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The Differences Between CBD Isolate and Full-Spectrum CBD Oil

The widespread acceptance of the health benefits of cannabidiol or CBD and its legalization in the majority of US states have more people turning to it as a natural remedy for various aches and pains and for specific medical conditions. However, some users new to CBD may feel a little uncertain when confronted with terms like “CBD isolate” and “full-spectrum CBD oil.”

To eliminate the confusion, we’ve discussed the differences between CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD oil in this post.

full spectrum cbd
Chill TONIC CBD Oil

Cannabidiol (CBD) – the basics

CBD is an essential ingredient of medical marijuana. It’s a chemical compound from the cannabinoid family that naturally occurs in the cannabis plant, just like delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. So far, scientists have been able to successfully isolate 108 different types of cannabinoids in cannabis. However, unlike THC, which has psychoactive properties that lead to the “high” marijuana is known for, CBD is popular for its therapeutic benefits.

Moreover, the CBD that’s widely (and legally) distributed comes from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, CBD has no abuse or dependence potential for humans and does not pose any public health issues.

How CBD works in the human body

In general, cannabinoids such as CBD interact with our body’s own endocannabinoid system. This regulatory system comprises naturally occurring cannabis-like molecules. Our body’s endocannabinoids function just like neurotransmitters by sending messages throughout the body to help maintain homeostasis in various organs and systems, including the brain, endocrine, and immune system.

Cannabinoids like THC and CBD influence two known receptors, CB1 and CB2 respectively, in the endocannabinoid system. CB1 receptors are present in the peripheral and central nervous systems. THC is known to attach to these receptors, thereby preventing the release of neurotransmitters while also possibly increasing the release of others. This may be the reason why THC is known to alter normal functioning.

CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are located in inflammatory cells such as monocytes, B/T cells, and mast cells. CBD was previously assumed to behave the way THC does, only with CB2 receptors. However, the exact manner by which CBD affects the human body is yet to be determined, although scientists believe that it encourages the body to make more endocannabinoids. This may be the reason why CBD is known to help alleviate pain and inflammation and reduce anxiety.

CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD oil – the differences

Now, to the heart of the matter. If you’re wondering about what differentiates CBD isolate from full-spectrum CBD oil, the following information should help.

CBD isolate powder

CBD isolate contains 99 percent pure CBD and comes in a crystalline solid or powder form. In order to get rid of all the active compounds from the cannabis plant, it goes through a traditional extraction process. It is then further refined to strip away all other phytocannabinoids, including THC. The methods used to produce CBD isolate from industrial hemp extracts include supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) or ethanol-based extraction.

During CBD extraction, several components are removed from the hemp plant. This includes the removal of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, as well as fats, lipids, and other compounds. The CBD compound is then separated from the rest of the extract. This is done through a series of washing and separation processes. All other plant matter is also removed to ensure that nothing but the CBD chemical compound is left in its purest form.

The finished product may come in the form of either large CBD crystals or a fine white powder closely resembling confectioner’s sugar. The outcome depends on the method or processes employed, but it has no effect on the purity level of the CBD isolate. CBD isolate in whatever form may have a very slight residual cherry flavor. However, it shouldn’t have a distinctive taste or smell.

CBD isolate powder is broken down into small grains, thereby creating a powdery texture. It is sometimes re-infused with terpenes after the initial extraction process is complete. This is done to restore the major cannabis compounds through the addition of hemp or marijuana-derived terpenes back into an isolate. The result is a product that’s both enjoyable and aromatic, with all the additional therapeutic benefits achieved from the terpenes. However, in its pure crystalline form, CBD crystals are larger and thicker. 

Benefits and applications of CBD isolate

CBD isolate is recommended for people who have a known sensitivity to THC or other cannabinoids. Moreover, if you happen to reside in a state where THC is illegal, or where you need to undergo periodic drug testing in your place of work, you would do well to use CBD isolate.

Also, since CBD isolate does not have a distinct smell or flavor, you can add it to drinks such as fruit juices and even to your cooking. It is also easier to measure CBD isolate dosages since there’s no concern about interactions with other cannabinoids.

Disadvantage: One disadvantage regarding CBD isolate is that the combined cannabinoids and terpenes work synergistically to achieve an entourage effect, which significantly impacts the therapeutic effects of each compound involved. As a result, you may not experience the same level of therapeutic benefits. 

Ways of consuming CBD isolate

There are many ways by which you can take CBD isolate:

  • Sublingual: You can directly apply the CBD isolate powder underneath your tongue. Hold it there for about 60 seconds, which should be enough for the mucous membranes to absorb it. It is then delivered directly to the bloodstream. Since the CBD isolate bypasses the digestive system and liver, it can provide fast and effective relief.
  • As a custom CBD oil or topical: You can mix CBD isolate with a carrier oil like olive oil or almond oil. You can use this concoction as a skin oil that you can apply to localized areas of pain. It can also be mixed with terpenes for vaping or dabbing.
  • Ingestion: CBD isolate crystalline powder can be measured and placed inside pills or capsules for accurate dosing. It can also be mixed with various ingredients so you get to have CBD-infused beverages and food. However, this manner of intake leads to lower absorption since it has low oral bioavailability. It’s actually better to add it to carrier oils such as MCT oil to ensure it is absorbed in the gastrointestinal system and reaches the bloodstream.

