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Understanding The Differences Between Broad-Spectrum & Full-Spectrum CBD

When purchasing CBD products, it pays to know two things in particular. First off, what exactly are you looking for? For many consumers, CBD is used preventatively as a health or dietary supplement against chronic pain or inflammatory conditions. For users diagnosed with mood or anxiety disorders, CBD can be a viable add-on to conventional courses of therapy and medication.

It also pays to know which type of CBD product is right for you (check Mr. Hemp Flower). While CBD isolates are fairly straightforward, many new consumers are confused as to differences between broad- and full-spectrum CBD formulations. In this post, we go over key distinctions between the two as well as their respective pros and cons.

What Constitutes a Broad-Spectrum Formulation?

“Broad-spectrum” is a term used to describe CBD products that contain multiple cannabinoids and terpenes present in the cannabis plant. This includes cannabinol (CBN), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG) and more. Broad-spectrum CBD formulations are thought to be more effective than isolates because they contain a wider range of beneficial compounds. 

Some people prefer to use CBD isolates over broad-spectrum products for their superior single-cannabinoid potency. This is mostly a matter of preference, where the relative scarcity of scientific literature on other cannabinoids causes many newer consumers to opt for CBD alone, and in as high a concentration as possible. However, most research indicates that CBD isolate is less effective than broad-spectrum CBD extract, given the former lacks many other beneficial compounds found in the plant.

Though isolates are often viewed as more potent, broad-spectrum formulations have been indicated to be more beneficial due to the Entourage Effect, which is a term used to describe the synergistic interaction between cannabinoids like CBD and other cannabis compounds like terpenes.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are aromatic compounds produced naturally by many types of plants. In nature they serve to attract pollinators and deter predators, while also playing a role in anti-fungal and anti-bacterial defenses. Terpenes play an important role in the medicinal properties of cannabis, and are currently being studied for their role in its therapeutic potential.

Terpenes can be purchased from reputable retailers like True Blue, both as individual isolates and strain profiles.

It’s worth noting that entourage effects don’t occur strictly between CBD and terpenes. A growing number of studies indicate that combinations of cannabinoids are more effective than any single one — including CBD — alone. This was shown in a study that tested the effects of THC and CBD on glioblastoma in mice. The researchers found that when THC and CBD were used together, they formed a more potent treatment than an isolated molecule. A similar study showed this effect with CBD and CBN on breast cancer cell viability.

How Full-Spectrum Formulations Are Different

On the other hand, “full-spectrum” is a term used to describe CBD oil that has been extracted from cannabis using methods that preserve all of the plant’s cannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial compounds like flavonoids. Full-spectrum CBD is believed to possess the most therapeutic potential, as it contains a wider range of compounds than CBD that has been specifically isolated or had some components removed, as is the case with broad-spectrum products.

Formulation Broad-spectrum CBD is popular within the larger mainstream because it contains all cannabinoids except for THC, which makes it legal in all 50 states. Conversely, full-spectrum CBD contains a complete cannabinoid profile including THC, as well as terpenes and other compounds.

Legality As of this writing, full-spectrum CBD is only legal in states where recreational consumption of marijuana is legal. In states where it’s only legal for medical consumption, it’s likely you’ll need a prescription to use full-spectrum formulations.

Sourcing & Production Broad-spectrum CBD is typically extracted from industrially-grown hemp, in order to ensure that the final product contains a concentration of THC well within the legal threshold established under federal law.

In states where recreational marijuana is legal, some full-spectrum CBD products can be sourced from specific strains of marijuana. This allows the final extract to have cannabinoid and/or terpene profiles closely mirroring the target strain.

Experience For cannabis enthusiasts, hobbyists, DIYers and aficionados who create their own CBD liquids for vaping or concentrates for dabbing (or even infusion), full-spectrum CBD is preferred over broad-spectrum products because it creates a more complete and authentic cannabis experience.

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