Not all cannabidiol (CBD) is made the same.

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Understand the difference between full spectrum (full spec for short) and regular, isolate CBD, and you will be able to choose the product that best suits your needs.

Full Spectrum vs Regular CBD: What Is the Difference?

Not all cannabidiol (CBD) is made the same. When it comes to full spectrum vs regular CBD, many people may be unclear exactly what the difference is. Understand the difference between full spectrum (full spec for short) and regular, isolate CBD, and you will be able to choose the product that best suits your needs.

Both of these types of CBD exist in numerous mediums. So, you should not feel like you’re stuck with a CBD product that you do not enjoy! To learn more, read on. We’ll explain everything about CBD products to you.

What is Cannabidiol (CBD)?

It is important that you understand the basics of CBD, too. CBD is just one type of cannabinoid that is found in cannabis. Cannabis contains numerous cannabinoids, and CBD is just one of them.

CBD is the second most abundant of all the compounds found in hemp. The first most abundant compound is delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. We’ll delve deeper into that next. CBD is a compound that does not produce a psycho active high.

Instead, it interacts with the body in a more indirect way. In fact, it can increase the body’s natural endo cannabinoids by preventing them from breaking down enzymatically. The endo cannabinoid system is a recent discovery.

It seems our bodies respond quite well to the chemicals found in cannabis, since our bodies in fact produce them themselves!

Uses and Research Behind CBD

People use CBD in many situations. Most often, CBD is a preferred treatment for patients with anxiety, neurological or psychological issues, epilepsy, tumors, pain, and inflammation. The stories people report after using CBD are nothing short of miraculous.

Most of the evidence backing up CBD’s usefulness is anecdotal currently. There is an insufficient amount of scientific research currently. However, as the trend continues and CBD grows more popular, it is likely that we’ll see more and more studies on the use cases of CBD.

There are many studies and clinical trials exploring the effects of CBD. In our modern age, it is certainly becoming a topic of interest on an international scale.

As more organizations, practitioners, and individuals see how CBD can impact the way we treat various illnesses and ailments, hopefully we’ll continue to see more and more research come out in support of this miracle substance.

CBD versus THC

CBD is not psycho active, as mentioned previously. This means it will not get you high. This is great news for people who desire the benefits of marijuana without the side effect of getting high or stoned.

THC, however, does have the ability to alter your mental state or behavior. This is the element that makes marijuana useful for recreational purposes.

Even without THC, CBD still may have some beneficial properties. It may work as a pain reliever, for example. Or, it may be used for relaxation, sleep, stimulating appetite, anti nausea and vomiting, or as a muscle relaxant.

Some studies show that CBD and THC work best synergistically, enhancing one another’s potentially beneficial properties. However, THC is often stigmatized as a recreational, controlled substance, while CBD is seen as a therapeutic substance. So, for many, the focus is on CBD as it is possibly beneficial but without the high.

In many places, THC is totally illegal. However, CBD has a more flexible legal status in many ways. This is because it does not produce the high that THC does.

Full Spectrum versus Isolate CBD

When you are purchasing CBD products, you have two options: full spectrum CBD or isolate (regular) CBD. Full spectrum vs regular CBD has a few key differences you’ll want to be aware of.

Full spectrum CBD, as hemp oil, contains every cannabinoid present in the cannabis plant. This means cannabidiol, cannabicyclol, tetrahyrdocannabivarin, and cannbichromevinaric acid, to name a few. In full spectrum CBD oil, there is nothing held back or left out.

Different cannabinoids introduce various potential benefits that can address a wide variety of ailments, both on their own and in conjunction with one another, and with CBD.

These full spectrum products may also contain small amounts of THC. This is because nothing is removed from the cannabis plant. Still, it is CBD oil, so the focus is not on the THC content. Most likely, it also comes from plants that have a low level of THC by nature.

However, it should be said that industrial hemp is regulated at 0.3 per cent THC concentration. This amount will not generally cause psycho active effects. Chemists create full spectrum CBD oil by extracting the whole source of the plant and distilling it down into oil. This brings all of the other properties and molecules along with it.

Still, when it comes from a plant that is very low in THC, that means the full spectrum CBD oil will also contain just a very minimal amount of THC. Full spectrum vs regular CBD is an easy choice for some people as long as they are okay with some exposure to THC. 

Isolate CBD is exactly what it sounds like. It is CBD, separated from any and all other cannabis compounds.

It is isolated by cooling extracted oil until it forms into crystals. These crystals are processed into a highly pure powder. This powder is just CBD as a molecular compound.

Isolating the perceived valuable aspects of any substance is a common approach in the pharmaceutical model. This is because it works to maximize an ‘active ingredient’ to its utmost efficacy and safety, while not prioritizing any other ingredients of the material.

There is a downside, though. This method does neglect to take advantage of the possible holistic benefits of full spectrum products. Isolate CBD provides you with the benefits of CBD and CBD alone. It does not take advantage of any of the rest of the materials and chemicals that are present alongside CBD in the cannabis plant.

To some people, this may be what they prefer. However, others believe that it does not use the cannabis plant to its full potential.

What difference does it make? 

When weighing your options, you want to truly understand the ins and outs of full spectrum vs regular CBD.

If full spectrum CBD oil is truly far superior, then you’ll know its worth an extra investment. However, if you can get the exact same benefits from isolate CBD, why pay more or introduce your body to more substances than you need to?

The Entourage Effect

In a 2015 study, the Lautenberg Center for General Tumor Immunology in Jerusalem noted that full spectrum CBD is capable of offering greater levels of anti inflammatory relief.

How did they prove this? In their scientific studies, scientists administered higher doses to mice. A group of mice that ingested isolate CBD did not experience the same level of relief at higher doses.

The study means that CBD isolate is, of course, effective. However, at a certain dose, it seems that the full spectrum product is perhaps a better option. Full spectrum CBD oil retains its efficacy at any dose.

As the study said, “Healing was only observed when CBD was given within a very limited dose range, whereas no beneficial effect was achieved at either lower or higher doses.”

Full spectrum CBD oil may be more effective than CBD isolate. This is likely due to the fact that it contains cannabinoids and terpenes instead of just extracted CBD. Unlike regular CBD oil, it contains more of the full spectrum of terpenes and chemicals found in the marijuana plant.


The entourage effect declares that CBD creates better results when combined with the other properties from the source plant, instead of existing on its own. Various studies indicate that CBD, when in the presence of other plant constituents, is more potent and efficacious.

These studies conclude that “the higher efficiency of plant extract can be explained by additive or synergistic interactions between CBD, terpenes, and the minor phytocannabinoids or non-cannabinoids presented in the extracts. …because other phytocannabinoids, including Tetrahydrocannabivarin, Cannabigerol and Cannabichromene, as well as mono- and sesqui- terpenes, exert additional effects of therapeutic interest and the therapeutic synergy observed with plant extracts results in the requirement for a lower amount of active components, with consequent reduced adverse effects.”

In other words, a full spectrum product often works better because you need less of it than CBD isolate. This can also help to reduce any side effects. Full spectrum vs regular CBD is an interesting topic of research and study for many people.

In the Lautenberg study, the researchers found that even with a larger than optimal dose of the full spectrum CBD oil, the effectiveness plateaued. In other words, the therapeutic ceiling was reached without introducing any issues.