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In an attempt to reap the full benefit of cannabidiol, several CBD products with varying intake methods and ingredient profile are introduced in the market. CBD is available in three spectrum options, full spectrum, broad spectrum and CBD isolate, with each option having a characteristic ingredient profile, although the source of all types is hemp plant.

In this session, we are making a comparison between full spectrum CBD and CBD isolate, two among the three spectrum options in CBD.

Property Full spectrum CBD CBD isolate
Source Hemp Hemp
Intake method Sublingual/added to edibles Dabbing/added to edibles
Possibility of  a high No possibility No possibility
THC content Less than 0.3% 0%
Contents CBD, THC, other essential cannabinoids, and terpenes CBD
Entourage effect Present Not present


CBD is the plant compound that can be extracted from plants of the cannabis family, indicating that CBD can be obtained from hemp as well as marijuana, both belonging to the cannabis family. But the US law permits the production and sale of hemp derived CBD alone, and its legalization was in the year 2018. Before the passing of US Farm Bill in 2018, hemp CBD too was included in the list of Federal Controlled Drug Substance.

Whatever the spectrum option be, CBD products available in the market are sourced from hemp plant. Hence hemp is the source of full spectrum CBD as well as CBD isolate.


Full spectrum CBD contains all the essential phytochemicals of hemp plant including CBD, THC (less than 0.3%), terpenes and other cannabinoids. On the other hand, CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, as it contains no other plant compound except CBD.

Entourage Effect

Entourage effect is produced by the collective action cannabinoids and terpenes extracted from cannabis plants.  For a CBD product to produce entourage effect, it should contain multiple cannabis compounds, meaning that full spectrum CBD can produce entourage effect. On the other hand, entourage effect is not associated with CBD isolate as it contains no other hemp plant compound other than CBD.

THC Content

The guidelines in the US Farm Bill have made it very clear that a CBD product will not be declared legal unless its THC content is less than 0.3%. Full spectrum CBD contains THC but the content is maintained below the 0.3% limit. However, CBD isolate contains 0 % THC as its exclusive content is CBD.

Method Of Intake

CBD isolates come in various forms that have different methods of intake. Dabbing is the most common administering method of CBD isolate. CBD dab products include CBD shatter, CBD wax etc. which are heated in a dab rig to produce vapors, which are the inhaled.

CBD is a fat soluble compound and adding CBD isolates to water based drinks is not a good idea because the crystals or powder of CBD isolate will not completely dissolve in the drink. It is recommended to add CBD isolate to fat based food like butter, milk etc.

A variety of full spectrum products like CBD oils and tinctures are widely in use. CBD oils and tinctures are popular as sublingual CBD products, although they can be added to edibles. In sublingual intake method, the oil or tincture is administered orally using a dropper after which it is kept under the tongue for about a minute prior to swallowing it. The method will facilitate the direct introduction of CBD into the bloodstream through the mucus membranes.

If full spectrum CBD is added to an edible, the CBD has to bypass the liver, with the process significantly reducing the amount of CBD that finally reaches the bloodstream.

Drug Test

Drug tests screen for the presence of THC in bloodstream indicating that THC content in blood could lead to a drug test failure. Although the trace quantities of THC in full spectrum CBD do not cause a high in the users, there are chances that the THC content may lead to a false positive drug test result.

On the other hand, CBD isolate use alleviates all the worries of a drug test failure as it is completely free of THC. Hence it is recommended that people who have to take regular drug tests could preferably use CBD isolate instead of full spectrum CBD.

Possibility Of A High  

The euphoric effect that intoxicating compounds of cannabis can produce is termed as a high. The major intoxicating compound of cannabis plants is THC and higher levels of THC in a cannabis product could produce a high in the users. But worries of an intoxicating effect being produced by the use of a CBD product are baseless, as all hemp CBD products that enjoy a legal status in the US strictly maintain the THC levels below 0.3%.

The minimal THC content in full spectrum CBD is not capable of giving a high. Likewise CBD isolate too cannot cause a high as it lacks THC. You have to take multiple factors like purpose of CBD use, work and lifestyle habits into account before you choose a CBD spectrum option.


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