Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum Vs Isolate: Which Hemp Extract Oil Spectrum is best?

There’s a surprising amount of terminology when it comes to hemp extract oil. When you start digging into what makes hemp products so special, you often hear a lot of talk about things like spectrum, terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids. 

There is a lot to know about hemp extract oil but if you’re interested in trying ingestible products like tinctures, spectrum is something you should understand before you make your first purchase, especially if you work in an industry where you are drug tested for THC.

What is in hemp besides Cannabidiol?

Cannabidiol is only one of the many beneficial compounds found in the hemp plant. There are around 144 different cannabinoids contained in its potent leaves, as well as aromatic and health-benefiting terpenes and flavonoids.

Cannabidiol is the major cannabinoid that we look for in hemp, but others including THC (in small, legal amounts), CBG, CBN, and CBC have their use and benefit, especially when combined with cannabidiol.

How are Cannabidiol extractions made?

So, before we get into spectrums, let’s talk about how cannabidiol is extracted. There are several major extraction methods for hemp extract products but the most popular is using supercritical CO2, which is a common method utilized in the food manufacturing industry. The hemp plant matter is ground and subjected to both high temperatures and pressure to isolate and remove the beneficial compounds from the plant for use in topicals, ingestible, skincare, and other hemp extract products.

What is full spectrum Hemp Extract Oil?

Full spectrum hemp extract oil contains as many of the beneficial compounds from the hemp plant as possible. This means that full spectrum hemp products will contain not only cannabidiol, the aromatic terpenes, and the beneficial flavonoids, but trace amounts of THC as well.

In what is known as the “entourage effect,” the elements of hemp work best when they’re used together. Cannabidiol and other cannabinoids interact with your CB2 receptors in your endocannabinoid system but only THC is “psychoactive” and affects your CB1. Along with this, the terpenes and flavonoids have their own health benefits including being stress-reducing and promoting anti-inflammation. Cannabidiol and THC along with the other elements of the hemp plant, therefore, work in synergistic tandem to bring you the best health benefits. 

Especially if your concerns are more along the lines of stress or you are taking hemp extract oil for reasons beyond simple daily wellness, the full spectrum will be your best bet.

However, there is a concern for those who are worried about drug testing. While full spectrum hemp can only contain up to .3% THC by U.S. law, concentrations of THC can build up in your system over time. If you must take drug tests at work and they do not allow you to claim cannabidiol as part of your medicine and supplements, you may want to avoid full spectrum.

What is broad spectrum Hemp Extract Oil?

Broad spectrum cannabidiol is similar to full spectrum with one major caveat: the THC has been removed. Well, mostly. It’s physically impossible to remove every molecule of THC from the hemp plant extract. Some remnants will be inextricably linked to it, no matter what scientists do. So, when you see a bottle of hemp extract that says “0% THC” and it is labeled broad spectrum, what it actually means is that it has been removed to the point that scientific instruments can no longer detect it.

However, just like with full spectrum, THC can build up in the system. While it is rare, if you are a prolific user of broad spectrum CBD, there is a chance it could flag a drug test.

In terms of wellness, broad spectrum isn’t entirely different from full spectrum. Some claim that less THC makes a difference in the tincture’s efficacy, while others find broad spectrum just as effective. The general consensus, in this instance, is it varies by health concern and body.

What is isolate Hemp Extract Oil?

Isolate cannabidiol is processed so that only the cannabidiol itself is extracted. Isolates are used in a lot of products, especially in skincare and supplements like gummies. You will also see less expensive tinctures created with hemp extract oil isolate.

Without the beneficial terpenes and other cannabinoids, most find isolate cannabidiol to be less effective than broad or full spectrum. Where it shines best is as a general wellness supplement or for topical use. 

Another benefit of isolate cannabidiol is that it is truly an isolate—it is highly, highly unlikely to trigger a drug test using an isolate. They should (in general) be safe for use for those who must take drug screenings. If possible, however, if a drug screening is a concern and you’re able to use a topical, we’d recommend trying that to be safe.

Before buying a tincture, especially if they tout a high milligram count of cannabidiol, always check if it is an isolate. If the certificate of analysis is available, check it to see if any terpenes or other cannabinoids are listed. If they aren’t, it’s an isolate. Sometimes you will see “hemp extract oil isolate” or “hemp extract oil” listed on the ingredients list of a product—this too is a tell-tale sign of an isolate.

While isolates aren’t bad, they are significantly cheaper to create and should not be priced at the same point as a premium hemp product.

The spectrum labeling for hemp products is important for you to understand before making your first purchase. The difference between full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate hemp extract oil can affect a product’s usefulness, price point, and potentially your drug test results.

In the end, all three offer solid benefits for most people. The best way to find which spectrum and hemp product works for you is to give some a try.

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