What is the Difference Between CBD Isolate and Full-Spectrum CBD Oil?

Difference between CBD Isolate and full spectrum feature image


Reading time: 7 minutes

When thinking of the chemical compounds found in cannabis, for some people the first one that comes to mind is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). This is the psychoactive compound that gives cannabis its most well-known effects.

But in recent years, many people all over the world have started using another cannabinoid for health reasons. CBD (cannabidiol) has a range of potential health benefits such as pain relief, anti-epileptic, treatment for anxiety, anti-sebum and anti-inflammatory. 

Due to the recent soar in CBD’s popularity, a huge range of CBD products has flooded the market. Because of this newfound popularity and market saturation, it can be difficult to distinguish legitimate CBD products from snake oil.

For newcomers to the CBD game, you may also be confused by such terms as “isolate”, "broad-spectrum CBD" and “full-spectrum”.

In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between these three forms of CBD oil, and why you may want to use one over the other.

Join us on this deep dive into the world of CBD. 

Differences between CBD type infographic

The Three Types of CBD 

  1. There are three main types of CBD oil, the most versatile of which is CBD isolate. This is the purest form of cannabidiol.
  2. The second type is Full-spectrum CBD oil. Full-spectrum extracts have all the natural ingredients found within the whole cannabis plant, such as other cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils.
  3. The third type of CBD oil is Broad-spectrum, which is similar to full-spectrum, however, it has one particular cannabinoid missing from its profile!

So... What’s the Difference?

The difference between these forms of CBD lies within their contents. Despite the fact that each of these forms is derived from the hemp plant, they have different levels of other minor cannabinoids and compounds.  

  • Full-spectrum CBD extract contains the widest range of additional cannabinoids that aren’t found in CBD isolate. These include trace amounts of THC, along with other plant metabolites called flavonoids and terpenes.

Flavonoids and terpenes give particular strains of cannabis their unique flavour and aromas. Full-spectrum CBD oil in the UK should contain up to approx. 0.1% of THC, which is the compound responsible for the cannabis “high”, but these small amounts are not enough to produce a significant psychoactive or intoxicating effect.  

  • Broad-spectrum CBD products, as we eluded to above, are similar to full-spectrum. They often have a range of cannabinoids and terpenes, however, they have been further refined to remove all traces of THC.

Our 500mg CBD oil is a great starter if this spectrum is for you!

The result is usually a milder, more palatable flavour and a great option for those wishing to avoid THC consumption. 

  • CBD Isolate is typically at least 98% pure as it only contains the CBD compound and a tiny amount of CBDV. 

Since CBD isolate is stripped of all these additional terpenes and cannabinoids, the purity of CBD isolate gives it the widest potential. And as a result, the isolated powder has very little taste it makes a great choice for a range of edibles, CBD infused drinks and skincare products.

Despite the lack of these additional compounds, CBD isolates still offer a broad range of health benefits. Since CBD isolate is a pure form of cannabidiol, it can be produced in crystal form and sold as a powder.

Despite these differences between these forms of CBD, the process by which they are extracted from the hemp plant remains the same. This will usually involve:

  • Carbon dioxide extraction 
  • Steam distillation
  • Solvent extraction
  • Lipid extraction 
  • Cold/Heat Press

Since CBD is a pure and refined product, it will require some additional steps of processing in order to produce pure crystals of CBD. 

To find out more about how CBD oil is made read more here.

What’s the deal with cannabinoids and terpenes?

Within the hemp plant, you will find plant compounds called cannabinoids. There are over 100 different cannabinoids in the world, two of which are the well-known active compounds found in cannabis; CBD and THC.

These cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is a complex cell-signalling system that regulates various bodily functions such as sleep, appetite, mood, pain sensation, and memory.

Once a cannabinoid interacts with a cannabinoid receptor site, it can work with the body’s endocannabinoid system to influence these bodily functions.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is well known for its calming effects, so it is widely used for aiding sleep and treating anxiety, among other things. Other cannabinoids include cannabinol (CBN), cannabichromene (CBC), and cannabigerol (CBG). These cannabinoids also interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system.  

When multiple cannabinoids are consumed in conjunction with each other, it produces a phenomenon that’s called “the entourage effect”. This phenomenon proposes that the combination of different cannabinoids produces a stronger effect when used together rather than when used separately or in isolation.  

Terpenes are other organic compounds found in cannabis and many other different kinds of plants. These terpenes have their own effects and benefits, as well as contribute to the entourage effect.

