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Full-Spectrum vs Isolate CBD - How Do They Differ?

With a number of CBD / Hemp Oil products on the market, it’s hard to determine what’s what. One glaring clue to any difference in oil or CBD / Hemp Oil products, is found in just a few words on the packaging. That being, full spectrum or isolate. 

So what is the definition of these terms in regards to CBD / Hemp Oil, and how does the manufacturing process and benefits differ? Let’s breakdown the difference in full spectrum and isolate CBD to find out.

Full-Spectrum vs Isolate CBD - How Do They Differ

ABC’s of CBD / Hemp Oil

First, let’s review how CBD / Hemp Oil, or Cannabidiol is grown and extracted from the cannabis plant. This information will be key in defining the difference in isolate vs. Full Spectrum, later.

Hemp or marijuana plants’ buds contain over 400 compounds, including cannabinoids that provide medicinal and therapeutic effects. These cannabinoids include CBD / Hemp Oil, THC, in addition to plant compounds like phytonutrients and vitamins too. 

When the plant has reached full maturity, its’ ready for processing and extraction. This is the stage in which the essential oils of the plant (like CBD), are removed from the flower to further turn into oil. These processes can differ, depending on the end product you’re looking to achieve - like full spectrum or isolate options.

Let’s dive into the choice differences, now. 

 Full Spectrum 

Aptly named, full spectrum CBD contains the entire spectrum of plant compounds when extracting. This includes other cannabinoids like CBG or CBN, and beneficial flavonoids or terpenes from the plant too. It can also include THC, at levels of >.3% legally, and even higher for states with medical or recreational legalization. 

Each strain carries a unique profile of compounds that add to their effects. Meaning, differing plants provide individual levels of each compound or cannabinoid. When the full plant matter is extracted for full spectrum CBD / Hemp Oil products, the plant matter works together to amplify each other’s effects.

This synergy is often called ‘the entourage effect’. In a recent study it was found that full spectrum CBD provided higher amounts of relief due to this interaction of compounds. 

Since full spectrum CBD / Hemp Oil also contains terpenes and flavonoids from the plant, the products often have a distinct taste or scent. Common terpenes like myrcene, linalool, limonene or pinene provide differing aromas like citrus, floral, woody or earthy, too. 

Full-Spectrum vs Isolate CBD - How Do They Differ


Photo by Kimzy Nanney on Unsplash


On the flip side, isolate is said to be the purest form of CBD. This is due to its’ lack of other compounds found in its’ final consistency. 

The process to extract CBD / Hemp Oil alone, can be more difficult than extracting full spectrum. To remove only the CBD / Hemp Oil compound at 99%+ for isolate products, processors eliminate chlorophyll, wax, oils and other cannabinoids from the plant matter. 

When buying isolate products its important to review the purity percentage of your product. While most brands are able to reach 99.9% CBD / Hemp Oil purity, others can manufacture with as little as 90%. 

Because isolate products, extract only the CBD / Hemp Oil cannabinoid, there is no risk of THC levels that can be grown in marijuana or hemp plants. If consumers are sensitive to the effects of other cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, CBD isolate may be ideal. 

This also means that CBD isolate can be tasteless, or scentless since the aroma factors of the plant are being removed in processing. With that said, innovation in processing has allowed manufacturers to add natural scented oils like mint, to add or improve taste for consumers.

Difference breakdown 

To summarize the final answer of how full-spectrum and isolate CBD differs, let’s review the breakdown of differences, now. 

Full Spectrum

  • Contains all plant matter including additional cannabinoids, vitamins, terpenes and flavonoids. 
  • Can promote the ‘entourage effect’ and magnify effects. 
  • May contain THC.
  • Requires less processing for extraction. 
  • Can have strong taste or scent. 


  • Contains only CBD / Hemp Oil
  • Does not deliver additional effects from other cannabis plant matter. 
  • Does not contain THC.
  • Requires increased processing for extraction.
  • Is usually tasteless or odorless. 

Whether choosing CBD isolate or full spectrum CBD, both are proving to provide a plethora of health benefits.