by Erica Garza
CBD is rapidly rising in popularity for health benefits that include relief from anxiety, pain, inflammation and sleep issues. While you may be familiar with these uses, did you know there are two distinct types of CBD products on the market? Learn everything you need to know about CBD isolate vs. full spectrum CBD oil, including the potency of each, recommended uses and how to decide between the two.
What Is Full Spectrum CBD?
The cannabis plant is home to hundreds of phytochemicals, which include cannabinoids, terpenes and other compounds. Full spectrum CBD refers to products that contain more than CBD, such as other plant molecules like THC and healthy fatty acids. This version of CBD oil is minimally refined, so that most of the cannabinoids and terpenes remain intact. Full spectrum CBD oil is often called “whole plant” oil because the full plant extract is included.
What Is CBD Isolate?
CBD isolate is often labeled as “pure CBD” or 99 to 100 percent CBD. As you may have guessed from the name, these products have been refined to isolate only the CBD compound with no extra cannabinoids or terpenes. Its CBD potency is usually higher than full spectrum, meaning a small dose is recommended.
How to Use CBD Isolate vs. Full Spectrum CBD
Full spectrum CBD is often preferable to CBD isolate because research shows that cannabinoids and terpenes occur in nature together and interact in useful ways. This synergy is referred to as the entourage effect and is thought to give CBD a wider reach as far as health benefits.
One study by Ethan Russo, M.D., illustrated the benefits of terpenes in full spectrum CBD, showing promising results for a variety of conditions. For example, the combination of terpenes pinene, myrcene and caryophyllene help to unravel anxiety, while combining terpenes linalool and limonene with cannabigerol (a lesser-known cannabinoid) shows promise in treating MRSA. Even terpenes linalool and limonene synergized with CBD make for a potent anti-acne treatment. This shows that full spectrum CBD is more of a full-body experience.
Another Israeli study on the potency of CBD isolate versus full spectrum CBD showed that full spectrum CBD was more suitable in clinical settings for such conditions as inflammation and anxiety. Pure CBD resulted in a “bell-shaped dose response,” which means that, when the amount of CBD exceeded a certain point, its therapeutic impact declined dramatically.
However, this doesn’t indicate that CBD isolate is never useful. Some users who are particularly sensitive to THC turn to CBD isolate to benefit from the cannabis plant without any of the psychoactive side effects. CBD isolates also allow users to track how much CBD they’re getting from each dose.
How to Decide Between the Two
Whether you choose CBD isolate or full spectrum CBD, you will likely experience the health benefits of the cannabis plant. With emerging studies, researchers are learning more every day about the difference between the two types of products. Further, for those living in states where full spectrum CBD remains unavailable, pure CBD often delivers a positive and legal solution. After all, CBD alone is better than no CBD at all.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist. Her work has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, The Telegraph and VICE. She lives in Los Angeles.