Exploring the Types of CBD: Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and Isolate


Welcome to another episode of Full Spectrum Living with CBD, where we delve into the commonly misunderstood categories of CBD: Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and Isolate. Our hosts Meredith, Jessica, and Adriane shed light on these terms, their significance, and the implications for users.

Understanding full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and Isolate

Full Spectrum CBD includes all naturally occurring cannabis plant components, while Broad Spectrum is similar but without THC. However, achieving Broad Spectrum often means losing terpenes due to the extraction process. Isolates typically represent a pure form of CBD, but there are complexities and misconceptions surrounding them.

The Extraction Process: What’s Lost and What’s Gained

The transition from Full Spectrum to Broad Spectrum and Isolate involves extraction processes that can significantly impact the final product’s quality. Understanding these methods is crucial for consumers looking for the most beneficial CBD experience.

Synergy of Components: The Entourage Effect

Full Spectrum CBD offers the entourage effect, a synergy between cannabinoids and terpenes that enhances the overall benefits. This integral aspect is often lost in more processed forms like isolates.

Choosing CBD Types: Considerations and Misconceptions

The choice between Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and Isolate is influenced by factors like THC stigma and workplace drug testing. However, misleading marketing and labeling can lead to confusion, emphasizing the need for consumer education.

Marketing Myths: Navigating Misleading Terms

Terms like “pure” and “medical grade” are often misleading in the CBD industry. Understanding these marketing strategies is vital for making informed choices.

The Importance of Natural Ingredients

The addition of non-natural ingredients in some CBD products raises questions about their efficacy and purity. High-quality CBD should be effective without added substances.


In summary, understanding the types of CBD and the processes behind them is essential for making informed decisions. For more in-depth knowledge, follow our FAQ Fridays and explore our blog for comprehensive insights.

*DISCLAIMER: This is a transcript of episode 9 – Types of CBD from our Full Spectrum Living with CBD podcast. Click here to listen to the podcast episode or click here to watch the video.


Meredith [00:00:06] Welcome back to Full Spectrum Living with CBD.

Meredith [00:00:08] I am your co-host, Meredith, here with our host Jessica and Adriane, and we are really excited to talk with you all today about a topic that I think is going to be really popular because I think people are looking for this information. So we’re going to be talking about the difference between full spectrum, broad spectrum and isolate and what that really means anyway. So who wants to kick off and dive in on this topic?

Jessica [00:00:35] I’ll go…

Jessica [00:00:40]  So I guess a full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate tend to be the three most common categories of the type of content that’s in the CBD product. You could definitely expand from that, but we wanted to address these terms because they’re really popular. They mean something or they should be meaning something consistent, but they tend to get kind of misused often. And so we just generally wanted to address that. And to start with a basic definition, I guess like full spectrum would imply that you have all the naturally occurring ingredients of the cannabis plant are present in the end product as far as your cannabinoid and your terpenoid profile from the plant. Broad spectrum is, should be, that minus THC, but the downside is that generally to take out just the THC, you’re generally sacrificing a lot more than just the THC. It’s generally the terpene profile because of the type of extraction needed to isolate that out. And then isolates would generally be just a single molecule CBD or at least supposedly, they should be that, there’s problems there that we’re going to be talking about. But it would imply that it’s just CBD, no other active component present. And we’ll go into why that’s not always true.

Meredith [00:02:07] So let me ask you just straight off, how do they go from taking the full spectrum to the broad spectrum to isolate like what is that process and what can be lost during that?

Adriane [00:02:22]  Like Jessica said, there’s some extraction processes out there that are meant and created to isolate it. They’re really typically really harsh on the plant. Like Jessica said, when you’re doing that for broad spectrum only and you’re removing just the THC, you do lose the terpenes during that process and the terpenes need a really gentle process. So a hydrocarbon distillation, like the one that we do, is gentle on that. It does allow for the terpenes to remain in the plant, but again, we’re not isolating anything. We’re not trying to remove one specific compound within that plant. So the gentler, the process, the more full spectrum, the more closer to the plant that you’re actually going to get. The problem today is that you find a lot of products on the market that are labeled full spectrum, but zero THC. It’s like, no, sorry, it’s not full spectrum. It has to contain all the naturally occurring compounds…  cannabinoids, and terpenes that are there. If you remove one, that’s not full, but just think about it, full means full, it means everything. When broad spectrum, again, I’m sure they can isolate any cannabinoid, but the most popular cannabinoid at this time that they’re isolating is going to be the THC.

