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What is Full Spectrum and Isolate CBD

September 1, 2018

This is probably the second most common question, right behind what is CBD? We’re going to break this down into the basic points you need to know and avoid the complicated chemistry. Full spectrum means that nearly everything that was in the plant is in the product. CBD isolate means that only the CBD compound is in the product. I’ll expand a little more on each.

Full Spectrum

Full spectrum products are intended to be the most natural unaltered form of CBD. They involve the least amount of processing and if done correctly should not have more than one or two additives. Hemp has over 100 different cannabinoids, CBD is the most popular, however there are others like CBG or CBN. A full spectrum product ideally should have not only CBD but also some of these other cannabinoids, including trace amount of THC. The THC level must be below .3% according to the 2014 Farm Bill, however there is still some THC in the product. The amount is nowhere near enough to have a mind altering psychoactive effect, but it’s still in there. Most people that have any concerns about taking drug tests don’t use full spectrum products, even though the amount of THC is nearly insignificant.On the flip side the full spectrum products are considered by most to be the most unaltered form of CBD with the best effect. Many companies use the wording full spectrum as a marketing tool for their products. As a rule of thumb full spectrum products should have a dark to amber color to them and even if flavored should have a hemp taste to them. If a product is clear and labeled full spectrum it is in your best interest to look at the lab results for that product to make sure there are other cannabinoids listed. If you don’t see other cannabinoids it’s more than likely a marketing gimmick.

Full spectrum products are created by extracting an amber colored paste like substance from hemp. This extract is mixed with alcohol and then heated and stirred at a constant temperature to remove waxes and other plant particles from the extract. Finally the extract is mixed with an oil, usually coconut oil or grapeseed oil to make the final full spectrum product. In our experience some people who have seasonal allergies have not reacted well to full spectrum products. It is reasonable that taking a plant extract when you have plant or tree allergies might have adverse effects. If you have tried full spectrum before and you don’t like the reaction you body has it maybe better for you to use an isolate product.

CBD Isolate

While a very pure full spectrum product should smell and taste like hemp, it might not be appealing to everyone. This taste and any concerns about ingesting any amounts of THC led to the creation of CBD isolates which provide consumers with an added choice.  

Isolate is a slightly off white powder that only contains CBD. It does not contain any other cannabinoids or other compounds from the plant. The benefit of isolate is that it only contains CBD and is nearly flavorless, so it can be used to make a variety of other products without affecting their taste. Isolate is most often found in edibles, topicals and vape products.

The production of CBD isolate starts out the same as full spectrum products. The major difference is that instead of mixing the extract with oil to form the finished product; the extract is instead put through a chromatography process. Chromatography is simply a process of separating compounds. In this case the extract is placed in the top of tube with fine sand or silica in the middle and pushed through the tube using pressure. The sand acts as a filter separating larger and smaller particles. At the end of the tube the “isolated”  CBD is collected and the process is repeated, until the CBD is thoroughly separated from the other compounds. The remaining liquid is then heated until it crystalizes and it is then ground into a fine powder.

CBD isolate is often sold by itself in the powder form or it is mixed into other products. It is a good starting point for anyone new to CBD that wants to ease into different products until they find what works best for them.

This article represents the opinions of the author and in no way represents medical or legal advice. Always consult with your physician before taking any supplements.

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