How CBD Works - Full Spectrum versus CBD Isolate
None of the statements on this website have been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration. CBD products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. A doctor’s advice should be sought before using CBD products especially if you have a serious medical condition, use prescription medications, are pregnant, or are nursing a child.
Many people new to CBD quickly run into terms that aren’t familiar to them.
Let’s throw in full-spectrum and isolate to the mix.
Many companies will sing the virtue of full spectrum in their CBD products but what does it really mean.
One thing missing from the conversation is a very important piece for millions of Americans.
We’ll get into that below as well as a full description of what exactly “full” is full of.
Let’s also look at isolate in a new way.
It’s not lacking!
Lots to cover.
If you want to jump right to the price comparison of screened brands for isolate OR full spectrum, you can click here:
Otherwise, feel free to jump to any section here:
Let’s get to it!
We’ve covered a lot on this website regarding CBD.
But if you’re new to CBD, here’s a quick primer.
CBD is short for cannabidiol.
It’s everywhere in the press right now due to some pretty impressive results for health issues and general well-being.
The research is speeding along but the benefits list keeps growing:
CBD works with the endocannabinoid system in our own body.
This system is critical in keeping other main systems in balance:
These systems impact every other system in the body so being in balance is key to you functioning WELL!
Here’s a quick graphic of what’s going on:
There’s a lot to cover but let’s get into why we’re here.
Isolate versus Full Spectrum.
Let’s define each first!
Isolate is just a fancy word to say “by itself”.
Here’s the pathway to isolate:
The isolate is generally in a crystalline form.
You basically have CBD (the chemical we’re after) with an oil base.
CBD, like many substances (such as curcumin), needs an oil cohort to be used well in the body.
We reference lots of CBD research on the site.
In almost all of those studies, the CBD used is isolate.
This is to narrow any results to just the cannabidiol alone.
So…what is full-spectrum?
Full-spectrum is just a term for getting more of the raw plant along with the CBD.
We skip a big chunk of the extraction process.
Many (if not most) products on the market are Full Spectrum these days.
This means we can expect to have a range of different substance in addition to CBD:
The first three are of main interest.
They are reported to have their own health benefits which we’ll touch base on later.
We’ll also talk about the increasingly overused “entourage” effect title.
Drama carried that show by the way!
Let’s first knock out some common questions and we’ll get into the thick of full-spectrum versus isolate.
That being said, there are lots of bogus CBD products on the market with very diluted CBD amounts.
You’re going to see it everywhere over the next few years and most of it will be pretty poor.
CBD by name only!
That’s why we screened the biggest brands for CBD amounts and purity (with 3rd party testing) here:
THC and CBD are the two most prevalent cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
The amounts of each vary according to strain.
Therefore, CBD will be the major cannabinoid in legal full-spectrum CBD products.
The THC is extracted out (or has to be under .3%).
Up to a point.
Hemp oil is just the raw oil from the hemp plant.
In a perfect world, full-spectrum is the same thing with the THC extracted out and concentrated CBD added back in.
Those are not the same thing.
More on that next.
You have to be careful when comparing CBD products.
Most of the legitimate brands (which we compared) specify this amount.
Occasionally, you’ll see a listing of milligrams (mg) of “hemp oil”.
Hemp oil contains a volume of other substances besides just CBD.
That’s misleading in our book.
It goes to the heart of CBD isolate versus full-spectrum (essentially hemp oil).
Let’s get into that now!
On our site, we like to focus on research.
There are so much pomp and circumstance surrounding CBD these days online.
We haven’t actually seen a person levitate from taking CBD!
The research is really impressive and growing daily (finally).
I.e. the different substances in the hemp plant work better than just one isolated piece (CBD in our example).
There are two issues here:
Here’s a great synopsis of what research has to say.
Something really interesting happens as you’re reading through it (it’s not a light read!)
That’s why this is site is about CBD, not THC or hemp oil.
Look…we get it.
THC creates a high and lots of people like it.
The laundry list of significant health benefits listed in that research and throughout research referenced on our site is ridiculous.
You almost expect some cheesy voice to say, “But wait…there’s MORE!”
It’s only recently that you could get CBD by itself. Legally.
To get the benefits of CBD, you HAD to use pot illegally (or legally where available).
Pain. Anxiety. Psychosis. Sleep.
THC may have benefits but it also has some downside that needs to be addressed with…
If you want a high, there’s THC.
That isn’t to say that CBN, CBG, CBC, terpenes, and flavanoids don’t have their own specific benefits.
We just need more research…it’s still in its infancy.
Meanwhile, you’ll hear the term “entourage effect” much-ballyhooed online within the community.
There’s a great comparison of full-spectrum versus CBD Isolate here.
Let’s look at that.
A reference to the Marky Mark…I mean Mark Wahlberg produced show Entourage.
If you need a recap, all 4 members of an up and coming actor made much better watching than any one of them by themselves.
The whole is greater than its parts.
This is the supposition that the various cannabinoids and other substances (primarily terpenes and flavanoids) augment each other’s positive health effects.
There’s not much real research to measure this.
We’re focused on CBD by itself so that’s not much help unless you’re a fan of THC.
So what we do see in research is:
We don’t have enough research on the rest of it.
There’s a lot of “studies show” statements but no reference to the specific studies.
That’s because of the CBD WASN’T PRESENT!
