Last edited: 06/15/2020

If you’re among the 40% of people who have either already tried or are curious about hemp-derived CBD (short for cannabidiol), then chances are that you’ve already done a bit of preliminary research.

You’ve probably read or heard that hemp-derived CBD products are available in many forms from tincture oil drops, to CBD gummies, to CBD infused beverages, and in topical balms and lotions, among many others. Whatever the product type, they are available in Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum and Isolate.

You may still be unclear on the different types of hemp-derived CBD, especially when it comes to the differences between Full Spectrum, Broad spectrum and Isolate.

Here, we’ll provide an overview of those differences and touch upon what may and may not be an ideal choice for your informational purposes and to help you make a better, informed decision.


What Is Full Spectrum Hemp Extract?

A Full Spectrum Hemp Extract predominately contains CBD, short for cannabidiol, and varying detectable and non-detectable amounts of other cannabinoids and compounds naturally existing in the hemp plant. Other cannabinoids include  Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabinol (CBN), and Cannabichromene (CBC).

Scientific research and clinical studies have, for all intents and purposes, recently begun and are underway to better understand learn how these cannabinoids work and what therapeutic and medicinal properties they carry. Pending those, some research has thus far shown support for:

  • CBD containing anti-inflammatory properties, analgesic properties, anti-anxiety properties, sleep aid properties, anti-depressant properties, immune supporting properties, brain health properties, and antibacterial properties.
  • CBG containing anti-inflammatory properties, analgesic properties, brain health properties, and anti-acne properties, and may be a promising cannabinoid for potentially fighting cancer.
  • CBN containing anti-inflammatory properties, analgesic properties, brain health properties, sleep aid properties and may be promising for anti-bacterial properties.
  • CBC containing anti-inflammatory properties, analgesic properties, antibacterial properties, anti-depressant properties, brain health properties, and supports migraine relief.
  • THC containing analgesic properties, anti-inflammatory properties, antiemetic (preventing vomiting) properties, anti-seizure properties, and anti-anxiety properties. Note that THC is the one among all here that is capable of producing a “high” feeling when taken in amounts that are more than just trace amounts. In a Full Spectrum formulation, non-detectable amounts of THC typically exist that are typically referred to as a “trace amounts” and indicated as 0.3% or less THC.

Together, these cannabinoids provide an “entourage effect” to collectively promote healing of various symptoms, such as those listed above, and to support overall mental and physical well-being.

What Is Broad Spectrum Hemp Extract?

A Broad Spectrum Hemp Extract consists of all the cannabinoids contained in a Full Spectrum minus any amount of THC whatsoever.  A Broad Spectrum formulation might be ideal for those seeking a version of the entourage effect minus the THC.

In some cases, a CBD product labeled as “Broad Spectrum” will include a disclosure such as, “THC Free“, “0.00% THC“, or “0.00mg THC.”  In some of those cases, no amount of THC exists in the CBD product. In some other cases, trace amounts of THC might actually exist but were not detected under laboratory testing and is reported as “non-detectable” on the lab test report. This might be important to you if, for example, you are or may be subject to a drug test. Trace amounts of THC taken on a daily basis builds up the THC in your liver, and eventually in your bloodstream, that may be just enough to return a positive test result for THC.  If you’re interested in a Broad Spectrum that is truly THC free, be mindful of this nuance; and, if in doubt inquire directly with the brand for clarification.

What is CBD Isolate?

CBD Isolate means the product contains only Cannabidiol (CBD).  One of the benefits of CBD Isolate is that it’s odorless and flavorless and may be a good option for those who want to avoid the sometimes “earthy” or pungent flavor contained in some Full Spectrum and Broad Spectrum CBD products.

Which Should You Choose?

The ideal choice for you depends on what you prefer and whether you can take a CBD product containing trace amounts of THC.  As no two people are alike, whether Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum or CBD Isolate is best varies by person.

Broad Spectrum may be ideal for those who seek a version of the entourage effect but without any amount of THC whatsoever in the product.

CBD Isolate may be ideal for those who only want CBD and none of the other cannabinoids present in a Full Spectrum or Broad Spectrum formulation.

Full Spectrum may be ideal for those who seek the entourage effect and are okay with trace amounts of THC being present.

Final Thoughts

There are tons of hemp-derived CBD products on the market, including fake product.  When you’re shopping for a CBD product, be sure you’re buying a quality product that is what it’s marketed to be, and that it’s is safe for consumption (in the case of ingestibles) and for application (in the case of topicals). Some suggestive tips:

  • Lab Report. Does the brand provide access to the product’s lab test results so you can verify the content and its safety? In Florida, brands are legally required to do so.
  • Dietary Supplement Claims. Does the brand claim its products are a “dietary supplement”, leading you to believe the product has been FDA approved? Currently, the FDA has not approved any hemp-derived CBD product to be labeled as a “dietary supplement.”
  • THC Free Claims. Does the brand describe its products to be “THC Free”, “0.00% THC” or “0.00mg THC” without explaining what that really means? If you’re limited to a true THC free product, just make sure it really doesn’t have any amount of THC in it whatsoever. Remember, a “not detectable” result for THC might sometimes mean that THC was present but the amount was so tiny that it wasn’t detected under laboratory testing.
  • Cautionary Statements. Does the brand include cautionary statements with its products? For example, “Do not use if you are pregnant or nursing” and “Keep out of reach of children.” Cautionary statements like these are legally required.
  • Honesty. Does the brand claim its products contain hemp-derived CBD oil when in fact the only ingredient is hemp seed oil? Hemp seed oil is not hemp-derived CBD oil by any means. Sadly, there’s been some products sold on Amazon advertised as “hemp oil” when, in actuality, it contains hemp seed oil.

Stay well, stay balanced.

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