Full-Spectrum vs. Broad-Spectrum CBD

CBD companies use terms such as CBD extract, full-spectrum, and broad-spectrum to describe various products. But these terms can be confusing for a newcomer to the CBD industry.

It might be a burden to understand these terms, especially if a person has not seen these terms in the past.

What are these terms? What are the key differences between these two terms? Is one type of CBD superior to another? This article will fill the gaps between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD to help you understand these terms better.

What Is Hemp and What Does It Contain?

Hemp is a dioecious plant. In other words, we separate it into female and male plants. Such plants have had many purposes for thousands of years. From the plant's stems, we can get fiber; from its seeds, we can get protein; from the leaves, we can get oils, and from the smokable flowers, we can also get oils. Besides its usage as an edible plant, hemp can also have other purposes. We use hemp fibers to make items like paper, textiles, biofuel, clothing, or rope. It is even possible to use hemp to make building materials.

Just like bamboo, hemp is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth. It is capable of having rapid growth under perfect climate conditions. Hemp can also be grown for food products - and, interestingly, it requires no usage of chemical fertilizer. Hemp seeds contain high amounts of complete protein. They are also a great source of iron.

It is possible to turn these seeds into liquid. As a liquid, we use it for baking or drinks, such as hemp milk. Hemp oil is cold-pressed from the seeds and contains a high level of unsaturated fatty acids. Scientists believe that the leaves of this plant are edible as well. Some people consume them raw in salads and use them to make juice.

Hemp is also a part of the cannabis family. It contains a certain amount of THC. THC is also known as the chemical which we can find in marijuana. This type of chemical is psychoactive. These plants, however, are full of terpenes. They are the aromatic chemical compounds from which the Cannabis Sativa plants get their unique smell.

Techniques Used to Extract Full Spectrum CBD

To fully understand full spectrum CBD, it is necessary to understand the process behind its production. There are two main ways to make CBD oil. The first one is that we make oil from the whole plant. The second one is filtering, which means that the CBD molecule is the only thing left in the oil. All of the compounds are present in the oil. These compounds usually occur in the hemp plant.

There are various techniques for CBD oil extraction from the cannabis plant. The extraction method will determine if the compound is processed as a full-spectrum oil or as an isolate.

A CBD isolate is a pure compound. The already stated means that there are no other active compounds. On the other hand, a full spectrum oil contains other plant compounds. These other compounds can be cannabinol (CBN) and cannabis terpenes (cannabis terpenes are why the plant has its aroma).

Solvent Extraction

Solvent extraction of CBD

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The method that most companies use for CBD extraction is known as solvent extraction. It involves the usage of ethanol, butane, or alcohol for extracting CBD. This method is well known among companies because it is efficient and easy. It is also one of the least expensive methods. However, this is one of the riskiest ways of extraction because of its flammable contents.

At the beginning of the solvent process, we gather plant trimmings into a container. The solvent is then soaking through the material, where stripping of the cannabinoids happens. After that, the evaporation process results in leaving the concentrated cannabinoids in an oil form.

Olive Oil Extraction of CBD

Olive oil CBD Extraction

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On the other hand, a much safer way of CBD extraction is called olive oil extraction. It is the oldest method, and it does not cost much and is simple.

Olive oil extraction begins with heating the plant materials. The heating continues to the desired temperature and until the chemicals in the plant are activated. After that, we combine the plant material with olive oil, and that is where the extraction starts. However, olive oil is not evaporated, meaning the resulting extract will not be as concentrated as other methods.

CO2 Extraction

CO2 Extraction of CBD

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Presumably - the most popular method (and considered to be the best method by some) is the CO2 method. It has become the most advanced technique for extraction, although it is an expensive investment and a highly complex process.

CO2 extraction involves a so-called closed-loop extractor. It is a machine that contains three chambers. The first chamber holds pressurized, dry ice or solid CO2. The second one contains dried plant material, while the third chamber does the separation of the resulting product.

