Setting out to buy CBD products for the first time can be a confusing process especially when it comes to CBD extract. There are a wide number of terms out there used to sell CBD extract — full-spectrum, whole-plant, extraction method, isolate, broad-spectrum… the list goes on. Without the proper education it’s easy to get lost, or worse, buy a product that isn’t right for you.
In this article we are going to walk you through a couple of key terms you need to understand when purchasing CBD extracts: full-spectrum and isolate. Understanding these terms and will help you find a quality and effective product.
Where does CBD Come from?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant which includes both marijuana and hemp. Other cannabinoids include THC, CBN, and CBC. CBD and THC are the two primary phytocannabinoids in the plant.
Different strains of marijuana & hemp have different cannabinoid profiles This means they contain different amounts of individual cannabinoids in them. These strains are purpose-bred by cannabis growers depending on their application.
Generally, marijuana is high in THC and low in CBD in order to produce the euphoric ‘high’ associated with smoking pot. Hemp is the other way around and is high in CBD and low in THC. This is important because everyday CBD users often don’t want the psychoactive effects. Because of this, hemp is the most popular source of extraction for CBD products because of its low THC profile.
It’s also important to understand that CBD is found throughout the entire cannabis plant. Though there are some parts of the plant that contain minimal amounts. For example, the stalks and seeds of hemp contain almost no cannabidiol. Because of this, it’s important to look for CBD extracted from the whole plant.
How is CBD extract refined?
CBD and other cannabinoids are extracted from cannabis using one of several methods. Across the hemp industry, the most common methods of extraction are either alcohol extraction via ethanol or supercritical CO2 extraction.
Alcohol extraction generally produces a lower quality CBD product at a cheaper cost. This method is less desirable as it may leave trace amounts of ethanol in the resulting extract. The more costly CO2 extraction method is preferred because it produces a cleaner and ultimately healthier oil. There are also a couple of methods of CO2 extraction: supercritical extraction which uses a lower temperature and subcritical extraction which uses a higher temperature.
Extracting oil at a lower temperature is preferred because prevents the possible loss of cannabinoids in the extraction process.
What is Full-Spectrum CBD extract?
Full Spectrum is the term used to describe a full range cannabinoid and terpene profile. This profile will provide the highest level of entourage effectiveness. Assuming a high-quality extraction method was used properly, the chemical contents of a full-spectrum extract will closely mirror that of the plant.
When looking for a full-spectrum product, it’s important to look for test results showing the percentages of each cannabinoid in the product. Reputable CBD companies will provide this information for all of their products.
What is Broad-Spectrum CBD?
You may find some products out there advertised as broad-spectrum. Broad-spectrum products contain a limited cannabinoid profile. Most often this term is used to describe products which have the THC removed. These products provide most of the entourage benefits of a full spectrum product without the need for a user to ingest THC.
Cannabidiol can be isolated down to the single-molecule. The resulting CBD isolate is a white powder, often found in very high (99%+) concentrations. This isolate may be added to a variety of carriers for human consumption. Often, this isolate is added to MCT oil and labelled for sale. Be careful not to confuse this with a full-spectrum oil.
Full-Spectrum, Broad Spectrum or Isolate?
Research from Israel published in 2015 concluded that the synergistic effects of a full spectrum cannabinoid profile are superior. The study concluded that full-spectrum CBD was more effective than single-molecule CBD isolate due to the “entourage effect”.
Unfortunately, there are many users who cannot have any THC due to being subject to drug testing. Until recently an isolated form of CBD was the only option for these users. Today, however, broad-spectrum products have entered the market enabling the entourage effect for this group. These products offer maximum potential without the risk of THC exposure.