Broad Spectrum CBD vs Full Spectrum CBD

  • CBD
Full spectrum CBD

Did you know not all CBD oil is made equal?

If you’re planning to try CBD oil, you need to know the difference between full-spectrum CBD and broad-spectrum CBD. This is especially important if you live in a state where THC is illegal and you have a job that runs drug tests.

Read on to learn more about each of these substances, how they’re made, and which one is the right choice for you.

What Is CBD?

Before we dive too far into the differences between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD, let’s talk some about what CBD actually is. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the compounds that make up the marijuana plant. CBD and THC are two of the best-known of the more than 100 compounds in marijuana.

CBD oil has long been thought to have a variety of health benefits, and scientists are starting to prove some of those theories true. Although there is only one CBD-containing drug on the market right now, many more are in trial stages. We’re just beginning to scratch the surface of what this amazing substance can do. 

How Cannabinoids Affect Us 

Our bodies have an endocannabinoid system that impacts our sleep, appetite, pain response, immune system, and more. As you might guess from the names, cannabinoids interact with this endocannabinoid system. They bind to receptors in our brains and can have a variety of medical benefits. 


Part of the reason CBD gets so much mixed press is due to its association with marijuana. Proponents of marijuana legalization are excited about the idea of the plant having medicinal uses, while opponents think people just want an excuse to get high. In both cases, these people are confused about which of marijuana’s components actually gets you high. 

Tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, is the part of marijuana that causes a high. It binds with different receptors in your brain than CBD does, causing the psychotropic effects marijuana is so well known for. CBD does not get you high and is legal to sell in most cases (as we’ll discuss later).

What Is Full-Spectrum CBD?

All CBD is not made the same, however, and which type you buy depends on your specific needs and situation. Full-spectrum CBD contains all of the compounds found in marijuana. This can include terpenes, essential oils, and up to 0.3 percent THC.

There are some people who argue that having all the compounds of the marijuana plant working together can give you more powerful CBD benefits. But because of the inclusion of THC, this form of CBD oil can make you high. It may also not be legal in your area, depending on where you live.

What Is Broad-Spectrum CBD?

Broad-spectrum CBD oil contains most of the same compounds that full-spectrum CBD does. However, unlike full-spectrum CBD, there is little to no THC present in broad-spectrum CBD products. Depending on the source you get your CBD from, there may be differing amounts of THC in broad-spectrum CBD oil. 

Proponents of broad-spectrum CBD say that it gets you the best of both worlds. You get all the extra compounds and cannabinoids from the marijuana plant without having to worry about THC content. But if you’re trying to avoid any THC at all, you’ll need to make sure you buy from a reputable source. 

CBD Isolate

The third form of CBD oil is CBD isolate, the purest form of CBD. Unlike full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD, CBD isolate contains nothing but the pure compound itself. All other terpenes, cannabinoids, and THC are removed during the purification process.

Some people believe CBD isolate doesn’t deliver the same benefits the other forms of CBD oil do. While they agree that CBD itself has some benefits, they think the full effect comes from the combination of substances that make up the marijuana plant. CBD isolate doesn’t deliver any of that – only 100 percent pure cannabidiol.

Carbon Dioxide Extraction

There are a few different ways to pull CBD oil in any of its forms out of the marijuana plant. The first of these, carbon dioxide extraction, produces high-concentration CBD, and is tremendously popular. With any of the methods, we’ll discuss here, the initial product you get from extraction is full-spectrum CBD; it must be processed further if you want broad-spectrum CBD or CBD isolate.

As the name suggests, carbon dioxide extraction uses CO2 gas to separate CBD oil from the marijuana plant. Manufacturers infuse marijuana plants with carbon dioxide in either its liquid or gas form. From there, they transition it to the opposite state of matter – liquid to gas or gas to liquid – a process that pulls the CBD oil out of the plants. 

Steam Distillation

Steam distillation is another popular method of extracting full-spectrum CBD from marijuana plants. Although it’s less effective than carbon dioxide distillation, it’s a somewhat cheaper process. This makes it more manageable for smaller companies looking to get started with CBD production.

During steam distillation, marijuana plants are placed over a pot of boiling water, and steam rises up through them. The heat and moisture of the steam break the essential oil apart from the plants and carry it into a vapor tube. There, it condenses back into a liquid containing water and oil which can be separated later. 

