CBD isolate vs full-spectrum: Which one should I use?

All CBD products are not created equal! Some are labelled as CBD isolate or full-spectrum CBD. The terms may sound similar, but they are not the same. We discuss the differences by explaining the differences so you can find your match!

General Overview

Cannabidiol (or CBD) is one of the hundreds of chemical entities found in cannabis. Due to its healing properties, CBD is becoming the most fascinating choice for patients who want to alleviate pain, inflammation, anxiety or depression etc.

CBD Isolate

CBD Isolate is the purest & refined form of cannabidiol without the inclusion of plant material. CBD Isolate is extracted from hemp through various scientific processes. A process of chromatography is used to isolate CBD from the plant materials. CBD Isolate contains 0% of THC and other cannabinoids.


  • Pure CBD
  • No THC or other cannabinoids
  • Processed further than full spectrum CBD
  • Delivers straight CBD

Full Spectrum CBD

Full Spectrum CBD contains all the other active compounds that are found naturally in the plant like terpenes, CBN, THC, CBL, etc. All these compounds are extracted together to boost the curative effects of every single cannabinoid. Most recent research shows that it delivers enhanced effects with a high dosage.


  • Contains CBD and other naturally occurring plant compounds
  • Contains less than 0.3 percent THC (when derived from hemp)
  • Undergoes fewer processes than CBD isolate
  • Works synergistically with THC and other plant compounds

Although CBD isolate is a more concentrated form of cannabidiol, this doesn’t mean that it has greater effects. In fact, while more research needs to be done, some research indicates that full spectrum CBD, which is a combination of cannabinoids, plant compounds and sometimes other herbs, has a complementary effect, known as “the entourage effect”.

CBD has the most documented benefits among other non-intoxicating cannabis compounds, but these other components can combine with CBD for a dynamic combination. Take THC, for example, it mimics the actions of anandamide, a naturally occurring endocannabinoid, and has been shown to have some positive benefits.

Some researchers indicate that there are strong benefits to the whole plant extract.
Although full spectrum CBD typically includes other cannabis compounds, the THC levels are still very low (less than 0.3 percent) when the product is derived from hemp.

In fact, some research indicates that when CBD and THC are used in combination, that’s where there can be favorable benefits.

Which one should I use?

The major difference between a CBD isolate vs full spectrum is the presence (or not) of THC, other cannabinoids and terpenes.

For lifestyle reasons, THC might not be an option and CBD isolate can be preferable. We recommend using CBD isolate:

  • If you work at a job which requires drug tests. Even if your CBD oil contains less than 0.3% of THC, THC might still be detectable in drug tests, depending on your consumption.
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding. The use of THC during pregnancy can cause lower birth weights and lower gestational periods. This article explains in greater detail the results of a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics on marijuana and THC uses during pregnancy.
  • For teenagers: while there’s only a few researches that are studying the effects of THC/CBD on teenagers, you should consult with your doctor before giving full-spectrum CBD to a teenager. This article of the Child Mind Institute will give you more information on what parents need to know before giving CBD to their children.

There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered. For example, researchers have worked primarily with marijuana compounds, like THC and CBD, that people hear about most, but there are dozens more that deserve studies.


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