Broad Spectrum vs. Full Spectrum CBD: What is the Difference?


If you have ever looked into CBD at all, you have probably noticed there are a few variations of CBD oils and CBD products in general. These three variations are broad spectrum, full spectrum, and CBD isolate.

While each of these contains cannabidiol (CBD) they contain different ingredient profiles. It is important to recognize the differences among CBD oil and other CBD products. With varying ingredient profiles, these three will have varying effects.

CBD oil and other products do not exclusively contain cannabidiol compounds. In fact, the cannabis sativa plant family has over 100 cannabinoids. The two cannabinoids that have garnered the most attention are CBD and THC. Both full and broad spectrum contain other cannabinoids and ingredients that work alongside the CBD in your oil or product.

In this article, we shed light on the similarities between broad spectrum and full spectrum CBD.

How CBD Is Extracted

In order to get CBD into oils, gummies, capsules, topicals, or other products, it must be extracted from its source. In the case of products such as ours at BeCalm CBD, this process starts with American grown organic hemp.

When the raw hemp is put through the extraction process, cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes are extracted from the plant. What really determines whether a CBD product is labeled broad spectrum, full spectrum, or isolate depends on what is done with the cannabinoids after extraction.

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Full Spectrum CBD

The easiest place to start with explaining these differences is with full spectrum. Full spectrum CBD contains all of the extracted phytochemicals. This includes all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, essential oils, and yes even THC. The THC content, however, must be under 0.3% to remain legal at a federal level.

It is important to note that one potential downfall of full spectrum CBD is that it can cause false positives on drug tests. Though the THC contained in full spectrum is less than 0.3%, it can trigger a failed drug test. This is the case even though it will come nowhere close to making the user feel “high.”

In addition to CBD, the other cannabinoids and phytochemicals from the plant work synergistically together to help pronounce the effects more than any of the individual cannabinoids would on their own. This synergistic effect is referred to as the entourage effect.

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What is the Entourage Effect?

The entourage effect refers to the various components of cannabis working synergistically together to intensify the effects from the hemp.

In addition to CBD, full spectrum CBD extracts contain:

    • Cannabinol (CBN): This cannabinoid is created from oxidized THC and creates effects of mild sedation
    • Cannabigerol (CBG): This is an non-intoxicating cannabinoid that has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties
    • Cannabichromene (CBC): This cannabinoid is particularly present in strains that originate from the tropical regions and has been shown to have the possibility of aiding in fighting cancer and reducing inflammation in the body.

These are just some of the cannabinoids that are contained in full spectrum CBD. The additional terpenes and cannabinoids in full spectrum change how the body’s cannabinoids receptors react to the extract. They do this by either blocking or allowing for other cannabinoids to bind or communicate with the receptors.

In 2015, a study showed that full spectrum CBD at higher doses had better effects in comparison to CBD isolate. Those in the study who consumed full spectrum CBD reported better alleviation of symptoms and ailments than those who consumed the CBD isolate. This is believed to be the case due to the entourage effect.

Broad Spectrum CBD

Broad spectrum and full spectrum share more similarities than differences. Both contain CBD and other cannabinoids. The only difference is that broad spectrum CBD contains no THC. After the initial extraction process, all THC is removed and is not included in the final product.

Though the THC is removed after extraction, it still contains other cannabinoids such as CBN, CBG, CBC, and so forth. Broad spectrum also contains the terpenes and flavonoids that come from extracted hemp plants as well.

It is commonly thought that since broad spectrum contains no THC, it cannot create the entourage effect. This is simply not true. The entourage effect is still experienced when consuming a broad spectrum CBD extract is consumed. The only difference is that THC is not part of this equation.

Broad spectrum CBD is a particularly great option for those that are concerned about being drug tested. Since THC is removed after extraction, a false positive drug test is not of concern. Broad spectrum is also a great option for those who simply want to avoid THC altogether while still deriving benefits from CBD and other cannabinoids.

Which Spectrum Is
Best For Me?

Now that you have become informed on the differences between broad and full spectrum, you may be left wondering which one is best. And that is a good question to ask. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. The one that is best suited to your own needs may not be for your friend or family member or vice versa.

It is most important to consider what you need and want based upon your own physiology, lifestyle, and quite possibly your own health history. For the CBD user who wants to have a THC free lifestyle due to being drug tested or simply not wanting any in their system, broad spectrum will make the best choice. For those who have lifestyles that would not be negatively impacted by consuming trace amounts of THC, full or broad spectrum are both great choices.

Some CBD users may not notice the difference between broad or full spectrum while others may. One is not inherently superior to the other. Many factors go into choosing which one best suits your own individual needs.

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