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October 31, 2021
 min read

What does the CBD spectrum stand for, and what type of CBD spectrums are there?

cbd spectrum
 Anthony Clement
Written by  
Anthony Clement
July 12, 2021

table of Contents

CBD spectrum is a term often used for cannabidiol items. It refers to CBD oil categories, where every product has a specific chemical composition.

CBD spectrum is a term mainly used to describe two hemp plant extracts: full spectrum CBD oil and broad spectrum CBD oil. Together with CBD isolate, they make for 3 most common CBD oil tinctures.

The "spectrum" part is used to refer to how many cannabinoids are within a CBD product. For example, if it's a full spectrum CBD product, it will have all the ingredients present within the cannabis plant. In other words, it has a full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.

Hemp extracts are usually called “CBD” products as a way of pointing out the most common substance extracted from the hemp plant. But, depending on the type of CBD tincture, they might have other minor cannabinoids as well as THC. On the other hand, products made from the marijuana plant are usually referred to as "THC" items.

In this article, we will talk more about CBD spectrum products as well as CBD isolates.

What is the difference between full spectrum CBD and broad spectrum CBD?

Both of these products are cannabis extracts with enormous wellness benefits. They can be used by themselves, or you can infuse these oils into CBD capsules, CBD gummies, CBD topicals, and other medical hemp products.

As we have mentioned, full spectrum CBD items have all the same plant compounds as the underlying hemp strain. In a way, they are meant to mimic the chemical composition of the organic plant. In theory, you should get very similar benefits when using full spectrum oil and when smoking hemp flower.

Full spectrum CBD products are the most common type of medical hemp oil. They are a bit easier to create compared to the broad spectrum and CBD isolate. Experts believe that full spectrum CBD can have better wellness properties than any other substance due to the fact it might cause the “entourage effect.” In other words, if you were to use all these cannabis ingredients at the same time, you would receive much better benefits than if you were to use them individually.

On the other hand, the broad spectrum has the majority of the same cannabinoids and terpenes as the full spectrum with a small difference. These items do not have THC. This is very important if you're performing regular drug screening as full spectrum oil might cause a positive test. So, broad spectrum items are ideal for ex convicts and people who are working in sensitive industries.

Still, it will be very hard to test positive on a drug test regardless of the oil that you’re using. According to the US and EU laws, a hemp product cannot have more than 0.3% THC concentration. Furthermore, a user will not experience psychoactive effects with such a trace amount of the chemical.

Lastly, we have CBD isolates as the third category of hemp extracts. It is not necessarily a “CBD spectrum,” but we can easily categorize it as such.

As the name implies, when hemp companies create an isolate, they isolate cannabidiol from all other chemicals. That way, a consumer can only focus on this particular ingredient. Besides allowing you to avoid positive drug tests, CBD isolate is great for all consumers who want to focus on this particular chemical while omitting everything else.

How do companies extract CBD oil?

Hemp companies can use several different extraction methods in order to get CBD oil:

CO2 extraction

This is the most popular process for getting cannabis extracts. It produces high quality CBD without traces of other materials. During the process, CO2 will be altered into gas/liquid form and applied onto hemp leaves. While this is arguably the best extraction method, it is also the most expensive one.

Solvent extraction

During solvent extraction, various solvents can be used to separate cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant matter. Companies usually take ethanol for this process. The biggest issue with this procedure is that it might leave chlorophyll in the oil.

Steam distillation

Another relatively popular procedure, steam distillation, will utilize steam to remove oil from hemp. It isn't as good as CO2 extraction, though. Simply put, the end product will be of much lower quality, and some of the cannabinoids might get destroyed during the procedure.

Solvent extraction

This is a relatively new method within the industry, and more and more companies are experimenting with it as a potential replacement for other procedures.

When you utilize any of these extraction processes, you will get full spectrum CBD oil. Only through additional distillation can you get broad spectrum CBD oil or CBD oil.

Benefits of CBD full spectrum

According to US and EU law, a full spectrum substance cannot have more than 0.3% THC. If it does have a higher concentration than that, it will no longer be regarded as a hemp extraction but marijuana product instead.

Anyway, it is very important for a product to have at least some THC. This would lead to the creation of the previously mentioned entourage effect. In other words, you need this chemical compound so that the product can achieve its maximum potency.

Aside from having a synergistic effect, THC has certain beneficial properties on its own. It can be utilized to relieve pain and provide some other great wellness boosts.

The full spectrum has numerous minor cannabinoids as well. It can assist patients with CBG, CBC, CBN, and numerous other chemicals. The product also has various terpenes. These substances are common for all plants, and they provide them with a specific aroma. Furthermore, terpenes can provide various effects such as sedation, anti inflammation, pain relief, etc.

Depending on who you ask, some experts believe that full spectrum CBD is the most potent of all cannabis oil. It might assist users by improving their sleep, reducing stress and anxiety, reducing inflammation and pain, boosting mood, alertness, and focus, etc.

Benefits of CBD broad spectrum

Broad spectrum is the least popular out of these 3 oils. It is mainly used by people who want to experience CBD benefits but don’t want to subject themselves to THC.

In a way, a broad spectrum can provide a lesser entourage effect. Keep in mind that you still need THC to experience full entourage benefits. Like with full spectrum CBD oil, broad spectrum products provide various cannabinoids and terpenes.

The potency of a product will vary based on the hemp strain that was used. Even though these items are advertised as THC free substances, they might occasionally have some of them inside.

Generally speaking, broad spectrum should provide the same impact as full spectrum, but just on a tad bit lower level. So, you can also experience improvements in mood, sleep, pain, etc.

Benefits of CBD isolate

CBD isolate requires the most processing. Most of these items will have only CBD, but, as of late, there is a tendency for companies to add some terpenes as well.

CBD isolate is definitely worth a try. It will show the user how this particular substance might work for their bodies. This would allow them to compare CBD from isolates with all the cannabinoids and terpenes found in the full spectrum products.

While isolates tend to be a bit more expensive, a lot of experts are not sure if they’re worth it. Simply put, CBD alone doesn’t have the same potential as the combination of hemp chemicals found in full spectrum oil. Nevertheless, the product could be good for people who want the most concentrated version of the substance.

How companies change CBD spectrum products

These products can be altered in many ways, and their effectiveness will vary based on numerous factors. For example, products that are made through solvent extraction will not be as good as CO2 items.

The most important thing that separates one item from another is the underlying hemp strain that was used. Each plant has a specific chemical composition, thus affecting the composition of full spectrum and broad spectrum products. Some of them will have a rather high concentration of terpenes and minor cannabinoids, significantly altering potential benefits.

As mentioned, CBD isolates are often combined with terpenes. Depending on the terpenes that were used, the product can provide different boosts.

We also need to mention the essential oils.

In order to increase the bioavailability of these items, hemp brands combine them with essential oils that serve as carriers. Although the essential oil will take up space within a CBD bottle, its introduction will be more than worth it in terms of increased efficiency.

Depending on the essential oil that was used, a person can experience additional benefits. For example, the hemp seed oil is rich in omega fatty acids that can provide additional improvements to the body.

Maayah, Z., Takahara, S., Ferdaoussi, M., Dyck, J., (2020), The anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of formulated full-spectrum cannabis extract in the treatment of neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis, Inflammation research : official journal of the European Histamine Research Society, Basel, Switzerland


Welty, T., Luebke, A., Gidal, B., (2014), Cannabidiol: Promise and Pitfalls, Epilepsy currents / American Epilepsy Society, Malden, MA, the United States of America