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CBD 101: The Ultimate Guide to Full-Spectrum CBD

The market has been recently flooded by tons of CBD products, and you’ll quickly find yourself lost amidst the multitude of choices available. While scientific evidence  is still lacking, the huge interest within the scientific community in the potential and impressive benefits of CBD will soon lead to a better understanding of how CBD works in the body. There are CBD facts that have already been established, and it’s important to learn some CBD 101 if you’re looking to buy a CBD product.. 

While browsing through an endless list of CBD products, you have probably encountered the term “full-spectrum CBD” plenty of times. What is it and how is it different from other types of CBD? Here’s the ultimate guide to full-spectrum CBD.

CBD 101: The Ultimate Guide to Full-Spectrum CBD

What is full-spectrum CBD?

The short answer is: it’s a whole-plant CBD product, which means it contains all the other beneficial compounds, in addition to CBD, present in the hemp plant — which is the main source of CBD. 

To fully appreciate the significance of using all the plant compounds to produce full-spectrum CBD, you must first learn about them. 

CBD, or cannabidiol, is the primary compound found in the hemp plant. To be more specific, it is a type of phytocannabinoid, of which more than 120 have been so far identified in the cannabis plant (both marijuana and hemp). 

CBD has the highest concentration among all the phytocannabinoids in hemp — about 12-18%. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is also a phytocannabinoid but no more than 0.3% is present in hemp; this amount is not enough to cause THC’s characteristic high. In comparison, about 17% of THC and only 0.15% of CBD is present in marijuana. 

In addition to the hundreds of phytocannabinoids, hemp also contains more than 150 terpenes. Terpenes are mostly responsible for the distinct aroma of cannabis, as well as for some of the plant’s therapeutic effects. 

Last but not the least are 20 different flavonoids, which are also found in many fruits, vegetables, and grains. 

CBD 101: The Ultimate Guide to Full-Spectrum CBD

How is full-spectrum CBD better than other types of CBD? 

As mentioned above, full-spectrum CBD contains not just cannabidiol, but also all other phytocannabinoids plus terpenes and flavonoids; this is why full-spectrum CBD is often described as a whole-plant CBD. 

Other types of CBD include broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate. Broad-spectrum CBD contains all other compounds in hemp, except for THC. CBD isolate contains cannabidiol and nothing else. 

Even while only trace amounts of the other phytocannabinoids, the terpenes, and flavonoids are present in full-spectrum CBD, their combined benefits deliver what is called the “entourage effect.” Simply put, the entourage effect describes how all the compounds work together by enhancing each other’s individual effects — just as nature intended. This means that full-spectrum CBD is as close to getting the maximum health effects of hemp as you can get. 

Broad-spectrum CBD comes at a very close second. THC is excluded, mostly, so that consumers who prefer to completely stay away from THC have another product option that also delivers the entourage effect. Take note that the amount of THC present in hemp-derived CBD does not produce psychoactive effects; but some people simply want to avoid it all the same. 

Another important thing to note is that a number of studies have found that CBD works better in the presence of THC. This might be something you’d want to consider when deciding between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD. 

CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD extract available, however, it only delivers the health effects of cannabidiol. 

CBD 101: The Ultimate Guide to Full-Spectrum CBD

Is there a downside to using full-spectrum CBD?

Full-spectrum CBD may have potential downsides. 

  • Certain drug tests may still show the presence of THC, even if only trace amounts are present in full-spectrum CBD. 
  • Unless the product has been tested by a third-party lab, there’s a risk that it might contain more than 0.3% THC. 
  • A product that contains more than 0.3% THC may have been mislabelled and actually used marijuana, not hemp. While hemp and all hemp products, including CBD products, are legal in all states, marijuana and marijuana products are only legal in certain states. 

It’s important to do adequate research on a company before deciding to buy their full-spectrum CBD. The quickest way to ensure quality is to look for the company’s certificate of analysis (COA). This should be readily available on the website or the store for customers to review. The COA is provided by a third-party lab, and will show the exact contents in the product and their respective amounts. It will also reveal if the product contains any contaminants, such as chemicals from pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, or preservatives. 

Final Thoughts

On its own, CBD has been shown to have many potential benefits for health. But studies have also found that these benefits are enhanced in the presence of all the other compounds found in hemp. If you’re looking to maximize the health effects of CBD, full-spectrum CBD would be the best option. 

Remember, however, that full-spectrum CBD that is derived from hemp also contains trace amounts of THC. At no more than 0.3%, the THC present will not get you high, but if you still want to avoid it, you can still benefit from a slightly weaker entourage effect with broad-spectrum CBD. If you’d prefer pure cannabidiol, then choose CBD isolate.