Isolates, Broad Spectrum and Full Spectrum?

The cannabis plant contains 483 known compounds; around 80 or more are cannabinoids. Isolates, broad spectrum and full spectrum are terms used to describe the spectrum of cannabinoids present in a particular extract. 

Full spectrum: contains the full spectrum of cannabinoids found in cannabis or hemp plant.

Broad spectrum: contains the full spectrum of cannabinoids minus the THC

Isolate: all cannabinoids stripped from the extract except for CBD.       

There are advantages and disadvantages of full spectrum and isolate CBD. Choosing the right extract is a personal one. It depends on your needs and lifestyle. CBD isolates are suitable for people who need to take a large dose on a regular basis and may be required to take random drug tests. Full spectrum and broad spectrum is believed to have a greater therapeutic potential than isolates, and that has to do with entourage effect. 

What is the Entourage effect? 

Full and broad Spectrum CBD is reputed to be better for the body due to the “entourage effect”. It is a proposed mechanism that claims the cannabis phytocomplex (cannabinoids being one set of phytocomplex) is more effective in unison than it is when one cannabinoid is used in isolation. 

If full spectrum is believed to be better for the human body, why are isolates created at all? One reason is that isolates are water-soluble and therefore, easier to work with. Many topical products and ingestible require that CBD be easily dissolved in water. CBD water and lotions are examples. It is also for people who are frequently subject to random drug tests.  It should be said that the level of THC in hemp CBD is so minuscule that it would likely not trigger a positive drug test but nevertheless, the most assured way is to not have any THC present in the products you’re considering if that is a concern. 

Broad spectrum is gaining popularity as it is similar to full spectrum extracts in that they contain a variety of different molecules, offering users the benefits of the entourage effect without any trace amount of THC that might be detectable in drug tests. 


Full spectrum, containing all phytocomplex that contribute to the way a plant smells and tastes, naturally carry on those characteristics. It smells herbaceous, smoky and has a bitter taste. Broad spectrum CBD also has those characteristics but with less intensity. Isolate CBD has no taste or smell. So if taste is a concern, consider broad spectrum or isolate. 

Price Point

You should expect to pay between $0.05-0.18 per mg for full and broad spectrum CBD from a reputable supplier.   Isolate is going to cost less per mg but considering the “entourage effect” it is likely not an apples to apples comparison.  Our broad spectrum CBD retail ranges from $0.05 for higher concentration to $0.08 for lower. 

Topical vs Ingestible?

CBD products come in many forms, including tinctures, oils, water, capsules, lotions, salves and more. In addition, many of those usage methods could contain either full spectrum or isolate. Therefore, each product will vary in bioavailability. A substance that is directly injected into the blood stream is considered 100% bioavailable and therefore, the most potent. It is believed that a substance is least bioavailable when it goes through the digestive tract. By this definition, does that mean a CBD gummy has less efficacy than CBD oil drops? The answer isn’t so simple. Are the gummies made with an isolate, how many milligram of CBD per serving and whether the oil drops are taken sublingually? All those factors need to be taken into consideration when deciding the right method of usage. Finding the right product mix is a personal journey. Next week I will talk more in details about bioavailability – how CBD enters the body and our Endocannabinoid System.  Both of those topics should help you decide the best route of administer.  See dosing guide for more information. 

Love and light, 

Mimi May


This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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