Updated: May 3
You will have probably seen the words full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD, or CBD isolate on the description of a CBD product. So what exactly do these terms mean? And how do you know which one is best?
CBD (cannabidiol) is just one of over a hundred different phytocannabinoids which occur naturally in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are crucial to our well-being. They interact with the body via sets of receptors (known as the endocannabinoid system - and we all have one!), found in the brain and the nervous system, and control a large amount of processes. Some of these include: pain perception, stress management, immune response, and mood regulation.
The two most well-known cannabinoids are CBD (which provides a range of therapeutic benefits which you’re seeking), and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the active compound responsible for the psychoactive effects associated with cannabis. The concentration of CBD to THC varies from strain to strain of cannabis. CBD-based products are extracted from cannabis sativa (hemp) which has an extremely low amount of THC. Furthermore, there is a general legal requirement (may differ depending on where you are) that CBD products must have a THC level of less than 0.2%. Consequently, CBD products will not provide any psychoactive effects.
There are other important cannabinoids present in the cannabis plants, albeit lesser known. Researchers are currently working to find out the function of these and how they could be medically and therapeutically beneficial. Some of these phytocannabinoids include:
And it’s not just cannabinoids present in the raw, natural extract. There are also compounds such as terpenes, which are responsible for taste and smell, and flavonoids - phytonutrients responsible for natural colouring as well as having intense antioxidant properties that can fight off toxins.
It has been discovered that when all the components of the cannabis are kept together in the extract (all cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes) they actually synergise to make the overall effect stronger. This concept is often referred to as ‘the entourage effect’. And this kind of extract, where all elements are present as they would be in the plant, is called full spectrum.
Broad spectrum CBD extract however, contains all the naturally occurring cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes which are found in the plant, however the THC has been removed. There will be no trace of THC in any broad spectrum products.