Since its initial introduction in 2012, CBD has evolved into three different types: broad spectrum, full spectrum and CBD isolate. Each type offers the benefits of CBD and can be found in several different forms, from ingestible oils and pills to topical creams and salves, but there is one type of CBD that stands out from the others.
Broad Spectrum vs. Full Spectrum vs. CBD Isolate
For those considering trying CBD for the first time, it’s important to understand what it is, where it comes from, and the difference between the three types used to make a variety of products. Short for cannabidiol, CBD is extracted from the stalks, stems and flowers of the cannabis plant, which is classified into two different types: hemp vs. marijuana. Both plants contain the active compounds known as cannabinoids, but there is one small difference.
Grown primarily for its fibers and seeds, the hemp plant contains less than 0.3% of the psychoactive cannabinoid known as THC, whereas the marijuana plant contains more than 0.3% THC, which is why it’s known for its intoxicating “high” effect. Regardless of whether CBD is extracted from hemp or marijuana, its molecular structure remains the same. Ther difference comes in how it's initially extracted and further processed,
How is CBD Oil Made?
There are a few different processes for extracting and processing CBD. One of the most popular methods of extraction involves the use of carbon dioxide (CO2). This is due to the unique properties of CO2, which allow it to function in different states of matter, from solids and liquids to gases.
The extraction process begins by pumping solid CO2 into a pressurized chamber containing the cannabis plant, which then transforms the CO2 into a liquid-like state that absorbs the flowers, oils and cannabinoids of the plant. The CO2-cannabinoid mixture is then pumped into a third chamber that allows the CO2 to return to a gas state, leaving behind the oils extracted from the plant.
A similar extraction process involves the use of liquid solvents, such as ethanol, butane, hexane, or isopropyl alcohol in place of the CO2. While this process is considered easier and much cheaper, it doesn’t come without its downsides as some solvents can carry chlorophyll and impurities from the plant.
One of the oldest methods for making CBD is via oil infusion, which involves heating the plant material to a certain temperature and infusing it into a carrier oil. The heating process, known as decarboxylation, activates the plant’s compounds, which are then added to a carrier oil, such as olive oil, along with a little bit of water for further heating to absorb the cannabinoids. The mixture is then cooled, allowing the olive oil to coagulate and harden, leaving behind a dense layer of CBD oil on top.
The 3 Types of CBD Oils and Extracts
Once extracted, CBD oil undergoes further processing into three different types: isolate, full spectrum, and broad spectrum. Each has its advantages, but there is one that really stands out, so we’ll save the best for last.
What is CBD Isolate?
CBD isolate refers to CBD that has been extracted and completely isolated from all other phytocannabinoids of the cannabis plant and is considered the purest form of CBD. There are a couple of different processes for creating CBD isolate: winterization and distillation.
With winterization, CBD oil is combined with 200-proof alcohol and placed in a freezer overnight. The oil can then be filtered to remove fats and other materials, then heated to the boiling point of alcohol to remove it. The other method, known as short path distillation, involves heating CBD extract into vapor that travels through a distillation tube and onto a cooling coil to be condensed. From there, the oils drip down into a separate container, leaving pure CBD oil.
While this is considered the purest form of CBD, it is also quite difficult to make as it requires more processing than the next two types of CBD.
What is Full-Spectrum CBD?
When it comes to CBD, the term “full-spectrum” means it contains all of the compounds naturally found in the cannabis plant, including terpenes, essential oils and cannabinoids such as CBD, as well as trace amounts of the psychoactive compound THC.
As the use of CBD has continued to evolve, so has the research into its potential therapeutic properties, as well as how it reacts with the endocannabinoid system. Discovered by researchers in the 1990s, the endocannabinoid system is a physiological system within humans and other living creatures that is made up of cannabinoid receptors, metabolic enzymes and cannabinoids produced by the body, termed “endocannabinoids”.
So far, studies have shown that CBD and the other cannabinoids found in cannabis may work together with the endocannabinoid to create what is known as “the entourage effect”. This simply refers to the effectiveness of the cannabinoids when consumed together, which is believed to be the main benefit of using full-spectrum CBD.
The downside to full-spectrum CBD, however, is the trace amounts of THC which may result in a false positive drug test – especially when consumed in high doses on a daily basis. And this is where broad-spectrum CBD comes into play.
What is Broad Spectrum CBD
Often falsely used as an interchangeable term for full-spectrum, broad-spectrum CBD is actually a little different. Just like full-spectrum, broad-spectrum CBD contains all of the naturally occurring phytochemicals of the cannabis plant and is known for offering “the entourage effect”, but without the trace amounts of THC.
Broad-spectrum CBD can be made by either adding the other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids to CBD isolate or by further processing full-spectrum CBD oil to remove all traces of THC. The main benefit of using broad spectrum CBD is the ability to explore the potential benefits of cannabis without the intoxicating effects of THC.
Where to Find the Best Broad Spectrum CBD Products
Over the last few years, CBD has become the star of a booming industry. From the Internet to the gas station, you can find CBD products just about anywhere. The problem is, this is still a somewhat unregulated industry, which means both fake and inferior CBD products are also popping up everywhere. In order to find the best broad spectrum CBD products, there are a few things to look out for, starting with the ingredients.
There are some CBD products out there that actually contain very little CBD, or even none at all. CBD is short for cannabidiol, therefore, you should expect to see it listed somewhere in the ingredient lists of CBD products. Beware of products that list terms like “cannabis sativa seed oil” in the ingredients, as this is actually another name for hempseed oil, not CBD.
In order to ensure you’re buying the most authentic CBD products, be sure to do a quick ingredient check and look for the acronym “COA”. Short for certificate of analysis, the CoA is basically a lab report that shows the product has been tested by a third-party lab for potency and contaminants and is usually provided by reputable CBD brands. For example, all White Cloud Naturals broad-spectrum CBD products come with a scannable QR code to view the lab results for each product so you can feel confident in exploring the potential health benefits of CBD, without the THC.