Broad vs. Full vs. Isolate: Which is the best for me?

CBD labels can be confusing. What do Broad Spectrum and Full Spectrum mean? What about Isolate and is it more effective?

In short, no. Let’s break it down.

Traditionally, plant-based medicines were the norm – botanics which don’t rely on a single compound to produce beneficial effects. Enter synthetic drugs. Over the last 75 years, isolating single compounds has become the new standard. But that does not necessarily mean one route is better than the other.

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Full Spectrum

Full Spectrum CBD oil contains hemp’s full phytocannabinoid profile and includes nutrients like amino and fatty acids, flavonoids, terpenes and hundreds of other phytocannabinoinds. All of these elements work together to magnify the therapeutic benefits of each cannabinoid. To quote the adage, the sum is greater than the whole of its parts. This synergy is referred to as the ‘entourage effect.’ Think of it like a symphony – a harmony with the soloists CBD and THC. Full Spectrum CBD products contain 0.3% THC or less.

Human studies in Brazil in the 1970s recorded in the article “A Tale of two cannabinoids,” in the Medical Hypotheses Journal by Dr. Ethan Russo & Geoffrey W. Guy show that CBD and THC are more effective when they work together. Essentially, these studies demonstrated that CBD lowers the “high” produced by THC but enhances its pain relieving abilities.

Broad Spectrum

Broad Spectrum CBD oil is more refined, meaning the CBD is isolated, other beneficial compounds removed and then added back into the mixture, excluding THC. You can still experience benefits of the “entourage effect,” though not at the same level of efficacy. There are still trace amounts of THC, but less than is found in Full Spectrum. Neither product, though, will produce a high.

A quick dive to illustrate this point: A full phytocannabinoid profile from hemp contains terpenes. Terpenes are where the notable aromas of hemp originate but, according to a 2011 report by Dr. Ethan Russo in the British Journal of Pharmacology, terpenes are also healthy for humans. For example, Beta-caryophyllene is a terpene found in black pepper, cinnamon, edible herbs, leafy green vegetables, cannabis strains and hemp. It is the only terpene which binds directly to the CB2 receptor and it is one of the reasons leafy greens are so healthy. Since beta-caryophyllene binds directly to CB2, its therapeutic benefits are greater than other terpenes in terms of the potential to help decrease symptoms associated with inflammatory and auto-immune diseases because beta-caryophyllene directly engages with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and helps tell cells about their energy states. Referred to as a dietary cannabinoid, beta-caryophyllene has been shown in studies to be gastro-protective (it can help treat certain ulcers), and may enhance brain activity, kill respiratory pathogens and may act synergistically, increasing the effectiveness of other cannabinoids.

Isolate

CBD Isolate, on the other hand, is the purest form of CBD. This formulation consist of a 99% single molecule of CBD, completely free of THC. All other compounds found in the hemp plant are removed including terpenes, flavonoids, amino and fatty acids, and phytocannabinoids. Since it is a single molecule, Isolate is usually odorless and tasteless, making it a great way to incorporate CBD into recipes, coffee, smoothies, you name it! It is an easy way to incorporate CBD into your daily regimen. Everyone reacts differently to CBD, and depending on your body, your lifestyle and your genetic makeup, Isolate may be the most beneficial product for you.

At the end of the day, one form is not better than the other because each person is looking for different things when integrating CBD into their daily regimen. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons to determine the best products for you and your approach to wellness.

An important note on drug testing: Whether you prefer Full, Broad or Isolate, it is important to note you may not pass a drug test when ingesting CBD products. We go through rigorous compliance and regulatory processes to ensure all our products adhere to the legal federal limit of 0.3% THC or less. Only you can know for certain which will work the best for your situation. Take caution when using CBD should you be obligated to undergo drug testing. More questions? Check out our FAQ page or email care@harmonyhemp.com

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