CBD Element

Difference between Isolate, Broad-spectrum and Full spectrum CBD

Saturday, June 13, 2020 • 3 minute read

There are so many different terms associated with CBD; trying to decide a product can feel like you're learning a new language or joining a new cult. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! This is an article explaining the difference between isolate, broad spectrum and full spectrum-CBD.

Firstly, it’s important to note that CBD is one of many different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Major cannabinoids include; CBG, CBC, CBD, CBN, CBDL, CBDL, CBE, CBT and the infamous THC. THC and CBD are the most abundant Cannibinoids found in the cannabis plant and are the most studied compounds. The terms, isolate, broad spectrum and full spectrum are used to describe the contents of the different cannabinoids in the oil- I.e the ‘spectrum’.[1]


CBD isolates are the purest form of CBD. During the extraction process all the other cannabinoids are removed, leaving only CBD. Isolates are the purest and most potent form of CBD, they often contain more than 90% CBD. CBD isolates can be found in powder crystallised form, which is great for cooking as it is tastleless. For this reason CBD isolates are used in gummies and other edibles.


Unlike isolates, that only contain CBD; broad-spectrum CBD oils contain other cannabinoids. Emerging evidence suggests that a different cannabinoids have their own benefits and even different quantities and combinations of cannabinoids have different effects. There is a theory stating the effects of CBD oil are amplified when all the cannabinoids are present and working together- this is called the entourage effect. The entourage effect is a theory that every single compound in the cannabis plant, work together synergistically to have a greater effect. Born out of this theory is a new focus on therapeutic benefits of other compounds in the cannabis plant, such as flavonoids and terpenes. Research into the entourage effect is its infancy, we don’t know the exact affect different combinations of compounds have. Despite this, many people in the CBD community believe broad-spectrum CBD are more effective than isolates because they are chemically ‘closer’ to the cannabis plant and so take advantage (to an extent) of this phenomenon.[2]


Some purists believe whole plant extracts, also known as full spectrum CBD are the most effective type of CBD. These extracts have the closest chemical make-up to the plant and so it is believed take advantage of the entourage effect the most. You can not legally purchase full-spectrum CBD in the UK because they contain all cannabinoids including a significant amount of THC. These extracts can be purchased in North America where the regulations on THC content in CBD are more relaxed. Saying this, to confuse the matter, you’ll find some UK CBD companies describe their product as being full-spectrum, technically speaking these products are broad spectrum because they do not (rightly-so) contain a significant amount of THC.