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Full-spectrum vs Broad-spectrum CBD: What’s the Difference?

While many are now aware of the diverse therapeutic benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), fewer have wrapped their heads around the different formulations of the cannabinoid that are available. Terms like full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate can sound like meaningless jargon to the uninitiated, but these labels are important as they reveal a great deal about the nature of the product you’re planning on consuming or applying. Understanding the differences between broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD can help ensure that you select the right product to address your needs,

In this article, we’ll dive into the differences between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD formulations; provide insights into the potential effects and health benefits of each and how they may interact with the body, and explain what’s unique about High Falls Hemp Full-Spectrum CBD Range.

What Is Full-Spectrum CBD?

two hands holding a cannabis plant

Full-spectrum CBD is an extract that contains CBD in addition to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), other minor cannabinoids, terpenes, and beneficial compounds that are naturally found within the cannabis hemp plant. 

Full-spectrum CBD, sometimes called whole-plant CBD extract, is created by subjecting raw hemp material to extraction and filtration; however, none of the other cannabinoids or beneficial compounds within the plant are removed. The resulting extract is rich in CBD, with traces of THC, minor cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phytocompounds.

The presence of THC is pivotal to a full-spectrum extract as the cannabinoid is associated with diverse therapeutic benefits, such as anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Cannabis experts and researchers believe that the components of a full-spectrum extract sourced from a hemp or cannabis plant work together to produce a unique symphony of benefits, a phenomenon known as the entourage effect

The entourage effect encompasses the idea that whole-plant extracts boast a unique synergy that is more than the sum of its parts. When the diverse components of the hemp plant interact with the body, it produces a stronger influence than any single component acting in isolation. The effects of CBD may therefore be enhanced when they are working in synergy with terpenes, cannabinoids, and other plant compounds. The combination of multiple compounds in their natural state isn’t a simple addition but rather an effect that multiplies all the components present. 

It’s important to remember that although THC is an intoxicating cannabinoid, full-spectrum CBD extracts don’t contain more than 0.3% THC due to federal law. 0.3% THC or less is generally insufficient to cause psychoactive effects (like a feeling of being “high”), but it is enough to help trigger the unique entourage effect.

People often turn to full-spectrum CBD extracts as a treatment for pain, inflammation, insomnia, anxiety, seizures, and stress. Other evidence also suggests that the entourage effect may enhance the therapeutic effects of hemp or cannabis extracts by rendering them more tolerable. In this context, better tolerated simply means users are more likely to enjoy the benefits with less unwanted effects (like a dry mouth or drowsiness).

However, full-spectrum CBD products can also come with some drawbacks. Full-spectrum CBD may not be appropriate for those routinely subjected to drug testing at work or in athletic contexts, as even traces of THC may appear on the test. This likelihood is increased if you’re consuming a product that contains more THC than is labeled on the packaging. In one 2017 study, an analysis of CBD products revealed that less than one-third of the products had accurate labeling about their CBD concentration, and THC was detected in 18 of the 84 samples tested. 

What Is Broad-Spectrum CBD? 

woman holding broad spectrum CBD tincture

Broad-spectrum CBD extract is free of THC. In most broad-spectrum formulations, THC content is removed during the extraction process, but minor cannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial compounds are left intact. In other cases, broad-spectrum CBD is created by adding terpenes, flavonoids, and minor cannabinoids to CBD isolate.

Like full-spectrum CBD oil, broad-spectrum CBD oil is created by subjecting raw hemp material to extraction and filtration processes. However, broad-spectrum CBD undergoes a special technique called chromatography, which separates THC from the extract so it can easily be removed. For those who like their CBD products as close to nature as possible, however, this represents another step of processing that compromises the “wholeness” of the extract.

Although broad-spectrum extract is free of THC, it still contains other beneficial compounds such as cannabinol, cannabichromene, myrcene, and limonene. There’s evidence that an entourage effect (of sorts) still takes place due to the interaction of these minor cannabinoids and terpenes.

Broad-spectrum CBD extract is often sought by users who want to reap the benefits of a whole-plant extract but wish to avoid THC. The extract can be used for similar reasons to full-spectrum CBD, like managing symptoms associated with conditions like insomnia, anxiety, inflammation, chronic pain, and stress. Some data also suggest that broad-spectrum CBD may have unique benefits when used for scalp inflammation and psoriasis treatment.

