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Broad Spectrum vs. Full Spectrum CBD: Understanding the Distinctions
When purchasing CBD (cannabidiol), meticulous label reading is crucial to ensure you know precisely what you're acquiring. The CBD market is often filled with technical jargon and buzzwords, regardless of the product form. You've probably encountered terms like full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD, or CBD isolate in product descriptions. So, what exactly do these terms signify? And how can you determine the best choice for your needs? In this guide, we'll delve into the contrasts between these extracts and their potential effects.
Although CBD products celebrate the wonders of nature, you won't stumble upon bottles of CBD oils growing on trees. Instead, what you'll find growing (as plants, not trees) is cannabis sativa (hemp), the source of extracted CBD. Techniques like CO2 or ethanol extraction refine this plant's goodness into a concentrated extract.
To truly comprehend this process, let's start at the beginning.
CBD (cannabidiol) is just one of the numerous phytocannabinoids found naturally in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids play a vital role in our well-being by interacting with receptors (part of the endocannabinoid system - present in all of us!) in the brain and nervous system, regulating various functions such as pain perception, stress response, immunity, and mood.
Two of the most prominent cannabinoids are CBD (which provides sought-after therapeutic benefits) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis. The CBD to THC ratio varies across cannabis strains. CBD-based products are extracted from cannabis sativa (hemp), which contains minimal THC. Moreover, there's generally a legal stipulation (which may vary by location) that CBD products must contain less than 0.2% THC, ensuring no psychoactive effects.
The cannabis plant houses other important, albeit less known, cannabinoids. Researchers are currently investigating their potential medical benefits. Examples of these phytocannabinoids include:
- Cannabinol (CBN)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabidivarin (CBDV)
Cannabinoids aren't the only components in raw extracts; there are also compounds like terpenes, which influence taste and aroma, and flavonoids - phytonutrients responsible for natural coloring and powerful antioxidant properties.
Initially, researchers focused solely on the benefits of CBD, ignoring other plant elements. CBD isolate, as the purest form, was deemed the most effective. As the name suggests, CBD isolate contains only cannabidiol, with all other compounds removed.
However, in 2015, The Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology in Jerusalem conducted a study investigating the bell-shaped dose response of CBD isolate.  This curve indicated that CBD's effects increased up to a point, after which they diminished. The study revealed that full spectrum extracts, containing all natural components, exhibited enhanced effects and greater relief for pain and swelling.
The reason behind this effect is the synergy among all cannabis components (cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids) in a full spectrum extract, often referred to as 'the entourage effect.' This unrefined extract, mirroring the plant's composition, is termed full spectrum.
Distinguishing between full spectrum and isolate CBD is straightforward; the names give it away. Full spectrum contains all natural components, while isolate consists solely of isolated cannabidiol. This leads us to the question: what is broad spectrum?
As mentioned earlier, the well-known phytocannabinoid THC induces the mind-altering effects associated with cannabis. Since CBD products must contain under 0.2% THC and are derived from low-THC cannabis sativa strains, psychoactive effects are absent. However, some prefer products with 0% THC. This is where broad spectrum comes into play.
Broad spectrum CBD extract retains all cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids found in the plant but lacks THC. No traces of THC exist in broad spectrum products.
With these CBD extract types clarified, you might be wondering which is superior. Following the Lautenberg Center study, CBD isolate's efficacy was questioned due to its lack of entourage effect. Between broad spectrum and full spectrum, current research suggests neither is definitively superior. Instead, consider which suits you personally.
Full spectrum CBD extract appeals to manufacturers and consumers as it closely mirrors the plant's chemical composition. Some prioritize CBD's natural form during the minimal extraction process.
Broad spectrum CBD extract's allure lies in its promise of 0% THC.
While full spectrum CBD offers minimal THC content and no psychoactive effects, THC can raise concerns for some due to drug tests, particularly in sports. Athletes often opt for broad spectrum CBD to ensure testing integrity. CBD products formulated for sports frequently use broad spectrum extracts. This type is also favored by those sensitive to THC.
Both broad spectrum and full spectrum CBD extracts have an earthy flavor, while CBD isolate is tasteless, odorless, and colorless due to terpene and flavonoid removal.
How to Shop for CBD
Purchasing CBD can be complex, whether you're a novice or an experienced buyer. Consider various factors, with extract type being a key consideration. Ensure the label clearly states the extract type, and check the manufacturer's third-party lab testing results for confirmation.
Other factors include product type, your condition, and dosage. If in doubt, reach out to the company for guidance.
Ongoing research into phytocannabinoid effectiveness and extracts promises to uncover more about their potential.
Mastering CBD Shopping
Navigating the CBD market can seem daunting due to the plethora of choices. However, having many options doesn't necessarily result in poor decisions. To assist you, we've compiled tips for CBD shopping:
- Certificates of Analysis (COA): These documents provide a breakdown of the product's chemical components, including CBD potency and the presence of other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Legitimate companies invest in third-party COA tests. A lack of COA on a manufacturer's site should raise red flags.
- Extract Type: CBD comes in isolate, broad spectrum, and full spectrum forms. Choose based on your requirements.
- Product Variety: CBD serves various purposes, from skincare to pain relief. Choose the product type that suits your needs and lifestyle.
At Reakiro, we offer both full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD products. Whether you prefer one over the other, our guide aims to clarify their differences, aiding your decision-making.