Similar to the different cannabinoids, the various terpenes are also associated with their own unique effects. Common terpenes found in the hemp plant include limonene, humulene, myrcene, and ocimene. 

CBD Isolate on black background
What is the Difference Between CBD Isolate and Full-Spectrum CBD Oil? 1

What are the benefits of CBD isolate?

Because CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, it may be more suitable for newcomers to CBD use, as there are no additional ingredients to interfere with the effects of the CBD. CBD isolate or “crystal CBD” has no discernable odour or flavour since it is so highly refined.  

According to a 2015 animal study, CBD isolate may offer some health benefits, although the effects may be less noticeable when compared to a full-spectrum CBD product. This research also concluded that CBD isolate’s effectiveness at treating pain and inflammation may only occur at a specific dose.

This was in contrast with the effectiveness of full-spectrum CBD, as the effects increase in conjunction with the dosage.

This is not necessarily a drawback of CBD isolate, however, as it may be more suitable for some people who wish to take high doses of CBD isolate, as they may be sensitive to THC or other compounds present in full-spectrum CBD extract. 

What are the benefits of full-spectrum CBD?

Since full-spectrum CBD products contain a broad range of other compounds such as cannabinoids and terpenes, they are likely to have a more potent effect compared to pure CBD isolate.  Studies have shown that the health benefits of CBD may be increased when more compounds from the cannabis plant are present. As we’ve mentioned previously, this phenomenon is known as the “entourage effect”. 

Full-spectrum CBD products contain trace amounts of THC, usually lower than 0.1%, which is not a high enough dose to produce a significant psychoactive effect. It is important to note, however, that during the concentration process these THC levels can rise.

Because of this, it is important for users to read the label thoroughly before use, and it’s recommended that you look up independent test results before you purchase any full-spectrum CBD product. 

The reported health benefits of full-spectrum CBD use include:

  • Treatment for seizures 
  • Relief from muscle spasms
  • Treatment for anxiety
  • Pain relief 
  • Treatment for psychotic disorders
  • Antioxidant 
  • Anti-inflammatory 

In addition to these uses and effects of full-spectrum CBD, this study from 2018 found that certain compounds in full-spectrum CBD have neuroprotective properties.  Another study from the same year concluded that full-spectrum CBD products help relieve pain more than CBD isolate because of the effects of CBD combined with THC, more commonly known as "the entourage effect".

Many people favour full-spectrum CBD products as they are more natural and less processed than CBD isolate products. 

Which form of CBD is the right one for me?

CBD isolate:

  • A pure, flavourless, odourless product
  • No THC or other additional compounds
  • A higher dose of pure CBD
  • A great option for those worried about drug testing

Full-spectrum CBD: 

  • A more natural product
  • Increased potential health benefits due to the entourage effect 
  • A stronger, natural and earthy flavour

Broad-spectrum CBD:

  • 0% THC
  • Minor cannabinoids and terpenes

Clearly, there are advantages and disadvantages for each form of CBD and the right one for you is dependent on your own needs and health requirements. There is a wide range of both full-spectrum and CBD isolate products on the market today, but it is important to do your research thoroughly before purchasing and consuming any CBD product of any kind.


The right form of CBD extract for you comes down to personal preference ultimately. Both forms of CBD extract offer a broad range of health benefits, but the above information should help you come to a conclusion bearing in mind your own specific health needs.  

CBD isolate is the purest form of cannabidiol you can get, whereas full-spectrum CBD contains a lot of the hemp plant’s natural compounds and beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes.

The combination of all these different compounds working in conjunction with each other promotes the entourage effect, which increases the overall effectiveness of the product and encourages the invigorating potential of the cannabinoids.  

When choosing a product, one should first consider and assess their current state of health, including their body chemistry, fitness levels, mental health, and their sensitivity to THC.

Whichever product you choose, we suggest starting with a smaller dose before working your way up to higher doses to understand at what point you see any positive effects or any negative side effects. 

Research into the effects of these compounds is still ongoing, and it’s very important to do your research thoroughly before purchasing and using any kind of CBD product.

Additionally, make sure to read the labels of the CBD products carefully before use, and consider consulting your doctor or healthcare provider before starting to take any CBD products.  

Slow spinning light green polygon shapes in background of web-pageSlow spinning light green polygon shapes in background of web-pageLight green blob shape in background of web-page