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Full-spectrum cannabis extracts VS CBD isolate

By Ian Jones

Ian Jones is a journalist based in Manchester, England. He specialises in technology and food, with a heavy focus on vaping, CBD and medicinal drugs. He began writing professionally over 15 years ago and is a regular contributor to New Scientist, Vice and the Daily Mirror. He is also the resident CBD expert at the respected vaping website Spinfuel. He began looking at CBD in detail after discovering that it cured his mother’s arthritis, and has since become a leading figure in the UK when it comes to educating people about the CBD extraction process and exploring its curative properties.

The public profile of CBD has soared in recent years, with users using it to treat all manner of ailments and conditions. It can be consumed in a variety of ways, ranging from simple oral consumption to topical use and even vaping. There are two main forms of CBD on the market. These are ‘full spectrum’ CBD and CBD isolate. There are a number of key differences between the two, which we will look at in this article. We will also look at methods of consumption, as this can have dramatic impact on the efficacy of CBD. As we will see, full-spectrum CBD is more popular, and for good reason, but isolate has certain benefits that might appeal to different CBD users.

The increased popularity of CBD has led many users to raise questions about the methods of extracting and administering CBD. The main question is which form provides the most effective range of medical benefits for the user. The two most common forms of extracted CBD found in stores are full-spectrum (whole-plant extract) and pure CBD isolate. Most users prefer the full-spectrum option. As CBD’s usefulness for medical purposes has become more accepted over the years, new methods of administering it have continued to evolve.

This has left some users concerned not just with which form of extracted CBD is most effective or what the proper dosage for them may be, but also with which method of supplementation gives the user the most relief in the right amount of time. Some of the most common methods include applying it sublingually, topically, or taking it in capsules. Vaping cbd is regarded by many to be the most bio-available way to administer, and as such, this has led to an increase in the demand for CBD isolate. This form of CBD is different from full-spectrum CBD extract in that it only contains CBD and none of the other cannabinoids, terpenes, or healthy fatty acids that commonly result from the whole-plant extraction process.

Cannabis, with its complex chemical structure, contains over 100 active cannabinoids aside from CBD. It also contains terpenes, which have anti-inflammatory properties, and are regarded as increasing the efficacy of cannabinoids. Although they are not rated as important as CBD when it comes medical benefits, some of these other cannabinoids have been found to have symptom alleviating qualities as well. The cannabinoids CBN and CBG for example, are found in most full-spectrum extracts and studies have shown that both contain anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and pain relieving properties.

Whole-plant extracts typically contain a carefully measured amount of the cannabis plant’s most prominent cannabinoid, THC, although usually not in a large enough amount to have any psychological effects. In many countries, a certain percentage of THC is illegal, so it is vital to know the amount of this cannabinoid when manufacturing products that contain full-spectrum CBD. When present together, CBD and its cannabinoid colleagues, as well as terpenes, produce what is known as an entourage effect. The synergistic relationship between cannabinoids and terpenes has been shown to increase the healing properties of each.

A study published by the Lautenberg Center for Immunology and Cancer Research, which aimed its focus on the effectiveness of CBD isolate compared to full-plant extract, supported this concept, stating in its summary that “in all of the tests, the isolated CBD was ineffective both before and after a certain dosage, while the effectiveness of the full-spectrum solution continued to increase as higher doses were administered. The results all indicate that CBD is only effective against swelling and pain at a certain dose, and that cannabis solutions containing a full range of cannabinoids will continue to provide corresponding effects as the dosage is increased.”

Given the results of this study, it would seem to confirm that full-spectrum extract is preferable over CBD isolate for most CBD users, but CBD isolate is still frequently used and believed by some to be more effective than full-plant extract. This belief is led by the idea that CBD is the only medically sought after cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, aside from THC. Many CBD isolate users are under the impression that by consuming only the CBD cannabinoid and no terpenes or any other “unnecessary” components of the plant, they are getting a more powerful or effective dose of CBD. When vaping a CBD extract, which as stated previously, is considered to be the most efficient and quick-acting method of administering CBD, isolate users may feel that they are taking the most efficient route to CBD consumption. While this method might be efficient, the lack of entourage effect means the benefits are reduced when compared to full-spectrum CBD consumption.

