Full-Spectrum CBD, Broad Spectrum CBD vs CBD Isolate

From sleep help to pain relief, Cannabidiol (CBD) has burst onto the wellness scene in the last few years. More and more people are turning to CBD products for help and relief, but it can get pretty confusing when it comes to picking out CBD products. 

If you are one of the many people trying out CBD, you have probably come across the three main types of CBD products: Full-spectrum CBD, Broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD Isolate. All three have different uses and benefits, but most people don’t really know the difference.

That’s why we’re here to clear up some of that confusion and break down the three types of CBD products so you can make the right decision for you and your body!

A Brief Intro to CBD

All three of the available CBD product types originate from the same place, namely the cannabis plant. However, while this is the same plant that marijuana originates from, CBD is extracted from plants with naturally low Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels, the psychoactive ingredient in recreational cannabis. Specifically, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines plants with 0.3% or lower levels of THC as “hemp” rather than cannabis to avoid confusion. 

From these hemp plants, CBD is extracted and eventually made into one of the three types mentioned above of CBD products. To find the different types of CBD oils, however, we have to dig a little deeper.

Full-Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum vs. Isolate

Defining each type of CBD is relatively simple, as it all comes down to what compounds (chemicals) remain with the CBD after it is extracted. Hemp plants have as many as 540 different compounds in them, but we’ll only focus on two groups called Cannabinoids and Terpenes. 

Cannabinoids are the chemicals in hemp that interact with the human body. You’re already familiar with the two main Cannabinoids, CBD and THC, but there are over 100 other types of Cannabinoids. 

On the other hand, Terpenes create the smell of hemp and can interact with Cannabinoids in very different ways. The presence or absences of Terpenes and Cannabinoids determine what type of CBD product you have!

  • CBD Isolate- CBD isolate is technically the purest form of CBD, as it is 100% undiluted CBD oil. After going through the extraction process, Isolate products filter out everything except for CBD from the plants, including THC, Terpenes, and all other Cannabinoids.
  • Full-Spectrum- To get a Full-Spectrum CBD oil, THC, Cannabinoids, and Terpenes are all left in, leaving the “full-spectrum” of chemical compounds. It is important to remember that this can only happen with FDA-approved hemp plants, which contain minimal THC levels.
  • Broad-Spectrum- As a sort of middle ground between CBD isolate and Full-Spectrum CBD, Broad-Spectrum CBD oil leaves the Terpenes and Cannabinoids alone but filters out the THC.

Now that we know what makes them different, let’s see what each type of CBD does and what that might mean for you.

CBD Isolate

We’ll start with CBD isolate, as it is the most unique of the three. Full-Spectrum and Broad-Spectrum CBD products contain many of the same compounds, but CBD isolate only contains CBD.


  • Cost- CBD Isolate products can be a good choice for people looking to save a little money, as they tend to be cheaper.
  • THC Free- The main reason some people opt for CBD Isolate is its complete lack of THC. Many employers still require a drug test, which can include testing for THC. Using CBD Isolate negates the risk of any THC showing up on a drug test while still providing some of the benefits of CBD.
  • Flavor- CBD Isolate tastes less “hempy” than other forms.
  •  Cons

  • Dosage Difficulties- While there are still some benefits to pure CBD oil, they can be limited, based on studies thus far. One study, in particular, showed that CBD Isolate could only be effective at a very specific dose, in contrast to Full and Broad Spectrum products. If you have an amount that is too high or low, you may not feel the effects at all.
  • No Entourage- CBD Isolates also tend to be less effective than their counterparts, as they lack something called the “Entourage Effect”. Studies have shown that CBD is most effective when combined with the other compounds from the hemp plant. Because CBD Isolates don’t contain these compounds, they are significantly less effective.

  • While some people may choose CBD Isolates for their convenience or lack of THC, we recommend the other forms of CBD first.

    Full-Spectrum CBD

    On the opposite end of the CBD scale, we have Full-Spectrum CBD products. These products contain all of the cannabinoids and terpenes found in hemp plants, including trace amounts THC (but not enough to feel any psychoactive effects like marijuana).


  • The Entourage Effect- Full-Spectrum CBD is the most effective type of CBD product, thanks to something called the Entourage Effect. This effect, defined by a 1998 study, states that the other relatively inactive Cannabinoids found in hemp plants can enhance the effects of CBD, making it significantly more effective than CBD Isolate alone. 
  • Extra Help- More recently, a study examined the effect of specific terpenes found in the hemp plant and showed that terpenes could play a role in anti-inflammatory and “neuroprotective” effects on the body. However, this study is very recent, and not all statements have been evaluated when it comes to the effects of terpenes.
  • Cons

    • Flavor- Unlike CBD Isolates, Full-Spectrum CBD oil will have a distinct hemp flavor, which can be unpleasant to some people. 
    • THC- Because Full-Spectrum extracts contain (trace) amounts of THC, people using Full Spectrum products might stand a chance of failing a drug test. If you are concerned about an upcoming drug test, you might want to avoid Full-Spectrum products. However, the amount of THC is minimal in most Full-Spectrum hemp extracts, so there is no risk of any psychoactive effects. 

    Full-Spectrum CBD oils might be the most effective form of CBD out there, but if you’re still unsure about THC, you might want to try a Broad-Spectrum CBD instead.

    Broad-Spectrum CBD

    The final category, Broad-Spectrum CBD, balances the first two types reasonably well. Broad-Spectrum CBD contains extra Cannabinoids and Terpenes found in the hemp plant but filters out the THC.


  • Non-Detectable THC- By filtering out as much THC as possible using current extraction machines, Broad-Spectrum CBD products reduce the risk of failing a drug test significantly. Technically, it’s impossible to remove 100% of THC from a Broad Spectrum extract, but the amount remaining is so low that it’s usually non-detectable when tested by lab equipment. While the definition of “Broad Spectrum'' varies within the industry, most agree that THC levels are below 0.01% to qualify (as opposed to 0.3% for Full Spectrum). This lets more people get the benefits of the Entourage Effect without worrying about THC showing up on a drug test.*

  • *Note: if your career or livelihood depends on passing a drug test, there is still a small risk of failing a test when using Broad Spectrum products. For example, medical or healthcare professionals, teachers, or government workers may decide CBD Isolate is a better option to avoid as much risk as possible. 

    • The Entourage Effect- Much like Full-Spectrum CBD products, the interactions of compounds in Broad-Spectrum CBD create a more effective CBD extract and enhance the benefits of CBD.


  • Slightly Less Effective- While it is nice not to worry about THC, the Entourage Effect is slightly less due to the process of removing THC. Those processes, such as distillation or chromatography, can also remove small amounts of other cannabinoids or terpenes.

  • If you’re looking for the most balanced option, Broad-Spectrum CBD is probably your best bet, though if you don’t have worries about THC, try for a Full-Spectrum option instead!