There Are Different Types of CBD?
I’m sure that by now you have run into different ingredient listings on your CBD. These names, like “Isolate,” and “Full Spectrum,” and maybe even “Synthetic,” could have made complete sense to you, or could have been no more than words. Maybe you didn’t even notice them. My job in these next few sections is to help you to understand what those words mean when they are on your CBD, and maybe help you make some informed decisions about your next purchases. Ready to dive in? Let’s go!
First, I have to say that, yes, there are different types of CBD. The most common names that you will find are isolate and full-spectrum, but others, such as “Synthetic,” and “Broad-Spectrum,” are out there. Now, unlike in a lot of dietary supplements and health foods these days, those words actually mean something and are not just meant to be exotic or attractive. But not everyone calls them by the same name. And what are they?
One of the most common forms of CBD that I come across is labeled “Isolate,” or “CBD Isolate.” In fact, the bottle on my desk right now (our exceptional Select CBD Drops, which are peppermint flavored) is an isolate. It actually says “CBD Hemp Extract,” on the side. It’s in small lettering, so one could easily miss it, but it is important to know what that is. Bear with me for the science-y sounding words.
There are more than 80 cannabinoids, or compounds, found in the hemp plant. CBD isolate is simply telling you that the CBD has been isolated, and is the only one of those 80+ compounds that is included as an active ingredient in the product in your cabinet. It’s purified CBD that has been extracted from the hemp plant and separated from the other cannabinoids. Not too hard to remember, right?
A hemp plant contains lots of different parts (like CBD, THC & terpenes), and an isolate removes everything that isn’t the CBD oil from the mixture. This can be useful for people who are looking for pure CBD oil and want to ensure that their product does not contain even a trace amount of THC (which the hemp plant does, though it is only a trace amount of .3% or less on a dry weight basis.) There are CBD isolate products in nearly every category, from capsules to tinctures to e-liquids and edibles. Isolated CBD is flavorless. That fact and the lack of THC make it appealing to both consumers and manufacturers. We hear great results from customers looking for benefits like mood-stabilization and inflammation relief from CBD isolates.
Another popular form of CBD is known as “Full-Spectrum.” In my experience, these are some of the most advertised and lauded in the market. So why is that? I think that a lot of it has to do with the potency and “naturalness” of the product. In order to produce an isolate, the hemp plant has to be heavily processed – those additional natural compounds are stripped away. Full-Spectrum means that everything that grew in that plant in the ground has made it to the bottle on your shelf. Full-Spectrum CBD contains a variety of essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, protein, chlorophyll, terpenes, flavonoids , and fiber along with those cannabinoid compounds. When referring to CBD in the hemp plant, it’s important to understand that hemp contains a large number of cannabinoids (in trace amounts), but the main compound is cannabidiolic acid (CBDa). As CBDa is more abundant in the hemp plant, manufacturers must decarboxylate the oil. The decarboxylation process heats and filters the oil, converting that natural CBDa into CBD. Wow. Let’s unpack that.
In full-spectrum CBD, you’re getting a lot of natural oils and compounds that you otherwise would lose in an “Isolate.” Many of these are just parts of the plant, such as chlorophyll and fiber, while some have a direct effect on your body and the CBD, such as terpenes (I wrote a blog a little while ago on terpenes. Check it out if you haven’t already!) A major result of this abundance of compounds is that full-spectrum CBD is less processed than an Isolate. It’s heated and filtered, which can increase the concentration while retaining all that plant matter. It’s often stated to be more potent than an isolate. All these compounds(cannabinoids) working together creates a synergistic effect known as the “Entourage effect.” That’s it. Pretty easy, right?
Many people report whole plant extract not only providing faster and better relief  , but the effects also lasting longer. This is why an increasing number of companies in the CBD industry are selling full-spectrum CBD oil as a rule. Do keep in mind, though, that the trace amount of THC will remain in a full-spectrum extract as well. If you’re subject to drug testing or have a sensitivity to THC, this may be something that you want to avoid. We hear great feedback specific to full-spectrum products for customers living with chronic pain.
So we’ve covered isolate and full-spectrum. Another popular option is broad-spectrum. It’s sort of a hybrid if you will. Rather than isolating and using only the CBD, it’s the THC that’s isolated and removed. This results in a 0 THC product that still retains the other compounds and plant matter. This is the newest option in processing methodology. Some manufacturers are able to simply extract the THC, while others are separating all of the compounds to an isolated state and then adding them all back into the product on your shelf. We expect to see this option continue to grow in popularity.
A Word on “Organic”
In the United States – all products labeled “organic” should be derived from organically certified hemp grown in the United States. Hemp grown in the European Union (EU) is grown in accordance with EU standards, which can prove the lack of pesticides, mold, and heavy metals through current test results. Hemp is a porous plant and it’s important to work with a company that lab tests to ensure that there are no harmful agents in the soil making it into that end product. This is less of a concern with a more processed CBD isolate that’s further removed from the plant growing in the ground.
This is the newest and most controversial form of CBD. Just like any other beneficial product that grows naturally, it’s human nature to try to make it better/faster/cheaper. How often, though, does better/faster/cheaper equal healthier? Not often, in our opinion. We do not carry any synthetic CBD products on our website. But why? The short answer is simply that we don’t trust it. A lot of research points to CBD from the hemp plant as being healthier and more beneficial, yet the race is on for medical biotech companies to create a version of CBD that’s cooked in a lab rather than grown in a field. Synthetic CBD (and synthetic pretty much anything) is lower cost and easier to mass-produce. We don’t have to rely on pesky things like sunshine and rainfall. That certainly doesn’t make them better.
As a nation, we’re returning to whole foods and natural products. This is evident in the resurgence of farm to table restaurants. We firmly believe that this should hold true for supplements in our bodies as well. If you need documentation , leading international medical cannabis researchers in Israel have documented that CBD extracts made from the whole cannabis plant display superior medicinal properties compared to synthetic single-molecule cannabidiol (CBD.)
So if the plant-based is better for you, more potent and is the safer option, why wouldn’t we only offer natural CBD? Enough said. I’ll get off that soapbox now.
So what should I look for when buying?
We say it over and over again, but truly there is no one size fits all. If you need to avoid even a trace amount of THC, stick with an isolate or broad-spectrum. An isolate is also a great fit if you have concerns about plant terpene allergies. If you’re looking for the most holistic option, definitely look to full-spectrum. You’ll generally pay a little more per milligram of active ingredient, but you should be able to see a benefit with a lower serving size. Keep in mind, though, that full-spectrum is the whole plant – including that trace amount of THC that naturally occurs in the hemp plant.
I would advise you to steer clear of any “Synthetic” CBD. There is still a lot to learn about it, and the research that we have points to it not being as safe or effective as natural CBD.
As always, we at Green Wellness Life are willing to help and answer any questions that you have. Shoot us an email, call, or message us on any of our social media accounts. We’re always here to help!