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sCBD: Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum vs. Isolate: Which one’s for me?

As the multitude of potential health benefits ascribed to CBD and Cannabis grows, so does the number of available products containing CBD. Especially popular is “CBD Oil” in which CBD is mixed into a carrier oil such as MCT Oil and purchased as a tincture.
There are a number of important factors to consider when choosing the right CBD product for you, this subject will be covered in depth in a separate article, check the website. But one broad product differentiator you will be faced with is choosing Full Spectrum CBD, Broad Spectrum CBD, or Isolate CBD.
First of all, what do those terms mean?
Full-Spectrum CBD products contain the whole flower with all of its components. The most well-known cannabinoids in cannabis are CBD and THC. However, there are over 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis flower, and hundreds of other compounds such as terpenes and flavonoids, which give each strain of cannabis its unique characteristics. With Full-Spectrum products, you are getting all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
Broad-Spectrum products contain many, or most, of the components of Full-Spectrum products, but they have been processed in various ways to remove certain elements of the flower. Most commonly, they have been processed to remove the cannabinoid THC, which is the psychoactive component of cannabis. Legal hemp contains only 0.3% or less THC. Broad-Spectrum products contain zero THC.
Isolate is exactly what the name implies – the desired molecule (CBD for instance) has been extracted from the plant, leaving out all the other components so that isolate contains only the pure CBD molecule. This is available in oil, as CBD crystals or bars in a concentrated form.
So which is best?
First of all, let’s talk bioavailability and synergy. Bioavailability means, when I ingest a product, is my body actually able to use it? Think vitamins here – have you ever taken a high-dose mega-vitamin and later produced bright yellow urine? There go the vitamins down the toilet! The body was not able to use some or all of them – so they were excreted. This can occur for various reasons. Maybe there was just too much of a particular vitamin.
Often, though, this occurs because in nature, there are a cohort of compounds in the plant which, when consumed, work together in the body synergistically. That is, while “pure vitamin C” is ascorbic acid, and is what we get in stores, when we consume, say, rose hip tea or acerola cherries or camu–camu, all high in vitamin C, we get several other co-factors in the fruit which our body needs to absorb, process, and actually benefit from the vitamin C. If we take pure ascorbic acid, our body has to leach those other cofactors out of itself from somewhere else in the system to actually utilize the ascorbic acid.
This phenomenon — that consuming the whole plant or fruit enhances the efficacy of the main substance for which we are consuming it— is now popularly called the “entourage effect”. It states that the entourage of “other” compounds enhances the overall therapeutic effect of the cannabis preparation.
Full-Spectrum offers the complete “entourage effect,” while Broad Spectrum offers some of the entourage effect depending on what compounds have been processed out. Isolate offers no entourage effect.
The following graphic from illustrates this:


CBD Chart Illustration — McKinney, TX — Fine + Well


Which is most effective? 

A study done by Israeli scientists showed that in mice, treatment of an induced inflammatory condition with pure CBD isolate was effective but the dosing had to be just right – too little or too much, and the CBD had no effect. However, using full-spectrum CBD oil for the same inflammatory conditions was effective over a wide dosage range. Effectiveness was correlated to the dosage— higher amounts were more effective than lower, until a maximum effectiveness was reached at which point it levels off. It seems it’s much easier to obtain relief with full spectrum rather than hitting an exact right dosage with a pure isolate.
Why consider broad spectrum or isolate? For those who want zero THC, broad spectrum and isolate offer this. In addition, the more processed the isolate or broad spectrum, the easier it is to produce a completely consistent product.
Plants vary in the compounds they carry, even across strains, which may pose a challenge for consistency of product in whole-plant preparations. However, all things considered, it appears that “Full Spectrum” tends to be most effective by providing the supporting characters nature intended to potentiate the main actors.
Where should you buy and who should you trust?
You’re seeing CBD products and stores popping up in a lot of places, there’s a ton of information. You want to try it but feel slightly overwhelmed and not sure who to trust.
Be your own health care advocate and do a bit of research so you feel comfortable with who you buy from. I’m a huge proponent of knowing, liking and trusting your CBD source so make the extra effort to get to know your retailer before buying online or from a pharmacy, doctor or other retail store.
Also, be suspect of companies, pharmacies and doctor offices claiming to be the ONLY source you should trust when deciding where to buy your CBD products. Most of these companies, pharmacies and medical doctors are becoming educated through CBD Educators, Health Coaches and Cannabis Advocates.
As a CBD educator, certified health coach, neuromuscular therapist, master herbalist and retail CBD store owner, I can assure you that you’ll be thoroughly educated on the benefits and uses of CBD without the scare tactics and wanton warnings about drug interactions (yes, there are some to be aware of but they are miniscule in comparison to the amazing benefits CBD can provide). Claiming that you should only trust the medical and pharmaceutical companies who flex their muscles over the very people who schooled them can be off-putting for both consumers and educators.
Fine and Well Organics is a is a boutique, top-quality, organic CBD retailer offering a complete lifestyle experience. We have partnered with a top quality, organic hemp farm in Colorado and have our own brand of products. We will continue to formulate and grow our Fine+Well Organics line as our company grows.
Author Carlene Saelg


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