When buying CBD isolate, it’s essential to buy only products that have been lab-tested or subjected to trials by reputable third-party sources. This is to help ensure that the CBD isolate you purchase is THC-free, as well as free from any unnecessary plant material and other impurities.

full spectrum CBD oil

Full-spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum CBD products, on the other hand, contain all cannabinoids. During the cannabinoid extraction process from hemp, none of the beneficial compounds are lost from the plant. The extract is processed to create a consumable product that contains all the cannabinoids that were originally in the plant.

However, since all cannabinoids are present in full-spectrum CBD, concerns regarding the THC content have been raised. Federal laws governing all CBD products require that CBD is extracted from hemp sources and not marijuana. Hemp, in general, contains less than 0.3 percent THC. This means that the CBD extract will contain negligible amounts of THC, which won’t give users any high.

Benefits and applications of full-spectrum CBD

If you live in a state where cannabis is completely legal and there are absolutely no legal repercussions for CBD usage, including products with THC, full-spectrum CBD should be a safe and beneficial choice.

Since full-spectrum CBD contains all the cannabinoids, expect to fully benefit from the entourage effect after intake. This translates into heightened relief compared to what you’d experience taking a CBD isolate. Moreover, full-spectrum CBD may be more effective for individuals with severe conditions that cannot be alleviated by taking CBD isolate alone.

Disadvantages: Full-spectrum CBD may have psychoactive properties since it has THC (although in negligible amounts). This means that those who are sensitive to THC may suffer from unwanted side effects. Some people are turned off by the strong odor and unpleasant flavor of full-spectrum CBD. Additionally, if you live in a place where any amount of THC is considered illegal, taking full-spectrum CBD may be ill-advised.

Ways of consuming full-spectrum CBD

Just like CBD isolate, there are various ways by which you can take full-spectrum CBD.

  • Edibles:  There is a wide variety of CBD edibles available on the market. This includes gummies, truffles, and even mints that help to successfully mask any “weedy” aftertaste. Edibles also offer a discreet way to take full-spectrum CBD. However, due to the first pass effect where CBD is only partially broken down by the liver and digestive tract, it can take as long as two hours for it to take effect, with only 20 to 30 percent absorption.
  • Sublingual products: To avoid sugar and additives found in edibles, you can take full-spectrum CBD sublingually. There are products such as oils, tinctures, lozenges, and sprays you can use to absorb full-spectrum CBD under your tongue. This way, you can benefit from faster results and higher CBD absorption.
  • Topicals: Full-spectrum CBD is designed for direct skin application in the form of CBD-infused balms, lotions, salves, creams, and transdermal patches. These are a particularly great choice if you are treating localized pain. You can also discreetly facilitate healing in skin conditions like eczema. Topicals also provide immediate, concentrated relief to affected areas especially with the help of additional analgesics including menthol, camphor, and capsaicin. Just make sure to apply generous amounts of it.
  • Vaping and Smoking: Just like regular CBD, you can take full-spectrum CBD through a cannabis flower joint. You can also use a vaporizer or inhale it using a vape pen with a chamber for concentrates. Smoking or vaping ensures the CBD directly enters your bloodstream. This is why you’ll feel the effects more quickly than you would by using other methods. In fact, it usually takes only ten minutes or less of smoking or vaping for you to absorb 34 to 56 percent of the CBD. However, smoking can expose you to carcinogens. Vaping using CBD vape cartridges made with thinning agents or carriers (e.g. fractionated coconut oil (MCT), propylene glycol, or vegetable glycerin) is now considered unsafe as it can lead to lung tissue damage.

If you’re planning on purchasing full-spectrum CBD products, be sure to do your own research to effectively sift through all the clever marketing that’s being done, and ensure you end up buying only high-quality products. Make sure the items have been subjected to rigorous third-party testing. Always check the ingredients, and buy only from reputable sellers.

Choosing between CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD

Making a choice between CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD usually boils down to your location and requirements.

If you live in a state where THC (especially in negligible doses) is legal, full-spectrum CBD would be a great choice, especially since it allows you to ultimately benefit from the so-called entourage effect of the cannabinoids and terpenes preserved in it. Moreover, it is usually considered more natural since it undergoes significantly less processing when compared to CBD isolates.

Of course, CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, and very often it contains upwards of 90 percent cannabidiol. There are zero risks of suffering from any psychoactive effects, and little to no risk of getting a false positive during a drug test. It is also tasteless and odorless making it perfect for those who want to cook with CBD.

We stress, however, that no CBD type is superior over the other. All things being equal, there are individuals who find full-spectrum products more to their liking. There are also those who prefer CBD isolates over different CBD product types. In the end, it all boils down to what you prefer and what actually works for you.

Do you have more questions about CBD products? Get in touch with us today! We’re happy to help and answer your questions.

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