However, CBD isolate does have something to offer CBD users that full-spectrum extracts does not. The fact that full-spectrum extracts invariably contain low levels of THC means that some users prefer to play it safe and stick to pure CBD by itself, out of fear of failing a drug test or experiencing a form of “high”, although both of these occurrences have been found to be fairly unlikely.

THC is one of the cannabinoids involved in the “entourage effect” stated earlier so it is ideal for inclusion in CBD supplementation. A recent article on full-spectrum CBD demonstrates the importance of THC inclusion by stating, “In hemp THC is a minor constituent and appears only in trace amounts under 0.3% by dry weight, as required by the U.S. government for hemp products. THC mimics the action of anandamide, a neurotransmitter naturally produced in the human body, and binds to CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system found mostly in the brain. The extremely low levels of THC in hemp make hemp oil non-psychoactive and safe for all ages to use.”

The wide range of benefits contained in full-spectrum CBD extracts means some CBD merchants have either ceased to sell, or scale down the promotion of CBD isolate, in comparison to the whole-plant extract variety. Companies and individuals who extract CBD themselves are realising that cannabis has more to offer medicinally than just CBD or THC, and that there is little to no reason to not include all that this “super-plant” has to offer in the extraction process.

This all serves to underline the importance of testing CBD extract for the various levels of active ingredients. If your homemade CBD extract contains a high amount of THC it could be illegal in your country and require you use either a different method of extraction, or more likely, the need to find a source of hemp that has lower THC. As more scientific literature emerges supporting the entourage effect, and increased benefits of full-spectrum CBD compared to CBD isolate, we can expect the manufacture and sale of CBD goods based around isolate to greatly reduce in the coming years.

The public profile of CBD has soared in recent years, with users using it to treat all manner of ailments and conditions. It can be consumed in a variety of ways, ranging from simple oral consumption to topical use and even vaping. There are two main forms of CBD on the market. These are 'full spectrum' CBD and CBD isolate. There are a number of key differences between the

What is CBD isolate and what is it used for?

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Contents

  1. What is CBD isolate?
  2. Benefits of CBD isolate
  3. How CBD isolate is made
  4. How to use CBD isolate
  5. Buying CBD isolate

Following the mainstream emergence of cannabidiol (CBD) products, there’s another compelling option out there for those who want to experience the potential therapeutic effects of CBD without even the smallest trace of THC. It may not receive the same amount of hype as CBD lattes or infused facial moisturizers, but CBD isolate is actually one of the most distinct and versatile forms of CBD on the market.

While it’s true that hemp-derived CBD doesn’t have the same psychoactive effects as THC, that doesn’t mean it’s completely free of THC. According to federal law established following the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, hemp plants and hemp-derived products are legally permitted to contain 0.3% THC or less.

Thankfully for those who want to dabble in the world of CBD but get cold feet after hearing about the presence of THC in hemp-derived products, there’s still a way to enjoy the benefits of this cannabinoid without other unwanted plant parts. CBD isolate could be the right product for you.

CBD isolate is an option for those who want to experience the potential therapeutic effects of CBD without even the smallest trace of THC.

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What is CBD isolate?

CBD isolate is a crystalline solid or powder that contains 99% pure CBD. A traditional extraction process removes all the active compounds from the cannabis plant, followed by a refinement process that strips away all other phytocannabinoids, including THC, and any plant matter, leaving behind nothing but the CBD chemical compound in its purest form.

Depending on the process, the resulting product is either large CBD crystals or a fine white powder that resembles confectioner’s sugar. While there may be a slight residual cherry flavor, neither form of CBD isolate should contain a distinct odor or taste. But don’t be fooled by its dull demeanor — there are actually a number of reasons to get excited about CBD isolate and all that it has to offer.

Benefits of CBD isolate

It might not seem as appealing as the well-packaged CBD oil or topicals, but CBD crystalline is surprisingly versatile when it comes to consumption, and there are a number of benefits to using this pure powder over other conventional forms of CBD.

Zero THC

For starters, true CBD isolates should consist of nothing but pure CBD, so there’s no need to worry about THC possibly entering your system and showing up on a potential drug test. Although it’s highly unlikely, trace amounts of THC found in hemp-derived CBD oil can possibly cause a positive drug screening result.

