CBD Isolate vs. Full-Spectrum CBD: Which One Is Right for You?


There are tons of buzzy words and claims around CBD at the moment. Two you may have been seeing a lot are isolate and full spectrum. These are pretty significant terms to understand when looking to purchase CBD.  In order to learn more about the differences, let’s start with the basics.


Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound found in the resinous flower of cannabis, a plant with a rich history as a medicine going back thousands of years. Today the therapeutic properties of CBD are being tested and confirmed by scientists and doctors around the world. CBD is one of more than a hundred “phytocannabinoids,” which are unique to cannabis and endow the plant with its robust therapeutic profile includeing THC and CBG.


CBD can be derived from the marijuana plant or the hemp plant. Marijuana is legal in certain states and as of 2018, hemp with less than .3% THC became federally legal under the Farm Bill.


Why use full-spectrum CBD?

The entourage effect theory suggests that taking CBD, THC together, along with terpenes, and other cannabinoids present in the whole flower, may be more effective than taking either cannabinoid alone. That’s why some people prefer to use full-spectrum CBD. *The whole is greater than the sum of its counter parts. *


One 2011 review in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that taking a combination of terpenes and cannabinoids may help with:


The same review also concludes that CBD may help lessen unwanted THC effects, like hunger, anxiety, and sedation.

Research from 2018 found that some of the terpenes and flavonoids found in cannabis may reduce inflammation and offer neuroprotective effects.


Why use CBD isolate?

Some people may want to try CBD but are iffy on  having any trace of THC. That’s where CBD isolate comes in,. Though CBD isolate won’t provide any benefits from the entourage effect, some research suggests that taking CBD alone may still be beneficial.


Which type of CBD is right for you?

CBD isolate may be right for you if you:

  • Want to take large doses of CBD.
  • Have to undergo drug testing. Full-spectrum CBD could possibly show up on a drug test. However, there may be a slight possibility that isolate products will show up, too. Even “THC-free” CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC.

Full-spectrum CBD may be the right choice if you want:

  • The benefits of the entourage effect. Since the amount of THC will be less than 0.3 percent, you shouldn’t experience any of THC’s psychoactive effects.
  • An earthy flavor profile. You can find flavored full-spectrum products, but unflavored varieties will have a slightly earthy taste.
  • A less refined product. CBD isolate has to go through more refining than full-spectrum THC.



What to look for when choosing your CBD product

We’ve done the research to bring you our top-rated CBD isolate and full-spectrum picks. These all meet our criteria for quality, safety, and transparency:

  • made with U.S.-grown hemp
  • has been tested by a third-party lab
  • doesn’t contain more than 0.3 percent THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
  • passes testing for heavy metals, pesticides, and molds, according to the COA


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