Meredith [00:03:42] Gotcha. So is that process sometimes a chemical process too then?

Adriane [00:03:47] Yes, it is going to be a chemical process right now. I mean, the most popular processes are going to be CO2 extractions, they’re going to be alcohol extractions are probably the two most popular right now. And then with the hydrocarbon distillation, like what we’re doing, of course, is popular as well. But more often than not, these products that are isolated and that are in any way, shape or form, whether it’s broad spectrum or isolate, is going to be a CO2 or an alcohol.

Meredith [00:04:15] OK. And when we think about that, how does that impact the user?  If they’re going to the more processed product, what are the things that they might want to be aware of?

Jessica [00:04:28] I think the main thing is just so we know that there’s definitely a synergy between not just the cannabinoids, but the terpenes that are present. So the cannabinoids being the family group of chemicals that CBD and THC are in, there’s a hundred plus of those. And then the terpenoids being like the scent and flavor profile of cannabis plants, they offer not only just their own unique benefits, but they tend to kind of magnify the cannabinoids benefit as well. So having the synergy of all of those aspects present, in our opinion, is what a truly full spectrum product is. Nothing is taken out. Nothing is added. It’s as nature intended and as gentle of a process as possible. And so I think the downside to like the CO2 and ethanol extractions like they are very legitimate extraction types and very popular, but they come at a cost. And so the cost is that CO2 and the high pressure that’s required to extract there tends to really destroy the terpenoid content as a whole. And so you’re left without that entire category of substances. And a lot of places will add that back in. We just don’t feel like that’s always the most beneficial, because then you have to start questioning like what’s the terpene source is it natural, is it synthetic? Is it I don’t know. There’s other questions you can really raise from that, but the balance of those in and how they occur naturally. But the point being, when you go for some of these other extraction methods, it does just take away the terpene content as a whole. And so you’re really decreasing the overall synergy that’s offered that the plant would have.

Meredith [00:06:20] And so why would somebody turn to the product that isn’t a full spectrum? Like what’s the attraction there?

Adriane [00:06:27] I think it comes down to the whole THC stigma and the negative connotation that kind of comes with THC, one, first and foremost. And then two, it quite possibly could be job related, you know, any anytime that you’re going to receive a drug screen of any sort, whether it’s through your employer or through your physician and you’re worried about the THC content coming up. So people typically will go towards a broad spectrum or an isolated product. But the problem with that is, and Jessica kind of hinted to it earlier is that some of these products are honestly mislabeled. It could say 0 percent THC, but zero point three is what’s legal. Well they’re not telling you what’s after that zero point, they’re just saying there’s zero percent THC. So that little amount can actually show up on a drug screen anyway. So if your product isn’t labeled correctly, if the manufacturer isn’t necessarily on the up and up, which unfortunately there’s some products on the market today that fall within this category. There’s a lot of great products as well. You just want to be really careful because you can still test positive and people do. There are reports of people testing positive even when taking an isolated product. So is that one and a problem with the testing? Or two, is it a problem with the manufacturer and with what’s on their label? We don’t know. It really just depends, so you have to do the research on it.

Jessica [00:07:49] Well, it is, yeah. It’s a common problem, too. I mean, like a lot of the draw to isolates, I think is for one, there’s a lot of marketing in that trying to act like it’s the pure CBD, like oh, “CBD is beneficial, so you want pure CBD”. And that’s just not really the case. Again, the entourage effect the synergy of all those cannabinoids. It’s a known benefit to having all of those present as opposed to just the isolated cannabinoid of CBD. But then the other aspect being that a lot of these isolates are being tested and finding that it’s not just CBD present. There’s been heavy metals, there’s been pesticides, there’s been other cannabinoids, there’s been THC. There’s been a lot of things present in some of these isolates that are advertised as being over ninety-nine point nine percent pure cannabidiol. And then there’s been some exposes kind of showing that that’s not always a true statement. But I think because of the ability to kind of make that suitable for mass production, it’s just heavily marketed as being the ideal form to consume. People are just, it’s easy to make in bulk and it’s cheaper often. And so there’s a lot of benefit to making it sound like the best option.

