What’s The Difference Between CBD Isolate and Full Spectrum CBD?

“Should I buy CBD isolate oil or full spectrum CBD oil? Is there a difference?”

With so many therapeutic benefits of cannabidiol, more and more consumers are finding their way to CBD oil as a solution for their ailments. From reducing anxiety to minimizing seizures to healing dry skin, there are a lot of potential uses for CBD oil.

It’s easy to get confused with all of the different CBD options on the market, though. Drops and tinctures to edibles to topicals and beyond, it can be challenging and overwhelming to get started.

Typically, we recommend starting with CBD oil. This will give you the greatest concentration with consistent, controlled dosing, so you can see how CBD oil works best for you.

But what kind of CBD oil should you get? There are two main types of CBD oil: isolate and full spectrum. In this article, we’ll go through each so you can determine which product might work best for your needs. (Although, you can’t really go wrong with either!)


Basics of CBD

CBD is a non-psychoactive type of cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. This means it won’t get you high or intoxicated, like THC, but it has the medicinal and healing properties of a cannabinoid.

“Cannabis” is a blanket term for both marijuana and hemp plants. Marijuana plants contain THC, CBD, and hundreds of other cannabinoids. Hemp plants contain hundreds of cannabinoids but practically no THC. In fact, in order to be classified as “hemp” it must contain less than 0.3% THC by volume.

Hemp is federally legal, and all hemp-derived products like CBD are also considered legal. Marijuana is still illegal on a federal level.

So now we’re focusing in just on hemp. Hemp plants contain hundreds of cannabinoids and phytochemicals, like cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds. Cannibidiol (CBD) is the most researched and understood cannabinoid, but researchers are quickly beginning to take a look at hemp’s other compounds’ benefits and uses as well.


CBD extraction

The current best method of CBD extraction—aka how you get the CBD out of the plant—is CO2 extraction. This is a cleaner and healthier version than previous methods of extraction.

The main difference between isolate and full spectrum CBD oil is how much of the hemp plant itself is extracted. If the entire plant and all of its compounds are extracted, it’s considered full spectrum. If it’s solely CBD by itself, it’s referred to as CBD isolate.


CBD isolate

CBD isolate is when the cannabidiol molecule is by itself. There are no other active ingredients or compounds found in the powder or oil. On the shelves, companies will label this as 99% or 100% pure CBD.

CBD isolate usually comes in a white powder or as an oil. A CBD isolate oil will usually be pure CBD mixed with a carrier oil, like MCT or hemp seed oil, for absorption and efficacy.

CBD isolate tends to be more refined than full spectrum, because it needs more processing for the additional compounds. It also requires more material to get the same amount of oil because less of the plant can be used. This usually means CBD is highly concentrated and potent, but it may also be more expensive.  


Full spectrum CBD

Full spectrum CBD oil is extracted from more of the hemp plant and includes other active plant compounds along with cannabidiol. That’s why it’s often referred to as “whole plant” oil. This includes CBN, CBL, and CBCVA. It also includes cannabis terpenes, like pinene and limonene, which researchers have discovered also have significant therapeutic health benefits.

Full spectrum CBD oil tends to be minimally refined compared to isolate, because it maintains the majority of all of its cannabinoids.


Isolate vs full spectrum comparison

Pure CBD oil used to be considered the best option for therapy. There are proven benefits of CBD oil, so it was believed that the more concentrated and potent the CBD molecules, the better the result.

Recent studies are finding this may not necessarily be the case. Some experts and frequent CBD users suggest that full spectrum CBD oil may be more effective because it offers a wider range of plant compounds.

This is referred to as the “entourage effect.” One study found that CBD may be more effective when used with other compounds in the cannabis plant than just by itself. They’re not sure why this synergistic relationship of cannabidiol, terpenes, and other compounds might be the case. It could be that more compounds offer a greater range of health benefits, or it might be that the other compounds make the cannabidiol more potent and effective.

Either way, full spectrum seems to offer an amplified CBD option. Another study suggested that full spectrum CBD oil showed greater results for inflammation than CBD isolate.

Which is better?

There still isn’t enough research to prove if one is more effective or “better” than the other. CBD isolate works well if you’re looking to create your own CBD remedies or you want a more concentrated oil to achieve specific results related to cannabidiol. Full spectrum CBD oil may be more effective if you’re looking for overall health, wellness, and balance.

There’s no right or wrong answer. Both oils contain cannibidol, which has proven impacts on anxiety, inflammation, pain, certain diseases, and so much more. See the benefits of CBD oil here to learn more. You can’t go wrong with either CBD isolate or full spectrum when looking to implement CBD in your regimen!

So try them both out! Do an experiment for yourself to see which works best for you, at which level of dosing.

Get started: Our full spectrum CBD oil drops are a fan favorite, because it’s such a versatile product including CBD and other naturally-occurring cannabinoids. The CBD isolate drops offer highly potent dosing, especially good for people just starting out with CBD.