Solvent Extraction 

Solvent extraction lands somewhere between carbon dioxide extraction and steam distillation on the complexity scale. As the name suggests, solvent extraction uses a solvent, rather than heat or gas, to pull CBD oil out of the marijuana plants. The most common solvent used for this process is also a simple one: alcohol. 

In order to extract oil from almost any plant, you simply have to soak it in alcohol for a few days to a few weeks. From there, you can evaporate the alcohol off, thanks to its low boiling point. This leaves behind full-spectrum CBD oil that can be processed further as needed.

Lipid Extraction 

The final common type of CBD extraction is called lipid extraction. This method uses naturally-occurring fatty acids called lipids to separate CBD oil from the marijuana plant. Common lipids used for this process are coconut oil, olive oil, or medium-chain triglyceride oil, better known as MCT oil.

Lipid extraction uses heat, time, and pressure to pull CBD out of marijuana plants and bond it with the lipid of choice. Oftentimes, the CBD oil is sold in the same oil it’s extracted with. You can also process this oil further to remove THC if you want to get broad-spectrum CBD oil. 

Benefits of Full-Spectrum CBD

One of the primary draws of full-spectrum CBD oil is that you get everything the marijuana plant has to offer. We still don’t completely understand how CBD interacts with our bodies and how its benefits work. Full-spectrum CBD gives you the most unaltered version of this substance without editing Mother Nature’s work.

Full-spectrum CBD also undergoes less processing than other forms of CBD. For people who are working with a limited budget, full-spectrum may be a little more affordable since it’s easier to make. It also provides some assurance for people who want to avoid chemical processing that can impact the final product they’re receiving. 

Downsides of Full-Spectrum CBD

The major downside of full-spectrum CBD, of course, is that it still contains THC. For some people, this may not be a downside at all, depending on their personal preference and where they live. But for those who don’t enjoy a marijuana high, full-spectrum CBD may cause unwanted psychotropic side effects.

Full-spectrum CBD oil is also not a good option for people who live in states where marijuana is still illegal. If you’re applying for a job that requires you to take a drug test, that test will be looking for THC. You could get into hot water for using marijuana even if you’ve only used full-spectrum CBD oil.

Benefits of Broad-Spectrum CBD

Many people feel that broad-spectrum CBD oil gets you the best of both worlds. On one hand, you get all the compounds of the original marijuana plant working together as they do in pure marijuana. This may provide you with better results or a purer effect than CBD isolate could.

But while you still get this entourage effect of all the cannabinoids working together, broad-spectrum CBD oil doesn’t carry the same worries about THC. If you’re buying high-quality products, you shouldn’t have any issues with THC detection or legality. This can also work well for people who have THC sensitivity or who simply don’t enjoy being high.

Downsides of Broad-Spectrum CBD

The downside of broad-spectrum CBD is much the same as that of any altered CBD product. Since we don’t fully understand how the benefits of CBD work, it’s impossible to say yet what benefits THC provides. You may not get as much effect from this from of CBD as you do from full-spectrum.

Broad-spectrum CBD is also somewhat the redheaded stepchild of cannabidiol research. Many scientists devote their efforts to either CBD isolate or full-spectrum CBD, and most manufacturers tend to go to one extreme or the other. It can be somewhat harder to find high-quality broad-spectrum CBD.

Choosing the Best CBD for You 

The question of which form of CBD oil you should use is an entirely personal one. If you live in an area where marijuana is still illegal, or if you work at a job where you may be drug tested, you’ll want to stick to broad-spectrum. This should still give you a fuller CBD impact without leaving you at risk of legal consequences.

If you live in an area where THC is not a problem for you and you don’t mind a bit of a high, full-spectrum CBD oil may be worth a try. You may find that you get more of the effects you’re looking for with this purer form. You’ll also have an easier time finding affordable CBD if full-spectrum products work for your needs.

Discover the Benefits of CBD 

CBD oil is one of the hottest products on the healthcare scene right now, and this is for good reason. If you plan to give it a try yourself, it’s important that you know the difference between full-spectrum CBD and broad-spectrum CBD. Make sure you’re aware of the THC laws in your state and choose the option that will best meet your needs.

If you’d like to find the best CBD products on the market, check out the rest of our site at Etanicals. We provide the best botanical products available, including both full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD. Shop our products today and discover the benefits of CBD for yourself.


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