Meredith [00:09:10]  So let’s be clear, too, because this and I think we’ve talked about this a little bit before, but there’s not regulation here. There’s not anybody that’s checking product A versus product B versus product C for, you know, proper labeling or truth in advertising or really any of that. So are there other terms then, like you are using the word pure, right? Are there other terms, are there other words, that you guys are seeing in product marketing, that are kind of red flags to you guys. When you see them, you just go, oh, no, that’s…

Adriane [00:09:48] Jessica, I mean, hit the nail on the head with pure. I mean, pure hurts my heart. It really does. Because when a consumer typically thinks of pure, they think of natural, they think of clean, they think of, you know, it’s just a great product. Sadly, pure in the CBD world, is the least natural way to actually consume it. It’s been isolated, it’s very processed. I mean, essentially taking the beauty of the plant and then taking it into this powdery white material. Granted, its easy to formulate with, doesn’t contain the natural flavor of the plant. Again, because it doesn’t have the terpenes. So I see that the excitement and why people would choose certain things, whether you’re a manufacturer or a consumer. But pure is the one that like really kills me, because I would love to say that our product is pure because it really is. You can’t get a product that is closer to the plant than that. So in my mind, that denotes pure. It’s like we’re not really changing anything. The only thing that we’re doing is adding some MCT coconut oil as a dilution standpoint. I think that’s the one that hurts the most. I’m trying to think, Jess, you could be chomping at the bit.

Jessica [00:10:56] I’ve got two that really, really get me right now. I mean, there’s always trends of like broad spectrum is a pretty new term, it seems like, as far as the market goes. But. So two that have been like irking me. I’m seeing medical grade a lot and that almost always is just isolates. And that’s just what’s medical grade about that like it’s just a marketing thing, in my opinion. And then smart spectrum really irks me because it’s also an isolate. You don’t have a spectrum with one single thing. It’s not a spectrum. If you have one single cannabinoid, it’s an isolate, but it’s a marketing term, so.

Adriane [00:11:37] Well, I mean, especially when you think about a smart spectrum, what does that even mean? Like I mean, like it really means nothing. That’s smart? I don’t know. To me, it’s just it’s marketing. And unfortunately, that’s what we’re kind of dealing with. I think the industry is going to start to try to self, you know, we are starting to self regulate. We are being very vocal in calling out companies that aren’t doing things the right way. And it’ll continue to be a process. But it’s painful to hear some of the things that are being put out in the market.

Meredith [00:12:07] And what about things that aren’t that aren’t natural, that are making their way into these products? Are you seeing that happen, too?

Adriane [00:12:18] Yeah, there’s definite added ingredients, whether, you know, some of them are natural or unnatural. I mean, it could be a mixture of both. But when it comes to a quality product and if you’re looking for something largely therapeutic, if you are dealing with a quality CBD extract, you shouldn’t have to have other things in there to help the CBD do what it’s going to be doing. And I’m talking terpenes, I’m talking like, you know, added ingredients that may be like, oh, this CBD oil is specifically for sleep, but it also contains 10 milligrams of melatonin. Well, is it the melatonin or is it the CBD? Like, let’s let us think about it because CBD does help regulate sleep cycles and so forth. But if it’s a quality product, it should do it on its own, shouldn’t necessarily have to add other sleepy time things to the extract to make it work. My opinion.

Meredith [00:13:13] Yeah, and that makes a lot of sense. So if someone is listening to us today and they’re they’re currently using, you know, full spectrum, broad spectrum or an isolate, now they’re wondering like what? What should I be using? How how is somebody to select? How are they to pick?