It might be that we’ve been looking to validate THC via marijuana to push legalization further along:
There may be an entourage effect.
The individual constituents may positively impact each other.
Or they just may have benefits of their own.
We’ll look at that later.
Show us the research!
If all the research is for CBD isolated, why the big push for full-spectrum?
CBD Isolate is extremely difficult to process and extract.
Think about it…they’re taking a plant and getting ONE chemical out of it.
We spoke with one of the gurus in extraction and he explained that it was extremely difficult to process down to just CBD.
Many more companies can jump on the CBD wagon with a full spectrum.
There’s still some processing to do but it’s much cheaper.
So…maybe we’re just being cynical but we need to see more research other than how CBD helps THC.
We can get the CBD to begin with!
But what about the other cannabinoids?
What do we know about them?
There are over 100 cannabinoids found naturally in the cannabis family.
THC and CBD have the highest prominence in the plant and their ratio depends on the strain of cannabis.
The third most prevalent cannabinoid is CBC.
According to the research, CBC has shown promise as a:
Next up is CBG:
There are others including inactive (or raw) versions of CBD and THC called CBDa and THCa.
These are not psychoactive but have health-related qualities that need further study.
Even CBC, CBG, and CBN are pretty small.
CBN is mildly psychoactive so that has to be taken into effect.
We need more research on these individual substances by themselves.
For example, when they looked at anti-depression effects CBC and CBD, the effects of CBD were 10 times that of CBC.
Wouldn’t that argue for more CBD?
We’ll keep an eye out for research on the different cannabinoids but keep in mind the levels are very low even in full spectrum.
Terpenes are chemicals found naturally in cannabis that gives it aromatic scents and flavors.
You find them in all kinds of foods like basil, lavender, and sandalwood.
They occur at very low levels in the typical cannabis plant.
Like the other cannabinoids mentioned above, some of the terpenes may interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors. That being said, it’s at a much smaller level than CBD!
We see that with THC and CBD where CBD will interact CB receptors thus blocking THC.
We need more research on the safety of terpenes.
Based on this research, there are definitely some concerns when heating terpenes:
Otherwise, there is limited evidence that they are beneficial to our health.
Again, they’re in very small amounts within the cannabis plants.
Most of the buzz about these substances is to isolate them at a high enough level and then see what they do in the body.
At least on the research front.
You might think flavanoids have something to do with flavor but they actually impart the non-green color to flowers, fruit, and vegetables.
Some of them are pretty awesome such as quercetin which is showing promise along many lines including longevity and clearing out bad cells in the body.
Again, these cannflavins (flavanoids specific to cannabis) are found in minuscule amounts but we need to know more about what they do.
Specifically, we need to know the measured, physiological effect differences between CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD oil.
We don’t have that yet!
There’s one more big question that NO ONE seems to bring up.
All that fermented food which is all the rage for good health…
Does it send your stomach reeling?
Welcome to the 40-60%.
CBD itself is showing great promise for histamine sufferers.
Check out Mast cell activation and reducing histamine release!
This goes with the whole theory of helping to modulate the immune system and inflammatory response that we see throughout the research.
What about the other parts of full-spectrum?
We don’t know!
Anecdotally, with over 400 different active chemicals found naturally in the cannabis plant, it’s definitely a risk if you have histamine issues.
Here’s our strategy.
Try the isolate first and see how your body responds.
We’re all different chemically!
Give it a 30-day window which is perfect since most products come in 30-day amounts (i.e. 30ml bottles).
More information on CBD dosages can be found here.
Once the first month is up, try the equivalent CBD dosage in a full-spectrum option.
Make sure the brand specifies the amount of actual CBD (not just hemp oil or cannabinoids) in the product.
You can check out the comparison here.
Compare the difference!
If you notice any adverse effects of the change, you have your answer!
You may have also just learned about your histamine issues and/or gut health!
Take a look at our Best Of category for screened CBD products here:
We’re constantly re-evaluating pricing and options available from that page.
Once we’ve established the safety of the products (all screened), we then need to look at pricing.
Most people use CBD every day!
We have to be able to afford it.
The same things apply to full spectrum.
Compare the pricing for the major CBD brands that have been screened for safety and product purity.
The link is here:
The Best Of link is the most popular.
Of course, we want to hear your results from full spectrum versus isolate here!
Help others learn from what works for YOU!
Dozens of Brands
“I was lost…there’s so many CBD products out there. Thank you for making this all make sense!”
“I literally lay down and I’m out. I wake one to use the bathroom and them I’m out again til morning. I almost NEVER am able to sleep like that! It’s pretty awesome”
“I feel like my body is oddly more flexible in the gym if that makes sense. I do notice that I sleep deeper.”
“CBD is the only way I get through the night. It’s been a life-saver for me. Thank you for the research!”
SEE Statement at bottom regarding FDA notification and legal statement on claims
“I love the comparison! It’s impossible to figure out what’s being offered and for how much. Thank you so much! I’ll make sure to send my CBD story to you!”
“I had no idea how important the lab results were with CBD. I won’t touch it without first seeing what’s in there now.”
“I was spending sooo much energy fighting off negative thoughts before CBD. I have so much more energy now.”
“Thank you so much for your marvelous work. I’ve told all my family members to check out the how it works page. Simple enough for even me to understand!”