There are many CBD products with many different types of CBD. Some boast the benefits of pure CBD (CBD Isolate) while others focus on wider spectrum oils that include terpenes, proteins, lipids, flavonoids and other plant based compounds (Broad Spectrum and Full Spectrum). From isolates to the various hemp oils, there are major differences within each you should know about before you buy any hemp-infused products.
Much like beneficial essential oils are extracted from plants, hemp extracts are extracted from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa L.. Hemp differs from what we have to know as cannabis or marijuana in that instead of psychoactive-rich cannabinoids like THC, hemp is rich with CBD, CBG and other highly beneficial phytocannabinoids that are completely non-psychoactive – you don’t get the high.
CBD is just one of many compounds in hemp and is the main cannabinoid in hemp oil. Hemp Oil is often mistakenly used interchangeable with Hemp Seed Oil, a well known and beneficial carrier oil extracted from hemp seeds. Online platforms such as Amazon which bans the sale of CBD, often have numerous products boasting the inclusion of Hemp oil. This can cause much confusion.
Is Hemp Oil the same as Hemp Seed Oil?
CBD Oil, also called Hemp oil, is not to be confused with hemp seed oil which is another type of oil made from hemp seeds but contain zero cannabinoids. Hemp seed oil is widely known as a fantastic carrier oil that has numerous skin care benefits as well as health benefits for your body. Products that contain Hemp Oil are supposed to contain CBD, but as noted above, in order to trick consumers, the word seed is often left out in order to appear as though it contains CBD. Any products boasting Hemp Seed Oil and not CBD or Hemp oil are devoid of CBD and other cannabinoids.
Hemp extract is the crude oil extracted directly from hemp flowers and is most often a thick, dark green oil with a very strong plant-like aroma. This oil is the closest to the actual essence of the plant and is the basis for the refined variations of the extract including CBD isolate, Broad Spectrum and Full Spectrum. Hemp extract in its pure form has the highest level of THC which is then lowered or removed during processing to adhere to state and federal hemp laws. Hemp extracts with levels of THC higher than 0.3% require processing to remove some of the THC to adhere to state and federal laws regarding hemp and hemp extracts.
Pure hemp extract has a stronger hemp flavor and the widest variety of benefits, but not necessarily the strongest. While it may have the widest range of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, proteins, waxes and lipids, it also has lowest concentration of cannabinoids of all extract types due to the very fact that much of the room is taken up by compounds other than cannabinoids such a lipids and waxes giving it that dark color and thick consistency. Hemp extract often has a lower total cannabinoid value that can range from 20-40%. To get a higher concentration of cannabinoids, refinement is required to remove the waxes and lipids which comprise the largest amount of the extract, leaving a higher concentration of cannabinoids.
Full Spectrum Hemp Oil, often called Whole Plant Extract or Full Spectrum Oil, retains a wide array of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other plant materials. Full spectrum comes the processing of hemp-extract and typically has as some of the lipids and waxes removed to allow for higher concentrations of cannabinoids as well as THC, up to 0.3%. This amount may sound minute, but the added benefits of the THC working together in synergy with other constituents allow the ‘Entourage Effect’ to help provide a greater beneficial impact on you body. FSH oil is typically a darker green color due to the higher level of retained compounds but not as thick as crude hemp extract. The flavor can still be hard to mask and can be unappealing to many.
What are the benefits of Full Spectrum Hemp Oil?
- Wide array of whole plant compounds other than just cannabinoids including waxes, lipids, terpenes, flavonoids and proteins.
- Wide array of cannabinoids other than CBD including CBC, CBG, CBN and other minor cannabinoids.
- Entourage effect is more prevalent and more effective with a wider range of cannabinoids and terpenes to interact.
- Includes a higher amount of THC (Less than 0.3%) than Broad Spectrum and CBD Isolate.
What are the cons of Full Spectrum Hemp Oil?
- Full Spectrum adds a distinct flavor to CBD products that requires additional flavors to mask.
- Ingesting Full Spectrum products internally can lead to positive THC results during a drug test.
Broad Spectrum Hemp undergoes more processing than Full Spectrum Hemp and contains slightly less of the original plant materials, including THC, which is presumably completely removed. BSH is more coveted than CBD Isolate, but less so than Full Spectrum, for its greater range of beneficial compounds which still work together in the ‘Entourage Effect.’ Since Broad Spectrum Hemp has had the THC removed so it does not take full effect of the ‘Entourage Effect’ like Full Spectrum Hemp. The color of BSH is similar to FSH and the flavor can be similarly unappealing and hard to disguise.
What are the benefits of Broad Spectrum Hemp Oil?
- Still contains a wider array of the whole plant compounds – minus the THC which is typically under 0.01% (an undetectable level of THC by lab equipment).
- Still contains a wider array of cannabinoids including CBC, CBG, CBN and other minor cannabinoids.
- More suitable for those who require the removal of THC due to preference or work restrictions.
- Broad Spectrum products typically cost less than Full Spectrum products.
What are the cons of Broad Spectrum?
- Broad Spectrum adds a slightly bitter flavor that may require additional flavoring to mask.
- Still most often still has minute levels of THC (<0.1%) for those seeking to avoid it.
- Broad Spectrum THC levels can vary from batch to batch with no distinct THC level cutoff to distinguish it from Full Spectrum.
- Broad Spectrum products cost more than CBD isolate.
- Lacks the THC Entourage Effect of Full Spectrum for the most part which is the main allure of Full Spectrum.
CBD isolate has been processed in order to isolate and extract the key phyto-cannabinoid, CBD, from the hemp extract. Often CBDV and CBDa will also be present since they are by-products of CBD isolation. CBD isolate has all the key benefits of CBD without any of the other cannabinoids or plant compounds such as terpenes. For the beginning user, CBD isolate products can warm you up the vast library of CBD products available on the internet and in stores. 99+% CBD isolate is typically an off-white, fine crystal or powder with little to no flavor.
What are the benefits of CBD Isolate?
- All cannabis plant compounds have been removed leaving only pure CBD behind.
- Zero fear of THC being detected in blood stream.
- Can still be as effective at relieving pain, stress and other ailments for many as Broad Spectrum and Full Spectrum.
- Adds no flavor to CBD products and therefore does not require any additional flavoring to mask the taste.
What are the cons of CBD Isolate?
- Lacks any Entourage Effect with terpenes for greater benefits.
- Lacks any additional cannabinoids and their benefits.
The differences between CBD isolate, Broad Spectrum and Full Spectrum are for the most part, preferential. The key ingredient, CBD, is heavily present in all. Research is lacking in providing true incites into the benefits and differences of each type. In short, we are still relying on anecdotal evidence to provide the justification of one over the others. While some may seem to require the whole plant extraction to gain the benefits they desire, others have found little to no difference in benefits in using one or the others.