Many Modes of Consumption

As we’ll discuss in detail below under How to Use CBD Isolates, another clear-cut advantage is the many inventive ways CBD isolate can be prepared for use. Whether it’s administered sublingually or mixed with food and drinks, this crystalline powdered CBD works well in a variety of consumption methods.

Easier to Dose

It’s also incredibly easy to measure CBD isolate dosages, as there’s nothing else to account for aside from the pure CBD crystals. With other CBD-based products, such as broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD oil, the cannabinoid is mixed with other ingredients, making it more difficult to quantify the exact amount of CBD that is being consumed.

Endocannabinoid Receptor

It’s incredibly easy to measure CBD isolate dosages, as there’s nothing else to account for aside from the pure CBD crystals.

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Endocannabinoid Receptor

The Case Against CBD Isolate

While CBD isolate might sound like the best approach to CBD for you, keep in mind that there is also a key disadvantage to isolating CBD from other cannabis compounds. Research has shown that the combination of cannabinoids and terpenes generates an entourage effect, a synergistic interaction that boosts the individual effects of each compound involved.

How CBD isolate is made

There are various processes used to produce CBD isolate from industrial hemp extracts, such as supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) or ethanol-based extractions. The same extraction methods can also be used as a starting point for the production of THC isolate as well, but typically with marijuana plants instead of industrial hemp. When the CBD extraction process takes place, a number of components are removed from the hemp plant, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, as well as fats, lipids, and other compounds. After that, the CBD compound needs to be separated from the rest of the extraction, which is done through a series of washing and separation processes.

The process begins with the initial wash, which is usually done with a mixture of hexane, an extracting hydrocarbon, and acetic acid. Once these chemical solvents are combined, the next step is the winterization process, effectively separating the lipids, waxes, and fats from extracts, followed by the removal of impurities and unwanted plant particles. These chemicals then need to be removed from the resulting extract. Rotary evaporators and falling-film units are devices that utilize heat and pressure to carefully separate solvents from compounds.

From here, the remaining cannabis compounds need to be refined even further through preparative chromatography, a separation process that separates cannabinoids by putting them through various chemicals at different speeds. Again, because additional chemicals were introduced, they must be removed via distillation before the final product can be prepared for consumption.

Once all of the impurities and solvents are stripped away, you’re left with 99% pure CBD crystalline.

How to use CBD isolate

While you might not know what to do with a pile of odorless CBD isolate powder at first, there are a number of different ways to consume CBD isolate. Here are some of the most common ways:

Sublingual

To take CBD isolate sublingually, you can apply the CBD powder directly underneath your tongue and hold it there for about 60 seconds. With this method, the CBD is absorbed by the mucous membranes and delivered directly to the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system and liver to provide more immediate and effective relief.

Create Custom CBD Oil or Topicals

If you want to take the DIY route, you can also mix CBD isolate with a carrier oil, such as medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil or olive oil, to make your own CBD oil. This will allow you to enjoy the convenience of more conventional CBD products while still maintaining full control over the CBD dosage. For topicals, mix the CBD isolate with skin oils and apply the homemade concoction to the area of your skin you’d like to treat.

For topicals, mix the CBD isolate with skin oils and apply the homemade concoction to the area of your skin you’d like to treat.

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Inhalation

CBD isolate can be mixed with terpenes to create homemade CBD concentrates that can be vaped or dabbed. The isolate can also be made into crystal slabs that can be dabbed on a traditional oil rig.

Ingestion

CBD crystalline can be measured out and put into capsules or pills, allowing you to ingest an accurately measured dosage. You can also mix CBD isolate with a variety of ingredients to create CBD-infused food and drinks. However, because CBD is not absorbed very well by the gastrointestinal tract, it has a low oral bioavailability. In order to increase bioavailability, CBD isolate can be added to carrier oils, such as MCT oil, to increase its chances of permeating the gastrointestinal system and reaching the bloodstream.

Buying CBD isolate

When shopping for CBD isolate, it’s important to look for products from reputable companies that are lab-tested by a third-party source, ensuring that your isolate doesn’t contain any THC, additional plant materials, or other impurities.

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