The process of pumping CO2 from the first chamber into the second chamber takes a form between gas and liquid state. CO2 then flows through the materials and extracts the cannabinoids. The chamber pumps it into the third and final chamber, where the CO2 rises to the top. The separator separates the extract and the CO2 - the extract is at the bottom while the CO2 is at the top. 

Is Full Spectrum That Big of a Deal?

As much as compound cannabidiol (CBD) is astonishing, the other compounds within are magnifically beneficial. This research says that, for example, the Myrcene is an analgesic that releases natural opioids. It means that it works just as an opiate would work. However, the difference is that it will not create an intoxicating "high," nor will it develop an addiction.

In this paper, Viola Brugnatelli says that "B-myrcene is a natural compound with a stellar safety profile which could significantly improve immune functions, as well as decrease pain sensation in patients suffering from inflammatory as well as chronic pain." 

However, we should mention that if you are isolating CBD from other compounds, you will not be getting the effects that we described earlier. Most of these researches out there

(anxiety relief, pain soothing, aid in sleep regulation, etc.) are based on full-spectrum CBD. So why would anyone take CBD isolates if you will not be getting the full effects?

While we extract the oil from the hemp plant, we also extract THC. THC is the compound (intoxicating) that is responsible for the high in marijuana. But the 0.3% of THC in the hemp plant is not even close enough to produce high. Although it is impossible to have high, it is possible to test positive in a drug test after consuming a certain amount of THC.

Full-Spectrum CBD and Testing Positive On a Drug Test

A drug test determines whether or not there are specific drugs in the system. A person can fail a CBD drug test due to various reasons.

  • Consuming products that contain THC

In most cases, the reason for failing a CBD drug test is that a person was using a product that has THC. It can happen if you purchase a lower-quality CBD product that contains a certain amount of THC. Usually, some manufacturers deny that their products contain THC, even though they do.

  • Cross-contamination of THC

CBD oil can contain a smaller amount of THC that can be found in the plant material (from which CBD is extracted). These amounts can be high enough to result in a positive test.

  • Product mislabeling 

The CBD oil that is extracted from the plant should not have more than 0.3% of THC. Nevertheless, some sellers still label their products as if they did not contain any THC. Products that companies sell online are also sometimes mislabeled in similar ways because they do not list all of the components correctly. You should always go for reputed brands that display independent lab reports for their products:

CBD Lab test example
  • Individuals being secondhand exposed to THC.

Even though this is very unlikely to be enough for a positive drug test, it is not impossible. Being in a room with a lot of smoke (that contains THC) for a few hours may result in having a positive test.

What Vitamins and Minerals Does The Full Spectrum CBD Contain?

The results that some people get from full-spectrum CBD oil happens because the effects of its compounds are combined. These combinations have more outcomes, depending on which compounds were combined.

Besides cannabinoids, vitamins and proteins are also present in full-spectrum CBD. To be more specific, vitamins that are present in CBD are Vitamin A, B, C, and E. Apart from vitamins, amino acids can also be found here, up to 20 of them, alongside fatty acids like Omega 3 and 6.

So, are these amino acids crucial for the human body? The answer to that is yes. Amino acids are helpful since they can speed up the production of protein, which can improve recovery time. Not only are they practical in speeding up these processes, but they are also beneficial for heart health. As a result, all these compounds combined can potentially offer more benefits than CBD isolate.

Examples of Full-Spectrum Products

So how do these full-spectrum products look? We will list some examples here.

  • Kush Flavored CBD Tincture - Pangea
Kush Flavored CBD Tincture

Pangea CBD Tincture is filled with natural terpenes. The 30ML full-spectrum tinctures are 100% hemp-derived with an all-natural non-GMO MCT base. Such doses can fill a 30ml bottle and are oil-based while being vegan. These full-spectrum CBD are coming from hemp plants that are grown in the US.

Glacier CBD Tincture is filled with a chilled mint flavor. It is suitable for those that are looking for a refreshing taste for their CBD experience. The 30ML full-spectrum tinctures are also 100% hemp-derived with an all-natural non-GMO MCT base. Just like the previous one, they are oil-based, vegan.

