Not all CBD is created equal.

Though the CBD molecule itself does possess some pretty amazing qualities, sometimes it’s the little details that matter most. In this case, the degree to which one experiences CBD’s health-boosting properties may depend largely on the form that it comes in.

Now, let’s explore the two major types of CBD oil: full spectrum and isolate.

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Full Spectrum Oil, Full Spectrum Benefits

The hemp plant itself is considered full spectrum. In other words, it naturally contains a huge variety of plant compounds. There are cannabinoids like CBD, of course… but that’s not the only phytochemical capable of activating our endocannabinoid systems.

Far from it, in fact. Hemp is nature’s medicine cabinet, providing a full spectrum of dozens of terpenes in combinations not seen elsewhere in the plant kingdom.

The compounds present in full spectrum hemp extracts can be grouped into three major categories:

Cannabinoids | CBD is the most famous cannabinoid. But hemp also contains very small amounts of other cannabinoids, including THC, CBN, CBG, CBC, and more. Full spectrum hemp oil may also contain small amounts of acid-form cannabinoids like CBDa and THCa.

Though trace cannabinoids are only present in, well, trace amounts, don’t discount them. These ingredients may potentiate the effect of CBD by ‘opening up’ the body’s endocannabinoid receptors. Even that .3% THC is helpful.

Terpenes | Terpenes can be thought of like scent molecules — and the hemp plant is full of them. There’s limonene, pinene, myrcene, beta-caryophyllene. Different strains contain different terpene blends, which may make them ideal for different health conditions.

Though more time and more research are needed to really elucidate what cultivars are best for what, scientists have already determined that the beta-caryophyllene terpene hits ECS receptors just as strongly as most cannabinoids. In other words, terpenes are important!

Flavones and chalcones | These compounds are also among hemp’s trace ingredients, but their functions are diverse enough to warrant an article of their own. Hemp contains rare flavones like Cannflavin A and B. It also contains chlorophyll and intermediary compounds like the chalcones.


The Value of Isolate Oil

As you might expect, CBD isolate is simply pure CBD that’s been isolated from the rest of hemp’s major ingredients. Devoid of any accompanying terpenes or oils, CBD isolate often takes the form of whitish crystals.

Even the molecular structure of the CBD in CBD isolate gets affected. That’s because cannabidiol in its natural, full-spectrum state is surrounded by fatty acids that help maintain a certain structure to its chemical bonds. Strip away this insulation, and a new stereoisomer of CBD may form.

This new type of CBD still works, but it might not ‘fit’ the endocannabinoid system quite as well as normal. Indeed, many users report that they need to take more CBD isolate than the full-spectrum stuff — just to get the same effects.

And more CBD than usual means a greater chance to experience side effects. CBD doesn’t have many of them, and the side effects it does have are very mild. Still, the inefficient nature of CBD isolate makes overshooting one’s optimal dose pretty easy.


Despite all these potential downsides, CBD isolate has a place. Those who undergo mandatory drug testing for work may find isolate to be the best option for them. So may people who, for better or worse, still have a phobia surrounding THC. In many cases, CBD isolate may work wonderfully. It seems to be great for anxiety and other stress-related conditions, too.

If everyone had to take just one type of CBD, we’d absolutely recommend a full spectrum CBD oil. Thankfully, though, today’s market gives us the freedom to choose. Combine this freedom with education, and it’ll be easy to find the type of CBD that’s right for you.