Jessica [00:13:29] Okay. I’m like, maybe this is where all our food analogies come into play. We came up with quite a few earlier. There’s a bunch. I might share a few. But just to kind of help people understand that, of course, like we are adamant that full spectrum is the most ideal way to get benefit at the lowest content. It’s a diverse substance that triggers just over 60 plus mechanisms of action in the body. And so you have this kind of chain reaction of positive things happening and the fewer ingredients present as far as your cannabinoids and terpenes, like, the less that happens. So we always suggest full spectrum always. And unfortunately, there’s issues with some people that because of their employer or another issue, that’s not an option for them. So there are other options that kind of have to make that decision, because from product to product like Broad Spectrum and isolate, the terms aren’t always what they should mean. So you’re just going to have to do your own research and find a product otherwise if it’s not ours and a full spectrum one. But to kind of help break that down, though, I think like some important things that really help to kind of get people to understand the difference in our opinion. I think the biggest one that stands out to me is just kind of like if you take an analogy of white sugar and compare that to isolates, that’s kind of, would be the comparison there versus like honey would be a full spectrum product. So like with honey, you’ve got natural antioxidants and things that tend to be antibacterial and health promoting, reduce allergens and things like that. There’s just a lot of different structures present in honey. But then when you talk about white sugar, it’s just sweet. It’s just highly processed sweetness. And so I think that in my mind is a really close comparison to like a full spectrum, true full spectrum product and a isolated product. They’re both going to be sweet. You just have so much more working in your favor in a full spectrum product. And, you know, I don’t know if that made enough sense to say. Oh, yeah.

Meredith [00:16:01] Yeah, I think it’s great. I think it’s a great explanation. Did you have something you wanted to add, Adriane?

Adriane [00:16:05] I think, you know, also again going back to the food we’ve always talked about, you know, you think about the tomato, right, being the fruit of the tomato plant. But that just you mentioned early whole plant versus full spectrum. Right. So whole plant means just that. I mean, it’s every part of the plant, the stock, the stem and the fan leaves. But when you make your pasta sauce, you don’t use the entire tomato plant. You don’t throw the stock and the stem in there and grind it all up and make your sauce. Your grandma would have a heart attack. You just use the fruit. So in a quality product, a quality full spectrum product, you should only be using that fruit or that flour part of the plant. Right. That’s where all the cannabinoids in terpenes are gonna live. Putting in the stock and the stem and all the other aerial parts just really kind of muddies the sauce, if that makes sense.

Meredith [00:16:53] For sure. Absolutely.

Jessica [00:16:54] Not just degrading the quality, but yeah, potentially increasing the negative things that could contaminate it by using a lot of filler material that is, you know, potentially contaminated from leaching from the soil, which is something that hemp is really good at. I have one more food analogy, though, while we’re at it.

Meredith [00:17:16] Yeah, tell me.

Jessica [00:17:18] So I mean, a lot of places will say, like Adriane mentioned, full spectrum, zero THC. And again, that’s just not, that’s a misuse of the name full spectrum, because essentially, here’s the analogy. You’re talking about a cake and you take a piece of cake out of this. You take a slice out and then you call it a whole cake, like you’ve taken a significant chunk out of this cake, and it’s no longer whole or full in it’s spectrum. And I kind of think it’s it’s almost a little beyond that. Like my brain processes this as when you’re taking out just the THC. As we mentioned, it requires a processing that also often takes out a lot more content than just the THC. So it’s kind of like you took that slice out with a hammer and you damaged a bunch of other stuff around, you know, in the process and then call it full. So that’s that’s something we see pretty often. This full spectrum, zero THC.

Adriane [00:18:20] I like the hammer, I think. Yeah. That’s a good add, Jess.

Meredith [00:18:23] Yeah, for sure. For sure. So if someone was curious, wanted to know more about the differences between full and broad spectrum and isolate where would be a good place for them to go. And do you have that information on your Website or?

Adriane [00:18:36] Yeah, absolutely. So we do FAQ Fridays on Facebook. So definitely check us out there. I think we just did one here recently that it talks about a full versus broad versus isolate. But in addition to that, we’ll post some information more around the studies and so forth on our Website, specifically the blog. And then just so that you know, if anybody has any questions, whether you ask it on Facebook or on social media, we’re going to answer it on the blog so that hopefully it will generate more conversation and you know exactly where to go to get those answers.

Meredith [00:19:07] Awesome. Awesome. Well for this episode of Full Spectrum Living with CBD. I am your co-host, Meredith here with our host, Jessica and Adriane. And we will see you on the next time.