Full-Spectrum CBD Oil vs. CBD Isolate

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In this article, we’ll talk about what the terms’ CBD isolate’ and ‘CBD full-spectrum” mean.

CBD oil is one of the fastest-rising industries in North America (and not to mention the globe) in the last few decades. Because of this, it can be a minefield for inexperienced customers.

To avoid any confusion in the buying process, we break down what CBD oil is, how it works, and how it’s made.

What Is CBD and How Is It Made?

CBD is an active chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. CBD doesn’t get you “high.” This is a huge reason it’s become so popular, unlike regular cannabis, which typically contains high levels of THC.

It’s important to distinguish between the terms “hemp,” “marijuana,” and “cannabis”. Cannabis is an umbrella term that includes both hemp and marijuana plants. Cannabis sativa is actually the scientific name of the cannabis plant (Cannabis = genus; sativa = species).

The Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana

Hemp and marijuana are two different varieties of cannabis. You could refer to both marijuana and hemp plants as “cannabis” plants. However, you would not, for instance, refer to a “marijuana” plant as a “hemp” plant.

cbd isolate vs full spectrum

The key difference between hemp and marijuana is that hemp is bred to contain practically zero THC. To be classified as industrial hemp, a plant must contain less than 0.3% THC by volume. This definition is important because it’s the sole reason hemp products are allowed to be bought and sold in many states.

CBD oils, edibles, and many other products come from hemp. This is why the CBD industry is seeing such a monstrous spike in popularity. In other words, these products cause no psychoactive effects, which allows almost anyone to get online and order CBD straight to their doorstep.

If you’re trying to keep track of all this, just remember the following:

  • Marijuana mostly contains both THC and CBD; it gets you high, and, depending on the state you live in, it is illegal.
  • Hemp contains minor amounts of THC (less than 0.3% in the US).
  • Hemp contains other cannabinoids; one of them is CBD.
  • Both hemp and marijuana plants fall under the larger umbrella term of “cannabis” plants.

Extracting CBD

There are a few methods that can be used to extract CBD. The most popular one involves running harsh chemicals like butane (lighter fluid) or hexane over the raw plant material. This process often leaves trace amounts of carcinogenic compounds (like formaldehyde) in the end-product.

While many manufacturers still use this method, most are switching over to the CO2 extraction process. This technique is much cleaner and is believed to be healthier.

Cold ethanol extraction is considered another good option, but it’s unclear how much safer this technique is than actual butane extraction.

In any regard, the exact extraction process determines whether the active CBD compound is removed from the plant as an isolate or as a full-spectrum oil.

Full-spectrum oils are subjected to fewer filtration processes than isolates. This means they still contain a blend of hemp’s natural phytonutrients, including;

  • Cannabinoids
  • Terpenes
  • Flavonoids

On the other hand, isolates are intensively filtered during the manufacturing phase. That’s why they only contain one cannabinoid; CBD.

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CBD Isolate vs. Full-Spectrum Oil: A General Comparison

A CBD isolate is exactly what it sounds like; pure, isolated CBD compound, all by itself. It commonly exists as a white-ish powder and contains no other active compounds.


It was initially believed that pure CBD was the “gold standard” of non-psychoactive cannabis therapy, but recently people have become more interested in full-spectrum products.

Full-spectrum oils contain a range of natural cannabinoids, including CBD, CBG, and CBL.

Full-spectrum oil, on the other hand, contains other active plant compounds in addition to CBD. This includes other cannabinoids such as CBN, CBL, and CBCVA, as well as aromatic cannabis terpenes like pinene and limonene.

So other than the presence of cannabis compounds, what’s the difference between full-spectrum CBD oil and CBD isolate? How do you know which one you need?

How to Choose Between Full-Spectrum CBD Oil and CBD Isolate

When it comes to choosing between a CBD isolate or a full-spectrum product, you’ll find unwavering enthusiasts on both sides of the fence.

what is cbd isolate

Full-spectrum products are great if you:

  • Want to benefit from the entourage effect (more on that below).
  • Prefer a less-refined product that resembles hemp’s natural makeup.
  • Want to consume a blend of terpenes and cannabinoids; some people even argue they have unique therapeutic effects.
  • Want a greater choice of products.
  • Are on a smaller budget.

However, CBD isolate can also be useful if you:

  • Want to consume zero THC, possibly because of an upcoming drug test.
  • Want to have greater control over potency.
  • Only believe in the therapeutic value of CBD.
  • Enjoy crafting your own DIY hemp products.

What Is the Entourage Effect?

The entourage effect is the idea that hemp is more effective when it contains greater compound diversity rather than less. In other words, it suggests that the unique fusion of full-spectrum products can produce major benefits.

In 2015, researchers out of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology investigated the “entourage effect.”

The research showed that in mice, CBD was much more effective when used along with other compounds of the cannabis plant than when used alone. While they haven’t yet figured out why exactly this is the case, many people are fully committed to only buying full-spectrum.

However, both isolates and full-spectrum are used when it comes to conditions like anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. In essence, it’s largely a personal preference.

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Final Notes: CBD Isolate vs. Full-Spectrum Oil

CBD isolate has a very relevant place in the cannabis marketplace today. For instance, many people use it to concoct their own personal daily CBD remedies – they mix the pure powder with oil, add it to their coffee, or make edibles out of it.

However, it’s much more common to find full-spectrum options on online marketplaces and in retail stores. It seems that many customers are convinced by the benefits of the entourage effect.

It’s still important to conduct plenty of research and find a reliable CBD manufacturer before spending money on any old product. Since the market is still unregulated by the FDA, there are many phony companies out there that are selling completely bogus products.

We recommend only using oils from reliable companies with a proven track record. You can even find some below!

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