There are over 100 cannabinoids in hemp, and in addition to these, there are also variants of the same cannabinoid. It can be confusing!
In this article, we’ll be discussing two variants of CBD: isolate and full-spectrum. What makes them different, and which one should you pick?
In short, CBD isolate is a type of extract consisting solely of CBD, while full-spectrum CBD contains other cannabinoids (including THC) in addition to CBD, as well as terpenes and flavonoids. Generally speaking, full-spectrum CBD is the most effective, but CBD isolate is a better choice if you have to undergo drug testing and need to avoid THC.
However, there’s more to know — let’s dive in.
CBD Terminology: A Brief Review
Before we dive into the comparison, knowing these CBD-related terms can make understanding the difference between CBD isolate and full-spectrum easier:
Endocannabinoid system: a transmitter system in the bodies of humans and vertebrate animals that’s responsible for keeping the body in a state of homeostasis, or balance.
Cannabinoids: a class of compounds found in the hemp plant that bind to, or interact with, the endocannabinoid system in various ways. Examples of cannabinoids are THC and CBD.
Terpenes: a class of compounds found in the hemp plant that are separate from cannabinoids.
Flavonoids: a class of metabolites (substances made when food is broken down) found in the hemp plant, different from both cannabinoids and terpenes.
Entourage effect: an idea that says the various compounds of the hemp plant render more benefit when used together; the sum of them is greater than their parts.
What is CBD Isolate?
CBD isolate is a type of hemp extract consisting solely of CBD. Normally, CBD is bound up in hemp with other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. When CBD isolate is made, these other components are filtered out.
What is Full Spectrum CBD?
Full-spectrum CBD is a type of hemp extract featuring CBD along with secondary cannabinoids in small amounts (including THC), terpenes, and flavonoids. In addition to CBD, full-spectrum extracts feature CBG, CBC, CBN, THC, and other cannabinoids.
The Benefits of CBD Isolate vs. Full-Spectrum CBD: Are they Different?
Even though CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD are different in terms of their makeup, they both have the same benefits. However, because of the entourage effect, full-spectrum CBD renders these benefits to a greater degree than CBD isolate.
That being said, here are the main benefits of CBD:
- Pain – Scientific research has examined CBD’s powerful supportive effects for those dealing with various types of pain, and anecdotal evidence suggests it has benefits in these situations, too. However, CBD is not a treatment for pain.
- Sleep – CBD is a powerful natural alternative for supporting restful sleep because it can help you relax without getting you high. Many of our customers report that CBD helps them get to sleep sooner and stay asleep longer.
- Stress & Anxiety – CBD’s relaxing effects mean it can boost mental calming and clarity during stress and anxiety.
- Inflammation – Research and anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD can promote a healthy inflammatory response. Because of this, it’s often used for everything from heart health to gout.
- Epilepsy – CBD is FDA-approved for treating some forms of epileptic seizure in the form of a prescription called Epidiolex, which consists of CBD isolate.
Get the benefits of CBD without the THC. Discover our carefully formulated, lab-tested CBD isolate products.
The Side Effects of CBD Isolate vs. Full Spectrum: Are they Different?
Based on what we know, the types of side effects you’ll get from full-spectrum versus isolate don’t differ. However, they may occur more intensely if you take full-spectrum CBD because there is simply more that contributes to the experience (both good and bad).
That said, here are the most common side effects of CBD:
- Dry mouth
- Reduced appetite
CBD Isolate vs. Full-Spectrum: Upsides and Downsides
If the benefits and side effects of both CBD isolate and full-spectrum are fairly similar, why is there even a comparison?
The reason is that there are some major differences between isolate and full-spectrum blends, but they don’t pertain to the range of benefits or side effects that each type of CBD gives.
Upsides & Downsides of CBD Isolate
CBD isolate contains no THC, nor does it contain other cannabinoids or terpenes. Because of this, it has two major upsides:
- It won’t show up on a drug test.
- It’s a great option for those just starting to use CBD, as it offers a controlled experience (i.e. you won’t need to wonder about how you’ll react to the other cannabinoids).
However, because CBD isolate, as its name implies, isolates CBD from all the other beneficial compounds in the hemp plant, it doesn’t provide the same level of benefit as full-spectrum CBD does. Therefore, you’ll find full-spectrum CBD to be more effective for many conditions or uses.
