These terms might sound rather scientific and a little confusing. Rightly so, because CBD can be quite a complex compound.
The public awareness of CBD is exploding, but there is still some hesitancy from those that associate it with the stereotypes of cannabis, so we think it is a good idea to explore the different products in more detail.
In this article we are going to distinguish the difference between CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD, which one is best for each situation, and the way they are incorporated within various products.
Firstly, let’s look at the two contenders and put them into a format that is easier to understand:
What is CBD isolate?
The best way to look at CBD isolate is to consider it as simply “isolated CBD”.
It’s extracted from the cannabis plant and is usually 99.9% pure. It contains no other elements of the cannabis plant; No tastes, no smells, and most importantly, no THC, so has no psychoactive effects.
Short, sweet and simple.
What is full spectrum CBD (Distillate)?
Full spectrum CBD (whole plant extract, or distillate as it is sometimes called) is a carefully extracted collection of the entire cannabis plant’s most therapeutic properties.
Included in these extracted compounds are terpenes. These terpenes are known to offer their very own health benefits!
For example; Linalool (found in Lavender) has strong anti-inflammatory properties, Limonene (found in Lemons) aids with digestion, and Pinene (found in Pine trees) relieves pain and is an antioxidant.
Full spectrum CBD extract also contains a very low amount of the cannabis plant's most prominent and psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, usually around 0.2-0.3%.
This tiny amount of THC acts like an undetectable flicking of a switch in your brain.
It mimics the action of anandamide (a neurotransmitter naturally produced in the human body) by binding to CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system.
Because they “latch onto” and strengthen your body’s endocannabinoids, many people report that they experience a lower overall intensity of pain.
This makes full spectrum CBD become even more powerful!
When all these components come together; CBD, THC and terpenes produce what is known as an entourage effect; A symbiotic friendship between CBD and terpenes which has been shown to increase the healing properties of each.
So, as you may be able to tell, there is a lot more value to full spectrum CBD extracts. CBD isolate may be more pure, however the absence of the entourage effect makes CBD isolate less powerful in comparison.
Which is better? CBD isolate or full spectrum CBD? The scientific facts
An interesting study by the Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology in Jerusalem was Published in the journal Pharmacology & Pharmacy in 2015 (1).
The study examines “The effectiveness of administering isolated cannabinoid extracts (a CBD-only formula) versus whole plant extracts (which contain the full range of the plant’s cannabinoid content)”.
They managed to acquire a CBD-rich strain of cannabis called Avidekel from an Israeli medical cannabis producer. The plant referred to as “Clone 202”, was used to extract the CBD-rich oil which consisted of 17.9% CBD. This was used in both the CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD testing.
The CBD isolate tests confirmed that “a single-molecule CBD administration generated a bell-shaped dose-response curve with a narrow therapeutic window”
Basically, the dose that helps users is very specific, and the time it lasts isn’t very long. If you do too little, you miss your dose. If you do too much, you miss your dose. The window of efficacy for an isolate is very small. Not exactly ideal for the mass market and making happy customers.
But a different dose response pattern was observed when the clone 202 extract was administered.
Rather than showing a bell-shaped curve, where a therapeutic effect could only be achieved at a certain concentration of pure CBD, the whole plant CBD-rich extract caused a direct, dose-dependent inhibition of pain and inflammation.
The clone extract provided a clear correlation between the dosage taken and the anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive responses; with increasing responses upon increasing doses.
That means that your dose of full spectrum CBD is likely beneficial to you even if your dose isn’t absolutely correct. In fact, no one knows exactly what the correct dose actually is, making the advice ‘start low, go slow’ very relevant.
The conclusion of the study was that the whole plant extract, which contained a large percentage of CBD, but also contained traces of the other cannabinoids, proved far more effective than CBD-only solutions in alleviating inflammation and pain sensation.
Is full spectrum CBD extract safe?
It is undoubtedly safe. It is impossible to overdose from full spectrum CBD products.
It exerts absolutely no negative side effects. Whether it is combined with prescription drugs or administered by itself the consumer doesn’t have to worry about any negative effects.
In fact, many people who take full spectrum CBD oil report an increase in mental focus. This is because of the anti-anxiety properties that CBD offers. Less anxiety means more focus.
CBD isolate sounds useless after reading that… Does CBD isolate work?
Absolutely! The fundamental effects of CBD still take place, it just might take a different dose compared to its efficient friend, full spectrum CBD, that works effectively in most doses.
A good way to get the most of your CBD isolate is to use a small amount of full spectrum extract alongside it. Your distillate will last longer, and your isolate will be supercharged with the benefits of the full plant spectrum power!
There are some advantages to the sole use of CBD isolate, however.
For those that want to “play it safe”, and not run the risk of having any potential psychological side effects of THC, or fail a drugs test at work (although both of these instances are very unlikely) CBD isolate will be the best option.
Another benefit of CBD isolate is its flexibility of use.
As it is an odorless, tasteless white powder, it can be incorporated into lots of products that you can make yourself at home.
For example you could add it to a ‘carrier’ oil or cream to use as a topical solution. This is great to use on scarred or irritated skin.
But keep in mind, when using it topically, more CBD doesn’t mean more effective. In fact a lower concentration in your CBD isolate cream or oil has a better effect on your skin.
The uses for CBD isolate don’t stop there, though! You can add it to your morning juice or smoothie, or to honey to mix with your tea and coffee. The possibilities are endless!
To round it off, each form of CBD has their own unique benefits. While both can be effective at achieving your desired outcomes, each person’s preferences come into play, and are relevant to the extensity of the issues that person is trying to remedy.
We recommend testing the waters to see which type of CBD extract works best for you.
Experiment with different dosages, and trial different products until you find what is the most effective for your needs.