  • Sativa AC/DC CBD Liquid Concentrate - Terra

Terra CBD Tincture is a high concentration oil that can be used as a tincture or used in a favorite vape cartridge. Terra 10 ml Concentrate by nu-x uses only 100% hemp-derived pure CBD for a completely natural experience. Terra offers complex undertones of Earth, wood, and pine, solidifying a sophisticated flavor profile for discerning palates.

  • OG Kush CBD Disposable Pen - Oceana

Oceana 150MG CBD Disposable Pen is filled with hints of Earth, wood, and pine, for a full-body aroma that results in a sophisticated CBD experience.

Just CBD Brands Gummy Bears is a hefty jar of brightly colored yummy gummy bears that contain 10mg of high-quality and all-natural CBD per bear and a variety of phenomenal flavors. Just CBD Gummy Bears are a fun, effective, and downright delicious way to enjoy CBD.

Examples of Broad-Spectrum Products

  • Mango Lychee CBD E-Liquid - Maitri

Maitri CBD E-Liquid is filled with Mango Slush. Tantalizing your taste buds with mango and lychee, this 100% pure hemp-derived organic CBD e-liquid combines incredible flavor with a natural 1,000mg CBD experience.

  • Strawberry French Toast CBD E-Liquid - Cirrus

Cirrus CBD E-Liquid is filled with sweet strawberry french toast flavor. This hemp-derived CBD e-liquid offers the warming taste of french toast, blended with a succulent strawberry maple syrup taste for an amazing flavor profile.

CBD Gummies are the perfect option for individuals looking for a consistent dosage of CBD to be taken regularly.

Key Differences Between Broad-Spectrum and Full-Spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD are the main types of extracts. Even though some people think they are the same thing, it is crucial to remember that they have their differences.

One of the main differences between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD is the natural compounds that can be found in the plant. A full-spectrum CBD is considered to be a CBD product that has natural cannabis plant extract that contains up to 0.3% of THC.

On the other end, broad-spectrum CBD can also have cannabis plant compounds, but the case here is that it is usually THC-free. Even so, broad-spectrum CBD products still might contain some amounts of THC.

CBD isolate - one of the most common forms when it comes to CBD. The previously mentioned a pure form of CBD, which means it has no other plant compounds in its structure.

With that being said, even with a lot of them having some meaning, many manufacturers misuse the word CBD since they are not always introduced to the full meaning of it.

Full-spectrum CBD, as mentioned, does contain some amount of the cannabis plant (it can contain THC). Full-spectrum products that are legal will not have more than 0.3 percent of THC. However, in some states where cannabis is not illegal, it is possible to find products with a higher THC percentage.

Broad-spectrum CBD does not have THC at all, though it does have other parts of the cannabis plant. The previously mentioned does not mean that it will contain 100% of only CBD. This infographic will help you visualize the key differences:

Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum CBD

How Does Chromatography Processes Work To Remove THC From Broad-Spectrum CBD

How does chromatography work to remove THC

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Some consumers do not want to have the "high" that comes with the consumption, nor do they want a positive drug test. It is possible to separate THC from CBD, which means it is able for consumption without the effects that THC brings.

One of the ways to produce pure CBD is by crystallizing CBD oil. Until the CBD crashes out, CBD oil is being cooled and mixed with pentane. CBD that is crystallized is filtered and dried, and it is even possible to achieve a purity of 99% (and even more). After recrystallization, it can help with increasing the purity level. With this process, THC is fully removed.

Broad-spectrum also contains some THC, which should not be mistaken with the term THC-free. Some chromatographic methods like flash chromatography use the stationary phase to fractionate the cannabinoids from one another.

While doing these processes, THC is not only isolated but also removed from cannabinoids. However, there is a side effect that is considered to be unwanted. Chromatographic methods remove THC very slowly with some CBD being lost as a result. This process also requires an experienced operator to be available throughout the whole operation.  

Why Avoid THC?

THC is not always safe. It can affect groups of people differently and harm some more than others. Various factors determine how someone will be affected by THC.

