The Different Types of CBD: A User's Guide

Forge Creek Original Hemp Co: Different Types of CBD

You're cool. You're definitely in "the know" when it comes to cbd. You've done your research and are no longer at a loss when a friend or family member brings it up in conversation. Or maybe not? If that's the case check out our previous post here detailing what cbd is. Now that we have that out of the way you should definitely know what cbd is. But wait, did you know that there are multiple types of cbd? Generally speaking, cbd and cbd products come in three different forms: isolate, broad-spectrum, and full spectrum. We'll start our guide to these different types of cbd with isolate.


Cbd isolate is exactly what it sounds like: a pure, isolated form of cannabidiol. Cbd isolate is solid at room temperature and comes as either varied shaped and sized crystals or in the form of crystalline powder. The industry standard for cbd isolate is a 99-99.9% concentration. To achieve this level of purity, producers typically start with a distilled product (we’ll talk more about that later) rich in cbd and, through a process involving a solvent, with strict controls over temperature and pressure, are able to separate the cbd from the rest of the product. Following additional steps to ensure there are no residual solvents or otherwise unwanted impurities, what’s left is the pure, unadulterated cbd. Because cbd isolate is already decarboxylated (no longer contains its acid group aka the “a” in cbd-a) and mixes effortlessly into carrier oils, it makes for great tinctures, capsules, food products and other consumables (although these food products and other consumables are not allowed as per FDA guidelines), topical salves and creams, and can even be vaporized and inhaled. While using cbd isolate, and products containing it, can be a great way to use cbd without the inherent risk of consuming thc, and then possibly failing a drug test, this form of cbd can be found to be lacking. Without other cannabinoids, flavonoids, or terpenes present, a user of this type of cbd product will be missing out on what is called the “entourage effect.” The entourage effect is a term that refers to the way in which different cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes may have more pronounced, less pronounced, or different effects when ingested or consumed together, as opposed to being ingested or consumed in their singular or isolated forms. While many, including myself, have found anecdotal evidence in support of this entourage effect, its scientific validity is far from settled. So, in the meantime, if you’re only interested in using the purest form of cbd and can’t take the risk of a failed drug test, then cbd isolate may be your best bet. Although, there are other alternatives…


Broad Spectrum

Which leads me to broad spectrum cbd products. Broad spectrum cbd refers to a cbd product, typically distillate (see, there’s that word again) that contains a, you guessed it, BROAD SPECTRUM of a cbd-rich hemp plant’s cannabinoid profile. This broad spectrum of cannabinoids usually includes, first and foremost, cbd, followed by cbg, cbn, sometimes thcv, and may include some terpenes and flavonoids as well. Something a broad-spectrum cbd product should never contain is thc. Whether it’s thc-a or thc delta 9, there should be lab tested and documented proof of non-detectable levels of thc.

To get a broad spectrum cbd product, you start with cbd-rich hemp. Through a process using ethanol, co2, or other solvents, cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and a bunch of other plant products such as fats, waxes, chlorophyll, etc. are extracted from the plant matter. Once the solvent is removed or reclaimed from this cbd rich soup, you’re left with raw cbd oil. This oil can be further processed, and with proper filtration and distillation, a purified distillate, free of all those extra, unwanted plant compounds, is created. Now, depending on the thc-a levels in your starting plant material, there’s probably a good amount of thc-a and/or thc delta 9 present in your distillate. Through a combination of short path distillation, cbd isolation, and conversion of thc to cbn, a broad spectrum cbd product, with non-detectable levels of thc, is produced. Broad spectrum cbd oil, while more difficult to work with than cbd isolate, can be used in a variety of products just like its crystalline, isolate brother. Additionally, broad spectrum cbd products contain a wide variety of cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes, all without detectable levels of thc. It’s like the best of both worlds, having your cake AND eating it, too! Now, on to full spectrum…


Full spectrum cbd oil is, can you guess? Yes, it’s a cbd rich extraction containing the FULL cannabinoid profile of a cbd rich hemp plant. Yes, this means thca and thc delta 9, in addition to all other cannabinoids. However, for it to be considered a legal product (outside of cannabis legal states) it must have a total thc content of no more than .3%. That’s not a heck of a whole lot but that is where the federal government has drawn the line. Any more than this and you’re technically dealing with a marijuana product (can you say DEA?). Full spectrum cbd oil can refer to unrefined, raw cbd oil, a refined and filtered cbd oil, or a cbd distillate, as long as it contains a full cannabinoid, terpene, and flavonoid profile. Although, during processing, there could possibly be a loss in cannabinoid, terpene, or flavinoid content. This raises a lot of questions regarding the exact definition of a full spectrum cbd product. While definitions of broad spectrum and isolate are pretty much agreed upon, depending on who you ask, you may find different interpretations of what constitutes full spectrum. Is it full spectrum if there is only thc-a and no thc? What about the inverse? Does the extract need to contain plant waxes and fats to truly be full spectrum? What about a slight loss in terpene content? What was the exact terpene content of the starting plant material? All of which are valid questions when trying to get to the most technical and correct definition of full spectrum cbd oil. Those question aside, however, full spectrum cbd oil can be found in a multitude of products, the same as isolate or broad spectrum. Labels should be clearly marked “Full Spectrum” in order to differentiate between this type of product and products which do not contain detectable levels of thc. Having used full spectrum products in addition to broad spectrum and isolate, I can say, anecdotally, there seemed to be a slightly more pronounced effect from those products when compared to a broad spectrum or isolate product. However, I do not believe the perceived benefits outweigh the risks of consuming a product which contains detectable levels of thc. Plus, most full spectrum products, much more so than broad-spectrum, taste like tree bark and other undesirable things you would rather not consume. And who wants that?

Well, that does it for our break-down of the different types of cbd. Whether you use isolate, broad spectrum or full spectrum products, or have yet to try any cbd products, I hope this guide has been informative and proves helpful the next time you decide to purchase cbd. 


Til next time...



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