CBD Isolate vs. Full-Spectrum: What You Need to Know

by Jane Meggitt

There’s no longer any question that CBD oil possesses numerous benefits, but users must educate themselves about the different forms of the product. Novice users are likely to find terms like CBD isolate and full-spectrum quite confusing, but like anything else, learning more about these differences helps guide you in your purchasing decisions.

CBD Isolate

The term “isolate” is key in this form of CBD, as there is nothing in it except the CBD molecule. Expect this product to contain 99 percent pure CBD with other substances having been filtered out. An exception is made for carrier oils in some items. It takes longer to refine CBD in this manner, so prices for CBD isolate are higher than for full-spectrum products. Because CBD isolate is so pure, you know exactly how much you are getting when you measure it out.

Anyone who has ever had an allergic reaction from using CBD oil should consider using the pure isolate form. At one time, it was thought that CBD isolate was stronger than full-spectrum CBD, but a 2015 study from the Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology, in Jerusalem, showed that was not the case.

The Purifying Process for CBD Isolate

CBD oil is extracted from hemp, and the extraction process is initially the same whether the ultimate form is CBD isolate or full-spectrum CBD. Once the extraction process is completed, the purifying process to obtain CBD isolate starts. After removal of all plant material, the remaining oil heads through a winterization process that eliminates any parts of the plant, such as waxes, that escaped filtration. What eventually emerges is a well-refined white powder — the CBD isolate. The powder is then tested by a third-party laboratory.

How to Use CBD Isolate

Many people must know exactly how much CBD they are using. For example, if your employer conducts regular drug testing and any positive THC finding might cost you your job, you cannot risk having even the tiny amount (0.3 percent or less) of tetrahydrocannabinol found in full-spectrum CBD in your system. Anyone in this situation should avoid full-spectrum CBD and use the isolate, or determine exactly how much THC is in the product. Certain CBD products, such as CoSo Health & Beauty’s CBD capsules, are full-spectrum and yet contain zero percent THC.

You should also consider using CBD isolate when pain relief is your top priority. Because you want to banish pain as quickly as possible, the vape method of transmission is the best bet. Vaping brings fast pain relief, and CBD isolate is the best type to use for vaping. Other people simply place CBD isolate under the tongue and hold it there for one minute. The isolate quickly enters the bloodstream through the mucous membranes.

What Is Full-Spectrum CBD?

Full-spectrum CBD is sometimes referred to as full-plant CBD. Basically, full-spectrum earns its name because it contains all of the cannabinoids that cannabis has to offer. It’s a minimally refined and processed form of CBD. The following plant molecules are among those found in full-spectrum CBD oil:

  • cannabinol
  • cannabigerol or CBG — this disease fighter may combat glaucoma, cancer and other serious ailments
  • enzymes
  • flavonoids
  • terpenes — aromatic components

While tiny amounts of THC typically remain in full-spectrum CBD, they are not sufficient to result in psychoactive effects. Other manufacturers of full-spectrum CBD have managed to develop pharmaceutical-grade products that contain no THC whatsoever. CBD boosts health because it is chock full of vitamins and minerals, along with fiber, proteins, essential fatty acids and other beneficial ingredients. That’s not true of CBD isolate. Full-spectrum CBD oils contain the gamut of cannabidiols, and these compounds enhance their effects by working synergistically. This means full-spectrum CBD is more than the sum of its parts. It is also used by more people than the isolate version.

Full-Spectrum CBD Benefits

Because the elements of full-spectrum CBD work together, users experience an entourage effect, with every beneficial part of the plant augmenting the overall effect. Every component of CBD is doing its job more efficiently, whether it’s reducing stress, relieving pain, lifting mood or inducing sleep. The cannabinoids and the terpenes in the plant work especially well together, and the medical possibilities are just beginning to reveal themselves.

CBD Isolate vs. Full-Spectrum

So, how do you decide whether CBD isolate or full-spectrum is best for you? There is no right or wrong answer. Because CBD isolate is tasteless, it has certain advantages. You can cook with it, and adding to food or drink doesn’t change the taste but does provide the therapeutic benefits. Cooking CBD isolate at high temperatures does reduce potency, so don’t use it in dishes requiring a temperature of more than 400 degrees. It’s also a fine, tasteless addition to tea or coffee. If your vet recommends using CBD oil for your pet, the isolate is usually a better choice because animals may not like the taste and smell of hemp found in the full-spectrum version. Use CBD isolate topically for muscle and joint pain by mixing it with a carrier oil.

Full-spectrum CBD is the method of choice for those suffering from certain medical conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, nausea, joint pain, other types of inflammation and neurological problems. Don’t forget full-spectrum CBD’s numerous nutritional benefits. Many users report higher levels of satisfaction with full-spectrum CBD, and the entourage effect makes this version more effective overall. For most people, using full-spectrum CBD makes more sense and results in health and beauty benefits that surpass those of CBD isolate.

Determining the Right Form of CBD

Unless there are definite reasons for you to prefer one form of CBD over the other, conduct a self-assessment using each type for the same duration of time. Most people seek therapeutic benefits from CBD. See which form works best for your primary condition. You may find that there’s not much difference between them — or that the difference is dramatic. Every person possesses a singular makeup, so what works for your spouse, best friend or anyone else won’t necessarily work for you. The good news is that whether you choose CBD isolate or full-spectrum, neither is likely to produce the side effects so common in both prescription and over-the-counter drugs you would otherwise use to treat your condition.

A graduate of New York University, Jane Meggitt’s work has appeared in dozens of publications, including USA Today, The Alternative Daily, nj.com, The Houston Chronicle and The Nest.