Full spectrum, wide spectrum, broad spectrum, isolates.
The CBD industry has several terms when promoting their products.
But what do they all really mean?
Here we will try to make it easier to understand and navigate in the jungle that is CBD products.
Let's start with the most used term out there, Full Spectrum.
First let’s just make one thing clear, full spectrum does not mean that the product contains all cannabinoids out there. No product does. There are over 100 different cannabinoids found so far in different cannabis plants and many different terpenes as well.
No product or cannabis plant out there contains all of them at once.
So what do they actually mean when the label says Full Spectrum?
Full Spectrum simply refers to the whole plant being used for making the CBD extract they use in their product. In other words, it’s not just a CBD isolate ( often referred to as CBD Crystals ) or other cannabinoid isolates used.
But that is it, that is all it tells you.
It does not say anything about which cannabinoids that are to be found in the extract and how much of it. Most laboratories don’t even have the testing equipment to test all the different cannabinoids, and focus mainly on testing the most abundant cannabinoids found in the cannabis plants.
How can you know which cannabinoids that are in fact in a Full Spectrum product?
The only way to know what is in the product, is to see the lab results from the producers.
Or to get it tested yourself.
You need to see the lab report from the laboratory, not just what a company says on the bottle or in their description. You want the actual lab report. Any serious company should have some lab results easily available on their web page. If they don’t, send a mail and ask. Should be very easy to get. If not, my best advice is to move on to a different brand.
Why do different Full Spectrum products contain different cannabinoids ?
Different cannabis plant varieties are being used by different producers, and these have different cannabinoid profiles. For example recreational cannabis strains normally have more and higher amounts of different cannabinoids than a typical industrial hemp strain. This due to the flowers of cannabis to be bigger and containing more cannabinoids and terpenes than most industrial hemp strains. Each cannabis strain, both recreational and industrial, has its own profile of cannabinoids. Even plants from the same strain can have a bit different cannabinoid profiles even if they are generally the same. Therefore products made from different strains of cannabis will have different cannabinoid profiles. One extract might have many cannabinoids, and another one will have very few, depending on the genetics of the plant that was used to make it.
So, when that is all cleared up, what about Broad and Wide Spectrum?
Well broad and wide are terms that kind of means the same.
It refers to it being several cannabinoids and even terpenes in the product.
Broad spectrum is also used when the oil does not contain any THC. But a broad spectrum oil can also contain THC as one of the several cannabinoids in the product.
So broad spectrum still does not say how many cannabinoids are in the product. Some may use this term without necessarily having several cannabinoids in them, just no THC. So here as well, only an actual lab test of the product can tell you how broad the spectrum is and which cannabinoids are present.
An isolate is the purest form of a compound, which is produced by singularly extracting that compound from its environment and isolating it from all other compounds. So you are left with only the CBD from the plant, eliminating all other cannabinoids and terpenes. This product does not offer any Entourage Effect, as it’s a single compound. Products with very high CBD % are often made from isolates, as a product with that high CBD % made from a plant extract would most lightly get a THC % that is higher than 0.2% and therefore be illegal in most countries.
Early on it was believed that pure CBD would have the best effect for most, but this idea has been put aside. A study in 2015 showed that with pure CBD the patient at first got good effect, but that it did not last, While those that used plant extracts and a broader spectrum, had a more lasting stable effect. (1*)
All in all, what have we learned?
When it comes down to knowing what is in your product, a lab test is the only way to know.
A CBD company should have available lab tests on their web page.
Some companies will only say how many mg CBD that are in their dosages, this can be very misleading if you don’t know how to calculate mg to ml over to % CBD.
Always ask for the percentage of CBD in the product.
In the future there will hopefully be a lot more laboratories available for the public as well,
so it’s easier for people to double check their products if they have any doubts.
Hope this cleared up a thing or two regarding CBD labeling.