While shopping for CBD you might have come across products labeled “broad-spectrum, full-spectrum, and CBD isolates” although they sound similar they all mean many different things.

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

The difference is in how the CBD is extracted full spectrum or otherwise known as a whole plant extraction is extracted using the entire plant this process allows for THC of up to .3% and many other cannabinoids. Broad-spectrum contains all the same cannabinoids that you will get in a full-plant extraction the only difference is the THC is completely removed from the final extraction. CBD isolate is simply when CBD is isolated from all other cannabinoids and is in its purest form .

What Are Cannabinoids, and Why Do They Matter?

There are over 480 different compounds present in a Cannabis Sativa plant only 66 are cannabinoids. The most well-known cannabinoid is THC however CBD makes up about 40% of the plant resin extract. Cannibinoids are broken up into the following subclasses:

  • Cannabigerol (CBG) – Works to fight inflammation, pain, nausea, and in some studies has shown to slow the proliferation of cancer cells.
  • Cannabichromene (CBC) – Has been shown to encourage the human brain to grow by increasing the viability developing brain cells.
  • Cannabadiol (CBD) – Non phsycoactive compound is known to help with anxiety and pain relief.
  • Tetrahydrocannabidnol (THC) – Physcoactive compound that produces the “high” associated with marijuana. Known to prevent nausea and vomiting.
  • Cannabinol (CBN) – Is known for its sedative effect and is great for use with patients with insomnia.
  • Cannabicylol (CBL) – Occurs naturally in such low quantities it hasn’t been studied throughougly yet.
  • Cannabielsoin (CBE) – Although scientist discovered CBE in the 70’s due to federal laws very little research has been done on the benefits.
  • Cannabicitran (CBT) – CBT hasn’t had a ton of research done but its thought to be a helpful component in the entourage effect.

Cannabinoids are responsible for a wide array of effects they do this by exerting their effects by interacting with specific cannabinoid receptors present on the surfaces of cells.

What is CBD Isolate?

In scientific terms a CBD isolate, is CBD in its purest form. CBD isolate is a crystalline solid or powder comprising pure CBD. Manufactures use various process to extract all substances besides CBD from the cannabis plant including but not limited to THC.

As far as efficacy there has been no study that shows full spectrum is more effective than full spectrum or broad spectrum. However, researchers do believe that the entourage effect associated with broad and full spectrum creates more bioavailability but that has yet to be proven in a peer reviewed study.

What is Full Spectrum CBD?

Full Spectrum CBD is also known as whole plant extract. This is where the CBD is extracted from the entire plant and all of the cannabinoids are left in. This creates what researchers call the entourage effect. All full spectrum CBD according to federal law must have less than .3% THC.

What is Broad Spectrum CBD?

Broad Spectrum CBD is similar to the full spectrum in that the extraction process takes place with the full plant. However, with broad-spectrum, the THC is removed in the end. Researchers believe this provides the same entourage effect but will not affect someone who might be drug tested.

What Type of CBD Should You Use?

With the information given above you are probably still wondering which one is best for you. In reality though there really is no best choice. It all depends on your situation. In order for you to be able to select the one that will help you the best we have compiled a pros and cons list below.

CBD Isolate

Pros — 

  • The purest form of CBD
  • No risk of psychoactive effects
  • Generally considered to be safe
  • Tasteless and odorless
  • Will not test positive for THC*

Cons — 

  • 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

Pros — 

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

Cons — 

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


  • Individuals who were recommended a certain THC to 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

Pros — 

  • Offers the full benefits of the Cannabis plant (Entourage Effect)
  • No risk of psychoactive effects

Cons — 

  • Less research and availability
  • May have 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