Full-Spectrum vs. Isolate

Full Spectrum Vs. CBD Isolate | What To Buy

As you shop for CBD online, you'll notice each product has a label of full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or CBD isolate. But what do these mean?

Paul James Updated on April 3, 2024 Affiliate Disclosure Some links are specifically formatted for which we may receive a commission on resulting sales or clicks from affiliate partners (“Affiliate Links”).

In the last few decades, research surrounding the cannabis plant has taken a dramatic upswing. Information about how these plants function and how they impact our brain chemistry was first discovered in the late 1980s. Since then, we’ve been able to uncover a world of information that’s dramatically changed the way we think about cannabis as a whole. From breaking down stereotypes about the use of the plant to utilizing some of its compounds for medical relief, it’s an amazing time to be alive.

One of the more prominent aspects of this research has to do with a compound called cannabidiol (CBD). While most people tend to talk about the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level of cannabis, the aspect responsible for producing psychotropic effects, discussions around CBD are becoming more and more commonplace.

If you’re looking to integrate cannabidiol into your daily routine for health and wellness benefits, it’s important to understand the range of products on the market. Let’s take a closer look at two of the more popular CBD options as well as explore just how it works within your body.

CBD And Its Effects

Our brains are full of various receptors, and the human body produces its own set of cannabinoids that pair with both CB1 and CB2 receptors. The first type is located mostly in the brain and deals with a range of bodily functions. THC attaches to these receptors and is attributed to the “high” you feel after using marijuana. CB2 receptors are closely linked to the immune system and correlate to feelings of pain.

CBD and Its Effects Endocannabinoid System

CBD is a unique compound that was once believed to work directly with both types of receptors, but instead actually encourages the body to use more of the cannabinoids it already produces. When a person ingests CBD, it’s often done to help relieve pain, inflammation, stress, anxiety, and a range of other ailments. While none of these benefits have been confirmed by the FDA, supporters of CBD use often swear by the amazing results they’ve experienced.

When it comes to purchasing CBD products, the wide range of options available can seem overwhelming. Many people opt for edible items like gummies or chews for an easy way to enjoy a healthier lifestyle while others may reach for lotions to get targeted pain relief. No matter what route you take, it’s important to understand the two main types of CBD ingredients: full-spectrum and isolate.

What Is Full-Spectrum CBD?

The process of extracting CBD from a hemp plant is complicated. Depending on the extraction method, some companies prefer to develop CBD containing all its natural compounds. Known as full-spectrum CBD, it can be compared to the idea of unfiltered water, where organic elements are included to mirror a more pure product. Full-spectrum CBD contains cannabidiol and other plant compounds, including active cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids – some of which many say offer even more benefits than other versions.

Since CBD is often taken from the standpoint of supplementation, the additional vitamins and minerals found in these products are seen as an added benefit. While specific items will vary in terms of nutritional value, most full-spectrum formulations will include some of the following:

  • B complex vitamins
  • 20 essential amino acids
  • Calcium, iron, and zinc
  • Vitamins A, C, and E
  • Phosphorus and magnesium
  • Potassium and omega-3 fatty acids


What many people prefer about full-spectrum cannabidiol as opposed to other forms is that the combination of natural elements promotes the body’s entourage effect. This concept illustrates how each compound works together to promote the other, acting almost like a set of building blocks within your system. Full-spectrum CBD products are typically more expensive than others as you’re receiving far more nutrients in one dose.


Our Top Pick for Full-Spectrum CBD

Looking for a high-quality full-spectrum CBD oil? We recommend one of NuLeaf Natural’s CBD tinctures. Made using a variety of cannabinoids, you can find options high in other cannabinoids, including cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN).

Redeem code FEELGOOD for 20% Off Nuleaf Coupon

What is Isolate CBD?

Although it contains the same health benefits as a full-spectrum type, CBD isolate has undergone additional processing to strip it of additional organic compounds. A process called chromatography removes all excess plant materials and leaves behind an odorless and colorless powder that many refer to as “pure CBD.” Although isolate doesn’t contain the beneficial minerals found in full-spectrum, the difference in the manufacturing process does bring about other upsides including:

  • Greater control over final CBD potency
  • No flavors or scents to interfere with adding it to foods
  • Less expensive per milligram (mg)
  • The potential for higher CBD concentration


One important thing to consider when it comes to CBD use is that not all products will be THC-free. However, the process for crafting isolate does remove all trace amounts. Many full-spectrum items cannot claim the same, and while they might not produce any psychoactive effects, there is still the potential for small amounts of THC to show up on a drug test.

Pure Isolate CBD Oil vs Full Spectrum CBD Oil

Should I Buy Full Spectrum Or Isolate CBD?

The more research you perform about CBD isolate and full-spectrum products, the clearer it will become which type is right for you. We suggest you choose full-spectrum CBD as long as you aren’t being drug tested. As mentioned, these contain several other cannabis compounds including tiny amounts of THC. That said full-spectrum CBD oil is still legal and won’t get you high.

The reason we suggest full-spectrum over pure isolated CBD is that according to a 2015 study by Pharmacology & Pharmacy, when consuming CBD in pure form there’s a bell-shaped dose-response that limits its clinical use. This means that when the amount of CBD isolate taken surpasses a certain point then there’s a diminishing point of return. Its therapeutic impact declines dramatically.

If you are someone who likely won’t be taking a lot of CBD you may consider isolates since they’re cheap and you likely won’t pass the point where therapeutic impact declines. Depending on the reason for your usage, it may take longer than you’d imagine to reap the benefits of CBD, so it’s important to keep an open mind.

The future of CBD use is bright, especially with the recent passage of the 2018 Farm Bill which now allows hemp to be grown legally across the entire United States. Many experts believe this will dramatically change the marketplace and make CBD products more readily available.

The next step for CBD supporters is trying to get it approved by the FDA as a viable substance for medicinal use, but of course, that process will take some time. In the meantime, think about exploring both full-spectrum products and isolates to see which best meets your needs.

Paul James

Paul James is a seasoned cannabis and CBD writer and expert. He is a mental health blogger who advocates CBD as a natural alternative to prescription medications. You can read more about this and other natural alternatives on his blog: https://bedlamite.co/."

Frequently Asked Questions

Generally speaking, CBD isolate products aren’t more potent than other extract types. The simple reason for this is they’re unable to promote the entourage effect, as seen in full-spectrum products.