What is the Difference Between Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum CBD?

Figuring out the difference between Full Spectrum CBD vs Broad Spectrum CBD can be confusing. After all, the names sound almost like synonyms. 

Even experienced consumers often ask, what’s the difference between Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum CBD? In the growing cannabidiol or CBD market, it’s become a common question. 

We know CBD may help with common ailments like anxiety, inflammation, and pain. And we love that it does so naturally with no strange side effects. So it only makes sense that more and more of us are asking questions about specifics. 

The world of CBD can be mind-boggling to the uninitiated. So we decided to break things down. 

Below we explain the types of CBD, with a focus on Full Spectrum and Broad Spectrum cannabidiols. We’ll talk about Full Spectrum CBD oil vs Broad Spectrum, who each is best suited for, and everything else you need to know before you try it out. 

By the time we’re through, you’ll understand the difference between Full Spectrum and Broad Spectrum CBD. More importantly, you’ll know which one is right for you. 

Types of CBD Explained 

First things first, CBD comes from the cannabis plant, which you probably already knew. Manufacturers extract CBD from the plant in various ways, like steam distillation or solvent extraction. 

When they extract CBD, they also pull other naturally occurring compounds from the raw plant material. The extracted CBD and various other compounds are then added to a carrier oil for use in the final product. Which compounds are added, or left out, is up to the manufacturer.

This leads to CBD products available in three forms: 

  • CBD Isolate
  • Full Spectrum CBD 
  • Broad Spectrum CBD

CBD Isolate

As you might have already guessed, CBD Isolate refers to isolated pure CBD. There are no other naturally occurring essential oils, terpenes, or phytocannabinoids in the product. Some refer to isolate cbd as the purest form of CBD.

That makes CBD Isolate ideal for cooking or adding to beverages, since terpenes and flavonoids add distinct flavors and aromas.It also means CBD Isolate contains the most CBD, sometimes upwards of 90%. As we’ll learn in a moment, though, that doesn’t necessarily make CBD Isolate the most beneficial. 

Full Spectrum

Full Spectrum CBD includes an entire range of cannabis plant compounds, often referred to as whole plant cbd, including up to .3% of THC, the psychoactive compound that gets you “high.” 

Broad Spectrum

Broad Spectrum CBD also includes a range of cannabis plant compounds like essential oils and terpenes, but it doesn’t include THC.

We’ll talk about why having a broad range of terpenes, phytocannabinoids, and flavonoids might make CBD more beneficial below. 

Full Spectrum CBD vs. Broad Spectrum CBD 

Now that we know the basics let’s zoom in on the two CBD types in question. As mentioned, both Full Spectrum CBD and Broad Spectrum include a range of naturally occurring cannabis compounds. But what does that really mean? And which one should you be using? 

Naturally Occurring Plant Compounds

To understand that, we need to talk a little bit about the various compounds in the hemp plant. In general, hemp plants have:

  • Phytocannabinoids
  • Terpenes
  • Flavonoids 

Phytocannabinoids

Every hemp plant has a vast range of phytocannabinoids, but consumers and producers of CBD tend to focus on two of them: Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC and cannabidiol or CBD. Both can have therapeutic effects. THC is known for its psychoactive properties as well. 

Terpenes

These are the aroma molecules in hemp plants. They’re responsible for the plant’s fragrance, but they also provide a therapeutic effect for CBD users.  

Myrcene, a common cannabis terpene, may promote relaxation, while Terpinolene may help with focus. And Limonene, which is also found in lemons and has a citrusy scent, may have anti-anxiety effects. And those are just a few examples; there are many more!  

Though more research is needed, it’s thought that terpenes change in the presence of other naturally occurring cannabis compounds. So, they may alter the effects of existing cannabinoids. This is part of the entourage effect, which we’ll discuss in more detail below. 

Flavonoids

We know of about 20 different flavonoids in the hemp plant, but that’s not the only place you’ll find these molecules. Flavonoids are in lots of plant life, including vegetables, grains, flowers, and fruit. 

In cannabis, just like in berries, studies show that flavonoids reduce oxidative stress. Meaning they are anti-inflammatory and may protect from certain cancers and neurodegeneration. 

