Broad spectrum, full spectrum, isolate: which is which?

Terms like broad spectrum, full spectrum, and isolate get thrown around a lot but what do they mean? As CBD becomes more popular, many people are deciding to try it for themselves.

There’s a lot of information swirling around out there about CBD products, how they work, and what they can do. At shopCBD, we’re committed to helping people discover CBD in their own way, and to help consumers make informed decisions about what’s right for them, and their family's (including pets!).



We hope that although the CBD industry can be confusing to navigate, with a little bit of guidance, terms like broad spectrum, full spectrum, and isolate won't seem so complicated after all. So without further ado, let's dive in. 

Broad Spectrum, Full Spectrum or Isolate?

Before we look at the three main types of CBD extracts, it's important that we understand what CBD is.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the key components of the cannabis and hemp plant. The active chemicals in cannabis are called cannabinoids and phytocannabinoids. The most famous phytocannabinoid, of course, is THC—the one responsible for the high experienced when consuming standard cannabis which is more commonly known as marijuana or weed.

But we’re here to talk about CBD. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, meaning it doesn’t produce a high effect, but users report a myriad of uses and benefits from taking CBD. CBD comes in three main forms – full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate.

Full Spectrum CBD

The most popular form of CBD, which is full spectrum, contains the full spectrum of cannabinoids found in hemp. They’re rich in CBD, but also contain many other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBC, and CBDA, as well as terpenes and flavonoids.

Terpenes are strong-smelling organic compounds. They’re what give hemp products their distinctive odors and tastes, and they’re also the primary constituents of essential oils. Beyond smell and taste, each terpene has its own unique set of health benefits. 

Some common terpenes and their benefits include:

  1. Myrcene is known for its earthy smell and taste. It has been shown to reduce levels of pain and inflammation. 
  2. Limonene is known for its citrusy smell and taste. It acts as a gentle mood booster and may also help to reduce levels of stress.
  3. Linalool has a unique smell and flavor. It combines floral notes with what some describe as slightly spicy undertones. Similarly to Limonene, it may also act as a gentle mood booster. 

Every full spectrum CBD product has its own unique set of terpenes. Although not all brands indicate which terpenes are in their products, it's still important to know that terpenes play a part in how a product will work within the body.

Flavonoids are an extremely diverse group of phytonutrients which is a fancy way of saying nutrients that come from plants. They are responsible for the vivid colors of plants, fruits, and vegetables. They are also rich in antioxidants, which may help the body to ward off everyday toxins.

Full spectrum CBD, in the form of CBD oils, tinctures, and more, allows for consumers to experience what’s called the Entourage Effect. That means that all the other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids work together with CBD to produce an enhanced effect.

Many CBD users report improved results with full spectrum CBD as opposed to other forms, because of the Entourage Effect. For those looking for a well-rounded and complete CBD experience, look no further than a full spectrum CBD oil, tincture, or even an edible.

Full spectrum CBD products are not the right choice for anyone that undergoes regular drug testing. Even though they only contain a maximum of 0.3% THC, some drug tests may still be able to detect it.

Three of our favorite full spectrum CBD products are:

  1. CBD Oil Turmeric Rosemary Extract 500mg by Kanabia
  2. CBD Root Butter Muscle Rub 500mg by Healthy Roots
  3. CBD Hemp Capsules 900mg by Papa & Barkley

Broad Spectrum CBD

Broad spectrum CBD extracts also contain more than just pure CBD. They are loaded with terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids just like full spectrum CBD extracts, but they contain next to no THC whatsoever. 

For those who still want to experience effects similar to the entourage effect, but need to avoid THC, broad spectrum CBD extracts are the answer. Their reduced levels of THC make them safe for those avoiding THC for medical, personal, or legal reasons.

Broad spectrum CBD is created by processing full spectrum CBD in a way that preserves terpenes and other cannabinoids but removes almost all THC from the equation.

Three of our favorite broad spectrum CBD products are:

  1. CBD Gummies 30 count 750mg by CBDmd
  2. CBD Oil Lemon-Lime 500mg by Koi Naturals
  3. CBD Barista Blend 500mg by Weller

CBD Isolates

CBD isolate is, as the name implies, CBD that has been completely isolated from all other compounds. That means no terpenes, flavonoids, or THC. It's still possible to find trace amounts of other cannabinoids such as CBN or CBG but the amounts are so low that they are hardly detectible.

The benefit of CBD isolate products is clear—with no other compounds or cannabinoids present, consumers experience nothing but pure CBD and the effects it provides. It’s especially useful for anyone with a sensitivity to any other cannabinoids, or for those who want to be sure there are negligible levels of THC in what they’re taking.

Some may also be intolerant of or allergic to certain terpenes or flavonoids. For those looking to completely avoid THC, CBD isolate products are the best choice.

Three of our favorite CBD Isolate products are:

  1. MedOil CBD Tincture 500mg by Medterra
  2. CBD Capsules Be Calm 450mg by Plant People
  3. Hemp Derived CBD Muscle Rub 250mg by Social CBD

Whole Plant vs. Single Compound

There’s much debate about whether whole-plant extracts or single compound extracts function more effectively in the body. Turmeric, for example, contains curcumin, which is known for its highly anti-inflammatory properties. Although many people consider curcumin to be the only compound in turmeric responsible for pain and inflammation relief, there are many other people that believe that having the whole plant provides the body with the most benefits. 

From one consumer to the next, results and benefits can vary greatly. So, what does this tell us? Different people may need different things in order to experience the same results. If a consumer isn't concerned about the amount of THC found in a product, then the best way of figuring out which CBD extract type is the right match is by going through a process of trial and error.  

How much CBD should you take?

Once a consumer has figured out which CBD extract is the right fit for their specific needs it's important to figure out how much CBD to take. CBD dosage is based primarily on weight and symptom severity. The more a consumer weighs and the more severe their symptoms are will require an increased amount of CBD. 

For those who aren't sure of how much CBD to take, we've created an easy to CBD dosage calculator which can easily be found by clicking here.

Our calculator provides a dosage range based on the information entered into it. For those who are new to CBD, we recommend starting with the lower dosage recommendation provided to prevent consumers from experiencing possible side effects. 

Although side effects are rare, if a consumer experiences drowsiness, dry mouth, fatigue, or dizziness, it's recommended to reduce or simply stop using CBD until the side effects have subsided.

Key Takeaways

For consumers that are still unsure of which CBD extract is the right choice for them, here is a simple breakdown of each type.

  • Full spectrum CBD: for those who want a complete and holistic CBD experience, benefiting from the Entourage Effect caused by terpenes, flavonoids, cannabinoids, and trace amounts of THC.
  • Broad spectrum CBD: best for people seeking a holistic, entourage-effect-enhanced experience, with reduced levels THC.
  • CBD Isolate: Best for those who need completely pure CBD with no other terpenes or cannabinoids of any kind.

Take a look at full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate oils, edibles, and more.

For any questions feel free to reach out to us by chat, email, or phone.

To stay up to date with our weekly sales and more follow us on Instagram @shopcbdusa.



**This blog provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately.

The opinions and views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, health practice or other institution.**