The Different Types of CBD

It seems like almost every week a new CBD-focussed term pops up whether that be ‘water soluble CBD’, ‘nano-encapsulated CBD’ or something else.

Understanding the key terms about CBD is critical if you are to make informed decisions and find good products in a sea of sub-par CBD brands. In this article we will break down the 3 major ‘types’ of CBD that can be purchased online and in-store. These 3 types of CBD form the base on which almost all CBD products are made so knowing these is a fundamental step in being a savvy CBD buyer. Each 'type' of CBD has positives and negatives and are processed from Hemp in different ways.  As always, if you need more clarity or have any other questions, please reach out to us on webchat, via email or on social media.


Full Spectrum CBD

Full spectrum CBD products contain all of the naturally occurring compounds in the hemp extract. Think of it as ‘liquidised hemp’. Full Spectrum products therefore contain the full array of cannabinoids and associated compound found in hemp including CBD, CBG, CBN as well as THC (+ things like terpenes and flavonoids).

Although there is not yet strong clinical evidence, it is thought that the use of multiple cannabinoids simultaneously may provide a synergistic effect suggesting full spectrum and broad-spectrum products, which contain lots of compounds, may be more effective than CBD on its own. This increased effect has been dubbed ‘the entourage effect’; a note below expands on the concept.

Those who are subject to drug testing (career athletes, commercial drivers etc) should be especially cautious when it comes to full spectrum CBD products that are taken internally such as sublingual oils or capsules. The THC found in full spectrum hemp-derived products is minimal but still present. THC levels must be less than 0.2% (or under 1mg per product) to be legally sold online or in local stores. But even these trace amounts can still trigger a positive drug test. Worse still, poorly made or mislabelled full spectrum CBD products can contain illegal amounts of THC, in some cases enough to get users ‘high’.


Broad Spectrum CBD

Broad spectrum CBD products are a whole-plant extract but with THC removed such that no trace amounts of THC is detectable through analysis. Broad spectrum CBD products contain multiple cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes in addition to CBD.

If you choose to purchase a full spectrum or broad spectrum CBD product, make sure that it is actually what it says it is. The only way to do this is to look at the third party lab reports. These are posted for each product on the websites of all reputable brands or are provided quickly if requested. If the cannabinoid profile of the lab report doesn’t match up with the product description, then something fishy is going on – quiz the company and ask for an explanation or clarification. 

A note on the entourage effect:  In the CBD industry the term ‘entourage effect’ has been used to describe the supposed synergistic effects of consuming multiple cannabinoids at the same time. This idea is not exclusive to cannabis nor to cannabinoids as synergism exists in biology. Although there is strong evidence that terpenes, cannabinoids and endocannabinoids interact and can change the activity of each other, there is no clinical evidence that the entourage effect exists with regard to cannabis. However various dose response curves as well as a wealth of anecdotal evidence does suggest this effect is real. More clear research hopes to address this directly in the near future.


CBD Isolate 

CBD Isolate is the easiest to understand straight away and as the name suggests, is an isolated form of CBD. CBD Isolate usually presents as a white crystalline powered before it is mixed with oils and topicals and, based on lab reports, can be anywhere from 96%-99.9% pure CBD. With today’s accessible technology there is no reason that CBD isolate should be provided at any less than 99% and anything less than that is typically thought of as lower quality. CBD Isolate is used in oils and edibles and is also commonly found in topical products. It is by far the cheapest of the CBD types to source so products only using CBD Isolate are usually cheaper than products using other forms of CBD. Although CBD Isolates should only contain CBD, poorer quality isolates may still contain traces of other cannabinoids and cannabis compounds including THC. Always enquire with the company if you are unsure of the quality and take a particularly close look at their product-specific lab reports.


Which One is Best?

Similar to What’s the best way to take CBD, this question is specific to the individual and each type of CBD comes with its own set of perceived advantages and disadvantages. Some, for example, like the idea of a ‘whole plant’ extract including THC so opt for full spectrum products. Others are not keen on the idea of THC and what a ‘cleaner’ product but still want the full cannabinoid experience may opt for broad spectrum products. Athletes, for example, may be particularly drawn to CBD Isolates which, if high quality, are inherently safer from a drug-testing perspective.

The decision is ultimately up to you. If you are still unsure about where to start just pop us a message!


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