Upsides & Downsides of Full-Spectrum CBD
Since full-spectrum CBD contains the entire array of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that naturally occur in hemp, it can render the benefits of hemp in the most natural — and powerful — way possible.
Furthermore, there isn’t enough THC in full-spectrum CBD to cause a high, so you’re still able to experience the benefits of CBD without the psychoactive element.
The main downside of full-spectrum CBD is that it will show up on a drug test because of the THC. This means that if you’re regularly tested at work or for other reasons, you’d have to go with something other than full-spectrum CBD.
CBD Isolate vs. Full Spectrum for Anxiety, Depression, Inflammation, and Sleep
You just learned about the upsides and downsides of CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD in a broad sense, but how do these two types of CBD compare for specific uses?
Anxiety & Depression
CBD works for anxiety and depression by rendering mental relaxation. Full-spectrum CBD offers a deeper and fuller relaxing experience than CBD isolate does because it also contains cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN, CBC, and THC, all of which have benefits for mental health.
Full-spectrum CBD is likely more beneficial for inflammation than CBD isolate because it contains THC and CBG, two cannabinoids that science has demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory effects.
Because full-spectrum CBD contains THC, which has calming and sedating effects, and pro-relaxation terpenes, it provides better sleep support than CBD isolate does.
When is CBD Isolate the Better Option?
By now, you may be wondering “if full-spectrum CBD is better for these major uses, why is CBD isolate even a thing?”
The main reason is drug testing. Lots of people want to experience the benefits of hemp, but they can’t because their CBD will get flagged on a drug test for THC content. Unfortunately, drug tests can’t tell where THC comes from or if it’s legal — they just know that you have THC in your system.
In these types of cases, CBD isolate allows people to experience similar benefits as full-spectrum CBD gives, but without needing to worry about the THC. In other words, CBD isolate gives you peace of mind.
A Third Option: Broad Spectrum CBD
Though this article is about CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD, there is a third main type of CBD to be aware of: broad-spectrum CBD. Essentially, it’s the same as full-spectrum, but with the THC removed. It offers a drug-test-friendly option, while still retaining other cannabinoids and terpenes.
If drug testing is the only thing holding you back from using full-spectrum CBD, we’d recommend broad-spectrum CBD over CBD isolate. However, if you’d be more comfortable just taking CBD, isolate is the way to go.
CBD Isolate & Full Spectrum CBD Buying Tips
No matter which type of CBD you end up choosing, it’s important to know how to shop for CBD products. Since the CBD market is largely unregulated, there are a great deal of ineffective and mislabeled products out there. To make sure you get the good stuff, follow these tips:
- Check lab reports — check 3rd-party lab reports for the product you’re going to buy to verify quality. In particular, ensure that the levels of different cannabinoids and terpenes are comparable to what is claimed on the packaging. And if you can’t find a 3rd-party lab report for a product, don’t buy it.
- Read reviews — anyone can say anything about their own products, but real people are the final arbiters. If the product you’re looking to buy isn’t well-reviewed, take other people’s word for it and don’t buy it.
- Know the difference — by reading this article, you’re making yourself an educated consumer. If you know the difference between CBD isolate, full-spectrum CBD, and broad-spectrum CBD, you’ll know the right product to get for your situation.
Shop CBD Isolate & Full Spectrum CBD at Natural Ways CBD
We carry a variety of CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD options, including our premium hemp edibles. Everything is 3rd-party lab tested (you can view the reports here), made from American-grown hemp, and backed by hundreds of reviews (click here to read them).
CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD both have their use. While we’d always recommend going with full-spectrum CBD for things like anxiety or inflammation, since it is the most effective, some people find that they just want to stick with isolate. Since there are so many compounds in the hemp plant, this is definitely understandable!
Will CBD show up on a drug test?
Full-spectrum CBD contains THC, so it will show up on a drug test. However, broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate won’t.
Will CBD get you high?
No. Even full-spectrum CBD, which contains THC, won’t render a psychoactive effect.
Is CBD legal in all 50 states?
CBD is federally legal in all 50 states, but some individual states have placed restrictions on it:
- New Hampshire