  • Youth

Since the brain is not done with developing until you are 25, younger people are at more risk than adults. If consumed in the teenage years, it can have a lot of impact on brain development. Consuming THC daily may have worse effects on youth, such as shorter attention span or similar mental functions. This research says that early use also increases the risk of experiencing psychotic symptoms or developing schizophrenia.

  • Pregnant women and/or breastfeeding women

This research says that cannabis usage can be extremely harmful to a pregnant woman for not only the baby but the mom as well. People that are considered to be heavy users of cannabis (especially the ones that are mixing it with tobacco) are exposed to a higher risk of having a premature baby.

It can also affect the baby in having birth weight lower than normal and slower growth. The research by LactMed indicates that THC can get to the baby through breast milk, entering its brain and remaining there for a longer period, probably weeks. It can also impact their baby for later on performance in school or even sleep disturbance. That is why it is recommended for pregnant women or breastfeeding women to not use cannabis. 

  • Future dads

It is proven that cannabis can reduce sperm count, along with sperm mobility and even sperm concentration. It is also possible for cannabis to increase abnormal sperm structure.

Such effects impact couples in making it harder to become pregnant.

  • Individuals with a history of psychosis, schizophrenia, and/or bipolar disorder (personal or family history)

Some scientific studies were investigating the connection between the use of cannabis and psychosis. Psychosis is a mental illness that prevents an individual's ability to tell the difference between reality and delusions. If a person has a history of mental illness (personal or in the family), heavy usage of cannabis might increase the risk of experiencing longer psychotic episodes. It has not been proven that cannabis can cause schizophrenia, but people who have been using it from a younger age are more likely to develop the illness.

  • Individuals with a history of depression

Cannabis can worsen some depression symptoms. It is better for someone who is struggling with depression to talk to a professional to find a different way to cope with it.

  • Individuals that are taking other medications

THC can interact with several other drugs. It is very important that, if you are planning on using THC, consult with your doctor. The previously mentioned is important to inform your doctor which drugs (that have been prescribed) or herbal products you are taking. Some products that could interact with THC are antiretroviral drugs (used to treat HIV), certain antidepressants, certain antibiotics, stomach acid inhibitors, and certain heart medications.

Strict THC-law states

The law is different for THC around the world. Some countries do not have strict laws for it, while there are countries that are very serious about it. In the United States, THC laws are different from state to state.

One of the harshest laws for THC is in Arizona. If you have a valid card, medical marijuana can be legal in that case. It is allowed to buy up to 2,5 ounces for medical purposes, or grow 12 plants maximum as long as they are 25 or more miles away from any dispensary.

In any other case, if you are caught with THC, you can be subject to a felony charge, with any amount. The lightest punishment is serving six months and a fine of $1,000.

When it comes to Florida, smaller amounts can be considered a misdemeanor. This can result in a one-year prison sentence and a fine of $1,000. Anything over 20 grams is considered to be a felony. It can be punishable with a sentence of 5 years and fines even up to $5,000. In case if an individual is caught selling or even delivering weed in an area close to school, college, or park (within 1000 feet), they can be sentenced to up to 15 years and fined $10,000.

Georgia also has similar laws. By being caught with an ounce (or less than that), you could be fined $1,000 and sentenced to a year in prison. Being caught with more than that is considered a felony and could result in anything between one and ten years in prison, with a fine of $5,000. Any amount that is sold is a felony. Even with it being legal, Georgia residents were not able to buy CBD oil until the medical marijuana bill was signed.

In Idaho, cannabis possession up to three ounces can get you a misdemeanor, with also a full year in prison and a fine of $1,000. Everything above is a felony. Selling any amount can result in a fine of up to $50,000.  

In the state of Louisiana, however, if you are a first-time offender, you can get a fine of up to $300 or 15 days in prison (with less than 14 grams). Up to 2.5 pounds can result in a fine of $500 and imprisonment of six months. By being caught with at least 60 grams, you can get a felony. Nevertheless, if you are growing any amount, you could get up to a $50,000 fine. Offenses in Louisiana can be increased by 1,5 times (the original sentence) if they have occurred anywhere near (2,000 feet or less) a zone that is drug-free.