Cannaflavin A, for example, is one such flavonoid in the cannabis plant that has proven anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, some studies suggest it might be more potent than Aspirin! 

The Entourage Effect

Both full and broad spectrum CBDs contain phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. But, only Full Spectrum CBD includes THC. That said, it’s not enough THC to create any psychoactive effects. So why include it at all? 

Well, research suggests that there may be something called an entourage effect. The idea is that different compounds within hemp complement each other and work together better than they do alone. 

So, the bigger the spread of terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids in an extracted CBD product, the more effective it may be for fighting pain, inflammation, anxiety, and more. 

Why Use Full Spectrum CBD

Advocates of Full Spectrum CBD oil are all about the entourage effect. And there’s legitimate research, as well as lots of anecdotal evidence, to back up its existence.

THC works with CBD and seems to enhance the CBD’s overall effect. For many users, that translates to better sleep, less pain, and less anxiety. But it’s not right for everyone. 

If you’re worried about THC for any reason, be it drug testing or otherwise, then Broad Spectrum CBD is the better choice. It also tends to smell less weed-like and still seems to provide an entourage effect, albeit a slightly smaller one. 

Though the amount of THC in Full Spectrum CBD is very low, it’s still a psychoactive compound that some users may wish to avoid. Full Spectrum CBD is unlikely to provide any sort of euphoric feeling when taken in regular doses, but taking large amounts could produce a “high” of sorts. 

And, there’s concern about Full Spectrum CBD and drug tests. Those who are tested regularly for their job or any other reason may want to avoid using Full Spectrum CBD just in case. 

Topical products are less likely to cause a positive drug test, but it’s still possible. You can technically absorb cannabinoids through the skin. So, to be safe, avoid Full Spectrum CBD if you deal with regular drug tests. 

Why Use Broad Spectrum CBD

Broad Spectrum CBD will still provide an entourage effect, but not as big of one. Terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids may still enhance CBD’s overall effects. And Broad Spectrum CBD seems to work better than CBD isolate, at least anecdotally. 

That said, some believe THC is the magic ingredient, so to speak. Though scientists need to study things further, it may be that Broad Spectrum CBD is slightly less effective than Full Spectrum CBD.  

That’s not to say Broad Spectrum CBD is never the right choice. Because it lacks THC, Broad Spectrum CBD is ideal for those who have to undergo drug tests for any reason. 

It also may be better for more sensitive users who sometimes report a little “brain fog” when using Full Spectrum CBD. This foggy feeling is likely from the THC, so using Broad Spectrum CBD rather than Full Spectrum CBD tends to fix it.  

Lastly, Full Spectrum CBD features a more pungent “weed-like” scent and flavor than Broad Spectrum CBD. The smell of cannabis is divisive; some love it, and others hate it. If you can’t stand the scent of cannabis, Broad Spectrum CBD might be your best option.  

Which CBD is Right For You? 

When it comes down to it, the CBD product that’s right for you is the one that works for you! Everyone’s body processes CBD a little differently, and what works great for your friend’s back pain might not work as well for your anxiety.  

The best bet is usually to experiment with a few different CBD products. That said, the distinctions we discussed above may help you determine where to start. 

If you don’t mind a little bit of THC and don’t have an issue with things that smell a bit like, well, weed, then you should give Full Spectrum CBD a try. Thanks to the entourage effect, Full Spectrum CBD will likely provide the most relief for pain, anxiety, inflammation, and other ailments. 

If you’re worried about THC for any reason, be it drug testing or otherwise, then Broad Spectrum CBD is the better choice. It also tends to smell less weed-like and still seems to provide an entourage effect, albeit a slightly smaller one. 

Final Thoughts on Full Spectrum CBD Oil vs Broad Spectrum

When it comes to the question, “what’s the difference between Full Spectrum and Broad Spectrum CBD?” the answer is simple. 

Full Spectrum CBD features a full range of cannabis compounds, including small amounts of THC and other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. 

Broad Spectrum CBD also features a range of terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids, but minus the potentially mind-altering THC. 

Both products capitalize on the entourage effect, which may increase their effectiveness. But which one you pick is entirely up to you. 

If you’re still on the fence, try them both! As we said, everyone has a unique body chemistry, which means CBD works a little differently in all of us.