Cannabis Product Types

Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum CBD Oil


Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum CBD Oil

CBD oils fall into a range of classifications including full-spectrum, broad spectrum, distillate and isolate. The primary difference between these is their phytocompound profile. Whereas full and broad spectrum aim to include a greater variety of molecules, distillates and isolates try to limit this. This can affect the exact way that they interact with the endocannabinoid system. Depending on someone’s situation, different products will be considered more suitable.

What is full spectrum CBD oil?

Full spectrum refers to CBD oils which contain the widest selection of compounds within the cannabis plant. This includes primary cannabinoids like CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) as well as minor cannabinoids. Additionally, full spectrum CBD oils contain other phytocannabinoids such as terpenes, flavonoids and polyphenols. While extraneous lipids are removed during processing, the ratio of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids is kept as close as possible to the original plant. The idea is to utilise the potential benefits of as much of the cannabis plant as possible. Different substances within the cannabis plant can work together to provide greater benefits that they would individually. This phenomenon is referred to as the entourage effect. Most extraction methods tend to lose flavonoids and terpenes, so a true full spectrum CBD oil is hard to come by. Ethanol extraction  and supercritical CO2 extraction tends to be used in the production of full spectrum CBD oils.

What is broad spectrum CBD oil?

Broad spectrum CBD oils are similar to full-spectrum CBD oils, with the key difference that they aim to exclude THC. Due to THC’s psychoactive effects, some producers may want to omit this from their products. While full-spectrum CBD oils generally tend to have a low percentage of THC, this specific amount will vary based on the country of origin and specific manufacturer. Broad spectrum cannabis oils aim to provide the benefits of all the additional phytocompounds and CBD whilst avoiding the potential drawbacks for THC. This still has the capacity to cause the entourage effect, but possibly in a more diminished capacity.

What is a CBD distillate?

CBD distillate is limited to containing only the cannabinoids of interest. The initial extract is often run through a distillation process several times in order to increase its purity. CBD distillates typically come in the form of a thickened amber oil. Sometimes substances like terpenes are introduced after this process to blend a distillate into a broad spectrum CBD oil. While a CBD distillate may aim to have no THC, traces may still be present. For both CBD distillates and isolates, both solvent based and solvent free extraction methods may be used.  

What is a CBD isolate?

CBD isolate aims to have the purest concentration of a selected extract. This helps to provide a product with a very specific cannabinoid profile. Isolates exist as crystalline powers with a purity of 99.99%. In order to achieve this level of purity, the extract undergoes additional solvent processes after its initial distillation. When producing CBD isolate, the initial biomass that is extracted is either hemp or cannabis flower, of which the specific cultivar is less relevant. This is because during the extraction, refinement and isolation processes on specific CBD compounds are isolated with the majority of other compounds discarded. 

CBD isolates are the least likely products to contain traces of THC. This makes them the best choice for someone attempting to avoid ingesting any THC due to the potential issues it may cause them. It provides a good introduction for people who want to test out their response to CBD without any additional cannabinoids or phytocompounds interfering.

Why is the difference between CBD oils important?

The difference between types of CBD oils is important when trying to cater to a patient’s needs. Often, only specific phytocompounds will be ideal for a patient’s treatment. This is particularly true if a patient is trying to avoid THC-based treatment because of driving or work regulations. Due to THC’s potential for psychoactive effects, it is illegal for a patient to have any THC in their system when driving or operating heavy machinery. These regulations apply in most of Australia and regardless of whether a patient is experiencing any effects from THC. This also contributes to THC and medicinal cannabis products that contain higher amounts of THC being more stringently regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Distillates and isolates allow patients to better avoid THC whilst providing a more consistent and standardised effect profile. Alternatively, a full or broad spectrum medicinal cannabis product might be a better choice for trying to take advantage of the entourage effect. This is when the different compounds deriving from the cannabis plant work together to interact with your endocannabinoid system and create a more significant effect. Ultimately, it is worth trying different options to see which one suits a particular patient better.

Want to learn more?

Kind Medical has a range of educational resources that help provide useful information about medicinal cannabis. Health professionals can also stay informed by accessing Kind’s healthcare professionals portal. Check them out or give us a call if you have any additional questions.

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