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Broad spectrum? Full spectrum? What’s the Difference?

Most people that are new to the CBD industry, or CBD products, will eventually need to choose between broad spectrum CBD vs. full spectrum CBD products. A third type of CBD product known as a ‘CBD isolate’ also exists. For the purposes of this article, I will stick with discussing the differences between broad spectrum CBD vs. full spectrum CBD. There are a lot of myths and generally incorrect information out there about this topic, and I’ll do my best to set you in the right direction.

Let’s begin!

What is a Cannabinoid Spectrum?

A cannabinoid ‘spectrum’ is a term used to describe the presence, or absence, of certain cannabinoids in a product. The cannabis plant is rich in several plant-based chemicals including essential oils, cannabinoids and terpenes. When dealing with broad spectrum vs. full spectrum CBD, the cannabinoid content is the big differentiator.

  • Cannabinoids – another word that simple means “plant chemical”. This is a natural compound within plants
  • Essential oils – these are largely extracted for their smell or taste. For example, you may see a lavender-scented candle at a shop. This likely utilizes the essential oils from lavender to achieve that particular fragrance.
  • Terpenes – these are compounds within many different plants and even some bugs. Their intense aromas serve as a defense mechanism from herbivores or other dangers.
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The combination of the cannabinoid content in a CBD product is what defines its spectrum. The cannabinoid family consists of over 120 different members with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (cannabidiol), CBG (cannabigerol) and CBN (cannabinol) as the most studied members. A CBD spectrum can be classified as full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or pure CBD isolate.

For this article, we will focus on the differences between broad spectrum vs. full spectrum CBD products.

Broad Spectrum CBD vs. Full Spectrum CBD

If you’re familiar with CBD products, the terms ‘full spectrum’ or ‘broad spectrum’ CBD pop up frequently. These terms describe the cannabinoid content of that particular CBD product. The terms broad spectrum vs. full spectrum are very important in giving the consumer a general idea of what to expect from the CBD product in terms of therapeutic benefits.

If you are just coming across these terms for the first time, don’t worry. This article will discuss the differences between broad spectrum vs. full spectrum CBD in a simple to understand way.

Full Spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum CBD products contain many of the naturally occurring compounds found in the cannabis plant. These compounds include but are not limited to: terpenes, essential oils and cannabinoids (THC inclusive). Full spectrum CBD is prepared with the sole aim of maximizing the potentials of the hemp extract for maximum benefits. Information gathered from scientific research has shown that the presence of CBD and terpenes can inhibit the psychoactive side effects of THC; hence, the reason why THC is often found in full-spectrum products.

To remain legal, all full-spectrum CBD products contain no more than 0.3% of THC. This means you should be looking for CBD products that are made from hemp – not marijuana. Marijuana derived CBD is likely very high in THC, which causes the product to become psychoactive and extremely regulated by US law.

full spectrum vs. broad spectrum contentsFigure 1.0 – Full Spectrum Cannabinoid Content

Pros and Cons of Full Spectrum CBD

  • Full-spectrum CBD products offer THC – this is the main, and potentially only difference
  • Potentially produces psychoactive or sedative effects – depending on the THC content
  • May cause a false positive during a drug test
  • The use of full-spectrum CBD may be illegal in some parts of the world

Broad Spectrum CBD

Broad Spectrum CBD defines hemp-based products, like CBD drops or pills, which contain most of the phytocannabinoids within hemp – minus the THC. THC will still be present in broad spectrum products, it will simply be in miniscule amounts that aren’t measurable. This type of CBD product is widely used in cases where people are interested in enjoying the full benefits of the cannabis plant, but don’t want to mess (at all) with the presence of THC.

Broad spectrum cbd lab reportFigure 2.0 – Example of a Broad Spectrum Cannabinoid Content

Pros and Cons of Broad Spectrum CBD Products

  • It contains little to no THC, thus regarded as legal in most regions of the world
  • It does not produce adverse side effects
  • Limitations may exist because of a lack in THC, if you care for this compound

Broad Spectrum vs. Full Spectrum – Which is Best for Me?

Choosing the right CBD spectrum is purely user preference – nothing else. Please, do not let people tell you that one of these is significantly better than the other. When choosing between broad spectrum vs. full spectrum CBD products, it is completely up to you and your own body. You should keep in mind your health condition, body chemistry and rules guiding the use of the different CBD spectrums.

Both products produce outstanding results. Remember, you can also consult with your CBD expert or doctor for information on which CBD spectrum best suits your condition or bodily needs.

Conclusion | Broad Spectrum CBD vs. Full Spectrum CBD

To wrap it up, the main difference between broad spectrum CBD vs. full spectrum CBD is simply the cannabinoid content – that’s it. Full spectrum is likely to have a higher THC content than broad spectrum. If you are looking to completely avoid THC for whatever reason, you should probably stick with broad spectrum CBD products. If you don’t mind the THC content, then either option will suit you well. From a personal point of view, I cannot tell a difference between the two products. However, everyone is different. You be the judge.

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Please keep in mind the legalities of purchasing hemp-derived CBD products unless you are in a state where marijuana is recreationally legal, or you have a medical marijuana card. This type of card allows you to have marijuana products in possession.

References

Frontiers in Psychiatry: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3797438/
Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/endocannabinoid-system
Journal of Membrane Science and Technology: https://www.longdom.org/peer-reviewed-journals/terpenes-29359.html
Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/cbd-isolate
PBS.org: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/is-cbd-legal-heres-what-you-need-to-know-according-to-science
PLOS ONE: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0230167
United States Department of Agriculture: https://www.usda.gov/farmbill
Web MD: https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/news/20190809/pure-cbd-wont-make-you-fail-a-drug-test-but#1

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