need the benefits that only THC can provide.

Research into the effectiveness of each spectrum at the individual level is still in its early stages, so it may take some time and experimenting to figure out which is best for you.

As researchers continue to learn more about this compound, it may serve as a vital component in the future of medicine. With dozens of health benefits already revealed in existing studies, cannabinoids like CBD have the potential to impact the lives of countless individuals.

A brighter, healthier, more natural future could be right around the corner with continued research!

Thank you for joining us today, and I genuinely hope you enjoyed this article and it helped shed some light on a confusing subject. We take great pleasure in what we do, and it’s an honor to serve the community!

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions on how we can improve this article, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below!