It’s no secret that the cannabis industry is desperate for standardization. If you’ve dipped your toes into the world of CBD, whether you’re a consumer or actually in the business, then you have likely heard some terms thrown around loosely by those that may have a tenuous grasp on cannabis nomenclature. You may recognize the terms Full Spectrum, or Isolate / Pure CBD – and that is because one of these 3 labels are used to describe most of the CBD products available on the market today. In a nutshell, these titles basically tell you about the makeup of cannabinoid content that should be inside the product.
The presence and accuracy of this information is critical for consumers, because it is the initial indicator of the active components inside the product. Each kind has something different to offer, and no single product is right for everyone.The diversity of unique compounds found on the hemp plant has inevitably led to more than a few types of cannabinoid-based products being made and marketed, and the overwhelming options can often be a source of confusion for consumers – so let’s break it down.
Isolate (Pure CBD)
Simply CBD..Isolate has the advantage of being the purest and most potent form of CBD, containing up to 99.9% purity through a process known as “Crystallization“. Crystallization is a process that isolates the CBD molecule, freeing it from any other present molecule (such as THC). After it is crystallized, it is pulverized into a white powder that makes it simple to measure and handle. CBD isolate has a completely flavorless & odorless profile, as the aromatic compounds known as terpenes have been removed from it.
- Those who are subjected to drug tests, or those who are sensitive to THC.
- Those living in States with strict cannabis laws that prohibit THC of any kind. (Keep fighting the good fight, to whom this is relevant.)
- Those who wish to cook with CBD or make DIY products at home. The purity and powdered form of CBD isolate make it easy to measure and handle.
The image below shows 1,000mg of pure isolated CBD.
The term “Full-Spectrum” refers to the wide range of cannabinoids found in hemp. When a CBD product is “Full-Spectrum”, that means it holds all of the cannabinoids and terpenes from the strain of hemp it was derived from, in similar ratios found on the plant.
Humans have been using whole-plant medicine since the beginning of our known species – and hemp is a part of this tradition. These whole-plant medicines contain a diverse spectrum of compounds that work together in synergy like a well-orchestrated symphony. CBD is just one of many exogenous compounds found on the hemp plant. In fact, there are 113+ known cannabinoids uniquely found in cannabis, along with hundreds of types of terpenes (the aromatic molecules responsible for the aroma of cannabis). These compounds are synergistic, meaning they work together to enhance each other’s potential effect, a phenomenon known as “The Entourage Effect”.
The image below shows a beaker containing roughly 65ML of refined cannabinoid-rich, Full-Spectrum extract. Notice the vibrant color compared to the white powdered isolate pictured above. These colors are a result of rich phytocompounds such as flavonoids, polyphenols, and others that would have otherwise been removed when making CBD isolate.
- Those looking to get the most out of their CBD experience.
- People who reside in a cannabis-legal State, and have no fear of legal repercussions.
The chart below depicts the process in which a hemp plant goes through to become either a pure CBD or Full-Spectrum product.
The Entourage Effect
The term “Entourage Effect” was coined to describe the interactive synergy between cannabinoids and other compounds found on the hemp plant. Many experts and cannabis-enthusiasts believe that Full-Spectrum products are the most efficacious and deliver an enhanced experienced, as they contain the essential compounds of the cannabis plant in the ratios that nature intended. A 2005 study in Jerusalem showed that subjects given a full-spectrum oil experienced greater relief compared to those given CBD isolate.
Unfortunately, there are very few studies that look at these synergies in humans—it’s still only a theory supported by a small body of research, and, of course, mountains of anecdotal evidence from curious cannabis enthusiasts around the world experimenting with new products and methods of consumption.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Aristotle
Cannabis is not a one-size-fits-all, by any means. The unique diversity of compounds in cannabis has allowed the industry to innovate products that are tailor-made to match the desires of many types of individuals. Until FDA regulation on cannabinoids is finalized and implemented, it remains your responsibility to verify that the products you purchase are accurately labeled and formulated. Finding the right CBD product for you can be a daunting process of trial & error, but once you discover the product that’s suited best for you – you will quickly realize that the search was well worth it.