If you’re thinking about purchasing broad-spectrum CBD products because you wish to completely avoid THC, be aware that some broad-spectrum products may still contain trace amounts. The CBD industry is still generally under-regulated, with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) frequently cautioning that numerous products contain cannabinoid concentrations that differ from what is advertised on the label. It’s vital to purchase from brands that carry out extensive independent testing. High Falls Hemp Broad-Spectrum product range, for example, subjects all products to rigorous lab tests conducted by independent, third-party labs to ensure that each batch is pure with precise concentrations of cannabinoids.

What Is the Difference Between Full-Spectrum and Broad-Spectrum?

The main difference between full-spectrum CBD and broad-spectrum CBD is that full-spectrum extract contains THC, while broad-spectrum extract does not. The presence or absence of THC also means each extract interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system slightly differently. THC, for example, binds with the body’s CB1 receptors like a lock fits into a key. CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors but has a unique effect on the endocannabinoid system when it is teamed with THC

There’s some evidence that full-spectrum products may deliver enhanced effects compared to other kinds of CBD extract. For example, in a 2018 study, whole plant CBD-rich cannabis extracts (that contained THC and other compounds ) reduced seizure frequency among epileptic individuals more effectively than pure CBD isolate. Participants in the study also required lower doses of CBD-rich cannabis extracts. The researchers concluded that this was most likely due to the synergistic effects of CBD that occurred via the entourage effect. 

Some experts and cannabis users believe that the presence of THC, even in a minute quantity, is critical to triggering the entourage effect and unlocking and harnessing the unique synergy of whole-plant hemp extract. Anecdotal evidence suggests those who use broad-spectrum CBD may not experience the same beneficial effects as those who use full spectrum though there is currently no conclusive data on this. 

Both full-spectrum and broad-spectrum products can be consumed and used in a range of product formats, including gel capsules, edibles, tinctures, oils, and topical creams and balms.

What About CBD Isolate?

CBD isolate contains pure CBD with all THC, minor cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other phytocompounds removed during the extraction process. Hemp extract is scrupulously processed and refined to strip all active compounds and residual plant matter, with the exception of CBD. The product that results is odorless, tasteless 99% pure CBD, and presented in either a crystalline or powdered format. 

CBD isolate boasts some clear advantages. For starters, it’s very straightforward to dose CBD isolate as there's nothing else to take into consideration aside from pure CBD. In contrast, broad-spectrum and full-spectrum products see CBD blended with different cannabinoids and plant compounds, which makes it more challenging to deliver an exact dose of CBD.

However, consumers of CBD isolate can’t enjoy the synergy of the entourage effect as all other beneficial compounds in the extract have been stripped away. This may equate to fewer therapeutic benefits. Research suggests that full-spectrum CBD is more effective at treating pain than CBD isolate.

Which Should I Choose?

Ultimately, choosing full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate is a personal choice that should be informed by your personal preference and wellness goals.

Those who wish to harness the therapeutic benefits of THC working in tandem with other beneficial phytocompounds may wish to opt for full-spectrum CBD products. Full-spectrum CBD is also well suited to users seeking a potent extract that is as close to the hemp plant as possible in terms of flavor, aroma, and chemical composition.

Individuals who wish to enjoy the synergy of CBD teamed with terpenes, additional cannabinoids, and flavonoids while avoiding THC would likely benefit from a broad-spectrum formulation. Broad-spectrum products are also ideal for those who are subject to random drug testing and who cannot consume even trace quantities of THC.

Isolate is best suited to consumers who want to experience CBD in a pure, unadulterated format.

Full Spectrum CBD Products from High Falls Hemp

Here at High Falls Hemp, we’re proud to offer a diverse range of the highest quality full-spectrum CBD extracts available as gummies, tinctures, and softgels. 

From seed to sale, we oversee every aspect of the production process. Our hemp is grown by artisan farmers in the Hudson Valley. We create our extracts using state-of-the-art CO2 extraction technology, then subject all our final products to thorough third-party testing to ensure accurate potency and purity levels.  

Our popular tincture formulations are created by suspending full-spectrum extracts in a hemp seed carrier oil, then adding beneficial terpenes and plant compounds, with products designed to support mobility, sleep, relaxation, and general use.  Whichever item you choose, rest easy knowing that the High Falls Hemp full-spectrum CBD range offers you the opportunity to experience the benefits of whole-plant CBD as nature intended.