The Significant Differences Between CBD Isolate and Full-Spectrum CBD Products

CBD is one of more than 400 plant-based compounds found in hemp oil. Those investigating the many potential health and wellness benefits of hemp-sourced CBD soon discover there are numerous products available.  

When you first begin investigating the many potential benefits of CBD, the information and product options can easily become overwhelming. During your research, you have likely noticed that there are different types of CBD oil: some products contain full-spectrum CBD while others are made with CBD isolate. Understanding the significant differences between these products can help you determine which type of CBD is best suited to your needs.

CBD is One of Many Potentially Beneficial Compounds in Cannabis

CBD is the scientific abbreviation assigned to cannabidiol, just one of approximately 113 potentially beneficial cannabinoids found in cannabis. When you purchase what is commonly referred to as CBD oil, the product you are investing in is actually a plant extract that contains cannabidiol. There are two potential sources: hemp and marijuana.

Most of the CBD products available to the average consumer are derived from industrial hemp. While hemp is cannabis, it is not intoxicating. Consider the following differences between the two plants:

  • Marijuana Plants are short, bush-like plants that are typically grown in a climate-controlled environment. Marijuana needs a warm, humid climate to thrive. Marijuana extract contains high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Like CBD, THC is also a cannabinoid. THC binds to the cannabinoid receptors in your brain and creates the psychoactive effects associated with marijuana use: the high. Marijuana is classified as a schedule 1 drug and legality varies by state. Legal marijuana is commonly obtained through a dispensary, most often with a doctor’s prescription.    
  • Hemp Plants are tall, weed-like plants that can thrive in diverse climates. Although hemp is also a cannabis plant, it does not contain high levels of THC. To be legally classified as hemp, the plant must contain .3 percent THC or less. Hemp products are available to anyone who chooses to invest in CBD supplements and is no longer federally restricted. You cannot get high from the insignificant amount of THC found in industrial hemp, even if you were to consume large quantities of hemp oil.   

Yes, marijuana and hemp both contain the cannabinoid CBD, but hemp oil poses no risk of intoxication. While some people are initially hesitant to try CBD because it is derived from cannabis, most concerns are alleviated once these important distinctions are made. It’s important to note that CBD oil and hemp oil are terms that are used interchangeably throughout the CBD industry.

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Differentiating Between the Two Types of Hemp Oil Products

While there are many types of products available in today’s market, from skin care creams to CBD infused candy, it’s important to understand the essential differences between the two most common types of CBD products. Some products are full-spectrum while others are made with a significantly more processed form of CBD. Consider the following differences:

  • Full-Spectrum CBD extract contains all the elements of the original plant source, much like any other essential oil. Full-spectrum CBD includes all of the cannabinoids, plant terpenes, vitamins, and minerals of the hemp plant, including the trace amounts of THC.
  • CBD Isolate is concentrated CBD in its purest form. Through a process called chromatography, all other plant compounds are removed leaving behind a powder-like substance that is more than 99 percent pure cannabidiol. CBD isolate is flavorless, odorless, and THC-free.

Since CBD isolate products are THC-free, many CBD enthusiasts prefer using products made with CBD isolate. Since isolate products contain the purest form of CBD, you might assume that products made with CBD isolate are essentially superior to their full-spectrum counterparts. Not so.

Many CBD users believe full-spectrum hemp oil the superior product because of the significant number of potentially beneficial plant compounds found in full-spectrum products. The potential health benefits of the natural plant elements are magnified and multiplied by an intriguing phenomenon known as the entourage effect.  

The Entourage Effect Provided By Full-Spectrum CBD Products

This ancient Greek philosopher is credited for the quote “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” When it comes to synergistic plant compounds, the combined effect of two or more elements is greater than the effects of the individual components.

For centuries, naturalists have supported the belief that whole, unrefined plants are more beneficial to our bodies than individual plant nutrients, that many plant compounds are synergistic. We often borrow from the wisdom of Aristotle to explain the concept of synergy.

RELATED: CBD and the Entourage Effect

The entourage effect surpasses the effects of synergy. While synergy explains the potential impact of combining active elements, the entourage effect explains the activation of inactive plant components. When combined, the inert compounds in cannabis, elements that have no effect on their own, activate. The entourage effect explains how the many plant compounds in full-spectrum CBD magnify and multiply the effects of the others. In addition to the entourage effect, full-spectrum hemp oil also provides:

  • Other phytocannabinoids – plant-based cannabinoids including CBDV, CBG, and CBC
  • Plant terpenes – the aromatic compounds in plants shown to provide therapeutic benefits
  • Flavonoids – phytonutrients providing anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antioxidant benefits
  • Amino acids – the building blocks of cells including muscle and tissue cells (and other functions)
  • Vitamins A, C, and E – for immune system function, organ function, and tissue regeneration
  • Calcium and potassium – regulates fluid balance, supports nerve function and bone formation
  • Iron and zinc – supports immune system function and blood cell formation
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The Potential Benefits of Using Products Made From CBD Isolate

While many CBD users prefer full-spectrum products because of the entourage effect, full-spectrum CBD may not be right for everyone. Those who don’t feel comfortable using full-spectrum CBD because of the trace amounts of THC typically prefer using products made with CBD isolate. Just a few of the benefits of products made with isolate include:

  • Trace amounts of THC have been removed
  • More control over the amount of CBD contained in the final product
  • Isolate will not interfere with the flavor of your culinary creations
  • No odor from the original plant source
  • Ideal for increasing the amount of CBD in an existing product
  • The potential for creating products with a higher level of CBD per dose

Should I Use Full-Spectrum CBD or CBD Isolate?

You will likely find a vast selection of products made from both full-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate. Whether to use one or the other is really a matter of personal preference. Determining which product works best and most efficiently for you is the key factor in choosing one over the other. Both provide significant potential health and wellness benefits because of the way CBD interacts with your endocannabinoid system.

Understanding the Basic Functions of Your Endocannabinoid System

Your endocannabinoid system is a complex network of neurotransmitters and receptors named for the plant that led to its discovery, cannabis.

The messengers that interact with the receptors of your endocannabinoid system are called cannabinoids; your body makes two main cannabinoids, the endocannabinoids (internal cannabinoids) anandamide, and 2-AG. The endocannabinoid system facilitates the communication responsible for regulating nearly every essential function in your body. Just a few of the numerous functions regulated by your endocannabinoid system include:

  • Moods and emotions
  • Pain perception
  • Memory and learning
  • Sleep cycle regulation
  • Inflammation
  • Immune system function
  • Cardiovascular function
  • Metabolism and thermal regulation

Your body makes endocannabinoids as needed. These essential neurotransmitters are quickly broken down by enzymes. Under the effects of illness, injury, or stress, the demand can exceed the supply. Your endocannabinoid system is so important to your health and well-being that many researchers consider endocannabinoid deficiencies the cause of several chronic health conditions, including some neurodegenerative disorders, fibromyalgia syndrome, and chronic migraine pain.

Supplementing Your Endocannabinoid System with Hemp-Sourced CBD

The plant-based cannabinoids in hemp oil (CBD) mimic the effects of anandamide and 2-AG, triggering the receptors of your endocannabinoid system. Supplementing the messengers of your endocannabinoid system alleviates potential endocannabinoid deficiencies, keeping this vital communication network functioning efficiently. Some of the many potential health and wellness benefits of endocannabinoid support include:

  • Reducing pain and inflammation
  • Reducing the severity of muscle spasms
  • Improving sleep
  • Reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Enhancing mood and memory
  • Reducing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Alleviating nausea and vomiting

It’s important to remember that hemp CBD is a dietary supplement. Hemp oil is not a cure or medical treatment for any known health disorder. The evidence supporting the use of CBD for endocannabinoid support is based on laboratory studies, animal testing, and the testimony of those who claim symptomatic relief from using hemp CBD.

Cannabidiol, CBD, is just one of many potentially beneficial plant compounds found in full-spectrum CBD products. Those who are more comfortable knowing their CBD is THC-free prefer products made with CBD isolate, a product that is more than 99 percent pure CBD. Both products provide numerous potential health and wellness benefits.

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